September 21, 2011
The Leavetaking of the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Leavetaking of the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. For the past seven days, the Cross of Our Lord has been in our midst. We have bowed down before it. We have exalted it in our communities. Through the Cross, we are given the hope to continue on the path of salvation and the strength to share the Gospel of Christ with those around us.
Those who embrace the Cross know that “through the Cross joy has come into all the world.” Yet the full extent of that joy comes only through commitment—commitment to discerning God’s will for our lives as individuals, as families, as parishes, and as the Orthodox Church in America, and commitment to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” [1 Timothy 6:18].
In practical terms, our commitment ultimately involves sharing the joy of the Cross by bringing the Gospel to those who have yet to hear it in its fullness. For over two decades, the Orthodox Church in America’s Church Planting Grant program has made it possible to plant, grow, and harvest dozens of new communities—many in regions with little or no Orthodox Christian presence. But this commitment comes at a cost—a cost borne by those individuals who have faithfully contributed to the Annual Mission Appeal, which enables the Church to offer substantial financial assistance to today’s seedling mission communities.
As faithful stewards, I call upon you to join me in making a commitment to spreading the joyous message of the Cross by offering a portion of the gifts with which God has blessed us for the Annual Mission Appeal. When we consider all that the Lord has done for us, doing so reveals our desire to return a portion of our blessings for the work of planting, growing, and harvesting new missions and, ultimately, new parishes. May the Lord bless you for your generosity in abundance as we set out to nurture—and harvest—new seedlings in the Lord’s vineyard.
Thank you for your generous support in the past, as well as in the days ahead. May the Lord continue to bless you!
With Love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada