In the wake of the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America are being asked to remember in prayer all those affected by the disaster and to support efforts undertaken by International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC], which has assembled its emergency response team to assess needs and possible responses.
“The devastation being experienced in Japan is numbing, and it is only appropriate that we respond in kind with our prayers for the suffering and departed and support for any and all humanitarian efforts,” said His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah. “Not only has the earthquake—the strongest in Japan’s recorded history—caused incalculable damage, but the tsunami it released and the attendant destruction of much of the nation’s infrastructure are almost beyond comprehension. In addition to our prayers, our support of IOCC’s efforts are crucial at this time.”
Nothing has been reported with regard to how the earthquake may have affected the Orthodox Church in Japan, although it is assumed that the faithful in Sendai, the northern Japanese city that was at the epicenter of the quake and tsunami, are suffering tremendously. [His Grace, Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist), a retired OCA hierarch, served as Bishop of Sendai for 19 years.]
In Hawaii, one of many places across the Pacific on alert for possible tsunami activity, Priest John Schroedel, rector of the OCA’s Saint Juvenaly Mission, Kona, reported on Friday that the state had been spared, although many had heeded the call to evacuate shorelines.
IOCC, in consultation with local Orthodox Christian and ecumenical partners in Japan and other affected countries in the Pacific, is assessing the current situation and the need for a potential response.
“We mourn the loss of life and pray for those who were taken so suddenly by this disaster,” said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC executive director. “We are all keenly aware of the devastation that can be caused by powerful tsunamis and are deeply concerned for those who have been affected by this tragedy. Our staff is ready to respond with our partners to offer assistance where it is needed.”
IOCC, established in the early 1990s as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy. For more information or to make a donation, visit IOCC’s web site at www.iocc.org.