A New Direction for the Departments of the OCA

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Source: Orthodox Church in America


SYOSSET, NY [OCA]  The Departments of the Orthodox Church in America have a long and fruitful history. When the OCA received her autocephaly in 1970, Orthodox resources in the English language were rare. The burgeoning OCA took her mission to be the Church in North America seriously, supporting parish ministries and Orthodox Christians with the development of much-needed resources. The first half of the history of the OCA was met with an explosion of new and fresh materials. Towering leaders set their sights on equipping the parishes and the Church at large with exemplary offerings which endure even to this day.

Over the decades, the Departments have gone through various changes in names, structures, personnel, and projects. All of the individuals that have served in the Departments have done so out of tremendous love for Christ and the Church in the hope that the faithful would be well served by their efforts. As we look to the future, we must first look back in deep gratitude to all those who have selflessly served the Church in this way. We thank God for their productivity and vision which provides great inspiration for the work ahead of us.

As we look to the future, the Departments of the OCA are committed to taking a renewed approach to their work with the knowledge that a plethora of materials are now readily available to the faithful. There are dozens of Orthodox publishers providing thousands of books on every conceivable topic, Orthodox media outlets providing audio and video resources, Church musicians providing thoughtfully crafted music, and various jurisdictions and Church organizations continuing to provide Christian education materials. Therefore, the Departments must approach their work in the light of the realities of 2021 and beyond. As we continue to develop new ways of doing departmental work, our sole focus will be to provide essential resources and services which support the ministries of parishes and missions. These resources should also seek to fulfill the vision of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon as outlined in the document “Of What Life Do We Speak?  Four Pillars for the Fulfillment of the Apostolic Work of the Church” along with the guidance and blessing of the Holy Synod.

The major change that has taken place in the departmental structure is the current elimination of Departmental Chairpersons. Instead, one head for all the Departments, the Project Manager of the Departments, will set the agenda for the production of needed resources, services, and materials. The Project Manager is tasked with seeking out talented and knowledgeable individuals who will serve as Project Leaders. The projects may involve one or numerous departmental areas. Projects may also be proposed by the clergy or faithful at large, the prime directive being the usefulness of the outcome to the entire Church.

The projects listed below are either completed, ongoing (meaning that they have been initiated and will continue), or are in production.

Department of Liturgical Music and Translations
COMPLETE: Basic Sight-Singing and Ear-Training Course for choir directors and singers who may be unfamiliar with basic musical concepts.
COMPLETE: Four webinars to prepare church musicians for the Pre-Lenten, Lenten, Holy Week, and Paschal Services. Registrants were provided with a wealth of information and new music. Webinars are archived on YouTube.
ONGOING: Compilation of all available resources and texts into a usable online Horologion, Triodion, Penteocostarion, Menaion, Psalter, and other possible resources.
ONGOING: Expansion of Thee/Thou music for the Ochtoechos and Menaion.
ONGOING: Creation of complete rubrical notes for upcoming Saturday night/Sunday cycle of Divine Services. Plans include other commonly served services for the Great and Vigil-ranked feasts.
IN PRODUCTION: Basic music for Matins and Vespers.
IN PRODUCTION: Basic Conducting Course which will be held online, beginning Summer or Fall, 2021.

Department of Evangelization
COMPLETE: Launch, review, and awarding of the 2021 Mission Planting Grant Program. Ongoing maintenance of program and coaching of mission parishes and priests.
IN PRODUCTION: Revision and redesigning of approximately 40 attractive trifold and bifold tracts, made freely available for download and use in parishes (to be released the week of April 19).
IN PRODUCTION: New series of videos on various topics important to Orthodox Christians.
IN PRODUCTION: A new apologetics website that will feature articles mainly by OCA priests and informed OCA laypersons, providing reliable, well-researched materials on a variety of subjects.
IN PRODUCTION: A compilation of available educational and liturgical resources in the Spanish language and the creation of new resources as needed.

Department of Continuing Education
ONGOING: Production of 12 one-hour online seminars or educational forums on a variety of topics relevant to clergy and church workers, beginning in January 2021, called “Third Thursdays.”
ONGOING: Production of six 15 minute high-quality production videos on a pastoral approach to those dealing with Suicide, taught by experts in the field.

Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid
COMPLETED: Production of links and tags to all current resources in the Department supporting His Beatitude’s “Four Pillars” document.
ONGOING: Additional articles for Parish Ministry Resources.
IN PRODUCTION: Four live approximately one-hour-long webinars on the topics based on “Compassion in Action” with guest speakers to address relevant topics.

Department of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry
COMPLETED: Coordination of the annual Orthodox Youth Workers Conference, held January 27-29, 2021 online.
ONGOING: Coordination of the OCA’s participation in the Assembly of Bishops “Year of Youth” initiative.
IN PRODUCTION: OCA-specific youth initiatives including a Bible Bowl-type competition leading up to the All-American in 2022.
IN PRODUCTION: Resource creation for use in parishes to engage youth at various levels.

Department of Christian Education
ONGOING: Weekly Online Church School for Middle School and High School Students provided openly for any students who wish to join every Tuesday at 7:00 pm ET during the school year.
IN PRODUCTION: Completion of the sixth volume of Saints activity book for children as an online resource.

Inter-Departmental
COMPLETED: Virtual March for Life on January 28, 2021.
IN PRODUCTION: A 16-chapter/session Catechism written collaboratively by outstanding authors and made freely available for parish use, including a catechist and catechumen manual, and resource site to accompany the course.

We are excited about the plans and possibilities for the coming months and beyond. But we need your help. First, pray that God would bless the work of the Departments to strengthen and increase it. Next, support the ongoing efforts by considering a gift to the Stewards of the OCA. Your financial support is crucial to the success of these endeavors. Finally, if you have an idea, see a need, or want to offer your talents as a Project Lead or contributor, contact the Project Manager of the Departments of the OCA, Father Thomas Soroka, at [email protected].

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