2015 Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday Encyclical
“…Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them…” Acts 16:25
To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the United States:
Beloved in Christ: Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has designated the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, Sunday, May 17th of this year, to be Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) Awareness Sunday in all parishes.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Our parishes are on an inevitable encounter with jails and prisons. Orthodox men and women have been incarcerated and others discover the fullness of the Orthodox Faith even in these dark places. The Holy Orthodox Church offers them the Life that gives meaning to all life and that Life is able to bring healing to a broken humanity. We should all see people not as they are but as they could become through the Holy Orthodox Faith. OCPM is busy training clergy and laypeople to meet the needs of those in prison and those coming out of prison. There are currently hundreds of Orthodox catechumens in jails and prisons. OCPM has published many books and pamphlets distributing more than one million copies. Over two million icon prayer cards have been printed and distributed. OCPM is working to get the Holy Orthodox Faith recognized as a legitimate religion in every state prison system. Jesus told His sheep: “I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:36). Not all of us can go into the prisons directly, but we can all support those who do this work. When someone from OCPM goes into a prison, we who have financially supported this ministry, also go into that prison. This vital ministry of the Orthodox Church needs our financial assistance to do this work. Therefore, we ask you to please pass a second offering tray on Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday, May 17th and send these gifts to OCPM – Post Office Box 1597 – New York, NY 10025.
+Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia, the Orthodox Church in America
Liaison to OCPM from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
The Reverend Stephen Powley
Executive Director of OCPM