Orthodox Christian leaders in the United States have exhorted the faithful to respond during heavy 2017 hurricane season
Baltimore, MD (November 17, 2017) – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has supported International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in the organization’s ongoing response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, encouraging those under the Assembly’s leadership to give as they are able to IOCC’s aid efforts along the US Gulf Coast in the wake of these devastating storms.
IOCC has expressed its deep gratitude for the ongoing support of the Assembly and its hierarchs for efforts to serve those in need in affected areas, especially the greater Houston region, Louisiana, and Florida. In addition to helping meet immediate needs like food, water, and shelter, IOCC deployed teams of Frontliners—clergy and laypeople specially trained in disaster and trauma response—to offer emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors.
IOCC staff and volunteers remain on the ground in the Houston area and in Florida. In all, 119 IOCC volunteers have worked in Texas and Florida, rehabbing some 45 homes and serving over 120 families. Assessment and recovery efforts are ongoing, from clearing homes of water-logged debris to repairing roofs and offering financial assistance so parishioners and other families in the community can arrange for repairs themselves. Working with ecumenical partners, IOCC has also provided clean-up supplies, hygiene kits, mattresses, generators, and other essential items throughout the response and recovery phases.
Constantine Triantafilou, IOCC’s Executive Director and CEO, said, “The work that IOCC is able to do around the world is possible only because we have such robust support from our hierarchs. We are extremely thankful for their leadership and to have them as allies serving those in need in the spirit of Christ’s love.”
In a statement dated August 31, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America and Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, and Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, called upon the Church to pray for those who had endured loss and trauma owing to Hurricane Harvey. In addition, he endorsed IOCC’s efforts, calling for practical assistance in response to the growing needs: “Our prayers … should be accompanied by tangible assistance to those who are now in dire need.”
IOCC, the humanitarian agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America, was created in 1992 in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and to support innocent people caught in the crosshairs of war in the former Yugoslavia. Today, the organization applies its expertise in humanitarian response to man-made and natural crises in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. The organization has, since its founding, distributed aid worth over $625 million in more than 60 countries around the world, and offers assistance based solely on need.