It is with mixed feelings that this appeal letter is written. After 21 years editing In Communion, I now pass on this challenging responsibility to a new editor, Pieter Dykhorst. With my 70th birthday just a few months away, it seems a good moment for the transition. (Let me add that this is not goodbye by any means — I’ll remain international secretary. Also, as an associate editor, I expect to work closely with the new editor.)
I recall waiting with Fr. Sergei Ovsiannikov, priest of our parish in Amsterdam, at a bus stop in Oxford 21 years ago. The Orthodox Peace Fellowship had existed for several years but could hardly have been a smaller organization. The money in our bank account barely covered the costs of printing and mailing out the small newsletter we published in those days. Perhaps two hundred people were on the mailing list. To support our family, I had another job and thus had little time to devote to OPF. There was no OPF secretary in North America. The question was: ought I to give up my job and focus on building up the nearly penniless OPF? Fr. Sergei, who clearly saw the need for such work in the Church, said “Perhaps this is the moment for a leap of faith.” And so the leap was taken.
If OPF has not grown hugely in the two decades since then, it has grown a lot, is certainly better known than it was, has helped gather and make available a great deal of information about the theology and practice of peacemaking, and has played a constructive role in various situations of conflict and war, most notably in Iraq and former-Yugoslavia. More Orthodox Christians feel themselves challenged to be peacemakers than was the case when there was no Orthodox Peace Fellowship. More of us realize – using a phrase from Clement of Alexandria – that, through baptism, we are called to be part of “an army that sheds no blood.”
Dear friend, you are part of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. Please help us not only continue but grow. Try to make a donation more than once a year and – equally important – to make the Orthodox Peace Fellowship better known to others. One way to do that is to give someone a gift subscription.
Donate $100 or more (or the equivalent in other currencies), and by way of thanks we’ll send you a gift copy of Saint George and the Dragon (see an extract from that book in this issue) when it’s published in September.
In Christ’s peace,
international secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship
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❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 61 / July 2011