"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Jesus Christ (Mt. 28:19-20)
As disciples of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, it is only fitting that we begin our Christian journey with the end of our Lord Jesus Christ's earthly journey where he directed us to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Mt. 28:19ff); the legacy known as the "Great Commission."
At the Evangelist Luke Orthodox Mission Church ("ELOMC"), we take this fundamental Christian calling to heart.
We are awed by greatness of this commission and we see it as a call to evangelize the very place in which we live, work and establish relationships right here in our community. It makes sense to us: we feel strongly that we are blessed to live and work for the glory of Jesus Christ here in our country, the United States where in every way, all nations live and work together.
The United States of America is singularly the most unique nation on the earth, with all the earth's peoples and cultures making their homes in this land. Is it too much of a stretch to believe that a converted heart and mind in this country could not influence a heart and mind in another?
This is the power that is the USA and we at the Evangelist Luke Orthodox Mission Church are intent on making a home for all peoples to come to know the one true God in Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; "One Godhead, One Power."
"He did not want to change them too radically or too suddenly and that is where his talent as a teacher and a missionary shows itself."
Description of the missionary work of St. Innocent of Alaska
(p. 128, "Orthodox Alaska: A Theology of Mission," Oleska, SVS Press, 1992)
In order for this to become a reality, Fr. Gregory, our pastor and founder of the Evangelist Luke Orthodox Mission Church, understood that although Holy Orthodoxy has been shaped and molded by a rich mosaic of cultural and ethnic influences throughout Her glorious past, beginning with Her humble origins in the Greco-Roman world of antiquity, the time has come to allow for an organic shaping of an "American" Orthodox Church based on the cultural and ethnic influences unique to America.
It is our firm belief at the ELOMC that the sustainability of Orthodoxy in this country is based on embracing the "Melting Pot" reality of our country and to prepare a home in which all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, race or culture, will feel comfortable and welcomed.
This is not to diminish the importance of the "Ethnic" Church; as ethnic Orthodox Churches will always be relevant in a country of immigrants.
What we believe is that room and space needs to be provided that allows for an "American" Orthodox Church to rise; one that is relevant to Americans, which to many of us means not only our neighbors seeking the truth of the Ancient Church, it also means preparing an Orthodox Church that will be relevant to our children and to our grandchildren and the future generations that become more assimilated and embedded into American culture and society.
Fr. Gregory's unique upbringing suited him perfectly for this mission. Raised by ethnic Greek parents intent on instilling foremost love for their new homeland in the United States while maintaining a great love and appreciation for the land of their ancestors, Fr. Gregory, during his seminary years, was easily able to identify those aspects of Holy Orthodoxy that were essential for salvation while distancing himself from the ethnic agenda and non-traditional practices that had crept into some of the ethnic churches.
For this reason, it is easy for the Evangelist Luke Orthodox Mission Church to stay faithful to the traditions established by the Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church while allowing each individual and/or family to decide where and how their ethnic traditions fit into their lives. The distinction is easy: The purpose of the Church is to maintain the healing tradition first granted to the Apostles for the salvation of the human soul.
This healing tradition, given to the Apostles through the Spirit of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is preserved in Holy Orthodox Tradition and faithfully passed down to us by the same working and movement of the Holy Spirit; ethnicity is a changeable expression of history and its place and purpose becomes a special and unique decision of the family or the individual.