Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
In his letter to the Hebrew, St. Paul instructs the faithful with the words, "remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you..." (Heb. 13:7), reminding us of our duty to remember and love those who preach the Gospel and who sanctify us through the celebration of the Divine Mysteries. Explaining the calling to take good care of our clergymen, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk points out: "As he (a priest) takes care and provides for all and for you, do not leave him in need, but help him in his requests and supply his needs, that he may have time to take care and look after the common good. Thus by mutual love and benefaction the common good will not be without success."
As we contemplate these beautiful words of St. Tikhon, let us also be reminded of the fact that some of our clergymen and their families encounter unforseeable hardships and financial difficulties during their priestly ministry as well as after their retirement. This is mainly due to various medical problems, prolonged illness, unexpected housing issues and other factors that contribute to their financial struggles.
With this in mind, the Episcopal Council and the Central Church Council at their regular meeting on December 5, 2013, established the "Special Needs Fund" for clergy and clergy widows. The purpose of this fund is to assist with medical or other related financial hardships, which our priests cannot handle due to low income or limited pensions. The disbursements of funds will be at the discrection of the Episcopal Council.
We encourage all clergy members, lay leaders of our church communities, charitable organizations and all other people of good heart to support this fund with their monetary contributions. It is a real joy and vivid expression of our sincere faith and commitment to Christ when we are given an opportunity to help those in need (John 13:34). Therefore, let us sacrifice something of our own for those who willingly sacrificed themselves in carrying on the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19), with strong faith and true dedication to our Serbian Orthodox Church.
Donations should be made to: Central Church Council (memo: Speical Needs Fund for Clergy and Clergy Widows) and mailed to the Treasurer of the Central Church Council: Mr. Brian Gerich 6808 Trevino Drive, Moorpark, CA 93021.
Wishing you a blessed beginning of Great Lent and joyous feast of Pasca,
President of the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Chruch in North and South America
Bishop of New Gracanica and Midwestern America