The group consists of 22 participants from five different Orthodox Christian jurisdictions. The college students from around the country are traveling to Constantinople to receive the blessings of His All Holiness and refurbish a church and a cemetery that has fallen into disrepair. Fr. Kevin Scherer, Executive Director of OCF commented, "OCF is honored to have the opportunity to assist the Ecumenical Patriarch in his efforts to restore and maintain the parishes of his ancient see. This Real Break trip in particular provides our students with a transformative perspective into both the past and the present struggles of our Church. The participants will work hard in a very short span of time."
The group of clergy and college students will work on St. Kyriakos Church and the Patriarchal Cemetery of Erikapi which borders the Land Walls close to the Vlachernae Palace. Along with the Church, the Patriarchal Cemetery is a site that was desecrated many years ago. There are about 300 tombs which have broken slabs of marble, knocked down headstones and crosses. The team will be responsible to bring the Church and cemetery back to their original state. His Grace Bishop Savas stated, "Laboring to bring order to a sacred space in disrepair has spiritual as well as physical consequences. Clearing away years of accumulated filth and debris, restoring tarnished images, obscured by layers of dirt, to their original beauty, inevitably affects the inner lives of those who do such work. I know from having participated in last year's restoration effort that the men and women who will be taking part this year will experience a renewal of heart analogous to the renewal the Church of St. Kyriakos and the Cemetery of Erikapi will undergo, to the glory of God."
The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are co-sponsoring this project with OCF, to underwrite the materials and supplies for the project. Special funding for the media coverage of this Real Break trip with OCN will be provided by the National Ladies Philoptochos Society. Fr. Christopher the Executive Director of OCN stated, "It is an honor to be partnering with OCF our sister agency of SCOBA. The trip will afford OCN the opportunity to work side by side in the Ancient City of Constantinople with the future leaders of the Church in America, while visiting the Mother Church and the venerable Patriarchate. We expect this to be the beginning of collaborative work with other agencies who travel and share the love of Christ with faithful throughout the world".
Faithful in the United States and around the world are encouraged to visit the web site of Orthodox Christian Fellowship at http://www.ocf.net, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at http://www.goarch.org and OCN at http://www.myocn.net to view daily progress of the trip as well as photos and various interviews with the participants and His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW.
The *Orthodox Christian Network* is one of the official agencies of SCOBA, commissioned by our hierarchs to create a national, sustainable and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity throughout North America. OCN produces the only nationally syndicated Orthodox Christian radio broadcast, as well as several other outreach programs, including DVDs and Internet-based media, in direct collaboration with our sister SCOBA agencies (e.g. IOCC, OCMC, & OCF), as well as with various Orthodox Christian jurisdictions and pan-Orthodox, para-church organizations. Our goal is to engage the broader culture of North America with Orthodox Christianity's rich theological, spiritual and moral heritage, and to thereby strengthen the Orthodox Church's witness and contribution to the culture in which we live.