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First Orthodox Liturgy in Canadian Forces in 50 years November 30, 2010

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On Saturday, 6 November 2010, CFB/ASU Wainwright’s Chapel was the site of the first (in over 50 years) Orthodox Divine Liturgy to be conducted by an active duty regular force Canadian Forces Chaplain who is an Orthodox Priest. Captain (Father) Charles Baxter, one of the Base Chaplains at CFB/ASU Wainwright, served the Divine Liturgy with the assistance of Father John Lipinsky and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada’s (UOCC) Bonnyville Alberta District’s faithful and choir. Following the Divine Liturgy, a brief Memorial Service was held to honour the fallen service members who gave their lives in defence of Canada.

Captain Baxter is the first Orthodox Canadian Forces Chaplain to serve in Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces since the conclusion of the Second World War. “We make a proud beginning this day,” Captain Baxter said at the conclusion of services, “by praying for all of our service members and their families who serve both in Canada and around the world. We do this today with prayers for them. We also pray for the souls of  the honoured dead. My prayer is that God will continue to bless my ministry in Wainwright and to be able to witness and serve for all of our brother and sister CF members and families who are Orthodox Christians.”

Padre Baxter began his military service with Basic Officer Training at CFB Borden in September 2009. After a rigorous and challenging course that ended with graduation in mid-December, he was posted to CFB/ASU Wainwright where he serves as one of the Base Chaplains.

On the Sundays when he is not serving in the CFB Wainwright Chapel, Padre Baxter assists the nearby UOCC parish communities in St. Paul, Bonnyville, Camrose and elsewhere in Alberta. Padre Baxter is also assisting the UOCC’s ongoing rural parish projects. This includes locating prairie Orthodox church buildings that are not on the diocesean registy. Many of these buildings have not been used for services for many years. Some may, with the support and help of local communities and families, remain in good repair. Padre Baxter works with his eparchial Bishop in Edmonton in support of the church’s effort to locate and to reach out to these forgotten prairie churches.

The Canadian Forces Chaplains (also known as “Padres”) come from a wide variety of faith traditions and backgrounds from all across the country. All major Christian denominations now have active duty full-time regular force Chaplains to meet their spiritual needs. The chaplain exercises a specialized ministry within the Canadian Forces, aimed at promoting religious, spiritual, moral and ethical values, and providing spiritual care and nurture to military members and their families. The Chaplain functions both as a specialist staff officer and as a religious leader.  The Chaplain advises the commander and other staff on matters of spirituality, ethics, morale and religious accommodation.

As a staff officer, the Chaplain functions as a specialist advisor and has direct access to the commander. The Chaplain is responsible to the commander for planning and implementing religious support programs and ministry activities within the commander’s area of responsibility.

Canadian Forces Chaplains perform religious rites and ceremonies, such as The Divine Liturgy and other services for Orthodox service members, and administers sacraments and ordinances in accordance with the traditions of their own faith tradition. In so far as it is possible, the Chaplain offers appropriate spiritual support and care to all soldiers and their families, regardless of their religious faith expression. If a chaplain is unable to personally provide specific religious support, the chaplain will seek to have such support provided by another chaplain, or where possible, by appropriate civilian religious leaders.

Father Charles Baxter can be reached at the following:

Rev. Charles Baxter (UOCC)
Captain (CF)
Office: (780) 842-1363 x1252
charles.baxter@forces.gc.ca
Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Wainwright
Bldg. 196 Chapel
Denwood AB Canada T0B 1B0

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Happy Anniversary! SGOMA turns 1! October 20, 2010

Posted by stgeorgeoma in Armed Forces, Armed Services, Eastern Orthodox, Memorial, Military, Networking, News, Orthodox, Religion, Religious, Saints, SGOMA News, Uncategorized.
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October 20th, 2010 – Feast Day of Saint Artemius/1st anniversary of the Saint George Orthodox Military Association (SGOMA).

One year ago today, an idea was born to find ways to support our Eastern Orthodox Christians serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

What started out as a letter writing campaign to try to get an Orthodox Chapel on Fort Bliss, one of the largest Army Bases in the U.S., turned out to develop into a Pan-Orthodox organization of active duty & reserve military, dependents, retirees, veterans and their families, all with the same goal, to advance the cause of our Orthodox men and women serving our country at home and overseas.

In the past year…

Our Facebook page went from 2 members to over 1,360 people. Our webpage has received over 100,000 hits, with visitors from all around the globe.

With the help and generosity of Ancient Faith Radio the Association has a regular podcast series called “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” available for download any time at: http://www.ancient faith.com

Our Orthodox Chaplains have done an outstanding job in helping us with the Podcasts and supplying us with liturgical information, Chaplain and Chapel updates, all in order to help our Orthodox brothers and sisters in the U.S. Armed Forces.

SGOMA has sent out over 25 Orthodox Survival Packages to our Orthodox service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through the great generosity of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese SGOMA has been able to send out over 40 “Orthodox New Testament & Psalms” to our service members in the USA and around the world.

As we enter into our second year, SGOMA will continue to work towards serving our Orthodox Troops and find new opportunities to reach out to them and let them know they are loved, cared about, prayed for and remembered by the members of our association throughout the year.

SGOMA is working with USFallen.org in order to more accurately recognize and honor those Eastern Orthodox Christians who have given their lives in defense of our country. We will continue to expand, honor, pray for, and remember all of our fallen Orthodox service members throughout the year, in special panikhidas, and during Divine Liturgies.

SGOMA is continuing work on developing a home catechetical program and providing resources for Orthodox Home Schooling.

We are continuing to reach out to our Orthodox Troops, their families and our Orthodox Chaplains to bring you more interesting and educational Podcasts on our Ancient Faith series “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines.”

We are very grateful for all the wonderful people who have donated to the Saint George Orthodox Military Association over the past year. Through your generosity we have been able to do the things that we have for our troops. We are still in need of more donations to continue the work that we have begun. If you would like donate to SGOMA please feel free to contact us via email at: StGeorgeOMA@gmail.com or mail your donations to us at: SGOMA, 2521 N. Main St., Unit 1, #198, Las Cruces, NM 88001. All your donations are tax detectable.

As always, we are open to ideas and suggestions on how we can better serve our Orthodox service members, their dependents, as well as our retirees and veterans. If you have any ideas please contact us and let us know.

We are excited to continue serving our Orthodox Service Members as we enter our second year. We ask for your continued prayers for our Association, but more importantly for our Airmen, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Coast Guardsmen who so proudly and vigilantly protect our country every day. Our never-ending gratitude goes out to them!

Saint George Orthodox Military Association….we are “Supporting our Eastern Orthodox Christians serving in the U.S. Armed Forces”

Pentagon Pushes Veterans to Claim Stop-Loss Bonuses Before Deadline October 12, 2010

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE: U.S. soldiers stand guard as a medical helicopter arrives to evacuate a soldier who was seriously wounded when he stepped on an improvised mine in Kandahar province. (AP Photo)

From: FOXNEWS.com

Uncle Sam usually doesn’t have trouble finding folks to accept bonus checks.

But when it comes to giving $500 per month in retroactive pay to troops and veterans who were forced to stay in the military beyond their enlistment terms during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. government hasn’t gotten the participation it expected.

Service members, veterans and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009, under the controversial “stop-loss” program are eligible for the additional payout. The average benefit is $3,800.

One problem: Only 62,000 of the 145,000 entitled to receive the stop-loss payments from a pool of $534.4 million have collected, leaving 83,000 left to claim $300 million.

Those who voluntarily re-enlisted or extended their service and received a bonus are not eligible.

In June 2009, President Obama signed into law the emergency supplemental war funding that included the retroactive bonuses. Since then, Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and members of Congress have filmed public service announcements to get the word out.

The Pentagon has also reached out to beneficiaries through multiple direct mailings, the Veterans Affairs Department, social networks, more than 100 military and veteran groups and the media, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez told FoxNews.com

Lainez said the direct mail is only having limited success because the letters are sent to the last known address for beneficiaries who may have relocated and some beneficiaries don’t open their mail.

Troops originally had until next week — Oct. 21 — to collect the money due to them, but several lawmakers pushed for an extension, and the deadline was pushed back to Dec. 3 as part of a continuing resolution approved by Congress last week.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., is now pushing to extend the deadline to Oct. 21, 2011.

“Last year, Congress helped fix an injustice by providing bonus payments to thousands of troops who were required to serve and sacrifice longer than their scheduled enlistment,” Lautenberg said in a written statement.

“But unless we make sure that as many service members as possible have been paid, the good intent will not be fully realized. An extension of the stop-loss claims deadline will give the Defense Department more time to reach out to the troops who served selflessly and remained in service long after they were scheduled to return home.”

The military, and mostly the Army, has relied on stop-loss since 2002 to keep soldiers in service in what critics called a de facto draft. The practice was aimed at continuity, Lainez said, because training new recruits to go into the battlefield while the U.S. was fighting two wars was both time-consuming and inefficient.

Of the 145,000 beneficiaries eligible for the back pay, 120,000 served in the Army. The Army plans to phase out stop-loss assignments by March 2011, Lainez said.

Lainez said the Defense Department won’t just mail out checks to eligible troops.

“Besides the fact that they have to apply, it wouldn’t be prudent to send $534 million in checks to last known addresses that are years old,” she said.

Lainez advised that beneficiaries apply online because the process moves much more quickly.

Individuals eligible for the bonus can visit http://www.defense.gov/stoploss for more information.

We Remember PFC Serge Kropov July 30, 2010

Posted by stgeorgeoma in Armed Forces, Armed Services, Eastern Orthodox, Memorial, Military, Networking, News, Orthodox, Religion, Religious, Saints, SGOMA News, Uncategorized.
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We remember! On July 28th of this year SGOMA remembered one of our fallen Marines. July 28th is the birthday of PFC. Serge Kropov, USMC. Serge died in Afghanistan, in December 2009, while proudly serving his country. On this day members of SGOMA kept Serge in their prayers, as friends and family gathered around Serge’s grave at  St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan, PA, and held a Panachida for him.

Serge’s Mother has started a Facebook Memorial page for Serge. It is very touching and gives you a whole new feeling for the loss the Kropov family is feeling. This brings home the same loss that so many families around the United States feel who have lost a loved one serving our Country. You can view Serge’s Memorial Facebook page at:

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/?act=50599020#!/group.php?gid=217355966323&ref=ts

We here at SGOMA remember Serge every day, just as we do for all of our fallen Orthodox Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen.  Memory Eternal!

Former U.S.N. Chaplain reposes in the Lord July 27, 2010

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Former U.S.N. Chaplain, the Very Rev. Fr. Matthew B. MacKay fell asleep in the Lord on July 26, 2010, in Houston, TX. Fr. Mathew served as a Chaplain at/on: Naval Military Chaplain, Norfolk, VA. USS John F. Kennedy, 1992-1993; Iwakuni, Japan. USMC Air Base Chapel, 1989-1992.

Fr. Mathew also served in the USMC, at Camp Pendleton, CA.  as a 1st Lt., in the Artillery, 1979-1983

Fr. Mathew was also a Graduate of the Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina).

Please keep his family and friends in your prayers. You can find out more information about Fr. Mathew by going to his parishes web-page Click Here

SGOMA will post more information as it becomes available.

Memory Eternal!

Latest Episode of SGOMA Podcast is availible on Ancient Faith Radio June 10, 2010

Posted by stgeorgeoma in Armed Forces, Armed Services, Eastern Orthodox, Military, Networking, News, Orthodox, Religion, Religious, Saints, SGOMA News, Uncategorized.
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The St. George’s Orthodox Military Association’s latest podcast episode of the “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” is now available on Ancient Faith Radio. In this episode Fr. Anthony Perkins, a Retired U.S. Army Intel Officer, reflects on his deployment to Afghanistan in the wake of 9-11. To listen to the podcast click on the AFR link: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/frontlines

About the Podcast:

“Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines – Dispatches from the St. George Orthodox Military Association”

The St. George Orthodox Military Association (SGOMA) hosts discussions on various topics related to our Orthodox Christian military men and women and their dependents serving in the United States. We feature special guests who are members of Saint George Orthodox Military Association, our courageous Orthodox military chaplains, and special interviews with our Troops, Sailors, Air Men, and Marines.

“Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” is now live, up and running on Ancient Faith Radio May 14, 2010

Posted by stgeorgeoma in Armed Forces, Armed Services, Eastern Orthodox, Military, Networking, News, Orthodox, Religion, Religious, SGOMA News, Uncategorized.
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SGOMA’s podcast series “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” is now live, up and running on Ancient Faith Radio (www.ancientfaith.com). The initial episode is now available for listening. New episodes will air every other week. Look for the next episode on May 19th or 20th. This podcast series is also available on iTunes, just search for “Ancient Faith Radio” and then look for the “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” podcast and subscribe to it to get all the future episodes on your iPod/iPhone.

In this first episode Hieromonk Joshua and Subdeacon Vladimir Laven discuss the origins of the Saint George Orthodox Military Association; the need to assist our Orthodox Armed Services Members, their dependents, and those who have served; increasing the size of the Orthodox Chaplaincy that serves our military; and some of the goals and outreach programs of SGOMA.

This podcast was recorded back in the beginning of January 2010. It was Hieromonk Joshua and Subdeacon Vladamir’s first ever attempt at doing a podcast. It is hoped that over time, and as they do more podcasts, that they will get better and present more of a professional, enjoyable and educational feel to the podcasts.

The next several episodes of “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” will feature podcasts from:

Fr. Anthony Perkins – Retired U.S. Army Intel Officer
Fr. Peter Dubinin – U.S. Army Orthodox Chaplain Recruiter
Fr. Jerome Cwiklinski – U.S. Navy Orthodox Chaplain
Hieromonk Joshua
– U.S. Navy Veteran, Co-Director of SGOMA
Subdeacon Vladimir Laven – U.S. Air Force (Ret), Co-Director of SGOMA
His Grace Bishop Daniel
, the blessing Hierarch of SGOMA, Former U.S. Army Orthodox Chaplain

And many more to come!

Please visit and bookmark the “Orthodox Christians on the Front Lines” page on Ancient Faith Radio at the following web-address: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/frontlines