To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of our Holy Church:

Beloved Sons and Daughters in the Lord,

Having consulted with His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius, the president of our Eparchial Synod, and with his full agreement, it gives me great joy to share with you good news about an essential apostolic endeavor of our Holy Church – the Saint John of Damascus Orthodox Educational Initiative.  As many of you may already know, our educational initiative is an online program providing Orthodox high school and middle school students – as well as adults – classes in the Faith, and in the humanities and sciences, taught from an Orthodox perspective by qualified Orthodox teachers.

After two semesters of operation, we have received many happy reports.  Parents who are homeschooling their children or seeking to supplement their public or private education, as well as adults seeking a deeper understanding of theology, philosophy, and history from within the mind of the Church, have reported very high satisfaction with the quality of instruction they received, and they look forward to their families’ participating in the Initiative classes in the future.

From our own point of view as those entrusted with the Church’s highest ministry – the apostolic office to be overseers of the flock of Christ – we see the Initiative supporting our work in at least three critical ways:

1. It offers a thoroughly Orthodox as well as academically serious resource to our families who are struggling valiantly to rear their children in learning and piety amid a hostile culture.

2.  It is reinforcing the sense of community, throughout the year, among our widely scattered teens and pre-teens, that has been nurtured so carefully, and with much labor, by the once-a-year Saint Xenia Camp and the Family and Youth Conferences.  In light of the many restrictions associated with COVID, the assistance the Initiative provides in this context is all the more important.

3.  It helps parents provide the kind of education that will form a natural preparation not only for all types of further education in general, but also, and specifically, for the theology and humanities program offered at our Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary.

We encourage you to read the accompanying report that we assembled on the Initiative’s progress during its first full year of operation.  Yet, we need your help.  We extend our archpastoral blessing to those who contribute to the Initiative’s operating fund with a donation.  As most of you probably know, very few educational institutions can operate only on the basis of tuition payments, and nearly all rely also on the generosity of benefactors who believe in their institution’s mission.  We certainly believe in ours. 

Please donate to the Saint John of Damascus Orthodox Educational Initiative.  Donations can be sent by card through the “Donate” link above. If you’d like to pay by check, please make it out to Joy of All Who Sorrow Mission, earmark it “Orthodox Educational Initiative” and mail it to:

Joy of All Who Sorrow Mission
c/o Fr. John
357 N Rolling Road
Springfield, PA 19064

Asking your prayers and help for this God-pleasing effort to continue and to flourish, on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius and the Eparchial Synod,

+Moses, of Toronto

Hierarchical Overseer

Saint John of Damascus Orthodox Educational Initiative

Annual Report by Metropolitan Moses, the Overseer of the St. John of Damascus Orthodox Educational Initiative, to the Eparchial Synod

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, Members of the Eparchial Synod,

Most Reverend Masters, Bless!

It gives me great joy, with gratefulness to the Lord, to report to you on our progress made through your holy prayers since last summer. We began with a small pilot program during the summer of 2019, continued with complete semesters in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020, and are now in the midst of a short summer session. Here is the chronology, which I shall present in two ways: in terms of numbers of classes and total sections, and in terms of numbers of students:

Summer 2019: 1 class/2 sections

Fall 2019: 6 classes, 10 sections

Spring 2020: 21 classes/28 sections

Summer 2020: 6 classes/6 sections

The summer schools, of course, are intended to have light course offerings, with the current six classes being normal for a school our size. The significant datum is the huge jump from the Fall 2019 to Spring 2020 regular semesters. Our reputation spread quickly, and we had to scramble to handle all the signups we had…a good problem to have! The breakdown of student numbers is as follows:

Summer 2019: We began with an adult class in Orthodox Apologetics, with seventeen students.

Fall 2019: We had sixteen teen and pre-teen students, as well as eighteen adults, for a total of 34 students, enrolled in Logic 1, Latin 1, Algebra 1, Apologetics for the High School Student 1, Life Sciences 1, Orthodox Apologetics for Adults (discussion group format).

Spring 2020: 47 children and 45 adults, for a total of 92 students, enrolled in:

Adult Discussion Groups

Saint Ephraim the Syrian: Three Homilies

Acts of the Apostles

Icons: Word of Salvation Through Icons

History for the Orthodox Christian I

Semester Long Classes

Apologetics II

Chant 101

Classical Composition: Fable

Ecclesiastical Greek

History for the Orthodox Christian I

Latin I

Life Sciences

Logic II

Logic II/Rhetoric I

Study Skills

COVID Response Classes

(These classes were developed to respond to the needs of parents resulting from children being taken out of school due to COVID. In general, they were run in short modules of four to six weeks in length.)

Reading for Comprehension Tutorial

Difficult Topics in Mathematics – Elementary

Difficult Topics in Mathematics – High School

English Poetry Through the Ages: Part 1

Fundamentals of Grammar 1: Parts of Speech

Fundamentals of Grammar 2: The Sentence

Fundamentals of Grammar 3: Fragments, Clauses, and Phrases

Summer 2020: 13 children and 29 adults, for a total of 42 students, enrolled in:

Adult Discussion Groups

Harbor for Our Hope

Icons: Word of Salvation Through Icons

History for the Orthodox Christian I

Summer Long Classes

Byzantine Chant 101

Byzantine Chant 102

The Hobbit: A Christian Reading

We also have 15 to 20 families also have one or more children participating in a weekly story time hour, in which they hear the Life of a saint or another pious reading, and have discussions.

Respectfully submitted in Christ,

+Moses, of Toronto