IOCC Receives Orthodox Human Rights Award
New York, N.Y. (March 12, 2003) — A 10-year record of responding to some of the world’s worst man-made and natural disasters was honored over the weekend with the awarding of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
The award, granted by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the highest honor of its kind in the Orthodox Church. Previous recipients include Archbishop Tutu, Mother Teresa and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
IOCC, the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians, is a co-recipient of the 2003 award with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, the foreign missions body of the Orthodox Church in the United States. Both organizations are under the aegis of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.
“This award will forever honor those who founded IOCC and those who fund its ongoing efforts,” said IOCC Board Chairman Bert Moyar, who accepted the award Saturday at a banquet at the Hilton New York in midtown Manhattan. “And, preeminently, it will honor the dedicated men and women whose labor each and every day has earned for IOCC a place among the premier faith-based international aid agencies in the world.”
Among the 520 attendees at Saturday’s banquet were: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos; His Eminence Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania; His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman of the Orthodox Church in America; His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A.; Dr. Anthony Limberakis, national commander of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle; U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.; U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis, R-Fla.; Andrew Athens, IOCC founder and honorary board member; and IOCC founding Executive Director Alex Rondos, now an adviser to Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou said he accepted the award on behalf of the “tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians around the world who support IOCC.”
Triantafilou, who, before becoming IOCC’s executive director, worked as an OCMC missionary in eastern Africa and an IOCC country representative in the former Yugoslavia, said the two agencies have complementary but different roles. “OCMC is your hand spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ around the world, while IOCC is your hand reaching out with a warm meal, with shelter from the violence of war and civil unrest,” he said.
“In the words of Ambassador Alex Rondos, my mentor, friend and leader, IOCC is your hand of compassion reaching out to wipe the tears off the cheeks of a child and making them smile,” Triantafilou said.
In his acceptance speech, Moyar spoke of his recent trip to the former Yugoslavia, where IOCC has delivered more than $50 million in relief and development programs since 1992. “I was overwhelmed at one point by my experience of the personal, caring relationship our staff has with the people they help every day,” he said. “We witnessed over and over again the concern and respect they had for those they serve.”
The Athenagoras award, as the preeminent recognition for humanitarian works presented within the Orthodox Churches of the Western Hemisphere, is dedicated to the memory of one of the 20th century’s most notable Orthodox Christian leaders, Patriarch Athenagoras.
Since its founding in 1992, IOCC has delivered more than $160 million in humanitarian assistance in 21 countries. To learn more about IOCC, its programs and its mission, please visit www.iocc.org or call toll-free 1-887-803-4622.