Orthodox Church in Japan Assesses Needs of Survivors, Searches for Missing Priest

Baltimore, MD (March 14, 2011) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has been in contact with the Holy Autonomous Orthodox Church in Japan and our ACT Alliance partners to assess the emerging needs following the massive earthquake and tsunami which devastated north eastern Japan on March 11. IOCC is also reaching out to the Metropolis of Korea which is also the Exarchate for Japan under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As the Orthodox Church in Japan works to assess the needs of survivors, it reports that one priest in Tohoku, Japan is missing.

“Most of the church buildings in Tohoku parish along the Pacific coast are severely damaged and one priest is missing,” reports Fr. Demitrios Tanaka of the Holy Autonomous Orthodox Church in Japan. “However, we confirmed that the clergy of Sendai Orthodox Church, including Bishop Seraphim, are safe.”

Given that most of the communications infrastructure was damaged, the Orthodox Church of Japan is still assessing the safety and exact needs of parishioners in the affected areas.

The Holy Resurrection Cathedral of Tokyo and the building of the Metropolitan Council were spared damage according to Fr. Demitrios.

“The outpouring of support from Orthodox Christians who have expressed their desire to help through IOCC has been moving,” said IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou. “This is a complex disaster – two almost simultaneous catastrophic events – and the scope of the need is just beginning to emerge. IOCC will continue to work with its Orthodox Christian and ecumenical partners to determine the most effective aid that can be rendered to Japan in the days and weeks to come.”

The human toll and damage to homes and infrastructure following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake are only beginning to be calculated. More than 10,000 people are now feared dead after the earthquake-triggered tsunami washed away several coastal cities, including Sendai, the Episcopal throne of the East Japan Diocese of the Orthodox Church in Japan.

The overwhelming scale of the twin disasters has prompted the Japanese government to request international assistance. IOCC will coordinate its response with local Orthodox and ecumenical partners in Japan to identify unmet needs that will complement the assistance being rendered by the Japanese and other governments.

IOCC has received numerous calls from individuals and groups offering to assemble health and baby kits. “The kits have been in great demand recently and are always welcome,” said Jamie Helfer, IOCC emergency response coordinator. “Kits that are received to the warehouse facility in western Maryland will be staged for shipment as they are requested by partners in response to disasters around the world and may also be shipped to Japan, if they are requested by our partners there.”

Directions on how to assemble the kits, which are to be sent to a central warehouse in western Maryland, may be found on IOCC’s website at www.iocc.org/kits.

You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like those in Japan, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.

IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

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