Commissioned for OCMC Missionary Service
Dr. Bill Black Renews his Ministry in Kenya, Africa
On Sunday, July 20th, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Charlottesville, Virginia offered its prayerful best wishes to Missionary William (Reader Joseph) Black, as he departed for his new assignment in the mission fields in Kenya.
Dr. Black (who we affectionately call ‘Bill’) had served as a Protestant missionary in Africa for 30 years prior to his conversion to Orthodox Christianity in 2012. Following his return to America, Bill became an active member of St. Nicholas parish and immersed himself in the life of the parish, notably, coordinating a series of lectures on the history and life of African Christianity during Great Lent, 2015. His deepest desire, however, was to return to Kenya to continue his mission work there. With the discernment and support of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) and a network of supporters, he has joined the OCMC missionary efforts in Africa. His work in Kenya, under the spiritual guidance of His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kenya) will focus on the education of the next generation of Orthodox Christian priests and lay people who will bring the Gospel to Kenya, and throughout the African continent. His ministry will be based at the Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary in Nairobi, but there will be many opportunities for ministry in the field accompanying the bishops and clergy on pastoral visits, as well as teaching in partnership with St. Paul’s University in Nairobi.
The OCMC commissioning service was offered to the Lord at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Fr. Robert Holet, the pastor. The prayers of the faithful present were lifted to the Lord, invoking the grace and protection of the Holy Spirit upon Dr. Black. Upon conclusion of the blessing prayers, Dr. Black offered a spiritual reflection on his time at St. Nicholas parish, thanking all for their support, and the joy of re-entry into the missionary ministry before him.
The parish has pledged its continued support for Dr. Black, and during the course of His Archpastoral visit to Charlottesville in March 2015, the support of the entire UOC Metropolia was affirmed for him. Through the sometimes strange, but Spirit-led process, we as a church have an extraordinary opportunity to participate directly in the ongoing work of spreading the gospel in Africa. Our relationship with Dr. Black will be a living link to His Eminence Makarios, and all who serve the mission of Holy Orthodoxy in those lands. St. Nicholas parish will be looking for further ways to partner with OCMC and the Church in Kenya to strengthen their missionary efforts.
As a parish we give thanks to God, for sending Bill into our midst for these two years, and opening to us this new, wonderful vision of His work in a people far from us geographically, but closer now in the Spirit. We want to serve as a conduit of God’s grace in this effort – enabling people in our American circle of faith to come to know of this important ministry, and support Bill and his work in the manner that the Lord may lead. We should be reminded that the prayers and support for those serving in Africa are essential. Recall that the African continent is a spiritual battleground – and earlier this year dozens of our Christian brothers and sisters were killed in Kenya because of their Christian faith. May the Most Holy Birthgiver of God overshadow her children with her mantle of intercession.
You may connect to the OCMC webpage to learn of ways to participate –http://www.ocmc.org/about/view_missionary.aspx…. And if you would like to get Bill’s enriching, theologically astute, pictorially powerful and downright funny blog (Onesimus) , see http://onesimusredivivus.blogspot.com, or simply connect through the St. Nicholas Parish Facebook page.