This month we celebrated the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which was held in Nicea, Asia Minor, in 787. Under Empress Irene, 367 Bishops were present. The Council published a statement approving the creation and veneration of icons as an essential part of prayer, a way to encounter and experience the holy presence. The statement says, “The icons of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, that of our Lady the Theotokos, those of the venerable angels and those of all saintly people. Whenever these representations are contemplated, they will cause those who look at them to commemorate and love their prototype.”
Building a new not-for-profit board is hard. Hard for the obvious reasons: finding the right mix of leaders to shepherd an idea to scale, having the tenacity to ask friends and family for financial support, making room for hard conversations, and then bending and re-shaping for the good of the collective.
Welcome to the first in a series of how we move through space in our churches, by liturgist, chanter, and mother Sarah Roumas.
The narthex is a place of preparation, I have been taught. It is the transition between the secular and the sacred. It is a place where I must remember to pause so that I can release the cares of the world, I can ready myself for what is to come. I complete the slow tasks of lighting a candle and venerating the icons in order to compose myself for the time of prayer, before hurrying—at least a little slower now—into church.
And then I became a mother.
The morning of September 11, 2001, saw a cataclysmic event claim thousands of lives when the shocking impact of airplanes flying into the Twin Towers created a hellish nightmare of flames and falling debris. Then came the sudden collapse of the buildings, a sinking of concrete and steel, roaring sounds, earthshaking tremors, and plumes of smoke that covered lower Manhattan. Destroyed in the collapse that day were the archive offices of two New York City archeological sites dedicated to uncovering the lives and experiences of people who lived in New York centuries ago, people who helped build the city to international prominence and whose lives were forgotten and distorted.
As anyone who has been following our recent blog posts knows, we held our semi-annual board meeting a couple of weeks ago. In the time leading up to it, we made a firm commitment that, since Axia is a very different Orthodox women’s organization, we are called to do things differently. We are trying to pull together a cross-jurisdictional board and, quite frankly, the last two years have been hard. Members agreed that our administrative structure -- a typical, old-school board -- wasn’t capitalizing on our strengths, our range of thinking and experiences, but constraining us to make quick decisions and pushing aside what was truly in our hearts.
We held our semi-annual plenary board meeting from August 20-August 22, in Piermont, New York. (Yes, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Henri threatened to join us!) We've drawn up a lot of plans that we'll be telling you about in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we're delighted to introduce you to our new Executive Board, all of them faces you've seen and voices you've heard here before.
Patricia Fann Bouteneff (on left) is returning to her role as President. She holds a doctorate in Modern Greek from Oxford University and is a former academic, communications professional, and corporate chief-of-staff.
Axia Women has been active for two years now, I'm proud to say. Take a look at what we've been up to and what we're planning in our first annual report. (Sounds boring? Think again! We've got two great stories for you, and have tucked the numbers away at the end, though they tell a pretty good tale, too.)