Balkan Sunflowers

Our Mission Statement

Balkan Sunflowers brings volunteers from around the world to work as neighbors and friends in social reconstruction and renewal. By organizing social and cultural activities, we exchange ideas and energy in order to promote understanding, further non-violent conflict transformation, and celebrate the diversity of the lives and cultures of the Balkan region.

The Light in Our Midst, A Parish Community

One of the most exciting aspects of photography is watching an image emerge in the developer - the interplay of the black and the white creating what you hope is a delight to the eyes. The best of my photographs have a focal point of light that somehow works to illuminate the rest of the image by helping to bring out the detail in the shadows, and yet always drawing our eyes to the light. The parallel to our life in Christ often strikes me.

Reflections on Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.


Hogar Rafael Ayau

Hogar Rafael Ayau, or simply the "Hogar" which means "the home" in Spanish, is named after the guardian of orphans, the Angel Raphael. The Hogar is located in the deteriorated old center of Guatemala City, Guatemala. It is a compound of eight buildings covering a full city block and surrounded by an eighteen-foot-high brick wall. It is an oasis of flowers and green, laughter and innocence, faith and prayer, love and hope, just the thickness of a brick away from the desperation of the streets around it.

Book Reviews: Two Children's Books

These two wonderfully illustrated children’s books, Celebrate the Earth and The Story of Mary the Mother of God, are a welcome and needed addition to the growing collection of Orthodox children’s literature written in English. With themes taken from the Bible and Orthodox Tradition, the stories are retold and illustrated by Dorrie Papademetriou, a graphic designer and mother of two young boys. Recently released by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, the color and richness of these books will captivate children and adults alike.

Milwaukee: Together in Our Faith

“Together in our Faith” was the theme for a pan-Orthodox women’s conference held October 22-23, 1999, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Planned and organized by Cathleen Callen who was assisted by Fr. William Olnhausen and Fr. Joseph Tzougros, the conference brought together women from many states to share fellowship, discussion, and worship on the theme of our togetherness in Christ.

Cleveland: With Faith and Love Draw Near

On Saturday, 20 November 1999, women from several Cleveland-area Orthodox parishes and neighboring churches gathered at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio, for a day of reflection on the theme “With Faith and Love Draw Near.”

Weston: Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord

In preparation for Great Lent, the Ladies’ Philoptochos of Weston sponsored a women’s overnight weekend retreat held at Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Mass. on March 3–5. The campus of Holy Cross, with its beautiful Chapel, was the perfect setting to give glory and honor to God. I am compelled to share the events of the weekend retreat as we are all instructed to “always be ready at all times to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15–16).

Seattle: Who are We Called to Be as Orthodox Women in the 21st Century?

Nearly a hundred women traveled to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle on 11 March 2000 for a women's retreat sponsored by the Washington Orthodox Clergy Association. Entitled, "Who are We Called to Be as Orthodox Women in the Twenty-First Century?," the retreat brought together women from thirteen churches across Washington State

Book Profile: Icon of Spring

Icon of Spring is a short but poignant look at the lives of an immigrant Slovak family in a coal mining camp in southwestern Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. It is told from a child's perspective - simple and innocent - yet ever so full of wisdom.

From the Editorial Board

Because the Church is also "in the world," it always has been, at least to some extent, a product of the culture in which it finds itself. As members of the worshipping community, our participation in the life of the Church has, in part, reflected our "place" in society. Yet, as we have seen throughout the pages of past issues of the Quarterly, women have played an active role in spreading the message of the Gospel, in spite of limitations placed on them by societal norms. But we also must admit that there have been times when women were not able to overcome the cultural biases that had seeped into the Church, and were literally prevented from doing the work they were called to do.

Poem: A Prayer

Ujuntuk oo tuibit feek,
Rub il maseeh ee baarek feek.
Mitil mah rikbit fee urduk,
Irbuk fee mujunuk wud yeed.


As I tired in kneading you,
May the Lord give His blessing.
As you grew in the ground,
May you grow in your rising and be bountiful.


A Voice in the Church

At Pascha this year, for the first time since leaving St. Vladimir's Seminary seven years ago, I decide to take a turn reading from the book of Acts for the Holy Saturday service at my present parish, a small mission in suburban Atlanta. By the time I extricate myself from home duties and get to church that evening, the reading has already begun. The person evidently in charge, a twenty-two year old convert in his subdeacon vestments, is presiding over a clot of minor clergy in black riasas talking together near the iconostasis.

Women of Korça Minister to the Needy

Every Monday and Thursday approximately one hundred needy people come to the Orthodox Cathedral of Korça for a midday meal. Other families in desperate need wait in their homes for a weekly visit from one of the women volunteers. Some of the members visit the sick and despairing, trying to offer words of encouragement and hope. And the residents of the local Old Age Home and the children's orphanage know that they can expect a visit from this "group of love."

Africa Conference: Women in the Life of the Church - June 1998

With the blessing of His Beatitude, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Petros VII, a group of eighty individuals gathered at the Makarios III Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya from June 1-4, 1998 to participate in a conference entitled, "Women in the Life of the Church." This conference, sponsored by the Holy Archbishopric of Kenya, SYNDESMOS, and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), was hosted by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Kenya and Irinoupolis.

Orthodox Christian Women of Montreal - 7th Annual Retreat

Speakers at the Seventh Annual Orthodox Christian Women (OCW) held in Montreal on March 7th were Joanne Abdallah and her husband Fr. John Abdallah from Pittsburgh. Observing the harmony with which Joanne and Fr. John shared their joint presentation was an educational event in itself. There was no hierarchy in the order of speaking, just a shared task that they seemed to enjoy doing together. At each step, the speakers solicited the involvement of the approximately seventy participants gathered in St. Nicholas Antiochian Church for this pan-Orthodox occasion.

WOMENViews - Women in Society

Since its founding in 1994, WOMEN has developed a grass roots membership of over fifteen-hundred women, men, and clergy worldwide who receive the St. Nina Quarterly, and who have set up a network via letters and e-mail to support each other and their ministries in their service to Christ and His Church. During that time, the WOMEN Board has discovered a fascinating diversity in women's experience in the Church. As a result, WOMEN's vision has evolved to recognize the distinct emphases in Orthodox women's needs in these different settings.

On Change

I realize more and more clearly that Orthodoxy is the principle of absolute freedom. 1
- Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

Abraham Heschel's writings, especially on the state of modern religion, ring prophetic and true. In a few words he distills the crisis of contemporary religion. It is time we paid attention to such voices.

The human side of religion, its credos, rituals, and instructions is a way rather than the goal. The goal is 'to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.'


Dear editors,

I'm writing to inquire about my "subscription" to the St. Nina Quarterly. In December of 1997 I sent a donation to cover 1998. So far, I have not received any of your 1998 issues. Could there be a mixup, or are you a quarter behind in your production schedule? I'd hate to miss an issue of this encouraging journal.

Dear editors,

Diaconia Agapes

By many hands the work of God is done.

The Challenge of the Jubilee Assembly and the Padare

The Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which takes place in this the Council's fiftieth anniversary year, offers a unique opportunity for church representatives from around the world to join with sisters and brothers in Africa. Together in Harare, Zimbabwe, from December 3-14, they will seek to make real for a troubled continent the promise of Jubilee, which is about reconciliation, restoration, and renewal.

Orthodoxy and Feminism

People often wonder what attitude the Church should have toward feminism. It may be easy to offer simplistic answers, but we cannot begin to address this issue responsibly unless we are clear about what feminism is. This contentious word feminism means different things to different people, both among its advocates and among its opponents. For many today, including many Orthodox Christians, "feminist" has become a convenient insult largely empty of meaning. If people can pin the label of feminist on people or ideas they dislike, they can dismiss those

Book Profile: What Paul Really Said About Women

As Orthodox Christians we always look at Scripture within the context of Tradition. However, there are times when we borrow the practice common in this country of haphazardly selecting certain passages or translations to suit our own narrow purposes.

The passages most often used to define the status and delimit the participation of women are found in the letters of the Apostle Paul. In his book, What Paul Really Said About Women, John Temple Bristow gives an in-depth examination of St. Paul's writings.

Mother Maria Skobtsova - A Saint of Our Day

At the Last Judgment I will not be asked whether I satisfactorily practiced asceticism, nor how many bows I have made before the divine altar. I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and the prisoner in his jail. That is all I will be asked.1

Mother Maria Skobtsova did not live what one usually thinks of as the ideal monastic life of constant prayer in quiet solitude. Even after she was tonsured a nun she lived and was active "in the world."

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