The Orthodox Christian Church of St Nicholas of Japan Outreach Programme developed in response to Christian love and the need for almsgiving. A lot of what this small parish has undertaken over the years is due to the many parishioners who have volunteered their time and resources.
During the early days of the parish, the parish participated in an outreach program with an Anglican organization. Individual parishioners, on a monthly basis, filled a brown paper packet with a pre-set list of groceries. These were then distributed to homes in need by the organization that was running the project.
At end of the 1990’s, a soup kitchen was started and run from a Venter trailer by the then parish priest Fr. Iakovos (Bert) Olechnowicz, together with Orthodox Christians from various parishes. After Fr Iakovos returned to the U.S.A, support, in an informal manner, continued to be provided from Church funds by parishioners.
For a short period, the outreach program had died down. Under (then Fr) Bishop Athanasius Akunda, of blessed memory, the parish priest of St Nicholas of Japan who was also responsible for other missionary parishes of the archdiocese, specific families were identified as being in need and the parish started providing them food parcels. Gradually more families from outside the parish were also recognized as needing assistance, they too were added to the list of recipients of food parcels.
In 2012/13 St Nicholas Outreach Policy statement of understanding was drafted. A separate Outreach Fund was also set up to identify and ensure that all donations and funds received by the St Nicholas parish were earmarked and used specifically for the food programme.
As a testimony to Bishop Athanasius work in this regard this work continues by the St Nicholas Outreach Team and is currently through the prayers of St Nicholas of Japan self-sustaining. The aim of the food parcel initiative is to provide a hamper of basic essentials to families who are in dire need both in the parish and in the area around the parish, to supplement their meals on a monthly basis.
Currently, every month, roughly 19 hampers are purchased, packed and distributed in the Brixton/ Johannesburg area. Annually, at Christmas, this initiative is extended to our greater community which includes the parishes of Eldorado Park, Soshanguve, Thembisa, Gerhardsville, Madidi, Mamelodi and Attridgeville. For Christmas 2021, the parish plans to distribute roughly 100 food parcels to the greater Johannesburg/ Pretoria communities.
As part of the parish’s outreach work, the choir under the leadership of Mrs Georgia Jammine, has sung at other parishes, community events and old age homes.
Our prayers and gratitude go to all involved, to those who benefited and contributed over the years.
Donations can be made specifically for Outreach, by EFT to the church’s bank account, and using your surname, and “outreach” as a reference.