To the Clergy and Faithful of the Metropolis of San Francisco,

My beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord:

The reporting and news about the forest fires in Greece have moved all of us. The human and ecological tragedy is beyond words. The loss of life, property, and historic treasures are immeasurable. For many of us in the western United States, we know from personal experience the devastation that wildfires cause and the years of effort it will take for the survivors to recover.

The Church is always at the forefront in times of crisis, offering our prayer for and bringing relief to those who have suffered in times of tragedy. Already our Metropolis is organizing teams of clergy and laity to travel to Greece to assist in the relief efforts. I also ask the following of you, clergy and laity, of this Metropolis:

Pray for the victims, firefighters, and aid workers. For the next two weeks, in the divine services, in the Eirinika, after the petition, “For this parish and city…” insert the following: “For a rapid end to the forest fires in Greece, comfort to the victims and their families, and strength to the firefighters and those who bring aid and relief, let us pray to the Lord.”

Give generously to the relief efforts. Collect funds for the “2007 Greek Fire Relief Fund” through an extra offering tray and from the parish organizations (the parish benevolent funds, Philoptochos, GOYA, etc.). Send these monies to the Metropolis, which will forward them to the appropriate relief agencies.

Should these fires have been caused through arson, we hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The landscape of Greece now smolders, but it will blossom again. However, nothing we do will restore the lives lost. Rebuilding homes and businesses, but more importantly the lives of survivors, will take years and those who have suffered in the wake of these tragic events must know that they are not alone; their brothers and sisters in the Metropolis of San Francisco in America stand with them.

May He who grants mercy, comfort, and healing to all His creation extend His hand to those who have been affected by this tragedy.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco