Members of the United Orthodox Communities with His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas (center); Rev. Father Christopher Retelas (back left); and Rev. Father Peter Stratos (back right). (Photo credit: Fr. Michael State)
The Action and Educational Forum Against Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery was held on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena, California with the blessings of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and with the support of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Leading the effort was His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, Coordinator of the Patriarchal Task Force on Modern Slavery. Both Metropolitan Gerasimos and Metropolitan Nikitas are members of Leadership 100.
This event drew 300 Pan Orthodox and concerned citizens who had the opportunity to learn from professionals who are working to prevent and combat human trafficking and modern slavery, and to rescue and protect its victims. The Forum went beyond discussions and issued a call to action to both individuals and organizations to make a difference in helping to address and eradicate this terrible plight befalling so many innocent people.
Several Orthodox clergy were present with their parishioners, as well as Metropolis Philoptochos President Jeannie Ranglas, also a member of Leadership 100. The planning for this Forum was led by the United Orthodox Communities with the help of Saint Anthony Proistamenos Rev. Father Peter Stratos, and Assistant Priest Rev. Father Christopher Retelas, who also served as the Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon event. The United Orthodox Communities is comprised of volunteers from Orthodox parishes from throughout southern California. Support for the event was also provided by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of America and His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Diocese of Western America of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In addition to His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas, presenters included representatives from Sheriff Jim McDonnell of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office; Lisa Coen, Deputy in Charge – Human Trafficking Section for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office; and Susan Patterson, Director of Through God’s Grace Ministry and author of “How You Can Fight Human Trafficking”.
“The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco has made a serious commitment to join this effort and follow the direction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to eliminate this plague on humanity,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. “It is up to us to heighten the awareness and take action so that all God’s people may live in peace and be freed of oppression.”