Seminarians make virtual mission trip to Uganda

9 December 2020 • Yonkers, NY

A team of Saint Vladimir’s Seminarians took part in a two-day, virtual mission trip in December to assist the Orthodox Diocese of Gulu and Eastern Uganda.

The student-led St Innocent Mission Society had made plans last year to travel to Uganda as part of a mission team. But the pandemic forced the Society to pivot, volunteering as part of a virtual team this winter. The team, organized by the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), included seminarians from St. Vladimir’s and Holy Cross (Brookline, MA) seminaries as well as lay people from various parishes.

 The mission team joined participants in Uganda via ZoomThe mission team joined participants in Uganda via Zoom

His Grace, Bishop Silvestros of Eastern and Northern Uganda proposed topics for the team, with the focus on youth leadership, and coordinated with thirty youth leaders in the Diocese of Gulu. On December 5 and 6, the virtual mission team offered multiple sessions each day for clergy and laity in the diocese via Zoom.

The first session December 5 focused on the question “What does it mean to follow Christ?” with a group of laypeople and clergy, including a team of twelve who joined from Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Jinja, a city in the Eastern Region of Uganda, and Alumnus Fr. Simon Menya (’18).

Saint Vladimir’s Seminarian Gaelan (Anthony) Gilbert, PhD, led another session on “the shocking things Christ did on earth.”

The Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ clearly take the cake as the most unexpected and impactful events,” said Gilbert, “but we also were able to openly discuss the challenging teachings of Jesus, the moments where we see our Lord's righteous anger or grief, and most of all His compassion for the suffering.

 St. Vladimir’s Seminarians Philip McClanahan (pictured) and Dr. Gaelan Gilbert led sessions during the two-day virtual mission trip.St. Vladimir’s Seminarians Philip McClanahan (pictured) and Dr. Gaelan Gilbert led sessions during the two-day virtual mission trip.

“It was a blessing for me to be involved in this OCMC virtual team to Uganda,” he added.

The mission team’s work will continue to serve as a resource for the Diocese of Gulu. All sessions were recorded, and Bishop Silvestros plans to use the videos in local communities and universities for Orthodox people and inquirers.