Board of Directors

Emily Wilkinson
PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Emily has been active in the pro-life movement since she was a teenager. Her diverse involvement has included pregnancy center outreach, sidewalk advocacy, community organizing, campus activism, and parish ministry. As the former West Coast Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America, she trained hundreds of students to effectively bring the pro-life message to their colleges and high schools. Emily has also been a professional grant writer and holds a decade of experience in the non-profit sector.

John Shannon
TREASURER

John converted to Orthodoxy as a child along with his family during the large-scale conversion of the Evangelical Orthodox Church in 1987. He holds a Business Degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Colorado. After working in commercial real estate for 8 years, John moved into technology sales and is now a Senior Sales Executive with Titan Telecom International. He is married with five children, and is active in his parish, where he serves on the parish council and as co-chair of the Greek Festival committee.

Veronica Ruby
SECRETARY

Veronica founded Orthodox Christians for Life of the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014 and is a volunteer for the Walk for Life West Coast conducting Orthodox Christian outreach. She also volunteers for the East Bay Center for the Blind and has been teaching Sunday School at her parish since 2005. Veronica is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her part-time legal practice is devoted to California injured workers.

 

Fr. Josiah Trenham
SPIRITUAL ADVISOR

Father Josiah is the pastor of St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA. An acclaimed speaker, writer, and leader on family issues within the Orthodox community, he has authored books including Marriage and Virginity According to St. John Chrysostom. He is the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a company dedicated to “nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers” through audio lectures and video content. Fr. Josiah’s homilies and theological reflections can be heard on the Arena podcast at PatristicNectar.org or on Ancient Faith Radio.

Mat. Valerie Protopapas
FOUNDING MEMBER

Matushka Valerie was a founding member of Orthodox Christians for Life when it was originally started in 1986 by her husband, the late Dn. John Protopapas. At that time she served in the role of Educational Director, giving parish talks and writing numerous articles for the organization’s newsletter along with pieces featured in Orthodox publications. Mat. Valerie is also an independent historian of the civil war era and author of A Thousand Points of Truth: The History and Humanity of Col. John Singleton Mosby in Newsprint.

Advisory Board

Frederica Mathewes-Green
SPEAKER AND AUTHOR

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for NPR, a columnist for Christian news outlets, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. She has spoken at places like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, and has been interviewed on venues from PrimeTime Live to the New York Times. She is married to the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, and has three children and 14 grandchildren.

Wesley J. Smith
CHAIR AND SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER ON HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM

Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine.

Fr. Chad Hatfield
PRESIDENT, ST. VLADIMIR'S ORTHODOX THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Father Chad was ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood by His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita. Prior to coming to SVOTS, he served in the role of Dean at St. Herman Seminary in Alaska. Fr. Chad's experience in various pastoral, teaching and administrative roles, spread over some 41 years of ordained ministry, are now blended into his ministry of seminarian formation at SVOTS. His wife, Matushka Thekla, is an integral part of seminary life where she is the Coordinator for the St. Juliana Society. Fr. Chad and Mat. Thekla have two sons, Jason and Sean.

Virginia Nieuwsma 
WRITER AND EDITOR

Virginia grew up in the Philippines with her missionary parents, and later graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois. Since 1981, she has worked in Christian media as an editor, writer, and podcaster. Twenty six years ago she was chrismated into the Orthodox Christian faith, and has since served in various roles (as an editor, project manager, and advancement associate) for the Orthodox Church in America, St. Vlad's Seminary, the Antiochian Archdiocese, and Ancient Faith Ministries. Ginny and her husband Tim have six children and eight grandchildren.


HISTORY

Our Roots

Orthodox Christians for Life ("OCLife") was originally founded in 1986 by the Rev. Father Edward Pehanich, an Orthodox priest of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese, the late Rev. Deacon John Protopapas of the Orthodox Church in America, and his wife, Matushka Valerie Protopapas, a prolific writer on sanctity of life issues.

The Orthodox Church has never wavered in its teaching that human life is sacred from the moment of conception, being made in the Image and Likeness of God, and that abortion is a grave assault against both mother and child. However, the original founders of OCLife identified a significant lack in understanding and acceptance of the Church’s teaching within Orthodox communities in the United States. ​

OCLife was an active and successful grassroots effort for many years. Among other activities, OCLife produced various educational publications and newsletters; helped to establish regional chapters around the country; encouraged Orthodox participation in the March for Life in Washington, D.C.; and was instrumental in the coordination and creation of an Amicus Curiae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in 1989 in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Webster, supporting the State of Missouri in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Unfortunately, over time, the founders were unable to continue their work, and the organization dissolved.

A New Beginning

Recognizing the important work accomplished by the original founders and the need for its mission to continue, an effort has emerged to revive the organization, and we have ambitious plans for impacting the Orthodox community. ​

Orthodox Christians for Life will strive to engage hearts and minds at all levels of Christian life, from our Sunday school classrooms to our seminaries. We will cultivate an Orthodox Christian pro-life ethic that incorporates prayer, education, and service into the existing ministries of our church communities. In collaboration with clergy and lay leaders, OCLife will produce pastoral resources, create sanctity of life educational curriculum, establish parish-based pro-life ministries, develop an Orthodox post-abortion recovery program, and further offer opportunities to strengthen the Orthodox community’s commitment to the sanctity of life.

As we renew its mission, we pray that Orthodox Christians for Life will bear fruit to the glory of God.

   

 

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