Back to the Beginning: Moscow, 1992

IOCC started with the idea that Orthodox Christians of all jurisdictions and all ethnicities could come together to answer Christ's call to serve those in need. And a particularly great need inspired American Orthodox Christians to take action in the early 1990s.

Back to the Beginning: Moscow, 1992

Men and women in Moscow receive much needed food items from IOCC’s first shipment of humanitarian aid in 1992.

How did it all begin?

IOCC started with the idea that Orthodox Christians of all jurisdictions and all ethnicities could come together to answer Christ’s call to serve those in need. And a particularly great need inspired American Orthodox Christians to take action in the early 1990s.

In response to the crisis, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) was formed by the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the predecessor to the modern-day Assembly, along with lay leaders Mr. Charles R. Ajalat, Mr. Andrew A. Athens, and Mr. John G. Rangos Sr. In addition, the faithful support of honorary board members Mr. George M. Marcus and the late Dr. George J. Farha, ensured IOCC’s growth and continued service over the last 25 years. Their vision answered a call by members of the Orthodox Christian community here in the United States to respond to the great humanitarian needs arising in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, including the revolutions in Eastern Europe and socioeconomic upheaval.

The newly formed IOCC was American Orthodoxy’s answer to this growing need and, over time, to many other needs as well. The organization’s first initiative was two airlifts in February 1992: US military cargo planes flew from Pittsburgh to Moscow carrying $4.8 million of food items and essential medical supplies.

This US military cargo plane, loaded with IOCC food and medical supplies, prepares to depart from Pittsburgh to Moscow.

It was collaboration across jurisdictions and a central pan-Orthodox spirit that would continue to drive IOCC’s identity and success in the coming years. From that first initiative, IOCC went on to open a field office in Moscow and today has 11 field offices around the world. Through your support, IOCC has gradually expanded to reach over 60 countries with life-saving assistance, distributing more than $600 million in humanitarian relief. As we move into the next 25 years and beyond, IOCC continues to represent the unity of the Church not only in the United States but also around the world, and through your generosity it continues to answer Christ’s call to serve the least of our brethren.