Traveling to Kenya to witness the Orthodox faith is not something that is easily accomplished. Not everyone can journey 9,500 miles to experience the vibrancy of the faith, the piety of the people, and be immersed in a new cultural atmosphere. There is so much that can be learned from the Orthodox Christians in Kenya, and this is your chance to discover how the missions program has positively impacted the growth of our faith and motivated volunteers from the United States to support this much-needed effort.

Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Beaverton, OR is offering a four-part free webinar “Orthodox Life in Kenya – The Impact of Missions”. During these livestream webinars, participants will be transported to the churches, villages and schools a world away, yet connected through our faith and love in Jesus Christ.

The webinar schedule is:

  • Thursday, November 12 – “Effects of Dependency” with Dr. William Black
  • Thursday, November 19 – “Response to Change” with Joel Pleban, Elayne Goldman, and Virginia Gathoni
  • Thursday, December 3 – “Education and Liturgical Needs” with Theodoros and Eleni Karamatskos and Virginia Gathoni
  • Thursday, December 10 – “A Personal Talk with His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Kenya” with Dr. William Black

The free webinars will begin at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. EST, and will be live-streamed on the St. John the Baptist YouTube page. There is no need to register – just click and be inspired! Please post your questions for the presenters and every effort will be made to have them answered during the livestream sessions. If you are unable to participate, you can also view the webinars which will be posted online following each session.

This is a unique opportunity and one that truly connects Orthodox Christians throughout the world. Mark your calendars and don’t miss it! For more information visit, or email

A Short Biography of the Archbishop of Kenya

His Eminence Elder Makarios Archbishop of Kenya (known in the world as Andreas Tylirides), was born in Limassol in Cyprus. He studied Theology at the Orthodox Theological Institute of St. Sergius in Paris from which he graduated in 1972. During his studies in Paris he also studied Byzantology at the College de France and at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. These were followed by post-graduate studies in Church History at Oxford University. He received his Doctorate degree in Philosophy in 1976 from the same University. In January 1997, following the desire of Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus of blessed memory, he arrived in Kenya where he gave himself to the preparation for the operation of the Seminary, being appointed at the same time as its Director. Between the years of 1978 – 1981 he attended post-doctoral studies in History and Religions and Church History at the Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium on scholarship. In 1982 he returned to serve in Kenya. In July 1992 he was ordained Deacon, Priest and Bishop with the title of Rirouta. He served also as Director of the Patriarchal Library. He was elected Archbishop of Zimbabwe on 13th January 1998 and in February of 2001 he was placed at the Archdiocese of Kenya.

About the Speakers

Kenya Collage

Dr. Bill Black

Dr. Bill Black grew up in South Carolina. While attending Duke University, he lived in Kenya with a Kenyan pastor and his family for part of a year during a short-term mission trip in 1980. After university he directed the short-term missions program in Kenya for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for four years. He completed his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and was ordained a Presbyterian minister, serving churches in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He went back to school to get his PhD in Early Modern British History from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Bill moved with his family to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2000, teaching at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and serving for 4 years as the senior pastor of the International Evangelical Church. In 2008 he moved to Nairobi, and taught at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (now African International University). In 2011 after a long process, he converted to the Orthodox Church. Later that year he began teaching at St. Paul’s University (Limuru, Nairobi, Machakos and Nakuru), where he continues to teach in the Faculty of Theology. He has also taught at the Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Ecclesiastical School in Nairobi, and has assisted the Archbishop of Nairobi and the Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya in various projects. He is a member and sometimes preacher at Sts. Anargyroi Orthodox Church on Valley Road in Nairobi.

Virginia Gathoni

Virginia Gathoni is among the pioneer group of teachers of St. Clement Elementary school. Apart from class teaching, she is the coordinator of all children welfare in the school. From the start, she has been engaged in visiting vulnerable children from needy families and enrolling them in the school program. She started a mentorship program which brings together teenagers and college students. She has also majored in counseling, and helps the psychologically disturbed cases of children and parents. In addition, she has been supporting the girl child, teaching family values to teenage mothers and others among orthodox women through seminars.

Sub-Deacon Joel Pleban

Joel F. Pleban is a Sub-Deacon in the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and a lifelong member of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Stratford, Connecticut. Growing up an altar boy in the church, Joel was tonsured and elevated in 1995 by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos of Thrice Blessed Memory. In addition to fulfilling his Liturgical responsibilities, Joel has served as the parish Treasurer and Auditor, as well as a Sunday School teacher. Joel received a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, in History with a business minor from Xavier University in 1990. He received a Masters in Business Administration from Bryant College in 1992 and a Masters in Taxation from the University of New Haven in 2000. He was licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Connecticut in 1996 and founded Joel Pleban CPA, LLC in 2010.

Joel has traveled to Kenya twice, first in 2017, and then in 2019 under the guidance of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). Joel brought his prior teaching experience and his professional accounting knowledge to the various youth church groups, numerous church boards, and the Makarios II seminary, where he gave a series of lectures on various accounting topics and to the seminarians, where he also stressed the need for responsible financial structure and implementation of stewardship programs. Joel has given a number a presentations in Connecticut on OCMC mission activity in Kenya and serves as a OCMC liaison with his local Deanery.

Elayne Goldman

Elayne Goldman lives in Portland, Oregon and is one of the founding members of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Beaverton, Oregon, which started as a small mission parish in 1997. She has served on numerous parish boards; including PC President, Philoptochos President, Seniors and Missions & Evangelism ministries. Elayne earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling with emphasis in Vocational Rehabilitation and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Health Sciences. Elayne has spent her entire career as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor helping people with disabilities, including adults and high school youth, to identify and overcome personal obstacles and maintain long term employment. She is currently director of her own agency serving the Oregon Department of Human Services in several Oregon counties. Since 2017, she has been to Kenya 4 times with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) as a team member and mission volunteer teaching high risk youth, visiting rural mission churches and supporting and empowering women’s ministries in Eastern and Western Kenya. Elayne considers the Makarios II Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya her “second home” and has witnessed much joy and personal appreciation for how God works in the lives of all people to foster hope and belief in His great mercy. Besides being an avid mission enthusiast, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, Georgia, Kalliopi and Harrison. She has special interest in capturing the connectedness of people of shared faith in her oil paintings.

Eleni Karamatskos

Eleni, born and raised in Chicago, is a member of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, Westchester Illinois. She serves on the Missions Committee and sings in the choir. Eleni has traveled to Kenya 3 times, and once to Guatemala on a construction mission to remodel and restore a clinic, as a missionary of OCMC. Eleni is a retired elementary school teacher with a BA in Education, and a MA in Human Services, and Exercise Science. In Kenya, Eleni has worked with the children of St. Clement Primary School both as a mission team member, and a substitute teacher. She has organized a program that has provided “The Shoe that Grows” to the children of St. Clement, and to many children of the parishes in Kenya. Eleni has enjoyed the spiritual experiences she has witnessed through the many travels with His Eminence, Archbishop Makarios. She has observed and felt the unity of the universal family of Orthodox Christians while in Kenya, and plans to return to Kenya in 2022…God willing!

Ted Karamatskos

Ted currently resides in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Born and raised in Alexandroupolis, Greece, Ted emigrated to the U.S.A. thirty-three years ago. By trade, Ted is an electrician, with experience in sound systems, and general construction after finishing his studies in Greece. He met Eleni in Chicago, and married twenty-two years ago. Ted’s first calling into missionary work came while visiting Mt. Athos, and meeting His Eminence Archbishop Nikiforos where he was invited to the Republic of Congo, Kinshasa. Ted’s interest turned to missionary work in Guatemala, where he has served two times, and used his construction skills to restore a clinic in Nueva Concepcion, and worked alongside and trained the seminarians on how to paint the Cathedral in Aguacate. When the opportunity to serve in Kenya arose, Ted volunteered and served three times. Ted focused on agricultural instruction, building baptismal fonts, preparing icons for the new churches, and sharing his knowledge of Orthodox life with the priests and seminarians. Ted is also planning with Eleni to return in 2022. It has been a passion of his to “go and make disciples of all nations”. He is currently communicating with the priests in Indonesia.

Steven Georges (Moderator)

Steven Georges is a passionate community builder, musician, and retired entrepreneur. In 2017 Steven served with his daughter, Elena, on a one week OCMC mission trip in Nairobi, Kenya. Steven resides in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife and two adult children.