Outreach & Evangelism Report Annual Meeting January 2005
Prepared by Lee Kopulos, Chairperson
I preface my remarks this year with some wisdom from Fr. Jon Braun, Priest of St. Anthony Orthodox Church, San Diego, Ca. He said in an article back in 2001 entitled "You As An Evangelist":
"Being a Christian witness is easy - it’s simply sharing the good news. The truth is, most of us can hardly wait to tell people about the good things that happen in our lives. That’s all we are asked to do in being a Christian witness....You are to witness to Christ, not to the structure of the Orthodox Church. Christ is center, the focus. The Church is not perfect; Christ is. The Church important, but it is nothing without Christ."
He went on to say, 'And should someone ask, "When were you saved? You respond, "when I was baptized! After all that is what Christ and St. Peter said (Mark 16:16 Acts 2:38). Or, if someone asks if you have received the Holy Spirit, say yes with boldness and confidence in your Chrismation....the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is great power in the telling of the power of the sacraments (Holy Mysteries)........In summary, it’s that you tell how Christ has touched you and how you experienced Him in the Church."
While this year could be termed a "soft" one where we did very little in terms of major outreach programs like the St. Luke Forum, we did continue many good programs that garnered good support: Early spring brought our annual, Womans Retreat, featuring Cindy Bastounas Wierzba and Helen Jonas both seminary graduates on the subject of "God’s Will/Free Will". In September, we put together our annual 9/11 Prayer Memorial highlighted by an address of the mayor of Palos Hills. Special thanks to Caye Caswick for planning this all day function. Also, George Poulos put together and published a new all- purpose color brochure on the features of our Church. And, our charity programs always help in focusing on service to mankind -- by these actions they will know "you are my disciples."
Two big programs mentioned in my Lay Chairman’s Report which took a lot of energy and were critical to our evangelism efforts this year. First was the challenge of serving a new mission named St. Mary’s of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Our Parish offered total hospitality to these Christian brothers and sisters in the use of all of our facilities to foster their development and growth until a permanent location could be found. After about 12 months, this large congregation of 200 adults and 70 children found a new home on 122nd and Cicero. We wish them, "all the best in Christ!!!"
Second, was the month long India Trip of Father Andrew and Pat. We raised the $7,500 and sent them off with a prayer for a safe return. The send-off included a special blessing led by Archbishop Job at our Church for all the Chicago area short term missionaries of the OCMC. Upon their return we had a pot-luck dinner where each missionary gave presentations of their country visited and experiences.
Last, we had a visit from an all black congregation, the Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago, for prayer, evangelization and sharing of our Christian Orthodox heritage. We plan on visiting them at their Church in early March/April.
Adult Guests. Every year we keep tack of first time visitors to our Vesper/Divine Liturgy. Here is a summary of this year and the last five years:
Qtr. 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000
March 30* 5 15 21 26
June 12 22 6 5 11
Sept. 13 5 38 20 8
Dec. 17 31 31 13 17
Total 72 63 90 59 62
*Includes 25 guests from the Missionary Baptist Church.
Finally, we pray that through the intercession of our Patron St. Luke, our Lord & Savior
Jesus Christ will guide us in the truth, build our love for His people and form us into "an icon of an American Orthodox Church."