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Outreach & Evangelism Report Annual Meeting January 2009

Prepared by Lee Kopulos, Chairperson

Theme: The Importance of Christian Renewal

St. Paul’s exhorts the Romans with this truth:

“And, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that we may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans Chapter 12:2)

St. Paul, our greatest evangelist in the Church, writes to us that while we are one body in Christ, we do not have the same abilities. Since the Lord has made all of us a bit different, St. Paul encourages us to use our God-given gifts through His grace for the building up of the body of Christ. Therefore, our diverse talents need to be used in harmony with our ministries. St. Paul goes on to list some seven of them – prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving (do so liberally) and mercy (do it cheerfully). In all of this we must be affectionate to one another, steadfast in prayer and given to hospitality.

St. Luke Church exhibits much of these qualities in its people and ministries. With our love of Christ, strong faith as a group and a humble heart we have turned the corner on how faith and works go together. This is very important in our salvation for it is true that a good spirit will do good works, the will of God!!!

We know this too from St. James Chapter 2: 14-26 where he says at the end: “For as the body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Here is what has been accomplished this year in the evangelism corner of the Church:

1. The Greeter Program
The “Small Procedural Manual” for this long standing program has been updated and revised. A copy is available for anyone to read at the Greeter stand in the Narthex. Greeter teams have been re-organized given our new recruits: Welcome new greeters: Presvytera Mic Sloan, Diane Nicholaou, Diane Wilczak and Stea Zekios. In addition, a paper was presented to the group on the current “Effective Ideas about the Greeting.”

We wish to say “Thank You” to Barbara Zerlentes who decided to “retire” this year. She has given many good years of talent and time to our program.

Our Greeter Patron Saint – St. Sampson the Hospitable.

St. Sampson the Hospitable has been named our intercessor for the Greeting program. The icon of Saint Sampson has been blessed and available for veneration close to the Candlestand. St. Sampson was a prominent physician in the 6th Century at Constantinople and gained a wonderful reputation for the care he gave everyone’s body and soul. Although a wealthy man, he gave more than medicine as he readily offered alms for the poor and words of advice and comfort to the troubled. After healing the Emperor Justinian, he declined any reward stating, “I once had plenty of silver, gold and other riches, but I gave it all away for the sake of Christ, that I may gain heavenly and eternal wealth.” He requested a home for the poor be built and Justinian agreed and put him in charge. Sampson fell asleep in the Lord in 530A.D. This Saint is a welcome addition to our Church named after another great physician and Apostle St. Luke.

2. Narthex Design and Construction
The design and installation of the Greeterstand and Candlestand with cabinets was completed in August/September. Many positive comments have been received given the quality of the work and sharp colors of the granite tops. Also, one special granite top cabinet was installed in the Sacristy.

3. New Church Brochure & Welcome Packet
A new color brochure of all the functions and hours of the Church is available at the Candlestand. It is a perfect piece to be given or mailed to people who are seekers to Orthodoxy. Many kudos to the committee members who put this together…Fr. Andrew, Stea Zekios, Else Tennessen and George Poulos.

4. Bible Study
A study of the Gospel According to St. John by Fr. Lawrence Farley has been completed. The program was run after Sunday Liturgy with as many as 9 participants. The group will study the Book of Acts beginning on February 1, 2009. Everyone is invited to attend.

5. Adult Guest Visits
Americans are most churches are experiencing declining membership, this is not the case at St. Luke’s. By all counts including: membership; new guest visits; and attendance, our Church is experiencing growth. We continue to grow in membership at a 5-10% clip. We have annually averaged 58 first time guest over the past 10 years. In 2008 we dropped at bit below the average with 44 guest visitors. However, over the past 6 months Sunday attendance has risen to between 110 and 120 souls per Sunday. Last year we were about 90 – 95 on a Sunday. This is a 20% or more increase.

Here is a summary of first time guest visitors for the past 5 years: 2008 – 44 2007- 43 2006 – 53 2005 – 35 2004 – 72.

Also, the current number of adults and children we list as served is now in excess of 225 souls. We continue to attract young couples and hope and pray for more!!!

6. Missions
The Evangelism budget calls for our members to go to the Missions and Evangelism conference and on OCMC Missions Trips outside of the USA. This year Macrina Jill Olson went to Santa Barbara and Alison Murphy and Father Andrew went to Romania for a short term youth program.

A Final Note

It is the responsibility of the laity, known as the Royal Priesthood, to encourage outsiders – friends, relatives, associates and neighbors to come and learn about the Holy Orthodox Faith. In the First Epistle written by St. Peter it says, “ But you are a chosen generation, a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1Peter Chapter 2:9)

Fr. Joseph Huneycutt in his very popular book, “One Flew over the Onion Dome,” encourages remembering this truth:

“One thing we must not forget: Orthodoxy is Christianity….You cannot add Orthodoxy to Christianity. Rather it is Christianity. We shouldn’t beat others over the head with this fact but we should never shy away from it.”