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Outreach & Evangelism Report Annual Meeting January 2016

Prepared by Lee Kopulos, Chairperson

The Goal of Evangelism at St. Luke’s

To provide educational programs and Orthodox Christian Literature to enhance the memberships ability to explain their Faith to an outsider, seeker and/or fellow Orthodox Christians. This is very important since Orthodoxy is first and foremost: The Ancient Church of Christ, the Apostles and the Martyrs. The primary source of this evangelism training is studies in Holy Scripture.

Holy Scripture and Special Evangelism Studies for Adults

Our Thursday night Bible Sessions provide the avenue for Scripture understanding and discussion. Over the past 11 years a group of St. Luke adults and a few outsiders have gotten together to study most of the New Testament and a variety of Special Orthodox Books on the Faith, such as, “Ask for the Ancient Paths –Discovering What Church is Meant to Be.” How to use and explain Conciliar Medias most recent general church pamphlets: “A Timeline of Church History”, “What on Earth is the Orthodox Church” and “Encountering CHRIST in His Church” and our own St. Luke Brochure are all useful introductory tools for outsiders and seekers. These Conciliar Media pamphlets are in a special rack in the Narthex and Fellowship Hall. A few videos are being used “The War Within “ and “The Ancient Church” by the men’s group. This year the Bible Group completed the study of St. Paul’s “Epistle to the Hebrews,” a 12 week study and then after Pashca completed Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, a 10 week study. The study group has had as many as 16 participants with a weekly average of 9. Our group members always say that the material is Holy and good but the discussion is the best part!!! “Constant pondering of the Holy Scriptures will always fill the soul with incomprehensible wonder and joy in God.” Isaac the Syrian “The ignorance of Scripture is a great cliff and a deep abyss; to know nothing of the divine laws is a great betrayal of salvation.” John Chrysostom

Visitors and Guests

We have always tracked our visitors/guests totals for the year with our Greeter Program on Sundays. Over the past 6 years we have averaged 25 first time Guests for Liturgy on Sunday. This year we started out very slow in the first six months but then ended up with a host of new people and a total of 22. While these are tough times for most churches in America, we continue to grow at a 5% clip versus most churches losing membership.

Here is a summary of the past 7 years:
Year 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Total Guests 22 18 23 23 31 28 27

Summary

This is a challenging society these days with a very poor respect for the Christian Faith and the Judeo-Christian principles that this Nation was founded upon. This can change if we, as a Christian body, speak up and challenge the society as to its views on morals and family values. It is time to take a stand. We need not fear the present status, but must give way to something greater for “perfect love casts out fear.” Or as St. Anthony the Great has said, “I no longer fear God; I now love Him. For love casts out fear.”

SPECIAL EVANGELISM REPORT: THE MISSION TO GUATEMALA PROTESTANTS -- Lee Kopulos

Fr. Andrew and I made two special visits to seek the interest of a group of Protestants who want to be Orthodox Christians in Guatemala. The first meeting was during the visit of our St. Luke group of 10 who went to the Hogar, San Miguel Orphanage in Guatemala in June. During this meeting all of us worked with the children and then taught prosforo making. Fr. Andrew presented them a poster icon of Christ the King. After this meeting, the Protestant group requested Fr. Andrew to start the ball rolling on becoming Orthodox. The group is very large with 6 churches and approximately 800 parishioners.

Fr. Andrew and I made a second visit to Guatemala on November 19-23, 2015 -- the Great Feast of the Entry of the Virgin in the Temple (11/21). Here we met with their church leaders answering questions and presenting the Orthodox Biblical understanding of Holy Scripture, Timeline of Church History and dogma, and way of Liturgical prayer and Eucharist. The next day, Saturday, we met with their children and young adults at a local camp site. Here Fr. Andrew preached to them on the Holy Day of the Virgin in the Temple. After a fine lunch, the group sang spiritual songs and then broke into groups for Bible Study. On Sunday we observed their normal prayer service which exhibited fine spirituality. Thereafter, we set up to do a service for the 8 people who were Chrismated Orthodox. Many of the others stayed to observe the service and receive antidoron. Fr. Andrew’s homily used an interpreter and the service was well received by all and used some Spanish. We asked the group to send us a list of names of people serious for Orthodoxy and a letter from the Pastor of his great interest to become clergy since he is Orthodox. We will then take it to our Bishop in Mexico City for his blessing. We had lunch at a McDonald’s for we were pressed for time to go to the Hogar and see Mother Inez and Evonne. We had a fine meeting and Mother Inez was so very pleased that we have a good chance to bring this group into Orthodoxy.

Next Stop – Mexico City. January 7-11, 2016.

After a day’s wait we met with Fr. Antonio Perdomo, Secretary to Archbishop Alejo. Fr. Antonio is from our church in Pharr, Texas and it takes him 4 hours to drive down to Mexico City. He informed us on Friday that our Metropolitan Tikhon is coming on Saturday for the Blessing of the Waters, his annual visit there. We were invited for a luncheon on Saturday at Abp. Alejo’s sister’s house. There we met with Met. Tikhon to explain our experience with the Guatemala Protestants. He was generally pleased with our effort and was impressed that a parish of St. Luke would think outside the box. He indicated that Abp. Alejo would speak to us tomorrow about his blessing. On Sunday after all the festivities we met with Abp. Alejo after a luncheon and he promised to tell us in a week of his decision. He first has to go to the Antiochian Metropolitan Antonio who has a parish in Guatemala to see if he would release this group to him.

Fr. Andrew and I are most thankful to our Board Members who approved the finances for these trips.