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Lay Chairperson Report - January 2006

Submitted by Lee Kopulos

January, 2006

Since this is end of my two-year term as Lay Chairman, I would like to take this time to thank all our Council Members and Fr. Andrew for their kindness and attention to ministries under their care. This year we had a very smooth and successful time continuing to take care of our people and the property God has given us. It is important that everyone in the Church understands that we must work in synergy with each other (Bishop, Clergy, & Laity) as noted in our Holy Gospel:

"So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers: you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (1Cor.1:7-9)

I must tell you, based upon my travels with Clergy who work on Church Growth and nationally through the Orthodox Christian Laity, the Orthodox Church is being approached every day by people of faith who recognize that we are the Ancient Faith of Christ Jesus. These are important questions for the Orthodox: Are we ready to accept all of God’s people regardless of their ethnic or national origin? Do we understand that it is very important that we must be able to verbalize our Faith to the inquirer? Are we thinking and praying to the Lord for help in determining the purpose he has for us? Have we accepted His challenge given our particular God given qualities and capabilities? These are just some of the initial questions all of us must answer for the good of the Church and the salvation of our souls.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28)

All are called but all do not respond. We all have a free choice to make, for God compels no one.

Evangelism

The Purpose Driven Program. Our program to encourage one’s ability to discern his/her purpose in the life of the Church has been initiated and offered through the Friday night meetings at the Steven’s House using Rick Warren’s nationally famous Purpose Driven Life Program Book and video presentation. This small group discussion format has proven to be very successful for our members and their guests. The group has just completed it second 6 week set with a total of 18 participants.

The Our Faith Program. Meeting on Wednesdays this program seeks to offer an understanding first of other Christian and non-Christian faiths. By understanding other faiths we can better position our Faith in our heart and mind. Our objective is to better verbalize our own Faith in view of the non-Orthodox person. As a result of this program and a few brainstorming sessions, Fr. Andrew will begin to have an open discussion with the adults after Liturgy reviewing prepared evangelism responses centering on the question, "What do you say when they say", for example:

What do you mean the Orthodox Church is the Ancient Church of Christ?

Why is going to church important?

Isn’t the use of icons idolatry?

The Eucharist, isn’t that just symbolic of Christ?

The Greater Galilee Baptist Church. On Feb 1, 2006, the eve of The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, we will welcome this group to our Church for a prayer service dedicated to the Feast. After the service a fellowship hour with refreshments will be served. It is very important that we have a strong showing of members for this event. This is our third meeting with this group and we hope and pray it will culminate in sharing a Ministry to the needy.

The Narthex. There is a total approved plan for the Narthex. Our first installation, for lighting of candles and venerating the icon of St. Luke proved to be too small and too close to the wall. We are hopeful that this will be corrected soon. Additional plans call for a new candle stand and a new outreach literature stand along with additional storage space.

Congregation Study. We are planning on approving a study done in cooperation with the National Church of the OCA for the purpose of finding our weaknesses and our strengths. We can then work on these weaknesses and hopefully continue to do a better job in growing the Church in Spirit and number. Fr. John Ivanoff of the OCA’s Department of Evangelism will conduct the study and present the results.

Adult Guests. Every year we keep tabs on our guests, first time visitors to our prayer services. Here is a summary and year-to-year comparison.

Qtr. 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

March 9 30 5 15 21

June 4 12 22 6 5

Sept. 14 13 5 38 20

Dec. 8 17 31 31 13

Total 35 72 63 90 59

As you can see this was the lowest number of guest visitations we have ever experienced. We have no idea why this drop has occurred this year.

I end with a quote from two fine Orthodox Christians, John & Betty Bonadeo, who come to our Church from Washington D.C. visiting Chicago twice a year:

"It was nice to spend Christmas Day at St. Luke. Every time we visit it seems to have grown a little more. Keep-up all the good work--your web-site is one of the best. We enjoy the many articles it contains. We also think the Orthodox School of the Seventy is an excellent teaching aid. We know others who have said the same. We never miss reading "The Evangelist." It is a great read; very edifying. Many thanks to those who spend hours putting it together.

See you on our next trip to Chicagoland (Holy Week, God willing)." John & Betty

While St. Luke is a medium sized Church now, serving over 200 families, we do act like a much larger one with over 80 personal ministries that function in the Church and a top quality web-site. We are very thankful that many of our people understand their purpose in the Church. They are driven by it and take to heart their God-given talent.

May we continue to do our very best for the Lord for it is said, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only....but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (Jas.1:22, 25).