Rectors Annual Report January 2007
By Father Andrew Harrison
Other Activities-, Member of Lemont Clergy Association, Vice-President Orthodox Clergy Association of Chicago, Oak Forest Hospital Chaplain, Civil Air Patrol Chaplain, Lemont Police Chaplain. Gave the invocation at the Middle Eastern War Memorial, attended St. Vladimir’s Summer Institute, was Delegate to the National Council of Churches,. I participated in an Ecumenical Thanksgiving service and had services at the Lemont senior care facility and a monthly ministry to the mentally challenged at the Garden Center.
In my report last year I stated we had completed our 3 year strategic plan and we would be developing a new 3 year strategic plan. I had suggested we use the criteria establish by Natural Church Development. Natural Church Development is an international organization which assist churches to become healthy both as a cure and as a preventative. I proposed that we look into this program and use it in the development our new strategic plan. The program would cost a minimum of $ 2000. The Parish Council had mixed opinions about the program and wanted recommendations as to its effectiveness. They also felt it was costly and was not budgeted. After much debate it was decided that we consider a step by step procedure beginning with the Parish Health Questionnaire. We had 35 members filled out the questionnaire and we are now waiting for the results. Since we do not have a strategic plan at the time of this report will concentrate on observations made in the criteria from our last strategic plan.
Goal #1 - Mutual Ministry - The development of new ministries has slowed but those which have been established have continued and leaders are to be commended. We added two new ministries - Birthday under Svetlana Lynch and Calendar under Pat dime. Ministry activities are reported in other sections of the annual report. We had several ministries which required replacements. Since I am responsible for establishing new ministries and appointing leaders it has in some cases been difficult to find volunteers. We have several ministries which remain open and others which could be developed. In order to maintain these ministries, leaders have doubled up. Training for ministries should be formalized. As it is now it is mainly on-the-job-training. The Education team has 8 ministries, Property team has 12, Evangelism team has 10, Community Development has 11 and the Liturgical team 5 giving a grand total of 44. I still would like to see everyone with their own personal ministry or be part of the listed ministries. Please see me if you would like a ministry. You are also invited to help out in any of the listed ministries.
Goal #2 - Communication - The weekly bulletin, the monthly calendar, the Quarterly Evangelist, the website, email, chat room phone, personal visits and appointments have made communication at St. Luke available to all. I have found the phone to ring less and less. I believe that e-mail seems to be the method of choice by most of our parishioners. This has allowed me to continue parish activities while traveling. I received a number of complements about the quality of the Evangelist and website. Pat Dime took over the Calendar from Stea and she is doing an excellent job. I still have people phone about scheduled activities and I remind them that all activities are posted in the bulletin, calendar, and website.
Goal #3 = Community = We are a growing parish. We now list 86 families. In September we turned in a membership list of 103 individual adult members to our dioceses. This makes our total diocesan assessment for 2007 $183 per member = $18,849. The growth has been slow but sustained. The attendance at the Sunday liturgy is averaging over 100 with a high of 128 on a regular Sunday. Attendance at Vespers and week day services fluctuates but generally they are not attended very well. We had a complete schedule of activities: picnics, dinners, retreats, lectures, and classes which drew the community together and enhanced relationships. The new birthday ministry sends out birthday and anniversary cards. The fellowship team is commended for the quality if theses activities. Also a number of our parishioners meet on an informal basis for friendship and fellowship. Since we are a commuter parish these activities are essential. One draw back is that most activities take place on Sunday. We need to have more activities on a weekday. This may not be possible based on the make up of the parish
Goal #4 - Education - Education is the first command given by Christ "Go and preach"; I believe that we are offering a complete teaching program from toddler to adult. My sermons include, beside the regular weekly gospels, the monthly children sermon and adult lesson. In addition I have worked with our web site team to post articles from a variety of sources. These are always available to our parishioners. The Adult School of the Seventy needs more participation and support. I plan to concentrate on this program in the coming year. Weekly Bible study and home adult study (PDL) could have better participation. We cannot complain that we do not have facilities. We can complain they are not used more. Our excellent teacher staff complaint that the children do not attend regularly. It is the responsibility of parents to bring their children to Church school and take part of the adult opportunities offered. I believe the two retreats we had were certainly a high point of the educational program.
Goal #5 - Building and Grounds - We are still completing unfinished projects from our initial building program while maintaining our facilities. Nick Lisowski, who is our maintenance minister, could certainly use assistance. He comes on the spur of the moment to fix any problem in the building. We are seeing the church full and overflowing on more Sundays than in the past.. We need to consider future growth. We have two options. Consider establishing a prayer station at another location with the goal of eventually establishing an annex or a new parish. The second option would be to have two liturgies using the same building. There is a third which may be feasible in the short run: a children’s liturgy in the basement below. This could be tested on a once a monthly basis. I would be open to pursuing any of these possibilities. Because we are over full at times all of us have to be considerate and patient with each other and with children who become unruly. Older parishioners (A Granny ministry) could volunteer to assist parents with children and parents should take unruly children out into the narthex until they settle down and be sure to bring them back. This is the way children learn to be quiet.
Goal #6 - Outreach, In-reach and Evangelism - When ever a visitor or a new member joins, I always ask how they found St. Luke. It the past, word of mouth has been the best way to obtain inquiries and it still remains. Personal evangelism is the biblical method to spread the Gospel. It seems that the web site is becoming an enhancement to personal evangelism. It is the main source of inquiries and new membership. We need to bring these methods together. All members are responsible for evangelism. We need to talk about our relationship to Jesus Christ, St. Luke Parish and about our website. We can give out cards with the website address. The site is designed to stimulate interest in St. Luke which will lead to a visit. Also there is information which will help our own members become more knowledgeable so they can make an informed witness to Orthodoxy. When a new person visits, our greeters are essential. I have noticed that visitors come early seeing the church empty and no greeter. This leaves a poor impression. Being on time or even early would leave a better impression. We also have to remember that each person is at a different stage in Orthodox spiritual development. Reading the book One flew over the Onion Dome will be required reading for the evangelism team. We need a new sign. I ask all parishioners to read the attached article about the importance of a good sign. They are expensive. We have been quoted anywhere from $5000. to $24,000.
The question has been raised about my future retirement. At the present time I do not have any retirement plans but that could change. As long as my health holds and I am able to function at the level expected I plan to continue at least for the near future. I recommend that a committee be establish to prepare for a transition. I would be willing to work with this committee. This again has been a excellent year with a very active and hard working Parish Council. They are all to be commended.