Parish and Mission Building Resources
As Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote, “To recover the missionary dimension of the church is today’s greatest imperative.” With the help of priests, bishops and active lay members of the Antiochian Archdiocese, antiochian.org has collected resources to help in parish and mission building. Today’s Orthodox Christians in Antiochian communities have more resources than ever before, and on this page clergy and laity will find updated information on every aspect of parish life and organization, from how to run parish council meetings to tips on running outreach programs. Share your favorite resources by e-mailing links and suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was elected to serve on a parish council when I was 18 years old. I am indebted to those who served on that and subsequent parish councils for teaching me so much. Because of this early positive experience, I have paid special attention to parish councils and parish council experiences my whole adult life. I served on parish council and worked with it while studying business, theology, psychology and sociology, and I have reflected on the parish council experience from each of these perspectives. With 42 years of parish council experience, I have great love and respect for the parish council system of our Archdiocese and for those who are willing to serve. I do understand, though, what those who are reluctant to serve are talking about.
Parish councils are supposed to be made up of dedicated Orthodox Christians willing to serve the Church and her people in leadership roles. This service should be in harmony with the pastor and other council members, as well as with the leadership of the diocese and the Metropolitan. Christian leadership as described and modeled by Christ is always through service and love. Our Lord girded Himself and washed the feet of the disciples. People who serve are not paid for their service, and offer themselves generously, bring- ing invaluable business, military, civil service and professional know-how.
The Diocese of New York & New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) recently sponsored the 2013 Parish Council Conference for the Diocese. At the invitation of His Grace Bishop Michael, the conference facilitator was Antiochian speaker and author The Very Rev. Constantine Nasr. Father Constantine oversaw the growth of a modestly sized parish in Oklahoma City, OK to a truly thriving community of over 1,000 souls during his three decades of pastoral ministry. With enthusiasm, clarity, and wit, Father Constantine shared his years of expertise and highly practical methods for making the faith contagious and parishes inviting to both new visitors and to those who have fallen out of regular participation in parish life.
Blake Keller (Parish Council Warden, Saint John the Baptist Church, Rochester NY) said: “Father Constantine Nasr immediately got the attention of the conference participants by reminding us that in the Gospel of Mathew we are told to ‘Go ye therefore...!’ He repeatedly inspired us that this requires energy and effort, not sitting frozen.