CRESTWOOD, NY [OCA Communications]—Nearly 100 laity and clergy gathered on the campus of Saint Vladimir Seminary here July 28-31, 2004 for a parish ministries conference, “Faith in Action,” sponsored by the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Christian Witness and Service.
A broad cross section of parishes and interests were represented by faithful representing several OCA dioceses and four Orthodox jurisdictions.
In his keynote address, the Very Rev.Sergei Glagolev, Director Emeritus of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards who had also served as a parish priest for many years, focused on ways to “fan the flame of Christian witness and service.” He noted that the image of the Holy Fire of Pentecost serves as the basis for all Christian service. This fire still burns in today’s Church in active Christian ministry, which finds its source in the Eucharist. He also reflected on how the Holy Spirit inspires and equips every member of the Church to reach out to others.
A second keynote address was given by the Very Rev. George Gray, rector of Saint Nicholas Church, Portland, OR, who explored the theme in light of Scripture and emphasized that all ministry is a sharing in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He also offered the examples of three saints who were especially known for their selfless ministries.
The Very Rev. Steven Belonick of Saint Vladimir Seminary and the Rev. Vladimir Aleandro, rector of Christ the Savior Mission, Woodbury, CT, offered a presentation on the imporance of discerning and developing talents among parish members. Twenty-three other workshops offered practical information on a wide variety of ministries, including parish nursing ministries, serving the needy, Orthodox schools and home schooling, organizing libraries and bookstores, prison ministry, and involving seniors in outreach ministry.
One evening was devoted to showcasing several international outreach programs, including International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, Project Mexico, and Church World Service. A report was also given on the Diakonia conference held recently in Finland.
Feedback from the participants indicated that they had gathered a wealth of information and were inspired to return home and broaden their own parish ministries.
“The conference was a gratifying and inspiring experience,” said Mrs. Donna Karabin, chairman of the host department. “This coming together of compassionate people who love God and are committed to serving the needs of others was one more step in further developing effective ministries throughout the OCA. We plan to follow up at the 2005 All-American Council, where we will build on the great energy, ideas and ‘fire’ evident in the hearts of the conference’s participants.”
For more information about the work of the OCA’s Department of Christian Witness and Service, click here or the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards which provides the support for the work in all of the Orthodox Church in America’s Church Ministry Departments.