Seven Ways To Make The Orthodox Church Known In The Community
By Constantine Kallaur
Here is a check list to see if you have used these seven basic ways to make known the existence of the Orthodox church in your community. You may be able to check off each one as already accomplished. If so, great! If not, now is the time to start. They are relatively easy to achieve, are most useful and helpful, first of all to the Orthodox themselves, and also to those outside our church in identifying who we are and what we are. These practical suggestions are a real missionary project for every parish to begin with.
1. The Phone Directory
This is most essential. In our day when so many people travel and relocate, it is vital to have the church listed in the phone directory. Make sure your church is listed in the Yellow Pages under “Churches.” In this way a person need not know the particular name of the church or priest to find it.
It is recommended that you list your church under the heading Orthodox, although Eastern Orthodox is also frequently used. Information should include the name of the church, Orthodox Church in America in parenthesis, the address and phone number. Additional information, which costs a bit more, but is very worthwhile, would include the hours of the regular services, the priest’s name, an alternate number to call if the priest can’t be reached.
Churches can also be listed by name in the white pages. Clergy can be listed by name in the white pages and in the yellow pages under “Clergy,” budget permitting.
2. Church Service Announcements In The Newspaper
Often the local newspaper, especially on weekends, has a section announcing various church services. Put in an ad - weekly, monthly, at holidays, for an important church event. A typical regular ad might read:
|SAINT HERMAN’S ORTHODOX CHURCH 2207 Briar St. ANYTOWN, U.S.A. (Area Code) 222-5700 Priest: Fr. John Sarnka Divine Liturgy Sun. 9:30 a.m. Vespers Sat. 7:00 p.m. Come and Pray with us!|
If your newspaper doesn’t provide this service, the local clergy should approach the paper to see if they would include such a section.
3. Church Directory In Hotels And Motels
Every hotel and motel we’ve stayed in has had a directory of local churches, and in only one or two cases have we ever seen an Orthodox church listed. Orthodox travelers, away on the weekends, are delighted to find on their route, an Orthodox church to worship in.
Especially if you are near major highways, or are in the area to which visitors often come, go to the nearest hotels/motels, and ask them to list the Orthodox Church along with the others. Have a 3x5 card with the name, address, phone number, and schedule of regular services typed out and ready to give to the appropriate person.
Once the hotel/motel personnel agree to add your church to their directory, the last step will be to check back in a week or two to make sure it was done.
4. Signs On The Nearest Major Roads Indicating The Location Of The Church
To put up such a sign, you must check with your local town hall to get the necessary permission. Have the information of exactly where you want to put the sign or signs at hand. When you are Christian I granted permission to erect it, you will be given information as to size, any restrictions, and often, where you can get such a sign made. In our experience, the church itself stands the expense of making the sign and having it installed. The sign company will offer you various designs at various prices and usually does the installing for a fee. If your church is in a heavily Jewish populated area, it may be advisable to add the word “Christian” after Orthodox on the sign so there will be no confusion.
5. City Welcome Board
If your city or town has a welcome board along the roads that lead to it, listing churches and organizations present in that city or town, make sure the Orthodox Church is listed. If it does not appear, give a call to the town hall requesting that it be added.
6. Local Colleges
When Orthodox young people go to college away from home, they are cut off from their spiritual home as well. How wonderful and easing to their initial loneliness to find in their new environment an Orthodox church community ready to welcome them. Many Orthodox parishes are already actively seeking out new college students. It is not as easy to find them as it once was when students filled out a religious preference card which was filed, but students can still be reached in one of two ways.
Inquiry can be made at the local college administrative office as to what religious services, if any, are offered to the students. Often there will be various chaplains assigned and even some planned activities. If so, it is an opportunity for the Orthodox priest to look into, depending on his time schedule. On some college campuses there still may be an active Orthodox Christian Fellowship for students. More often you will be directed to a bulletin board on which notices of religious services and/or special events can be placed. Have a sign ready to put up with all the pertinent church information. Periodically return and post church events and activities that you think would be of interest to students.
The second means of reaching the Orthodox students would be by taking a little ad in the local school paper, again giving general information about the church and services, and advertising an upcoming event or two. An after-church coffee hour especially to welcome the students on a given date could be a way of beginning. Include on the notice that transportation is available by calling a given number.
Developing contacts with Orthodox personnel and teachers working at the college can help to find and make contacts with the students. Do not, however, be discouraged if students do not immediately appear. At any time, a student’s needs may cause him to reach out.
7. Local Radio Stations
Ask parishioners to keep an ear tuned to identifying local radio stations that will publicize church events as a public service. When such a station is identified, appoint a person to contact the station and to call in or write in the desired announcement as events come up. Local stations also often provide free program time to religious groups. Have the priest or a designated person make inquiries. Questions about “how to’s” in developing an Orthodox radio program can be directed to the Department of Stewardship and Lay Ministries of the Orthodox Church in America.
All of the above are needed as a part of the missionary effort for our Church. Not only will these measures be of informational value, but will be a real testimony to the presence of the Orthodox in the community. As missionary work, they will take some funding by the parish. But the gains in public awareness, in kindling an interest in potential church members, even in the monetary return from visitors to the parish, will prove the time and money well spent.
Check the list today. In which area can you and your parish work to make the Orthodox presence better known?
To Make the Orthodox Church Known in the Community
1. Phone Directory
A. Yellow pages.
(1) Churches - Orthodox (or Eastern Orthodox).
B. White pages.
A. Church services section.
(3) Holy Days.
B. Parish events - as they occur.
3. Hotel/Motel Directories
A. Initial contact with information at hand.
B. Follow up to see that church was added to the directory.
4. Road Signs indicating location of church
A. Decide on wording of the sign and location.
B. Get permission from local municipality.
C. Purchase sign from sign company.
D. Install sign. Sign company will usually do it for a fee.
5. City Welcome Board
A. Check to see if there is one.
B. If there is, call municipality and ask to have church added to list. Have church information ready.
C. Follow up to see that it was done.
6. Local Colleges
A. Check college administrative office to see if religious affiliation information is available.
B. Become acquainted with religious activities offered by the college. See if a program for Orthodox students exists, or is a possibility.
C. If Bulletin Board space is available, put up information about
(1) Church services.
(2) Special events.
(3) After-church coffee hour welcoming students. Periodically return and post new information.
D. Take an ad in the college newspaper, giving information as described in C.
E. Have volunteers lined up if transportation is needed from the college to the church and back.
F. Seek out contacts to students through Orthodox college professors and personnel that are local parishioners.
7. Local Radio Stations
A. Identify stations giving “spots” or program time to religious groups.
B. Contact the station for procedures and policies.
C. Appoint a contact person who will see that timely announcements are sent in.
D. For information on how to develop an Orthodox radio program, contact the Dept. of Stewardship and Lay Ministries of the OCA.
Constantine Kallaur is a Professor of Russian at Nassau Community College, Garden City, N. Y. He is a member of both the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Stewardship and Lay Ministries.