Evangelization at the heart of all departmental ministries

As reported on the web site of the Orthodox Church in America the chairs of the Church’s ministry departments met at the Chancery here January 16-17, 2012, to review their work, consider plans for the future, and discern ways to interface their respective ministries with the Strategic Plan adopted at the 16th All-American Council.

Priest John Parker, the recently appointed chair of the Department of Evangelization, shared the following insights after the meeting, his first in his new role.

“Meeting at the Chancery in Syosset last week gave us department heads a golden opportunity not only to get to know one another and the work of our respective departments, but also to brainstorm together about each of our vital ministries,” said Father John.  “One of the truly beautiful facets of our time together was the chance to see the areas of crossover from department to department, and a theme which unites them all.

“We noted again and again that our work is grounded in Christ Jesus our Lord Him crucified and raised from the dead,” Father John continued.  “This, of course is at the very heart of all Christian Education, Youth Ministry, Institutional Chaplaincy, Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, Liturgical Music, Pastoral Life, and External Relations.  The thread and thrust, however, of our ministries, we recognized, is Evangelization.

“Whether we are teaching our children; ministering to the young, the college-aged, the young adults; visiting the sick or incarcerated; assisting the needy and those who have suffered calamities; singing services; caring for our pastors; or bearing witness to the Orthodox Faith among the heterodox and non-Christians, the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, the Physician of our souls and bodies, knits these all together,” he adds.  “Our Orthodox Church in America stands with a vital mission to share such Good News, not only within the walls of our churches, but also to every living soul God Himself puts in our path in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  Whether at the departmental level or in our individual lives, it behooves us as Orthodox Christians to ask ourselves, ‘How does this action, this ministry, this event, this service, this outreach, this assistance, this ecumenical dialogue, demonstrate the capital-G Good capital-N News of the Gospel?’  If it does not do so, it must be reconsidered.  It is not wise that we would expend the limited resources of our time, talent, and treasure in areas and activities that do not present the One True God to the world and call folks to repentance and salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.

“Put in another way, the non-hyphenated Orthodoxy that we seek to uphold and promote in and through our Orthodox Church in America, welcomes with open arms every soul seeking the Lord while He wills to be found, whether or not they can presently name Who He is,” Father John concluded.  “From department to department, and across the boundaries of each of these ministries, we were delighted to reignite this flame together on January 16 and 17, 2012.  Please hold all of this in your prayers, and offer yourselves and your resources to help us disciple ourselves in the Christian way within the Orthodox Church in America, as well as to catechize and baptize the countless folks who await their redemption in Christ outside our ecclesiastical walls.”

In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Evangelization, Father John is also Priest-in-Charge of Holy Ascension Mission, Mount Pleasant, SC.  He may be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).