Co-sponsored by the Orthodox Church in America’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, the Diocese of the Midwest and the Bulgarian Diocese, this year’s theme will be “Equipping Small Parish Leaders for Discipleship and Change.” The program will focus on specific situations common to “small” parishes throughout the OCA and other Orthodox jurisdictions. Workshops and presentations will explore ways to assist parishes with memberships of 75 or fewer souls to achieve stability, build a positive self-image, and accept their calling to live a life in Christ without necessarily becoming “big.”
Keynote speaker at this year’s Forum will be Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Rector of Saint Nicholas Church, McKees Rocks, PA. His topic—“Discipleship: An Orthodox Christian Perspective for Leaders”—will set the tone for the Forum’s workshops, case studies and discussions.
“This year’s content is not a repeat of past Forums,” said Joseph Kormos, Forum Co-Chair and Parish Development Ministry Leader for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh. “The emphasis will be on the importance of collaboration between clergy and lay leaders in any parish. This is especially critical in small parishes, where resources are modest and everyone needs to be ‘pulling in the same direction.’”
Specific themes to be explored include reshaping parish councils to move beyond “firefighting” and “money” to fulfilling the overall parish mission; generating dialogue in “finding the center” in parish discussions; envisioning a bright future through a sense of purpose and direction that leads to prioritized action; inspiring stewardship by replacing begging and continual pleas with generosity and gratitude; and stimulating ministry by building a thirst for outreach, overcoming insularity, and “being the Church of Christ.”
“With this as a framework,” said Archpriest Daniel Rentel, Forum Co-Chair, “we will explore how small parishes with limited resources can shape leaders and leadership structures to take advantage of the many positive qualities of small parishes.”
Registration will be limited to 65 persons, and early registration is recommended. A block of rooms has been reserved at a local hotel. The minimal $100.00 per person registration fee will include meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and Forum materials. Attendees from the OCA’s Bulgarian Diocese, the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Diocese of the Midwest are eligible for full tuition rebates and grants to assist with travel costs. Many other OCA Dioceses offer scholarships to small parishes wishing to send participants.