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St. Luke Parish: The Next Step
By Mike Bauml

During my six-year term as lay chairperson, many things have happened in the development of the Saint Luke parish. Obviously with the new construction in progress, much is still happening.

I have come to the realization that a parish is much like any individual. It is in a constant state of flux and change. People come and people go. Some draw closer to their faith and others take a step back. Each decision that we make as individuals and as a parish, each program we implement, each church function, each church service either moves us further along our path or causes us to regress. As individuals we can grow and flourish, or we can become stagnant and wither away. So to it is with our parish.

The new building will provide desperately needed space and facilities. Over the past two years, we have reorganized our parish council to better accommodate our ministries, developed a mission and vision statement, and implemented a strategic plan.

We are presently reaching out to others through our evangelism programs, charity contributions, and our website on the Internet. From our humble beginning, we've come a long way to become a thriving parish. In some ways I feel that when the new building is completed, it will be like we've graduated from college! But now it's time to get to work.

Since all good things come from God, we must begin with prayer. Let each of us ask God for the strength and determination to do what needs to be done, the wisdom to know what needs to be done, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do what has to be done.

These past 18 years have been a preparation for this moment in time. St. Luke parish stands poised for the future and that future is all about opportunities. What will we do with these opportunities? After all, we are answerable to God, our children, our children's children, and ourselves.

Our vision and mission statements indicate that we want to be an icon of an American Orthodox Church and to bring people of all backgrounds to Christ. We have been working towards that goal. Although we have a long way to go, in many ways we are becoming that icon. We have services in English and parishioners with a wide diversity of cultural backgrounds. So we are a melting pot of Orthodoxy just as America is the cultural melting pot of the world.

St. Luke parish represents the Orthodox Faith with an American flavor. St. Luke and other parishes like it are very essential to the growth of Orthodoxy in our country. We need to renew our efforts to reach out not only to other Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, but also to those who have not yet found God or have pulled away from Him. The new building complex will help in this effort by providing the necessary facilities for programs that will reach out to all who respond to our invitation.

We have been blessed and given much. Therefore, much is expected of us. It is time for us to step up and be the icon of an American Orthodox Church that we say we want to be. We each need to reach out to all souls, even those that have lifestyles that are different from ours. There is much work to do and it will require sacrifices from each one of us in terms of our time, talent, and treasure.

I can envision an America where every person who is called to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has the opportunity to experience the fullness of our Orthodox Faith. We are only on this earth for a short time. The work we need to do is for the glory of God. So let's make every day count for Him.

A new year, a new millennium, a new building! St. Luke parish stands at the brink of a new era and the possibilities are endless. Will we be leaders or followers? Will we continue to grow and flourish or become complacent and wither away? The ball is in our court. With God's help and guidance, let's pick it up and run with it! It may not always be easy, but it will lead us to ultimate Joy.

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