By Father Andrew Harrison
This will be my eleventh Pascha at St. Luke. Over the years I have
printed books so that everyone could follow along in the services. In 1999 a new more
modern translation was introduced to St. Luke with a printed copy of the Paschal
Liturgy. This would seem like a simple change but it was a difficult and time consuming
transition for the choir. All of the thees, thous, thys and didsts had to be changed
and the accompanying music had to be converted and learned. I would like to commend
Maria Vrame and the entire choir for their effort and cooperation. I would also
commend our congregation for training their ears to be comfortable with You and Yours
instead of Thee and Thou.
In the beginning we all had a sense of disrespect when referring
to God as "You". Yet we all knew that Thee or Thou is no longer part of the English
language. It was the familiar way of addressing a family member when the Bible was
first translated into English in 1611 by King James. We no longer refer to our children
as Thee and they do not refer to us as Thou. They say you. So it is correct to address
God as You (with a capital) since He is our loving Father.
Behind this new translation of the liturgy is someone who has been
over-looked and in many ways derided. Father Daniel Swires who is attached to St.
Theodosius Cathedral in Cleveland, under much controversy and criticism, took upon
himself the massive project of converting the text into modern English. At the Annual
Priest Convocation in 1998 Fr. Daniel, who was then a Deacon, with the blessing of
Archbishop Job, gave samples of the Divine Liturgy, Matins, and Vespers services to
all clergy present. Archbishop Job asked the clergy to give it critical inspection
for eventual parish use. Since that time Fr Daniel has converted every service, feast
day celebration, saints days, all blessings and sacraments into modern English and made
them available for download. With Bishop Job's permission, only a small number of
parishes are now using the new translation. Certainly the reason for the slow transition
is the tremendous amount of labor and adjustment necessary to facilitate the change. I
believe it was easier for St. Luke because a number of St. Luke parishioners transferred
from parishes of the Greek Archdiocese which use the modern English. The principle
language of the Greek Archdiocese is Biblical Greek, but when they do use English it
is in the modern translation.
This year we completed our transition to the modern English language
with the printing of the Holy Saturday and Akathist books. A new book was printed for the
Holy Unction which includes the Matins of Holy Thursday. We also had to print a number of
replacement books because they disappeared over the years. The cost was almost $1000. If
you have any of the books at home please return them. If you would like to donate to help
cover the cost of replacing the Paschal Liturgy books, please come and see me.
We now have a fine fellowship hall, adequate church school space, a
beautiful church and we have a wonderful choir. At one of our services, I was struck by
a certain verse - "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than
sacrifice. Prob. 21:3. We have made great progress in Sacrifice - i.e. Liturgical
services and Church building. We have seen only a small increase in membership. It is
time to ask if we concentrated on "sacrifice" at the expense of righteousness and
justice. Is there something more that we should be doing? According to some theorists'
on Church growth, all churches will grow naturally if the parishioners cooperate with
the Holy Spirit. When a church is growing the reasons lie with the righteousness of the
We are now in a transitional time. We have reached all the goals of
our strategic plan and now we must plan for the next five years. As part of the planning
process your Church Council is considering a program sponsored by the Orthodox Church in
America and approved by Archbishop Job called "Natural Church Development". Several area
churches have already adopted this program. In an article in this Evangelist, Pearl
Homiak of the Evangelism Ministry team describes this program. In her article she tells
us that the average age of our adult members is 52 I think it is time to seriously look
at our parishes' future. Please read Pearl's article. If we adopt this program all members
will be asked to participate. This is the only way it will be effective and we will see
our parish begin to develop naturally.