Rectors Annual Report January 2006
By Father Andrew Harrison
Other Activities: Member of Lemont Clergy Association, Vice-President Orthodox Clergy Association of Chicago, Oak Forest Hospital Chaplain, Civil Air Patrol Chaplain, Lemont Police Chaplain. Gave the invocation at the Middle Eastern War Memorial dedication, attended St. Vladimir's Summer Institute, was Delegate to the National Council of Churches, I participated in Ecumenical Thanksgiving services, and Lemont nursing home services. Led a 12 day Pilgrimage to Russia
Our strategic plan was formulated in 2001 by Ken Stevens after a questionnaire was returned by parishioners. Over the period from 2001 to 2005 we had a one percent growth. Because of this lack of significant growth it is proposed that we call in a coach to help us determine the reasons for this lack of growth. The Department of Church Development of the OCA has offered to assist us. Below are the goals set by the old strategic plan and our progress in each goal. You will see that we have made good progress but this has not effected our over-all growth. We may have to set new goals.
Goal #1 - Mutual Ministry
This year we added two new ministries, Birthday and Scrapbook ministries to our Community team. We had three ministers who give up their ministry because of changes in work schedule and transfer. Jerry Kincaid who was the Adult Education minister was replaced by Clark Wilson. The Children's Minister Colleen Kincaid was replaced by Diane Nicholau. The Historian Julia Wojcik was replaced by Tamara Tsonis. We closed down the Bond ministry which was led by Luba Johnson. It was taken over by our Treasurer. Our Deacon Danial will be on loan to St. Constantine and Helen. I wish to commend them for there Christian works and may God bless them. We have 47 ministries. The Education Team has 8 ministries. The Property Team has 12 ministries. The Evangelism Team has 9 ministries The Community Team has 13 ministries. The Liturgical Team has 5 ministries which include a Proto-deacon, a sub-deacon, 16 readers, of which 7 are tonchered, two this year, and 25 choir members. The goal continues, that everyone should have a ministry or be helping someone with a ministry. We have learned that ministries are called by the grace of the Holy Spirit. If He wants us to have a ministry, He will call someone. If it is necessary to closed down a ministry, it is a sign that He is taking us in a new direction. If you are a member and feel the Holy Spirit is calling you to participate in a ministry or create one, just come and see me I will help you fulfill your calling.
Goal #2 - Communications
The Internet website is still expanding. www.stlukeorthodox.com The online store is functioning and we have had some action. We also received our first online donation using Pay-pal from Germany. The Bible study is now operating and everyone is invited to participate. We also have a new guest book and the chat room meets regularly on Sunday at 8PM. We also have a second web site which is still under development. You can now use it to find Orthodox Churches any where in the United States and Canada by logging on to www.easternorthodox.com This project has been taken over by George Tsonis. The internet team is supervised by Ron Wojik
The Evangelist newsletter was published three times this year with excellent articles written by our own parishioners. If you want to be published this is a good way to start - write an article. See Diane Wilczak for suggestions. The calendar and Sunday bulletin provide current activities which are posted on our website. No one should feel that they are not informed about Parish happenings, but you must read them. I still received calls about time for services and activities which can be found in the Sunday bulletin which is posted every week on our website. We added an outside information box so anyone driving by can find out current activities. We do need a new Church sign which is on the property team list.
Goal #3 - Community
Our social gatherings have shown a marked increase in participation. Both the Quad Parish Picnic and the News Years Eve party were well attended. Even the Christmas Holy Supper had a record attendance. We should have better attendance at our Restaurant Rovers activities. I would like to see more of the ministry leaders have small fellowship gatherings with their participants instead of just meetings. Fellowship and meeting could be combined. Small group Bible study could also be included led by anyone in the group - Clark Wilson and I are available to help with a planned program which includes reading assignments and Bible questions.
I think we are beginning to get the concept of friendship evangelism. I have seen many new faces at our community activities. It is hoped I will see them for Sunday Liturgy and they will eventually become members.
I received a request to have our own family picnic. This is something the Community Team may consider.
Goal #4 - Education
I believe that Adult Education is the most important part a Christian Education program. If our adults are not knowledgeable about the faith there is little chance that the short time we have with the children can be effective. What the children learn in church school must be practiced in the home. Family prayers, fasting practices, regular attendance of the Liturgy not only on Sunday but other holidays and frequent participation in communal confession and reception of holy communion are necessary to combat the onslaught of secularism. In order to meet this need we have inaugurated a new adult education program called the School of the Seventy lead by Clark Wilson. We have a weekly home study program studying the book Purpose Driven Life. In addition the children sermons, although directed to our children, have been received by our adults as learning experiences. We have continued to coordinate adult learning with our Church School program by the retreats and other activities. Our Evangelism Ministry has suggested that adult education that frequently asked questions about our faith be incorporated into the Sunday worship experience. This now is in the planning stages.. There are many opportunities in the Chicago area to attend lectures by visiting theologians. These are announced in the Sunday Bulletin. Just like any program that is offered, we must have participation.
Goal #5 - Building and Grounds
Progress continues on our building and grounds. As everyone can see the old basement is being remodeled to overcome the water seepage and mold. After it is finished it will be available for a variety of uses. We still need to have the walk way around the church for Pascha and we need a new sign. Every year I ask parishioners to increase their giving. When we do our budget we always cut the property ministry request. Last year and again this year we only have enough to cover basic maintenance There is not enough funds to complete the projects. For this reason we started a second offering for our building fund. I was hoping we could drop this offering but according to this years budget it will have to continue. If everyone committed to percentage giving with a goal to tithe we would not have financial problems. This year our facilities were put to good use. Besides our church school program, we had a number of parishioners who used them for receptions and parties. We only ask for cleanup and to make a donation. One of our members operated a weekly tutoring school for 6 months. We must remember that we could never afford these facilities without the tower income. I am still in contact with officials in the Forest Preserve and am hopeful that we can come to some agreement about the use of our parking lot and the sledding in the winter. They keep promising to do something but never follow through.
Goal #6 - Outreach, Inreach and Evangelism
We have begun an outreach to a Baptist community just for mutual learning and fellowship. We visited their church in Chicago and they will be visiting on Feb. 1st, this year. Our Sept 11 memorial program has continued to give us a presence in the community. We are now involved in a dialogue between Christian, Jews and Muslims. Our charity outreach has been record breaking with all the natural disaster we have supported and the charitable needs we are called upon to support.. We continue to be involved in anti abortion activities by protesting and supporting a crisis pregnancy center (.PASS) We have supported international missionary programs through the OCMC.
The internet is our most effective evangelistic tool both for out and in-reach. We get continued comments from around the world about its content. We have a constant stream of visitors who find out about St. Luke from the website. We sometimes wonder if any of our own parishioners look at it.
Parish membership has dropped this year because of people who moved away and those who attend but have not joined for reasons known only to them. At last count we had 95 members. According to our Bishop colleges student must formally join and make a financial commitment to be considered members. We cannot cover their financial responsibilities. We have sent out letters inviting non members to join.
Since my eventual retirement draws closer I have asked Ken Stevens to form a committee to draw up a plan in case, either through sickness or retirement, I would need to be replaced. Ken Stevens has come up with a salary package. This is a key to the experience level which the parishioners would consider. As in any profession the lower the salary the less experience.
I commend all members of the Parish Council for their diligent commitment to the Lord's work. Please read all the reports as they describe the excellent work of council members and ministry leaders. My concern, looking over the parish, including membership, attendance at Liturgy, Church School and fellowship activities, is that we have reached a plateau and we need to take the steps necessary so that we do not lapse into decline. The step was suggested in the introduction to this report that we get involved in the Natural Church Growth Program as outlined by Fr. Ivanoff director of the Dept of Church Growth and Evangelism.
Deacons - Proto - Deacon Andrew continues to support the liturgical ministry by helping me on Sundays. Without his help the Divine Liturgy would not go as smoothly as it does. He is also involved in our Educational program. Sad to say, Deacon Danial is in the process of being put on loan to the Greek Archdiocese to serve at St. Constantine and Helen. This is our loss but to Sts. Constantine and Helens a great gain. We do miss him. He will continue to support our Orthodox Information center and bookstore.
Sacristan/ Altar Servers Report - Sub-deacon John Verderber
In 2005 we were able to purchase a new censer stand and censer to complete my wish list. This year I would like to purchase a new Processional Cross replacing the old wooden one we now use to complement the modern fans. The candle holders on the altar are also getting old and need replacing because it is getting hard to clean them with the brass polish. Our altar servers have increased the past year and we needed to set up teams. We now have team A and team B. I have set up two altar server leaders that serve every Sunday and to help the new servers coming into the altar. We had an altar servers outing this past summer at Hollywood Sports and we had a great time with pizza, golf and arcade games. We are planning meetings with the servers this year and handing out altar server handbooks to discuss etiquette and rubrics. I am very proud of the current altar servers and team leaders and look forward to serve with them in 2006.
Readers/Chanters Report - Reader James Lewandowski
REV. 1:3 - Blessed is He who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.
The beginning of the year all l6 readers were given a schedule of their Sunday Epistle Readings. Out of 16 Readers, one never showed at all on their scheduled days, five were missing more than twice without calling me to inform me of there absence. Daniel Mahoney is off the Readers List, I have not heard from him in over a year. Caye Caswick has been trained and will permanently replace Dan. Epistle Readers were asked to contribute to help in reading of Vespers, Matins, and Thanksgiving Prayers after Liturgy. No Reader came forth. This task was taken on solely by Pearl Homiak for the second year in a row. Two Readers were tonsured this year - Clark Wilson and Phillip Neznanov. Alternate Readers, who are not on the permanent rotation still remain the same as last year - Matushka Michaelyn Sloan and Sub Deacon Herman (Jerry Kincaid) A Readers Handbook was established this year for the 2006 Reader schedule to include: The correct Tone and verbiage of the Prokeimenon, The Epistle Reading, and The Alleluia. Also this year the Readers will be informed of the web site established by the OCA for reference to the readings for any particular day. Also, the home page on the web site for Readers/Chanters needs to be updated.
Handmaiden Report- Bell Ringer Lynn Betsanes - 2005
The girls are growing up fast and this past year we had a lot of girls begin holding the cloth and cutting the bread. I am going to work on some sort of schedule to avoid feelings that someone does it more than another. Unfortunately we had more spills this year than we would like to admit to so I will continue working on proper procedure with the girls. We went to see The March of the Penguins in the fall. Over ice cream, we discussed the importance of our duties and our similarities to the Myrrhbearing women. A great time was had by all and we hope to get together again soon - possibly with the altar servers. We are anxiously awaiting our new bell. We have acquired a program to help with bell ringing and some new information on caring for the bells and how to use them. I hope to have a class with the girls on this information when time permits . I will be having a book made to keep in the bell tower on proper ringing and care of the bells. A lock was installed on the bell tower trap door for safety purposes. Father Andrew and I have keys. New bell ropes were hung as the old ones were fraying and unraveling. Looking forward to a new year with beautiful bells and no spills!!
Choir Director's Report - Maria Vrame
It has always been our goal to offer music from different Orthodox jurisdictions in order to reflect the make-up of our diverse congregation. We have added different versions of music to the Liturgy and Vigils, always trying to keep it melodic so that the congregation can learn the melodies and sing along wherever possible. We've also changed our rehearsal day from Thursday evenings to Sundays after Liturgy. So far this has improved attendance and has made it easier for us, since we already are in church and don't have to make another trip during the week since very few of us live near the church and many are working on Thursday evenings. I'd like to encourage anyone interested in choir to please attend these Sunday rehearsals; they are listed on the church's monthly calendar. I've continued teaching hymns in the Sunday school this year, but going into each classroom only once a month for about 15 minutes. We make a tape and the classes review the hymns each week with their teachers in order to help them learn the hymn. It seems to be working well. The students seem to enjoy the music part of their Sunday school experience and beginning in February we will see if I have any recruits. This would take place in the choir rehearsal room after church.
Vestments - Helen Partoll
During the year we had two altar cover sets altered to fit the table of oblation. The red set will be finished this year and will complete the project. New clips are being put on the altar server robes made out of Velcro. In Memory of Luba Johnson's Mother we are going to get a new blue set of altar covers.. All of our cleaning needs have been provided for free by Angelo Chakonas and altering by Mrs.Pitsa I want to thank them for their generous donation.