Rectors Annual Report January 2014
By Father Andrew Harrison
Orthodox Christian Clergy Association - Sanctity of Life service committee
Highlights of Top Three Activities
Provide Food & Shelter for the Homeless (PADS) – one day a week from October to May
Outreach and Charitable Activities
Donations given to the following charities through offering and matching grants: All Saints Church - Father Peter Gilquist Memorial, Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Fund, Coptic Orphans, IOCC, Ancient Faith Radio, PADS, Holy Assumption Monastery, Needy Parish Family, YOCAMA Registration, St. Herman Seminary, OCA Deanery Camp, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church, St. Elisabeth Convent – Belarus, Tony Tsapralis Family.
Major Challenges Faced
Correct building exit codes and expand the present church building. Projected cost $375,000
Upcoming Special Events/Anniversaries - October 2013 to September 2014
St. Luke Feast day celebration to be held Oct 18th with a luncheon on Oct 20 30th Anniversary planned for October 2014
As you see in the report above, I reported a membership of 119. This number has increased to 127, 9 are 18 year olds and 3 are seniors under nursing care whom we cover for the diocesan assessment. Total Sunday attendance has decreased from last year’s report averaging 112. Weekday Liturgies have shown an increase and Saturday Vespers is about the same as last year. We have 5 chanters who chant the Sunday morning Matins and Third hour. During Advent the pre-communion prayers were read instead of the Hours. We are planning to repeat this during Great Lent. The Tuesday and Thursday Morning prayer group has shown a slight increase in attendance. We had 8 baptisms, 1 chrismation, 4 weddings and 4 funerals. Because of your commitment to the Christian work of our parish, our total operating budget has increased to $238,825.
This year I had the privilege of being spiritual leader of a mission trip to Spruce Island, Alaska in July. The program was organized by Michaelyn Sloan. We had 7 from St. Luke on the mission team as shown in the photo. I believe all who participated have grown spiritually including myself. The visit to St. Herman’s cabin, chapel and the veneration of his relics were high points. The team was able to teach the Orthodox faith to 35+ children and adults at St. Peter the Aleut Camp program. Plans are being made for next year’s Mission team. There is a possibility of returning to Spruce Island or we have been invited to participate on a Christian service mission team going to the Amazon Jungle in Peru.
In September I traveled to Mt Athos on a spiritual pilgrimage with two St. Luke parishioners. During Great Lent a presentation will be made about the trip. I will be leading a pilgrimage to the Seven Churches of the Revelation in June-July. We still have openings. The trip will include Constantinople and Cappadocia.
There has been a change in the leadership of the PADS homeless program. Because of Tom Kozbiel’s illness, Jill Olson has taken over the duties of site manager. Tom is still very much involved as his health permits. I have taken over the laundry responsibilities. I can always use help. I am also available as backup for when a shift has not been filled. This has occurred once so far this season. Jill has been doing a wonderful job scheduling volunteers. I have not had to announce the need for volunteers from St. Luke. The Lemont Churches have been very helpful and we are now getting the support of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church.
The major change in the liturgical services has been a commitment to move toward congregational singing. We have in the past supported the congregation singing along with the choir. After discussing the difficulties with Paulette in finding a convenient time for scheduling choir rehearsals, I decided to support the disbandment of the choir and establishment of a group of chanters who sing the movable parts of the Divine Liturgy and special services. The congregation is responsible for singing of the Liturgy. Orthodox hymnals are placed on each seat and will change according to the liturgical season. This practice is being done in many leading Orthodox Churches in the Orthodox Church in America. One local parish is St. Joseph in Wheaton. In addition, there are ongoing changes to the church walls. George Poulos and Nick Lisowski have been adding printed murals. So far two have been mounted. They are up for dedication by a donor for $500 each. If they were painted murals they would cost thousands.
The parish council under the leadership of George Poulos tackled the decision at the last annual meeting to fund a proposed addition to the church facility. The main purpose is to comply with certain infractions in building codes and add additional exits and bathrooms. We will have a slight expansion in worship space and a small side chapel for baptisms and weekday services. The projected cost is $325,000. After approaching several banks it was decided by the council to issue bonds at a rate of 6.7%. The bond program is included in the reports (see Appendix A). Our mortgage will be paid in full in two years. Based on the tower income, we can support two mortgages.
The progress in our Church School program has been phenomenal. With the suggestion of Maria Kopulos we have become one of the few parishes that have entered the digital age for our church school teaching. We have computers and flat screen TVs in all of the rooms but one, and we are connected to the internet. Of course we have filters so that any inappropriate material will be blocked. The Divine Liturgy is projected live on the TV in the Narthex. It is hoped in the future that we can stream the liturgy on the internet if we can hookup to fiber optic communication.
The looming question that keeps coming up is my eventual retirement. I told the council that I plan to retire in December 2015. I will be 75 years of age and have completed 20 years as rector of St. Luke. I will be available to guide the parish in finding a new priest and helping through his orientation. I do not plan to leave the area at this time.
Although I am disappointed in the slight drop in Sunday attendance, overall, the parish is doing very well. The membership and giving, both pledges and charity, are on the upswing. Our Lord has blessed us and we are using his blessings for the building up of His Church. Much of this report has been the work of you, our members. Please read the reports for more details. I pray for and commend George Poulos, Council Lay Chairman, the Parish Council members, and those who are doing ministry. A special thanks for those leaving the council: Christine Bowen, Cheryl Evangelopoulos, Jill Olson and Diane Wilczak. I also commend them for their commitment and diligence. May our Lord grant them Many Years.