Overview: Resources & Programs
Rev. Father James W. Kordaris, Director
The Department of Outreach & Evangelism seeks assist the local parish to renew and share the Orthodox Christian Faith in America by nurturing a deeper commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ within His Church, by reaching out to inactive Orthodox Christians and to the unchurched, by meeting the needs of those inquiring about the Orthodox faith, and offering each community the tools for parish renewal and for the establishment of new parishes.
The Department works in coordination with a board comprised of one clergy and one lay member from each Metropolis who have been appointed by their respective Hierarchs. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios has called upon this department to bring the Gospel of our Lord to all those in America who thirst to know The Way, The Truth and The Life, thus offering Orthodox Christianity to contemporary America.
If there is an outstanding ministry in your parish that you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-519-6160.
The Department recently completed a three-year program of providing the parishes with a monthly packet of quality resources for outreach and evangelism. The objectives of this program were to provide practical tools for revitalizing the faith of active Orthodox Christians and for outreach to inactive Orthodox Christians and inquirers. Sermons, Youth sermons/lessons, profiles of successful ministries, educational brochures, parish outreach programs and other outreach resources were provided to the parishes each month and are now available on this site.
COORDINATION WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS
The efforts of the Department Outreach & Evangelism have been coordinated with many of the departments and ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, including Stewardship & Pastoral Resources, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Internet Ministries, Interfaith Marriage, the Center for the Family, Philoptochos, OCF (campus ministry), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), and others. The Departments of Outreach & Evangelism, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the Center for the Family and Stewardship Ministries coordinate their ministries and publish materials under a coordinated annual theme.
The Department, in cooperation with Philoptochos and the Center for the Family, has developed a program for a Family Outreach Sunday in which active church members are encouraged to invite inactive family members and Orthodox Christian friends for a special day of Christian fellowship and spiritual renewal. This is modeled on successful programs carried out in the parishes throughout the Archdiocese. All Orthodox Christians are aware that many of our Orthodox friends and relatives have fallen away from active involvement in the Church. Jesus Christ calls each one of us to engage in active outreach to these relatives and friends. Family Outreach Sunday is a first step in this direction.
On Easter Sunday in 1999, over 1 million atheists and agnostics in America attended a church service. This year we may assume that many Americans continue to search for the Ancient Christian Church. With church attendance increasing over the Lenten period with its usual peak during Holy Week, this is our greatest opportunity to reach out to our inactive Orthodox and to inquirers about the faith. The Department provides a number of brochures, sermons and other resources by prominent Orthodox theologians and priests on a variety of Lenten topics.
This series of educational brochures by prominent Orthodox Christian clergy is designed to offer quality educational materials to the parish, serving to renew the faith of active Orthodox Christians, reach out to inactive Orthodox, and to share the Truth of Orthodoxy with those inquiring about the faith. Topics include Baptism, Repentance, Holy Communion and more. These brochures are formatted for reproduction in the parishes at little cost and are designed to fit in the parish brochure rack or in a standard envelope for mailing. We encourage parishes to carry out a brochure ministry using these inviting and informative brochures. Over 500 sets of brochures have been distributed to-date.
This series was recently re-formatted to better serve the parishes.
Additional brochures on a variety of topics have been developed in line with the mission of this department.
Recognizing the fact that intermarriage may be one of our most important opportunities for outreach, the Department of Outreach & Evangelism has joined with Fr. Charles Joanides, PhD, LMFT, to offer these resources to assist parishes in reaching out more effectively to intermarried couples and their families. These brochures have been designed to help clergy and lay leaders increase their congregations’ awareness regarding this pastoral opportunity and challenge.
This is a program designed to profile exceptional ministries carried out in parishes throughout the Archdiocese with a step-by-step plan of implementation. The goal of Ministry Profiles is not to add to the workload of our parish priests. Local clergy are encouraged to assess the gifts of lay leadership in the parish, empowering them to spearhead suitable ministries, always under the guidance of the parish priest. Ministries highlighted include the Challenge Liturgy -- a special liturgy of physically & mentally challenged Orthodox Christians; a Grief & Bereavement Support Group, The Life Ministries Program to assist new mothers in need, and the Parish Nurse Program -- a multifaceted ministry serving parishioners and the surrounding community.
Over the past few years, this web site has grown quickly and includes many resources and ministry tools for outreach & evangelism, relevant articles, sermons, ministry profiles, photos and updates on developments from throughout the Archdiocese. The Department also provides regular electronic communication with all those interested in outreach and evangelism through the Outreach email listserv.
The purpose of this program is to encourage the establishment of new Greek Orthodox Parishes and to provide support for small Greek Orthodox Parishes which are striving to become self-supporting. With the generous assistance of the Leadership 100 Home Missions Grant, the Home Mission Parish Program provides assistance to parishes throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in their critical first years of existence. In special situations assistance may also be provided to parishes that have declined but are in a period of renewal and outreach. There are usually 12-15 parishes receiving some level of support through the program making it financially feasible for a priest to be assigned. The priest is able to offer much-needed consistency in leadership during the critical stages of parish formation and renewal, increasing immensely the likelihood of the parish becoming self-sufficient.
Throughout the Archdiocese there are parishes in need of liturgical items such as censers, chalice sets, baptismal fonts, kouvouklia, and more. There are also many established parishes that have several of these items, some of which are never used. The Department is working with the parishes to match up those that have with those that need in order to provide these basic liturgical items for only the cost of delivery. Through this program the need of parishes are being met through the care and generosity of other parishes. Relationships are being formed between parishes across the Archdiocese to the benefit of all.
SISTER PARISH PROGRAM
A Sister Parish Program is being developed in conjunction with the Clearinghouse of Liturgical Items whereby established parishes assist those that are more recently established or in a period of renewal. This support is not only financial, but also in the form of sharing those liturgical items that are so costly to new parishes. Other support would be spiritual -- keeping the fledgling church in the community’s prayers, communication between parishes (even the children could participate in this), visitation by parishioners to one another's parish, and even occasional clergy exchange. The possibilities are endless [Many of these ideas would need the approval of the local hierarch, and all parishes are encouraged to seek the necessary permission and keep their hierarch informed of their activities].
PARISH LOCATION ANALYSIS
A booklet outlining a process to assess the feasibility of establishing a parish based upon demographic analysis and projected population growth trends is available through the department. This location analysis is useful for new parishes, for existing parishes considering a change of location, and for existing parishes wishing to determine the growth potential of their current location. Copies may be ordered by contacting the Department (Outreach@goarch.org).
GETTING STARTED Outreach & Evangelism: Some Practical Steps
A useful starting point for parish councils and outreach committees formulating a parish outreach plan. This booklet outlines basic actions to be taken by the parish to improve parish outreach and evangelism efforts. Copies may be ordered by contacting the Department (Outreach@goarch.org).
PARISH OUTREACH BANNERS
To assist parishes in outreach and evangelism, the Department has designed an attractive outdoor Welcome Banner personalized with parish information. The original 3 x 6 foot vinyl banner in burgundy & gold welcomes people to the parish with the invitation to “Find Your Spiritual Home in the Orthodox Christian Church.” A Lenten Banner with the phrase, “Join Us on a Lenten Journey to the Resurrection,” has been designed to support parish Lenten outreach efforts. A Nativity Season Welcome Banner is available declaring “Christ is Born: Glorify Him!”
Lay Ministry is a key element in the process of parish renewal. The parish priest is called to assess the gifts of his lay leadership and to empower them to spearhead suitable lay ministries under his guidance. In the words of St. John Chrysostom: “The most basic task of the Church leader is to discern the spiritual gifts of all those under his authority, and to encourage those gifts to be used to the full for the benefit of all. Only a person who can discern the gifts of others and can humbly rejoice at the flowering of those gifts is fit to lead the Church.”
- Revitalize the faith of active Orthodox
- Reach out to inactive Orthodox Christians
- Meet the needs of those inquiring about the Orthodox faith
- Offer the tools for parish renewal
- Offer guidance in the establishment of new parishes