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Encouraging inter-parish activities

genesisone

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So, to follow up on this post:

Yurysprudentsiya said:
genesisone said:
frjohnmorris said:
After reading the posts on this and other threads, I think the question should be; do American Orthodox really want unity? There are people who consider other expressions of Orthodoxy than their own sub-Orthodox. There are all sorts or arguments over whose customs are the right Orthodox Tradition. Followers of one expression of Orthodoxy judge other expressions of Orthodoxy as not quuite up to standards. Only when we begin to think of orselves as Orthodox first and not as Greek, Russian or even Antiochian Orthodox first will we be ready for unity. To do that we have to learn to distinguish between what is essential Orthodoxy and what is cultural Orthodoxy.  Some of the externals that some people consider essential are really cultural and not essential. There must be absolute unity in essentials, but there can be diversity in non-essentials.

Fr. John W. Morris
I think that is a very fair question to ask. Even your reasoning makes sense. Most of us whether lifers or newcomers to Orthodoxy (I don't like the usual terms "cradle/convert"  :D) have a preference for the superficial trappings to which we have become accustomed. I'm beginning to think that imposing administrative unity on North Americans (and other parts of the world) may not be the wisest first step. In discussion at my parish recently, it was pointed out that our bishops from all jurisdictions can get together quite amicably. It is unfortunate that at the parish level there is little encouragement - at least around here - to meet Orthodox Christians from other jurisdictions. Why isn't my bishop saying to the Greek/Ukrainian/etc bishops something like: "What do we need to do to get our respective congregations together and get to know each other?" Most of us Orthodox would agree in principle that we are one Church, but there is little evidence of that in our daily activities within our parishes. In time, administrative unity would seem the logical response to the evident unity of Orthodox parishes within each community.
Were doing it on the local level.  Joint presanctifieds during Lent, joint picnics etc.  it works out really well.
I'd appreciate hearing how this has worked in other communities. How did these events get started? Who was responsible for getting things together? What works and what doesn't?

This inter-parish cooperation is seriously lacking in my part of the world.
 

LizaSymonenko

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I live in the metro-Detroit area.  We are blessed with about 20 (plus) parishes within 50 mile radius.  We have Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, Macedonian, Mad-Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Romanian, Antiochian, OCA,...and I'm sure I'm missing someone.  We also have a huge Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Malankara Orthodox, etc.  We have a good mix.

We do a LOT together!!!! 

We have started a COCC - Council of Orthodox Christian Churches.  They meet monthly in alternate churches.  Each church sends a representative.  Fee of $200/year to join. 

The COCC organizes many of the common events, they also donate funds towards local clergy pensions, help out widowed matushkas, collect funds for charities, hold fund raisers, etc.

Through the COCC we get together for St. Nicholas Day Program....where all the kids, from all the parishes, get together to greet St. Nick.  Each year the event takes place in a different church, thereby attracting more kids each time.

Here are some pics:






I couldn't resist...



We also have Pan-Orthodox, or this year they are calling it Inter Orthodox Lenten Vespers.

These take place Sunday evenings at different parishes each week.  It's a great way to see different churches in the area.  We look forward to seeing all our friends from the different parishes, some of whom we only see during this time of year.



The Vespers sometimes even has bishops get involved, in addition to dozens of priests, and hundreds of faithful.








































We also do common fundraisers such as golf outings, and basketball tournaments.

There's also a local chapter of the Orthodox Women of Michigan.  They hold lectures each week in a different church, with guest speakers on a particular theological topic, as well as summer retreats to our local women's monastery.  In addition to educational lectures, and retreats, the ladies collect supplies for the local Children's Hospital.

AND.....

We have a new organization.  Orthodox Detroit Outreach who cater to the homeless and the needy.  They collect and distribute food and clothing.  Each month they get together at a different parish and prepare 500+ bagged lunches that they then distribute to the homeless, in addition to clothing, blankets, etc.

AND....as of last year they started a Communal Garden....where everyone pitches in with supplies, seeds, weeding, water, planting, harvesting....fresh veggies, which either get cooked and served Sundays after Liturgy at the local Orthodox Church grounds, or handed out to the needy.

Surprisingly, Detroit, is full of Orthodox Christians....and we are trying to be active and make a difference in our communities.

(We also have a number of Vacation Bible school programs where all the kids, from all the parishes, are welcome to join.)
 

DeniseDenise

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Tonight my parish was the host for the Washington State Pan Orthodox Vespers.

There were actually two speakers, because we had a last minute visit from Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Archdiocese of the Americas, who was in town to visit a new mission.

I found what he shared to be very relevant to this thread.  He talked about how they had concelebrated with the Russian church they are still meeting in, that morning, and how he found it difficult, because he cannot serve in Slavonic, so the service ended up a hodge podge of Romanian, English and Slavonic.

But that doing that and coming to the Vespers, where it was all of the jurisdictions, reminds him that it is 'The Orthodox Church', not many Orthodox Churches.  That whichever language we speak and whether we have traditions that are different, that we need to leave the service and proclaim 'The Orthodox Church' outside, in our lives.

They were very simple words, but a very moving message about how we think of ourselves...how inter parish activities lead to that 'The Orthodox Church' mindset.
 
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