At their recent Fall Session, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America approved Church Planting Grants for five recently established missions.
Receiving grants for the first time in 2018 are Saint John of Chicago Mission, Rogers, AR, served by Priest John Wehling, and Saint Nikolai Mission, Louisville, OH, a mission of the Bulgarian Diocese served by Priest Mikel Hill. Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Mission, Rollo, MO, served by Priest Joel Wilson, will receive a second year grant, while Saint Nektarios Mission, Waxahachie, TX and Saint Juvenaly and His Companion Mission, Wasilla, AK, will receive grants for their third and final year. Priest David Bozeman and Archpriest Mikel Bock serve these missions respectively.
“Each year, the OCA invests roughly $100,000.00 in the development of new missions, and in 2018 we will continue to do so, thanks to the generosity of the faithful of the OCA,” notes Priest John Parker, who chairs the Department of Evangelization. “Each of these missions receives a substantial grant—$24,000.00 for the first year, $20,000.00 for the second year, and $16,000.00 for the third year—matched by the mission, in order to support the full-time ministry and missionary work of their priest. In addition to the matching compensation, missions develop robust stewardship plans—agreeing that the parish council members will be examples to others by tithing and reporting to the department on monthly outreach and evangelistic work.
Two missions are “graduating” from the Planting Grant Program at the end of 2017: Saint James Church, Beaufort, SC, where Priest James Bozeman serves as Priest-in-Charge, and Saint John the Evangelist Church, Tempe, AZ, served by Priest Andre Paez.
“Planting grant priests and their missions are on the cutting edge of ministry and make every effort to share all the good that God has done for them with their neighbors,” Father John added. ” Imitable mission priests are tireless laborers who, together with the faithful of their missions, implement some of the most creative and energetic missionary efforts in the OCA. Consider inviting one of the second or third year priests, or one of the numerous ‘graduates,’ to give a retreat at your parish—to tell the story of how God has worked in their apostolic labors.
“It is encouraging that missions representing four OCA dioceses are among the 2018 recipients,” Father John concluded. ” Please pray for these missions and missionary efforts, including those who were not able to be funded. And for missions to be established and for our current parishes to thrive.”