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parish forum
Archbishop Melchisedek and Bishop Paul with 2018 participants in Rossford, OH.

The Orthodox Church in America’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, Diocese of the Midwest and Bulgarian Diocese will cosponsor the Sixth Parish Development Forum at Saint John the Baptist Church, Canonsburg, PA July 11-13 2019.

The conference, open to clergy and laity alike, is designed to establish mutually supportive relationships among participants, explore the challenges facing parishes in North America, and encourage dialogue about life in healthy, vibrant Orthodox parishes.

“For the past five years this event, known as the Small Parish Forum, has attracted almost 300 persons from over 100 parishes,” said Joseph Kormos, Forum cochairperson and Parish Development Ministry Leader for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh.  “In considering this year’s program, we noted that many past participants represented larger parishes.  We also noted that the revitalization approaches discussed at the Forums were clearly relevant to a range of parish situations, both small and large.  As a result, we have reshaped this year’s conference to better describe current Forum goals, topics and target audience.  As in the past our intent is to deliver actionable ideas, tips and good practices valuable to clergy and lay leaders.”

“This year’s theme will be ‘Strengthening Our Witness to the Community: Growing and Sharing Our Faith, Welcoming Others,’ said Priest Stephen Frase, the Forum’s clergy cochairperson.  “With this as a framework, workshops and presentations will stimulate parishes to become hopeful Christian communities living a life in Christ, sharing the Gospel in their locale and doing the work of Christ in the world.”

“The previous Forums have attracted attendees from as far away as Florida, Missouri, Connecticut and Toronto, with seven OCA Dioceses and five other jurisdictions sending representatives” added Mr Kormos. “This year’s location is ideal—a two and a half hour drive from Cleveland,  four hours from Buffalo and Detroit, and six and a half hours from New York City.  Over half of the OCA’s parishes are within a manageable drive of the site.”

Registration will be online only and will open May 15. To maintain an atmosphere of fellowship and dialogue among attendees, registration will be limited to 60 participants. Sessions will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday July 11 and conclude at noon on Saturday, July 13. A block of rooms has been reserved at a local hotel.

The $100.00 per person registration fee will include meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and Forum materials.  Attendees from the OCA’s Bulgarian Diocese, the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Diocese of the Midwest are eligible for full tuition rebates and grants to assist with travel costs. According to Mr. Kormos, many other OCA dioceses offer scholarships to small parishes desiring to send attendees.

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.