parish forum

Speakers for the Sixth Parish Development Forum and the continuation of a program offering cash grants for participating parishes were recently announced.

Jointly sponsored by the Orthodox Church in America’s Bulgarian Diocese, the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, and the Diocese of the Midwest, the Parish Development Forum will take place from 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 thru noon on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at Saint John the Baptist Church, 1601 Boone Ave. Canonsburg PA.  Online registration is required.

The Forum is a clergy-laity conference dedicated to exploring the challenges, opportunities and solutions facing Orthodox parishes seeking to live a life in Christ in 21st century North America.

“The theme of the 2019 Parish Forum is ‘Strengthening Our Witness to the Community: Growing and Sharing Our Faith: Welcoming Others.’  The keynote speaker, Archpriest Maximus Urbanowicz, Rector of Saint James Church, Port St. Lucie FL, will set the tone by sharing ‘The Orthodox Century: Fishing, Feeding and Following in the Footsteps of the Saints’”, said Priest Stephen Frase, Forum clergy co-chair.  “Other speakers will include Priest Paul Abernathy, Saint Moses the Black Antiochian Orthodox Church, Pittsburgh PA; Protonica Michelle Jannakos, Principal of Saint Sava Academy, Chicago IL; Archpriest Andrew Jarmus; Matushka Valerie Zahirsky; and others.  The Forum will also feature an in-depth panel discussion with catechumens and recent converts to the Orthodox faith.”

parish forum

Specific Forum topics will include “Tips for Welcoming Others;” “Why Do Persons Choose to Become Orthodox?;” “Committing to Your Neighborhood through Outreach;” “Using Social Media to Communicate Your Parish;” and “Principles of Orthodox Evangelization and Parish Education for Outreach.”

Joseph Kormos, Forum Co-chairperson and Parish Development Ministry Leader for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, said “the Parish Grant Program was started in 2018, with grants awarded to four parishes that attended last year’s Forum.  We were more than satisfied with the efforts and results from these past grants and have decided to continue them this year.

“The grants enabled recipient parishes to begin or expand important ministries and try ideas that would normally have lacked funding and have helped increase parish participation while strengthening important aspects of parish life,” Mr. Kormos continued.  “Since parishioners could see that these active efforts were endorsed by others outside the parish, many attracted matching donations.  In addition, some of the grant projects can serve as templates for other parishes desiring to undertake similar efforts.”

To be eligible for a grant, a parish must participate in the 2019 Forum and submit a written application.  Grant requests will be accepted up to a maximum of $2000.00 per grant topic.  Parishes receiving grants after last year’s Forum included Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Detroit MI, which used its grant to bring together parishioners, parish volunteers and inner city neighbors for a community-strengthening festival; Saint George Cathedral, Rossford OH, which undertook a “heartbeat shower” to expand parish involvement, community outreach and spiritual renewal in support of pro-life efforts linked to its celebration of the Great Feast of Annunciation; Saint Innocent Church, Macon GA, which used its grant to provide a stipend and travel expenses for a professional choral instructor to work with and strengthen its choir; and Saint Nicholas Church, McKees Rocks PA, which used its grant to promote and enhance its Saint Nicholas Symposium—a half-day event focused on reaching out to potential inquirers to Orthodoxy.

Online registration is now available.  The $100.00 per person registration fee includes meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and forum materials.  Attendees from sponsoring dioceses will have registration fees rebated at the conclusion of the Forum and are eligible for refunded hotel costs.  To maintain an intimate atmosphere for dialogue and sharing of ideas, registration is limited to 60 persons.

Further information may be obtained by contacting Mr. Kormos at joekormos1@gmail.com.