A Parish Council is composed of practicing Orthodox Christians elected by the members of the parish or appointed by the pastor for the purpose of working together with the Priest in fulfilling the needs of the St. George Church in accordance with its Constitution and by-laws. This brief description of a local governing body also describes the fundamental structure of the Orthodox Church. That is, that we, as clergy and laity together, are the "People of God", seeking, to the best of our human capabilities, to fulfill the mission ascribed to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We are very fortunate to have men and women to serve on our Parish Council who are dedicated Orthodox Christians and who sacrifice their time, talents and resources for the Church.
In an effort to keep you informed and aware of church activities and Parish Council decisions, we publish this information in the Church publications.
Members of the Parish Council have assumed a sacred office, one that demands total love, loyalty and dedication to the Holy Orthodox Church. They are official representatives of the Church, and as such are expected to exert every effort to exemplify its sacred character and spirit. Upon being elected to this trusted office they assume three basic obligations which will help guide them in making the many decisions and policies that is their responsibility. This is attested to publicly when the oath of office is administered by the parish priest. These obligations are:
To uphold the Gospel, and the teachings and holy traditions of the Orthodox Church.
To abide by the uniform parish regulations and by-laws as set forth by the Archdiocese.
To utilize their God-given talents and energies for the progress and advancement of the parish.
The role that the Parish Council member plays is best understood, however, when the parish is viewed as one part of the total structure of the overall Church. Seeds of misunderstanding find fertile ground when the Church is looked upon purely from a local parochial point of view. To be sure, the needs of the local parish are the most direct concern of each individual member of the Parish Council, but to see only this, and fail to comprehend the role of the parish in the overall life and structure of the Church is like one family member showing no interest in or responsibility for the problems and needs of other members of this immediate family.
Without a basic understanding that the Church is the body of Christ, the parish can easily become an organizational center or administrative structure instead of the holy and divine institution which sets it apart from all other organizations and bodies in society.
AOCWNA (Antiochian Women)
Membership comprised of the finest, devoted and energetic women in our parish. The purpose of this organization is to promote the spiritual and physical welfare of the members of the Church; to visit the sick whenever possible, sympathize with the bereaved; and congratulate others. This organization endeavors to develop among its members a spirit of leadership, cooperation and devotion to the welfare of the Parish and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America (AOCWNA) of which our local chapter is proud to be a member.
The good work of our Ladies has been an important ingredient in the raising of major funds in the past and it continues to be a most dependable and crucial organization in our parish and throughout the Archdiocese.
We invite all the Ladies of our parish to join this organization for they are the backbone of our church.
FELLOWSHIP OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE
Our vision for the North American Council of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine is to gather the leaders and delegates from the diocesan level of the Fellowship: to promote God-pleasing worship in our churches, to encourage evangelical witness on the part of our dioceses and parishes, to selflessly serve God and our brothers and sisters, and to enjoy together the fellowship of Divine Love.
The chosen and appointed diocesan representatives who constitute the North American Council intend to inspire and motivate the dioceses, parishes and people we serve, to carry out the works of the Church today and to raise up excellent leaders for her future.
The North American Council develops and coordinates ministry programs whose scope extends beyond the capacities of a single diocese.
This movement was created and designed to involve the people of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the spiritual, humanitarian, and social functions of the Church.
Spiritually, the Fellowship is involved at all levels. During Fellowship Month (November), the members participate in the Church Service by reading the Epistle, making collections and ushering. Locally and regionally they participate in retreats and workshops because the understanding of the Orthodox Church is an important program of the Fellowship. In a positive response to social awareness, the Fellowship involves itself in different ways. They feed the homeless, visit orphanages, homes for the aged, hospitals, and parish shut-ins. They participate in Events for different charities, community and civic affairs, and local parish activities.
The Fellowship has lead a most glorious history throughout the Archdiocese. The Fellowship remains a vital organization for the development of spiritual and social events for the parishes.
The letters "SOYO" stand for the Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations. These young people are the heart of the parish.
Teen SOYO was organized by the Fellowship, its parent organization, and was given a challenge to carry on the Fellowship's goals of LOVE, HONESTY, UNITY, DEVOTION, AWARENESS AND COMMITMENT.
In the early 1960s, teen groups ranging in age from 13 to 18 years began to gather and organize within their local parishes. As the parish teen groups organized into formal chapters, they were grouped into six geographical regions - CAN/AM, EASTERN, NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHWEST, WESTERN and MID-WEST. Finally, in 1968, the six regions held their first National Teen SOYO meeting and thus the North American Council (NAC) of Teen SOYO was born.
The programs and projects of the SOYO are both challenging and changing and are adapted and designed to fulfill SOYO's six goals.
Teen SOYO is in excellent outlet for our Teens. In this organization our Teens become acquainted with the working of a church organization and it is hoped that then young people will become the future lay leaders of our parish.
THE ORDER OF ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
The Order is an organization of faithful Orthodox Christian men and women of this Archdiocese, age 21 years or more.
1. Membership, on an annual basis, shall require proper spiritual credentials plus a minimum gift of $500 or $1,000 per year per person, in one of two ascending orders of rank, such gift to be morally and technically in addition to, not in place of, financial support currently or normally given by the individual to the Arch-diocese and/or the parish.
2. Associate Membership can be conferred on Orthodox Christians not of this Archdiocese who meet the required spiritual and financial criteria.
3. Honorary Membership can be conferred on individuals outside the organization and/or outside the Archdiocese for distinguished service to the Archdiocese or to society in general.
The purposes of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch are solely:
To strengthen in every Orthodox Christian way the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America as a spiritual, administrative and functional entity.
This is to be done primarily by the raising of serious amounts of additional moneys for the Archdiocese, on a continuing basis, primarily from dedicated individual men and women of the Archdiocese, and from such fund raising activities which they undertake. These moneys in their entirety will be used to initiate or increase Archdiocesan-level activities in selected strategically important areas of endeavor. Spiritual strengthening of the Archdiocese and its members will be enhanced directly by the serious and continuing commitment of members of the Order.
"We are pleased to invite you to a new and innovative level of participation in the future of our Archdiocese by this invitation to join the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. We are certain that this will be a highly distinguished service order which will intensify your life in Christ's Church and build a very special fellowship and common concern among the membership."
Sacred music as part of church worship dates back to Old Testament times. As far back as 900 BC there was a special school for music students. The melodic idiom, of early sacred music was that of the Jewish Temple and the singing of the Psalms of David, which is still prominent in the Orthodox Church services.
Much of the music of the Ancient East, where Christianity had its origin, has been lost due to Islamic conquests and the Crusades. The music of modern times can be dated back to early Eastern Church culture.
The fundamentals of music were inherited from the Near East by the Byzantines and it was the Byzantines who developed the theories of scales, acoustics and esthetics in the forms that are still in use today. The greatest contribution to music from the Byzantines was choral singing. Chanting in alternate choruses was popular at this time.
Our Parish Choir is the soul of our church. They sing at most liturgical services the traditional Byzantine and Slavic music of the Orthodox Church. There is hope that as our Choir grows in membership, so, too, it will grow in its commitment to other sacramental services. Our choir director and members are most faithful in their love and devotion to the parish and its members, and they are an inspiration to all. The choir is open to all parishioners.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22,6).
The task of educating our children to Orthodoxy falls first to the parents and secondly to the church school. By providing a churchly home environment the parents set an example. What the child sees and hears from the adults around him is what he learns about his religion.
So that our children, the future of our Church, are knowledgeable in their religion we have endeavored to provide the best possible education through the procurement of educated and dedicated teachers, a curriculum that is updated regularly, books and supplementary materials to make this education enjoyable to the children.
Our Church School begins with the nursery class. Children from the ages of 3-4 years are enrolled. The class is informally designed to introduce the child to the Church.
Beginning with the kindergarten the children are introduced to the formal class atmosphere. This includes Bible stories, simple prayer, introduction to familiar objects in church, etc.
Each child is enrolled in the same grade as his public school grade. During the course of the year the children enter their work in the Creative Writing and Creative Arts Contests. Children from our Church School are chosen to represent St. George in the Catechism Bible Bowl held at the Parish Life Conference. Church School classes are held the Sundays from September to June, immediately following the reception of Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy.
A group of volunteers within our parish that they are dedicated to serve Christ by assisting the pastor in ministering to the needs of the parish and larger community. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. By His works, He has provided us with numerous examples and directives of how to love and serve. It is through our active participation in the Church Ministry that we are "doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1 :22).
An essential element of the Stewardship Committee is the motivation for doing it! As Christ has reached out to us, we must reach out to each other in love. Since we are created in the likeness and image of God, we are then created in and by His love. It is through His love that we move out of ourselves and toward each other. For "we are God's fellow workers" (1 Cor. 3:9). All of us are encouraged to use our God-given talents in His service.
ALTAR BOYS or Acolytes
The name "Altar Boy" stems from a very early term in church history--"The Acolyte", meaning follower or attendant. Acolytes were mentioned as early as the year 251 AD. They helped the priests perform their sacred duties, and were dedicated to their work.
Today our altar boys are still considered equal in importance. However, they are not expected to be adults, nor are they expected to serve the church as a way of life. Nevertheless, they must dedicate themselves as servers to the priest in his sacred work in the Holy Sanctuary. They must function smoothly and uniformly.
To serve as an altar boy, the candidate should be 6 years old and up. Physical appearance is important concerning neatness of body and clothing. Mental attitude and appearance are important and are maintained by showing involvement and interest, and by paying attention to the service.
It is the altar boy's responsibility to become familiar with the parts of the service, the petitions and prayers of the priest and the faithful, the hymns and responses of the chanter and choir. In effect, he will begin to memorize the entire Divine Liturgy.
As the altar boy becomes familiar with the services, he will be able to know what actions are required of him and others, and he will begin to anticipate his moves in advance. As becomes sure of his actions and duties, he will move with confidence and composure, adding much to the atmosphere of respect and reverence. As the atmosphere within the Sanctuary reflects reverence and respect, everyone concerned with the service will find worshipping God so very enjoyable and non-earthly.
Actions within the Sanctuary must always be with all due respect, fear and love of God, for nowhere else on earth we do come closer to His presence. We must use all the self discipline we possess when serving any service in God's Holy Church. To serve His Church is a privilege, not a right.
Instructions are given periodically throughout the year to our altar boys.
Our Holy Church welcomes all boys who are interested in becoming altar boys to notify their Sunday School teachers or the priest of their desire.
Every Orthodox parent rejoices when a son is privileged to serve as an altar boy and should encourage him. It would, however, be a serious mistake to force any young man into the service of the church. Any dedication to Christ and His Holy Church must come from the heart and must be performed voluntarily upon receiving the call, in order to be spiritually rewarding.
USHERS AND CHURCH USHERING
In addressing the dedicated laity who are responsible for the ushering at our worship services I feel as if I am speaking to a special group of my co-workers in service to the Lord. It is of the utmost importance that those who serve in this capacity are true emissaries of the Church to all of the Faithful who enter its portals.
The spirit of Christ must glow warmly in the church, and it must first be conveyed by those who greet the parishioners upon their arrival for the worship service. Your genuine welcome, conveyed silently yet warmly, reflects the spirit of the Church to our people. Your knowledge of the Liturgy and other Services, and the manner in which you escort the Faithful to the pews can assist or deter the Priest in his conducting of the Service. It is precisely for these reasons that you must consider yourself as a co-worker with your Priest in fulfilling the sacred mission of the Church.
The purpose of church ushering is to enhance the spirit of worship for the congregation by providing the good order that contributes to the spiritual well-being of the worshiper. This goal can be achieved only if those who are responsible for ushering are aware of their duties and discharge them in an intelligent, courteous and congenial manner.
The importance of good ushering cannot be overestimated for the demeanor of ushers creates the first impression given to worshipers as they enter the Church.
The usher must above all have a pleasant, courteous and cordial attitude toward those arriving at Church. His/Her eyes and facial expression must silently emit the feeling of "Good morning, we are so glad you are here to worship with us today." A courteous and helpful usher sets the tone for the parishioner (or visitor) as he enters the worship service, be it the Divine Liturgy or other. As such, he represents the Parish to each individual he serves. At times the usher must ask people to move, to wait, to move a crying child, etc. and the manner in which such requests are made are extremely important. In most life situations, it is not what one does, but how one does it that is the proven rule in human relations. It is sometimes necessary to be firm, but always politely firm. Nearly all persons respect a request for order and procedure as long as it is delivered courteously.
Please remember that the Ushers are required to see to the order during Services, and everyone should follow their directions at all times.