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Parish Development & Life

Archbishop JOB Memorial Mission Trip Project Mexico Video
Over 150 persons participated in the Diocese' Memorial Mission trip to Project Mexico last summer. Undertaken in memory of Archbishop JOB, the Diocesan Council commissioned a video summary of the trip. The video including recollections of Archbishop JOB's life by those on the trip as well as scenes from the work to build seven homes during the trip.

The video can be found here.

Parish Practices Profile
The results of a survey on Parish Practices conducted by the OCA in advance of the 13th All American Council in Orlando were quite interesting. The Council had as its theme "The Parish Community: Our Life in Christ."  

The most interesting outcome from the data seemed to be the consistent correlation between generally accepted good parish practices and self reported parish growth. These factors all show a positive relationship with self reported parish growth:
  • Adult education attendance
  • Infrequent change of pastors (65% of growing parishes had one pastor in the previous ten years.)  
  • Presence of converts,  
  • Frequency of weekly worship, attendance at services including vespers, frequency of communion, frequent confession,  
  • Focus of parish council time on growth and ministry,  
  • Pledge forms, stewardship committees and all member canvas,  
  • Offering a variety of program options  
  • Presence of other miscellaneous  good practices were all shown to be more consistently present in growing parishes.

See the entire survey summary here.


Webinars
See our webinars page for info about times, dates and topics for the next set of Parish Development webinars.

As always they are free!

Webinar page.

Replacement Reserve Analysis
Orthodox Christians love their temple -- no matter how elaborate or modest. 

Unfortunately many Orthodox parishes are unprepared for funding the true long term cost of ownership of their facilities. Whether the parish facilities are new or  ancient it behooves the parish to take a serious look at undertaking a well thought out, comprehensive "Replacement Reserve Analysis".  see article

Your Parish Budget
You can discern a lot about a parish's sense of excellence, its vision and its priorities from its budget. What does your parish budget say about your parish community?
See article...

Profiles of Orthodox Converts
In 2009, as part of a project designed to strengthen the parish's ability to greet inquirers and to integrate newcomers into parish life, St Mark Church in Rochester Hills MI undertook a comprehensive survey to understand the experiences of Orthodox converts before during and after their decision to embrace the Orthodox faith. Here is a summary of what they said. The survey resulted in a class to prepare parishioners for the types of issues and questions often encountered by inquirers of the Orthodox faith. A simple summary of the class can be found here.

Establishing a Solid Parish Youth Effort
We recently compiled lessons learned from a number of Diocesan Parishes concerning the topic of establishing an effective parish youth effort.See the article here.

OCA Parish Ministries Conference 2010
The OCA Parish Ministries Conference 2010 was held on June 27-30, 2010 at Baldwin-Wallace College near Cleveland OH. The theme, Equipping the Saints. (Ephesians 4:11-12) drew an enthusiastic crowd of over 160 clergy, lay leaders, young adults and liturgical musicians.

A more complete summary is available here.

Slides and handouts from the Building Vibrant Parishes track, presented by the Diocese of the Midwest Parish Health Ministry can be found here.




Endowments
A recent article titled "Endowed Congregations: Pro and Con" written by the Alban Institute offers some useful insight on the role of endowments in parish life. Read more here.

Clergy Compensation Policy
At the 2009 Diocesan Assembly Clergy Compensation Guidelines were adopted to be followed by all parishes of the diocese. Those guidelines can be found here.

Parish Financial Best Practices Manual Available
What practices need to be followed in our parish to assure that we manage funds entrusted to us responsibly and prudently? 

The parish council at Holy Trinity parish in Overland Park KS recently developed a best practices manual for answering these questions. Assistant pastor

The document has been posted here for your review. It can be used as a potential model for your parish. Fr. Chris Rowe,assistant pastor, would very much like to receive comments and feedback on the document. Contact Fr Chris here with suggested improvements.

Parish Pulse

Designed to build “connectedness”, Parish Pulse is the communication backbone of the parish health ministry. It is emailed to clergy and lay leaders involved in building healthy and growing parishes

How to Wake Up a Sleeping Church

A recent podcast on Ancient Faith Radio  by Fr. Evan Armatas of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese speaks of the steps used to plant a Greek Orthodox Mission in Loveland, Colorado. It  provides useful insights into critical qualities of healthy parishes.  If you can't spare the approximately 30 minutes to listen to the talk, a thumbnail summary, provided by Father Armatas, can be found here

Urban Ministry Summit June 26-27 2011 Columbus OH
The Diocese of the Midwest held it's second Urban Ministry Summit on July 26-27 2011 at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church  in Columbus OH.

Over fifty clergy and laity from urban parishes as well as suburban and rural parishes were in attendance to  better understand techniques and ideas for extending God's love to those in living in urban areas.

 
Summary information can be found here 

"Living Word" Bible Studies Available On Line
A new collection of bible studies titled "The Living Word" is under  development for  the Diocese' Parish Health and Development Ministry. The collection is edited by Fr John Matusiak and is being piloted at St. Joseph Orthodox Church Wheaton IL. 

The Living Word
is a 25-session Bible Study collection for group and individual use. Each series consists of five study guides on specific topics central to the Orthodox Christian faith and life as revealed in the spoken words of Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God.

Series one - "What Jesus Says..." has been completed and is available on the Diocesan website. The What Jesus Says series now has ten individual studies covering what Jesus says about:
  1. Himself
  2. Life
  3. Eternal Life
  4. Faith
  5. Forgiveness
  6. God
  7. The Holy Spirit
  8. Prayer
  9. Sharing the Gospel
  10. Love for God and Others
The bible studies and an introductory sheet can be found here.

What Do Priests Want
We recently worked with a parish to help them develop some plans for the next 5-10 years. Since the rector of the parish will be retiring at some time during that period he asked that we include the topic of preparing for a clergy transition in the discussion agenda. We asked them to think about what a future rector would be looking for from them -- the qualities and attributes an experienced Orthodox pastor would consider to be a good fit for his ministry.

Prior to the workshop we asked that same question of a few senior priests in the diocese. Here are some answers we received. 

Parish Health Summit
The Diocese held its first ever Parish Health Summit on July 7-8 in Wheaton IL.

The conference was attended by fifteen priests from twelve growing parishes was convenedto focus on the questions of:
  • "What do we  mean by the term "healthy parish" and "vibrant parish?
  • What do these parishes look and feel like? What goes on there?
  • How do we help less vibrant parishes move onto a path to living a life in Christ in a more complete way? ". 
More info can be found here.
Summit Attendees Define Parish Health Model
The primary outcome of the summit was the identification of eight focus areas essential to build vibrant parishes.

These eight areas will become the cornerstone of parish materials aimed to help parishes to strengthen leadership and ministries.

Read more


 







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