My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
FIRST PARISH FESTIVAL MEETING
On January 20th, our church held its first parish festival meeting of the new year. The turnout was very poor and disappointing to all who were present including your priest. Those in attendance were yours truly; Christ Kirgios, parish council president; Nick Giannakakis, festival chairman; Tim Karamalegos and Tom Limperopoulos, who serve as cooks for the festival; Tina Assimos, Hellenic Dance Troupe; Vasilios Giannakakis, public relations for the festival; Tom Leonakis, Esther Arvanitis, Manolis Anagnostou, Athina Kamiotis. Basically the same parishioners that have comprised the festival committee for the last ten years. The invitation was extended to every member of the parish to attend the meeting and discuss in detail the upcoming festival in June.
It is disheartening to say the least for all of us to see such great indifference from our fellow parishioners. There will be of course a festival meeting monthly and as we approach the festival twice a month. In other words there is still time for the community to respond in a more positive way.
Community spirit is not something to be relegated to the margins of our daily lives. Instead, community spirit must be both real and authentic. Authentic community spirit is vital because it reflects the true sense of connection people have to one another. It is says that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the belief that there are challenges and opportunities that can only be met when we act together as a Christian community and family. It is a desire to know what exists beyond oneself-how others think, what they do, what they need-how we can live and act together and in Christ our Lord.
We all know that the festival is very important for financial reasons-it is the biggest single fundraiser we have in our church community! We all have a lot to do with the raising funds-whether it is selling festival tickets, donating something, giving of our time, talent and treasure as stewards of the parish, or buying raffle tickets. Here are some other things you can do for the festival that will be a great help:
- Commit to work at the festival, i.e., to serve on food line, work in one of the booths (Gyro, pastries, souvlaki, cleaning tables, set up before the festival begins, loukoumades, etc.
- Give festival tickets to your neighbors, friends, relatives and send the church a check to cover the cost.
- Donate towards the cost of the food expense.
- Bring your family and enjoy the food and spend lots of money during the festival weekend.
And now for the SHOULD BE OBVIOUS:
- Pray for the success of the festival. For those who are able, attend the Divine Liturgy each day of the Festival and offer your prayers.
- Keep all interactions positive--both with co-workers and festival patrons. Give praise, not criticism. If you need to correct someone or disagree, do it with respect and kindness.
- Introduce yourself to parishioners during the festival who you do not know well. This is a great opportunity to get to know other people.
- Watch your language and conduct during the festival. Our visitors and guests watch to see how we interact, how speak to each other, how we treat one another, the language that we use.
- Again, we are Christians, and non-parishioners and non-Orthodox, will be looking at what kind of Christians we are.
Let's put the best face forward for our community of Saint Andrew, both in our church community and for the Michiana community at large. Let's use the festival not only as an opportunity to make money but to model Orthodox Christian behavior to our visitors and to make new friends for us and our parish.
To be the chairman of the annual festival and/or a member of the festival committee is a daunting and serious undertaking. It demands sacrifice, patience, giving of oneself, long hours, hard work, enormous responsibility, diplomacy, coordination, organization and above all else, unconditional love for our Lord and our beloved church.
However, it is absolutely necessary not to lose sight of the real purpose of the festival. The primary focus is not going to be on money, it's going to be on Christ. The festival can become a spiritual experience for everyone if we are people of faith. The festival can be enjoyable. Hopefully the festival will be profitable. But most of all, I hope that the festival is meaningful, because the meaningfulness of the festival will last a lot longer than the laughs and the profits.
The greatest and most important goal of the festival is not the money but bringing our Saint Andrew community together. If the majority of our community stewards are absent, then the festival is no longer a parish event but a private function. We must all be open to new ideas, proposals and activities if we are to see the festival progress. We can do better. We've still got a lot of work to do to move our community forward, individually and collectively. We've got to move to a place where there is always a prayer, always an act of kindness, always something that brings us closer to Christ and to one another, even when it's just good, wholesome fellowship.
Please don't disappoint me and all those who work sincerely to make the festival successful. Help us! We need your help! Our church needs you!
Jesus personified love and love is based on trust, and trust is based on understanding and understanding is predicated on the ability to forgive and to serve. So Jesus was all about forgiving and serving. He spent His earthly ministry teaching about love and service. He brought us healing of body and soul and life eternal.
With sincere agape in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,