Beloved in our Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
"...We commonly refer to the "three T's" of Stewardship, but one "T" may be missing or perhaps taken for granted: "Truth." Truth in Stewardship means that we make an honest effort to focus on the call of Christ to commit ourselves to prayer, to work, and to give so that the body of Christ, the Church, may live and meet Her mission. Saint Paul writes: "It is required in stewards, that a person be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2). We must be willing to meet the challenge to strengthen the sacred work of our Church in America..."
Stewardship is an important part of our Orthodox Christian faith and is part of a total commitment to Christ. Stewardship is part of a Christian lifestyle that is expected by God as a loving way to give back to God for thanks of what He has give us in life.
Ordinary stewardship is the regular practice of returning to God a portion of all that God has given us. It involves teaching ourselves how to create a life built upon the notion that all that we have is a gift from God. This includes spreading the teachings of Christ and the concept that giving regularly of our time, talent and treasure (money) to God's work on this earth is as much a spiritual practice as prayer and worship.
Time and Talents is getting involved with the Church both in your participation in ministries and offering your volunteer time as well as your talents to help further the Church's mission and ministries.
Extraordinary stewardship involves the special occasions that arise in the life of our parish that calls us to give beyond our ordinary habit. They involve increased risk and encourage us to experiment with sacrificial giving in order to help the parish realize critical and important goals and programs. The best example of extraordinary stewardship is our capital campaigns.
Legacy stewardship is the way in which we address the matter of disposing of the accumulations of our lifetime. It is the opportunity to provide a planned gift that constitutes both a legacy to generations yet unborn and a final testimony of the belief in our Orthodox Christian faith.
The Special Regulations and Uniform Parish Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defines membership as the following:
"Any person, eighteen years of age or older, who was baptized according to the rites of the Church, or who was received into the Church through chrismation, who lives according to the faith and canons of the Church, who has met his or her stewardship obligation (part of which is to meet his or her stewardship financial obligation to the Parish) and abides by the regulations herein and the by-laws of the parish, except that a person under twenty-one shall not serve on the parish council when such service is contrary to local law."
The responsibilities of membership may be divided into the fulfillment of three distinct areas of commitment to Christ and to His Church: (1) our liturgical fulfillment, (2) our stewardship fulfillment, and (3) our canonical fulfillment. In order to be a "member in good standing" at Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, each person must have fulfilled all three aspects of his/her total commitment to the Church.
The fulfillment of our liturgical commitment to the Church requires our regular participation in the divine services and Mysteries (Sacraments) of Our Holy Church. Without such a commitment to participation in the Church's life, one cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. As our Lord said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you...he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (Saint John 6:54-56). It is therefore essential that each person commit themselves to frequent participation in the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion), as well as regular participation in the Sacrament of Repentance/Confession. Any questions regarding one's participation in these sacraments should be referred to Father George Konstantopoulos. Furthermore, it is important that each person commit themselves to participation in the other divine services during the week, i.e., Matins (Orthros) Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Wed. 9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. Paraklesis to Saint Nektarios at the St. Nektarios Chapel, Thur. Matins (Orthros) at 9:00-10:00 a.m., Friday the Paraklesis service to the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Theotokos at the Holy Dormition Chapel in New Carlisle, Saturday Great Vespers at St. Saint Andrew from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (All our services are bilingual ). Sunday morning Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m. followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. During the week Orthros and Divine Liturgies are offered for feast-day celebrations, and the other regular and occasional services offered by the Church, as well as following the Ecclesiastical Calendar.
Fulfillment of our commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to the Holy Orthodox Christian Church also requires the stewardship of our resources in a manner which follows with the precepts of the Holy Gospel. This includes a commitment on our part to support the local Church through the offering of our financial resources as well as of our own unique gifts and talents. In order to be a "steward in good standing" of Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, each person or family must make a financial commitment (pledge) to the parish on an annual basis, and fulfill that commitment throughout the year. Members are encouraged to use a "percentage giving" method, whereby each person or family sets aside a certain percentage of their income for their church. It is understood that situations change and unforeseen events arise; a pledge may therefore be amended by simply calling the Church office. It should be emphasized, moreover, that our stewardship commitment goes far beyond financial matters; it is rather a commitment of the totality of life to God. Stewardship, therefore, also includes volunteering to serve on church parish councils, helping to organize and execute church functions, i.e., Annual Greek Festival, etc., singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, cleaning and maintaining the Church, serving as an advisor for one of the youth ministries, and other parish ministries.
The fulfillment of our commitment to our Holy Church last of all includes our commitment to live within the canonical standards which the Holy Church has established as normative for the life of every Orthodox Christian. Such standards are not intended as limits upon our freedom, but should rather be understood as constituting the very basis for the communal life of the Orthodox Church. These include the following:
- Each person must have been baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church; in the case of one converting to the Orthodox Church from another Christian confession, he/she must have been baptized in a manner acceptable to the Orthodox Church (generally defined as baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the context of a Christian tradition which confesses the belief and doctrine of the Holy Trinity), and have been chrismated in the Orthodox Church.
- If married, you must know that only a marriage conducted in the Orthodox Church is valid but no other marriage, whether religious or civil. If you have been married outside the Orthodox Church, you must have an Orthodox Christian marriage as soon as possible, if you are to be in good standing with the Church.
- If a divorce occurs between a couple within the Orthodox Church, an official ecclesiastical divorce must be procured from the Metropolis of Chicago.
Orthodox Christians are not permitted to receive the sacraments of other Christian denominations; to do so is regarded as tantamount to embracing the faith of that denomination. No Orthodox Christian can be a member of the Orthodox Church and a non-Orthodox Christian confession.
The Church's canonical regulations are closely linked to its liturgical, doctrinal, and sacramental life; it is therefore essential to note that any Orthodox Christian who does not adhere to the canonical requirements is not eligible to receive the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church, to serve as either a godparent (nounos or nouna), at a baptism or a sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) at a wedding, or to receive an Orthodox Christian funeral.
The above information is offered to all of you as a reminder and as a guide.
New families and individuals are required to introduce themselves to the parish priest first before they begin to receive the Sacraments. They also need to bring the parish priest, Fr. George, a letter from their former priest and parish, which confirms that they are indeed spiritually in good standing with the Church. This is a requirement and the policy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and it applies to all Orthodox Christians throughout. it is not optional! There is a parish form that new members must fill out with basic information of themselves, and their children, which will be kept in the Church office.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
With agape in Our Resurrected Lord and Savior,