Speaking and topic assignments have been announced for the 2017 Small Parish Forum.
Emphasis on Open Discussion
The forum features an array of workshops, presentations and case studies dealing with life in small Orthodox parishes. Much more than in past forums the agenda
will place an emphasis on attendee interaction and open discussion. Presentations will be short and designed to engage attendees to examine actions to build a bright parish future. To improve impact from Forum participation each attending parish will be encouraged to select at least one improvement initiative to undertake upon return from the Forum."
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Becoming a Community of Engagement
Theme for the 2017 Small Parish Forum is "Becoming a Community of Engagement". "Engagement" will be explored in terms of engaging in change, engaging in worship, engaging across multiple generations, engaging the neighborhood and engaging with the parish future.
Parish Profiles - Engaging in Change
Father Justin Patterson, rector at St Athanasius Church, Nicholasville KY, will open the Forum with a profile on the life and practices at that parish. In a similar vein Fathers
Joshua Frigerio, rector of Holy Ascension Church in Albion MI and
Jonathan Bannon, rector of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church (ACROD) Rockford IL will offer parish profiles emphasizing renewal and embracing new ideas in 100 year old parishes.
Engaging with Our Neighbor
The topic of "engaging with our neighbors" will include multiple brief reflections on charitable service offered by
- Matthew McCroskery of Orthodox Detroit Outreach and Detroit's Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
- Janet Damian Lapko, also of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
- Igumen Patrick (Carpenter) rector of Holy Assumption of St Mary Orthodox Church Pittsburgh PA.
- Father Jonathan Proctor, rector Holy Trinity Church St Paul MN, will offer a brief video contribution.
The session will conclude with a broad ranging discussion of ways parishes can engage with their neighbor and neighborhood.
Engaging in Worship
Mother Seraphima, choir director at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City PA, will enliven the "engaging in worship" topic by offering thoughts on the role of the small parish choir and sharing a few practical small parish singing solutions.
Engaging Across Generations
Father Marc Vranes, rector of Holy Trinity Church Willimantic CT and Cathy Vrugitz member of St. Gregory of Nyssa Church Columbus OH will challenge attendees to consider the importance of "engaging across generations" by harnessing the opportunity for
intimacy and close relationships inherent in small parishes.
Engaging Our Parish Future
The critical topics of leadership, mission, vision, values and change in the context of "engaging with our parish future" will be led by Father Peter Baktis, former military officer and chaplain and rector of Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Mission, Hopewell NJ.
Numerous small group workshops will be held.
Attendees will examine case studies of life in not so mythical small parishes and build an action plan to help "fix that small parish".
Early in the Forum attendees will propose a list of
"Principles of Vibrant Orthodox Small Parishes". The list will be updated at the conclusion of the Forum and will serve as a "product" of the Forum to be shared with interested parishes not in attendance. (See next article.)
Joseph Kormos will serve as conference facilitator.