Parish Pulse

A Newsletter for Orthodox Parish Leaders

Parish Development Ministry

Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania

Orthodox Church in America

February 2022

Stewardship Leadership Communication Evangelization Administration Planning

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

We received a number of warm responses to our January newsletter. Thank you!

Let us know your thoughts about what is important to you.

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In Christ,

Joseph Kormos

Parish Development Ministry leader, Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania

Quick Links

Quick access to resources available on the Archdiocesan webpage or in a few cases the Midwest Diocese website.


1. Orthodox Evangelization Principles

2. Survey of Orthodox Converts

3. How Visitors Experience Your Parish -Mystery Worshiper Reports

4. Common Q/A: Orthodox Inquirers

5. "Sharing the Hope" Course

6. Which Parish would YOU Choose?

7. Communicating Our Faith Fr Stephen Frase

8. How Visitors Define 'Friendly' 9.Video: Parish Welcoming and Hospitality

Parish Finance Articles

1.Parish Financial Audit Guidelines  

2. Best Practices & Principles for Parish Financial Accountability

 3. Your Parish Budget: What Does It Convey?

 4. Replacement Reserve Accounts

5. Endowment Pros & Cons

Growth & Vision

1. Toolbox for Vision Casting

2. What kind of parish do we envision?

3. Orthodox parishes and neighborhood identity

4. What priest's want?

 5. Discovering Parish Core values

6. Approaching Change Fr T Soroka (PPT)

7. Change Workshop Kormos -- Small Parish Forum (PPT)


1. Ministry of the Parish Council 

2. Empowering Your Parish by Granting Permission

3. Learning to Delegate

4. Eight Good Parish Council Practices

4 Nine PC meeting time savers

5.Better preaching 


1. Total Stewardship  

2. Good parish Stewardship Practices

3. Intro to Pledging and All member Canvasses

4. Common Stewardship Q&A 

5. How Much Should I Give?

6. Relevant Scriptural verses re: Stewardship

Parish Renewal

1. The Orthodox Parish in N. America - Fr. T. Hopko from Orlando AAC

2. Five Qualities of Successful Orthodox Parishes - A. Krindatch study

3. Attitudes that Enable the Church to Grow --Fr John Matusiak

4. Decline in your parish

 5. Diversity among growing parishes

6.Commonality among growing parishes

7. Wake Up a Sleeping Church

8. Revit'liz't'n Thumbnail 1 

9. Revit. Thumbnail #2

10. Triple Digit Anniversaries -- Face Forward

11. Describing Parish membership

12. When Parishes Close Themselves

13. Local Mission Teams

14 Diet & Exercise on our terms

15 Video:J Kormos Talk on Vibrant Parishes for Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Parish Ministry & Education

1.Reorganizing Parish Ministries

2. The Blank calendar

3.Love Thy Neighbor

Communicating Your Parish

1. Website Webinar slides

2. Taking Parish Photographs

3. Toward Better Parish Websites (I)

4. Better Websites (II)

5. Improving Bulletin Content

6. Improving Bulletin Format 


1. Establishing a Solid Parish Youth Effort

2. Souls in Transition

3. Soccer vs. Church 


1. Parish Revitalization Series #1 Building Urgency and Hope 2013 

2. #2 Characteristics of Vibrant 21st Century Orthodox Parishes. 2013 

3. #3 Driving Life in Your Parish. 2013

4. Profiles in Parish Revitalization (June 2014)

5. Communicating Your Parish - Yellow Pages Is Not Enough

6. Waking Up Your Parish with College Ministry

7. Fostering Generosity & Practical Stewardship

8.Parish Council Practices 

Broken Links? Let us Know.

What Do You Want Them to "Feel"

In a recent workshop we discussed welcoming and setting expectations for guests at your parish. We asked participants to describe the environment they hope that a guest/ inquirer would "feel" in their parish when they entered the church for the first time.

Here are some answers we liked:

  • "A sense of Holiness and a the presence of God."
  • "An active commitment, connection and engagement with worship by those present."
  • "I can can grow here."
  • "I am welcome --- but I need to learn."

"My Visit to XXX Orthodox Church"

The words above are similar to the imagery we discovered in a Facebook post from a man who visited an OCA parish in a major Midwestern city a few years ago. The man, a former Catholic and the conductor of a community symphony, had valuable insight about music, history and more.

"One immediately feels as though in the presence of the "Holy" upon entering. There is reverence and awe and an overwhelming sense of peace.

One is also aware that they are witnessing something very ancient and enduring, dating from the earliest days of Christianity, some twenty centuries old. One senses a direct connection to the Apostles in the First Century. History is important.

All aspects of being a fully alive human being are addressed in the worship. Beautiful iconography, architecture, artwork, and aroma. Incense abounds! Throughout the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, left and right brain are touched equally.

The entire church chants 98% of the time, acapella, along with a trained choir. Four part harmony, and beautifully done.

During the chanting for the reception of Communion, tears began to roll down my cheek. Nothing more than a repeated 4 part mantra. Something touched me, way inside......

The preaching was solid, but devoid of anything that resembled a "show". Refreshing.

I have often said that worship should avail the uncommon, something only available in church..."

An Orthodox Moment?

More than a few Orthodox Churches are recently experiencing similar serious inquiries from persons curious about Orthodox Christianity.

A small rural parish in eastern Ohio has four catechumens. A once large - now small urban parish in St. Louis - has five catechumens. Ditto parishes in New Jersey. A rural mission in Missouri has grown to 70 persons from under thirty in the past two years. A small parish in Western Pennsylvania has many catechumens. A parish in eastern Pennsylvania has more catechumens than they had in the previous ten years. 

In a recent article describing similar experiences in other parishes, Saint Vladimir’s seminary has referred to this as an “Orthodox Moment”. 

Why is This Orthodox Moment Happening?

There is of course no single answer for why there seems to be an increased thirst for Orthodox Christianity. Some thoughts:

  • Pandemic isolation is no doubt causing some to search for personal community.
  • The pandemic itself has reminded people that nothing is assured and has them asking ‘ultimate questions’. (‘There are no atheists in foxholes.’)
  • With time on their hands people have reevaluated their past religious affiliations or lack of same.
  • Certainly the significant increase in streaming of services by Orthodox parishes has given many inquirers a peek at local Orthodox worship –reducing hesitancy to visit.

The More Important Question: What Will We Do?

Will we retreat? Continue business as usual? Can we build awareness for our parish? Can we become more accessible – literally and figuratively? Will we, as fishers of men, hope that people just jump into our fishing boat –or can and will we be active fishers of men?

Though your parish may not be experiencing an Orthodox moment as yet, it seems reasonable that there are similarly curious, thirsty people near your parish.

What can you do to improve fishing conditions?

We will continue to explore actions in future newsletters.

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Parish Development Forum 2022

June 17 Online

Now in its ninth year, the Parish Development Forum will be held on Friday June 17.

Building on the AAC theme of Becoming Vessels of Grace", the Forum will explore the theme "Parishes Becoming Vessels of Ministry".

Workshops, Presentations and Discussion topics will focus on:

  • Ministry and Service: Renewing a ministry of service. Living Your Vocation - Doctor, Lawyer, Butcher, Baker; Unique ministries; Unique ministries that might work for your parish.

  • Education as Ministry; Education for Ministry -Education as a ministry; educating persons for ministry. Lifelong learning, growing a culture of learning, technology in learning; Education as experience --beyond books.

  • Ministry Administration - Leading ministry; Ministry obstacles; Principles of good parish ministry; motivating for ministry.

Mark your calendar!

Heating Up a Lukewarm Church

In the mid-70s Father John Matusiak, of blessed memory, was tasked by the Orthodox Church in America to build a workshop titled "Heating Up a Lukewarm Church" and a corresponding workbook on Church Growth and Evangelization - The Basis and the Basics.. The workshop was repeated scores of times throughout North America.

In the almost 50 years since it's publication the workbook, AKA "the purple book", clearly has some anachronistic content --speaking to life in different times. However most of the ideas, practices and principles continue to be highly useful.

One of our favorites "Attitudes that Help the Church Grow" is excerpted below.

Attitudes that Help the Church Grow

Attitudes that Don't

Church growth involves spiritual as well as numerical growth

God is not concerned with how many members the church has. All He cares about is quality.

"Orthodox Christianity is the faith for all mankind."

Orthodoxy is Just for our people; Not for for everyone."

"I want my parish to serve as the means by which others are brought to Christ and His Church

My parish exists to meet the needs of our people; and to preserve our heritage and culture.

See the entire list by clicking here.

Thank you for your time.

Let us know your feedback. 513.518.5878

Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania | Parish Development Ministry