Rev. Frank Marangos, D.Min., Ed.D. Director of Department of Religious Education
of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
1. The spiritual and administrative initiatives of our parishes are often developed and advanced by
volunteers. There is a need to develop training resources and to provide educational Support
services for them.
2. Adults lament their lack of knowledge concerning their Orthodox Faith. There is a need to develop
and promote a comprehensive educational curriculum for parish adults that would address issues of
worship, ethics, and how the message of Orthodoxy impacts daily life.
3. A serious problem persists concerning the choice and spiritual maturity of godparents. There is a
need to develop an educational program that would prepare as well as provide on-going educational
support to adults who have been invited to assume this important responsibility.
4. While most parishes offer "Bible Studies," these educational programs are often based on western
models and are not in keeping with the patristic posture of the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox
Church. There is a need to develop and promote educational resources that follow a more liturgical
and patristic-based ensemble of scriptural study whose primary objective is not biblical knowledge
but the enculturation of participants into the experiential life of the Church.
5. There is a need to develop appropriate educational resources and support services for the members
of the Orthodox Church who are suffering from serious pastoral issues such as (a) bereavement, (b)
divorce, (c) addiction, and (d) sexual aberrations.
6. There is a need to hire and train salaried parish as well as diocesan religious education directors and
youth workers. Research has demonstrated that parishes with strong educational programs for
adults are interested in the spiritual development of their youth. While the initiatives of youth work
are focused on only a partial segment of parish life, religious education is more comprehensive and
produces valuable results in a variety of areas.
7. There is a need to study the issue of the catechumenate. As larger numbers of individuals become
interested in converting to the Orthodox faith it will become increasingly important to develop and
provide a program with a coherent curriculum for the incorporation of prospective converts.
8. Leadership development is a critical issue facing the contemporary Orthodox Church in America.
Our parishes suffer from a lack of knowledgeable and spiritually mature parish council members
and leaders. The majority of mainline religious organizations are allocating substantial amounts of
financial resources for the design of educational programs and products that will nurture the
spiritual development of its leaders. We would do well to emulate their initiatives. Perhaps, this
would preclude para-church lay organizations from advocating negative sentiments concerning this
The need to seriously consider establishing educational goals, objectives, and priorities according to data obtained
administration of religious institutions has demonstrated that stewardship and other financial revenues increase
when ministries and programs are developed to serve the expressed needs of its constituents.
Building Communities of Faith and Love:
Orthodox Parishes in Worship and Ministry
2. Our Congress in Context
Comparison of Upcoming Olympics and Presidential
Competition often involves striving for excellence.
We are challenged to strive and compete for
excellence in what we are doing as Church.
We are aware of huge problems that beset our society,
Addressing these problems as the Orthodox Christian
3. Biblical Analysis of Congress Theme
Term "Build" implies a very positive, beautiful and creative
action. It enhances, it does not demean, it is not negative
A. Faith—What kind of faith? "Jesus said to the disciples,
'Truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard
seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to
there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to
you.'" (Matthew 17:20) Strong faith will help us and our
communities exhibit the extraordinary power of God.
B. Love—What kind of love? (1Corinthians 13:1-8) Each
one of us and our whole parish must exhibit this love, the
love of God.
C. Worship—"God is spirit and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Our
worship should reflect the highest, strongest and most
refined kind of spirituality. At the same time, our worship
must be permeated by the truth of God, that is the person
of Jesus Christ.
D. Ministry—(Matthew 28:18-20) The main elements here
are proclaiming and teaching.
4. Encouraging Events Between 2002 and 2004
We meet at Clergy-Laity to discuss and plan dynamic, holy
and noble action for building, with God's help, Communities
of Faith and Love. We recognize the truly dedicated and often
sacrificial work of our people and our parishes.
A. Building of new churches, community halls, school
facilities, summer camps, and renovation of existing ones.
B. Response to priestly call—2000-2002 we had 18
ordinations to priesthood; between 2002-2004 we had 24
ordinations and five more pending.
C. New initiatives to help parishes care for families, youth,
develop outreach, and evangelism through our website
and other means.
D. New Charter—granted new Metropolises and Eparchial
Synod. Only Autocephalous or Autonomous Churches
have these. Draft of Charter and new Regulations of
Archdiocese and Parishes by Archdiocesan Council (80
members) is a culmination of five years of hard work. We
can now conclude this process and move on to important
work of ministry. After all, the ultimate, absolute and
unchanging Charter and Regulations for us, is the Gospel
of Jesus Christ our God and Lord. All the rest is
commentary. It is about time now to engage fully in the
real work demanded by the Gospel.
E. Composition of Patriarchal Synod—six Metropolitans
from Turkey (no longer 12) and six new Metropolitans
from around the world (i.e. Europe, America, Australia,
Asia, etc.) 50% is a radical and positive change that
creates a new participatory formula.
F. Faith Endowment for Archdiocese at $25 million with the
ultimate goal of $100 million. Not so a few can fund the
Archdiocese but they may lead by example to give an
open invitation to all members of our parishes for a more
substantive participation in the Stewardship of our
5. Focusing on Three Vital Points
A. Education—every parish must have continuous adult
Orthodox education. Education in Hellenism is important
also but it cannot be a nationalistic, chauvinistic
enterprise. Children's education through Sunday School
and Day/Afternoon School must be a permanent reality
but must extend more to address needs of adolescents and
young adults. The Archdiocese will work hard to provide
appropriate tools and resources.
B. Strong and Healthy Families—these are the building
blocks of our parishes. We must care for our
dysfunctional, healthy, near divorce and divorced, single
parent, priestly, new/beginning, and interfaith. Families
are in crisis in our society today. Statistics: Unwed Births
1960 = 224,300, 2000 = 1,374,043; Cohabitation 1960 =
439,000, 2000 = 4,736,000; Divorce 50% rate; Children
in Single Parent Families 1960 = 5,829,000, 2000 =
19,220,000. This next year will be dedicated to family
care. The goal is to make the families Churches at home
C. Outreach and Evangelism—each parish must have a
steady effort directed to those outside the Church. CL
Theme in 2002 was "Offering our Orthodox Faith to
Contemporary America." This is a fundamental function
of the parish. There are thousands of nominal Greek
Orthodox who have been disconnected, lost in the turmoil
of life, and disappointed. We must look for them, extend
a hand, embrace them.
May the Lord bless us and keep us. May the Lord make his
up His countenance upon us and give us peace (Numbers