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SMALL PARISH FORUM 2015 June 18-20 Weirton WV

For clergy and lay leaders from Orthodox churches of approximately 75 adults or fewer, the Small Parish Forum is a regional conference created to share helpful, hopeful ideas and tools for stabilizing and strengthening parish life.

Co-sponsored by the OCA’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Diocese of the Midwest and with the blessings of Archbishop MELCHISEDEK and Bishop Paul,  the 2015 Forum will be held at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Weirton WV from 3:00 PM June18 to 12:30 June 20 2015. 

Help, Hope, Stability and Identity

Many Orthodox parishes are small. Some have always been small. Some were once large and for various reasons are now much smaller. They need support -- help and hope. They need to achieve stability –a positive self-image and a sense that small parishes can live a Life in Christ without necessarily becoming “big”. And, for those prepared to grow, they need fresh ideas that are adapted and relevant to the realities of small churches. That is what the Small Parish Forum tries to provide.

Download the FORUM FLYER for bulletin board posting here.

2015 Forum Registration

St Nicholas Orthodox Church Weirton WV is the site of the 2015 Forum.
St Nicholas Orthodox Church Weirton WV is the site of the 2015 Forum.
St Nicholas Orthodox Church Weirton WV is the site of the 2015 Forum.

Forum Registration is Open; Space Limited to 70 Attendees!

Registration is now open for the 2015 Small Parish Forum. You must register to attend. Registration is $100 per attendee. This includes meals and materials. Please realize that space is limited to 70 attendees! First come first served.

Click Here to Register for Forum

Hotel Reservations

Hotel reservations are the responsibility of the attendee. Blocks of rooms have been reserved at two local hotels.

This is a high demand weekend for this area. BOOK EARLY!

FAIRFIELD INN & Suites Weirton

  • 139 Amerihost Drive (formerly 11 Amerihost Drive) Weirton WV 26062
  • Rooms start $139/night
  • Phone 304 723-0088 for reservation group code is chuchua; Orthodox Small Parish group
  • Follow this link for online reservation site (If you receive a no rooms availabe message change departure date to 6/20/15

HOLIDAY INN Weirton

  • 350 Three Springs Drive Weirton WV
  • 304-723-5522 x 800
  • rooms start at $125/night
  • Group code SPFOCA
  • Hotel website

Click Here to Register for Forum

Download the FORUM FLYER for bulletin board posting here.

2015 Forum Agenda & Faculty

Forum agenda will include ample time for break out discussions
Forum agenda will include ample time for break out discussions
Forum agenda will include ample time for break out discussions

The 2015 Small Parish Forum will begin at 3:00 PM on Thursday June 18 and conclude approximately noon on Saturday June 20.

2015 Theme -- Becoming Stewards of Our Parish Future

To transition from barely surviving to thriving parish, small parish leaders --clergy and laity -- need to become stewards of their parish future. Leaders need to help the parish understand they are entrusted with:

  • Strengthening hope in the parish's future life in Christ --which has been received from previous generations
  • Inspiring the parish to live and share the Gospel
  • Applying spiritual gifts of parishioners -- conferred to fulfill the parish mission
  • Building a legacy of a vital, healthy parish that will one day be left to a future generation.

Click Here to Register for Forum

Benefits of Attending the 2015 Small Parish Forum

Attendance by clergy and laity from your parish at the 2015 Small Parish Forum will:

  • Help you to realize you are not alone. Other parishes share the same problems. Some are taking useful positive steps. Get to know them. Build your network for parish revitalization
  • Immerse yourself in the short and long term questions and issues facing your parish -- in the presence of people who can provide suggestions and encouragement.
  • Learn good practices in areas of leadership, communication, evangelization, stewardship and managing change.
  • Consult with subject matter experts in a variety of areas of parish life. Ask for and receive help.
  • Arrive with a problem and leave with a plan. Important portions of the Forum sessions will be designed to help attendees select tractable problems, to build readiness for change, to generate commitment and to identify useful action steps for their parish.
  • Recharge your batteries --get a fresh momentum for trying new ministries and good practices.

Who Should Attend

Clergy and lay leaders from Orthodox parishes are the target audience for the Forum. This includes Priests, Deacons, Parish Council leaders, Treasurers, Church School Teachers, Music leaders, Outreach leaders and any interested parishioners who are ready to put forth energy to forge a brighter future for their small parish.

Download the FORUM FLYER for bulletin board posting here.

Forum Agenda Hours

Specific agenda times are not yet available. Approximate Forum agenda hours are:

  • Thursday June 18 -3:00 PM to ~8:30 PM
  • Friday June 19 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Saturday June 19 9:00 AM to 12:30

Contributing Faculty and Administrators

  • Father Marc Vranes, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Willimantic CT
  • Father Tom Soroka, St. Nicholas Church McKees Rocks PA
  • Father Stephen Frase, Christ the Savior Church, Byesville OH
  • Father Daniel Rentel, Pastor Emeritus, St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, Columbus OH
  • David Drillock, Chair, Department of Liturgical Music, OCA
  • Ann Marie Mecera, Orthodox Leader, Speaker and Author
  • John Fedorko, Parish leader
  • Cathy Vrugitz, Parish leader
  • Joseph Kormos, Parish Development Ministry, Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania

Click Here to Register for Forum

A subset of the over 50 attendees at the 2014 Small Parish Forum
A subset of the over 50 attendees at the 2014 Small Parish Forum
A subset of the over 50 attendees at the 2014 Small Parish Forum

Key Topics

To develop this theme our agenda will focus on a set of important interrelated topics covered via lecture, case studies, discussion, structured workshops and small group conversations.

  • Building Lay Leaders
  • Fostering Generosity and practical Financial Stewardship
  • Motivating Change
  • Faith Formation in  Small Parishes
  • Vibrant Small Parish Worship; Fixing music problems; Grooming music leaders
  • Waking Up a Small Parish

Agenda  for the 2015 Small parish Forum will be finalized approximately one month before the Forum.

As in past years sessions will include lectures, small group discussions, problem solving workshops, breakout groups and open social time --to meet others and exchange ideas on small parish challenges.

2014 Forum Resources

The first Small Parish Forum was held July 2014 at Christ the Savior Church in Byesville OH. Over fifty attendees representing six OCA Dioceses, other Orthodox jurisidictions and the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma participated in spirited sessions discussing revitalization success stories,worship, sharing your faith, charitable outreach all tailored to the unique issues of small parishes.

Fr Daniel Rentel offered keynote reflections on his years in ministry
Fr Daniel Rentel offered keynote reflections on his years in ministry
Fr Daniel Rentel offered keynote reflections on his years in ministry
Fr Jonathan Proctor shared the story of Holy Trinity Church St Paul MN
Fr Jonathan Proctor shared the story of Holy Trinity Church St Paul MN
Fr Jonathan Proctor shared the story of Holy Trinity Church St Paul MN
David Drillock offered sessions on worship and liturgical singing
David Drillock offered sessions on worship and liturgical singing
David Drillock offered sessions on worship and liturgical singing

2014 Forum Goals

The goals of the 2014 Small Parish Forum were to:

1. Stimulate Commitment
Stimulate small parishes to renew and fulfill their founding commitment to be a viable Orthodox community into perpetuity.

2. Offer Worship Tools
Offer tools that enrich and beautify worship as the expression of the best each parish can offer up.

3. Deliver Parish Tools
Provide clergy serving small communities with materials that promote stewardship, governance, education and outreach.

4. Encourage Community Contact
Explore ways that will allow each parish to become involved with the larger community so as to have that community become involved with the parish.

5. Establish Communication Networks
Establish lines of communication networks between parishes that will enable the exchange of useful information.

6. Reduce Stresses
Collaborate to explore stresses faced by small parishes in the hope of lessening and resolving them to the benefit of the parish.

Workshop Materials

Participants heard a variety of presentations geared to strengthening the parish, committing to long term viability, and developing reachable goals.
Participants heard a variety of presentations geared to strengthening the parish, committing to long term viability, and developing reachable goals.
Participants heard a variety of presentations geared to strengthening the parish, committing to long term viability, and developing reachable goals.

Use the following links toaccess materials from the 2014 Small Parish Forum

Introduction - Joe Kormos

Keynote Address - Fr. Daniel Rentel

Profiles in Revitalization - Fr. Jonathan Proctor

Worship I - David Drillock --Outline

Worship II David Drillock - Outline

Worship Music handouts

Evangelization - Sharing Your Faith in the 21 st Century Fr. Stephen Frase

Charitable Outreach - AnnMarie Mecera

Communicating Your Parish - Joe Kormos


Clergy Laity Letters

In one of the final sessions of the Small Parish Forum attendees were divided into separate groups of clergy and laity. Laity were asked to respectfully offer suggestions and insights to clergy about 'things' they should "stop", "start" and "continue". Clergy undertook a mirror image of the same assignment.

After about 60 minutes the groups reconvened and, with some trepidation, shared their suggestions with the other "side".

The laity group created a reasonable set of thoughts for clergy consideration -- but in actuality it seemed to be a rehash of common issues. 

The clergy group, on the other hand, created what all agreed was a thoughtful, helpful insightful letter.

Workshop -- Clergy letter to Laity -Stop, Start, Continue

Laity input to Clergy -Stop, Start, Continue

 

 
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