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Wonders of the Small Church

The small church has incredible importance and value, although it may not carry the pomp of churches in Europe and elsewhere. I have one particular small church in mind: ours.

The Pillars of Orthodoxy
The Pillars of Orthodoxy
The Pillars of Orthodoxy
As Holy Trinity has continued to evolve, earlier this year at our Annual Meeting our parish assembly eagerly adopted  Vision 2012. This brief declaration quickly and easily identified what we had done well in the past, and who we wanted to see ourselves as moving forward. We did not adopt a mission statement as many parishes have. We choose something briefer, much briefer, and identified our work in three words: Mission, Mercy, Ministry. These words became our pillars, and would define us for at least 2012, and perhaps for years to come, or until at which time the vision changed.  We live in a culture that identifies success by large numbers, by tangible growth, something we can see, measure and at times, count. When we look at our pillars – Mission, Mercy, Ministry – in the context of last weekend’s Fall Harvest Festival, then it is quite clear, the weekend was a huge success. All the work that was completed, was identifiable through a pillar, and as such, each pillar, and the community itself, was strengthened and fortified. Let’s take a closer look:

Pillar I
Sharing the Good News
Sharing the Good News through the gospel message, and also letting others know that God’s word is proclaimed at Holy Trinity. The church tours were extremely successful; they were beyond my expectations. Anywhere from between 12-15 people asked to see the church, and wanted to know more. There was a genuine and honest curiosity; there was a searching and interest from the people who visited. Moreover, each person indicated they were searching for something in their life, beyond what their current lives are comprised of. I felt it was necessary to speak about the need for personal prayer, and hell being identified as the absence of God in our lives, inasmuch as I was being asked to speak about what defines the Orthodox faith and the history of Holy Trinity.  Each tour participant was given a booklet on the Orthodox Church, our timeline and Student Information Cards, and two icons prints, one of the Resurrection, the other of the Mother of God.

Pillar II
To Assist Others in Need
To assist others in need. When the festival committee met for the first time in April, it committed the first $500 to the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry. Little good it is to preach the gospel, if we aren’t going to live it.  WAIM’s Energy Assistance Program was a just and right cause. We are honoring that commitment, although our own financial expectations fell ever so slightly below what we had hoped for. It would have been easy to scale back that pledge. God always provides, and he did Sunday afternoon when an additional $450.00 worth of goods were purchased. The festival’s gross earnings were $2,214. Net earnings will be reported after vendors have been paid.

Pillar III
To Sustain Ourselves
To sustain ourselves. By virtue of hard work and fellowship, we earned money to help us reach our material goals, that of purchasing new tables and chairs. Although it may take two festivals to complete the entire  task, that’s fine. There were no complaints. In preparing for the festival, we cleaned and repaired areas of the church that may have been neglected too long, and of course the strengthening of our bound to each other played itself out during the three pierogi making sessions. When teens express a desire to be in church, rather than be with their friends or at another activity, then certainly God is at work. We provided for ourselves educationally as well. Everyone was beat Sunday morning, and when I considered Sol’s presentation, I thought perhaps I overbooked the day and was feeling a bit of regret. There was not one of us who listened to Sol however, who was not uplifted and inspired. Sol spoke with passion, clarity, great intelligence, and humor. We were thankful to have had Dr Semo Mogus, a native of Ethiopia and current professor in the Civil Engineering Department at UConn, whose knowledge of Turkana and African culture,  embellished Sol’s own thoughts considerably. His comments served as a perfect complement. Sol’s presentation will be remembered for quite some time by those in attendance.

Fr Marc Vranes 
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