It seems clear-cut and simple. It is clearly stated in the Uniform parish Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The mission of our church is to:

  1. “Proclaim and teach the Gospel according to the Orthodox Christian Faith.”
  2. “Sanctify and enhance the spiritual life of the faithful through Orthodox Christian worship.”
  3. “Receive persons into the Church through instruction, baptism and/or chrismation.”

Do we pay serious attention to this mission?  How are we working to make it happen?  It has been said by many who have left the church that many churches are “ethnic social clubs” that “play” at church and others are “churches that also have social activities”. We must ask ourselves the all-important question: into which category do our parishes fit in? I hope you will work and pray that our congregations are first churches that have dynamic Christ-filled parishioners who also enjoy a variety of social and cultural activities. But the mission is clear. As I stand before God as a priest, especially when I hold the Holy of the Holies in the form of Holy Communion, I must first be the Pastor of the church, leading people to salvation (Theosis) and a personal, living relationship with Jesus Christ.  Anything less tramples upon my priesthood and all that is sacred in our Holy Orthodox Church.

This is why I am so committed to getting people involved in singing the Divine Liturgy, embracing one another in love as we proclaim that “Christ is in our Midst”, participating in the Sacramental life of the church and encouraging all to consciously understand what is going on in all of our life enhancing and life giving services. Nothing is more dreadful than a dead church with robotic people going through the automatic motions of religiosity. In our multi-religious society, people have choices as far as church is concerned; they register their choices with their feet. Parishioners either come and connect to the church dynamically or many seek other paths. Are they connected to church and faith? If not, why not? This is my concern.

When it comes to those who left us, the church simply must find their spiritual need and fill it. Find their spiritual hurt and heal it. Find their spiritual thirst and quench it. All must play a role in ministry and outreach, not just the professional ordained clergy. In the very near future we here at St. Sophia Cathedral will train adult religious catechists (religious educators) to tutor and mentor returning adults and prospective converts. Our Bible Study Program is open to all. Here is yet another opportunity to grow spiritually. And there is much more to do to make us a Christ centered faith community. All must be involved.

Looking to the future, our churches must become sanctuaries which embrace all people who wish to embrace Jesus Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church. “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  Matthew 9:37 – 38.