With the Metropolia Center bustling with activity as preparations were underway for the St. Thomas Sunday weekend festivities, the second day of the annual Metropolitan Council meeting convened with a short prayer and the blessing of the hierarchs.
First on the day’s agenda was an update on the progress of the Strategic Plan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony opened the discussion explaining how impressed he was with the regular meetings and updates. While the plan is still in its opening phase, it has already produced a number or positive results. The work completed thus far, has reenergized and awoken the faithful, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through them as agents of change, growing and revitalizing the Church. There is nothing “revolutionary” in the Strategic Plan, it is merely a means of organizing ideas that were proposed and agreed upon by the Strategic Plan Committee members, composed of the faithful of the UOC of the USA, from various walks of life, various age groups, and various backgrounds.
Gayle Woloschak and Lisa Ryan, presented the various goals. While some are merely starting to get off the ground, others are already producing results. The Goals are as diverse as the faithful of the Church, covering various aspects from Administration, Communication, Leadership, Education, Outreach, Stewardship, Clergy and Technology.
While the plan might seem overwhelming, the goals are geared to benefit each individual parish. Some of the deliverables that will immediately benefit the parishes will be a welcome packet which will provide information on the Orthodox Church, her teachings and beliefs; as well as information pertaining to each particular parish, detailing their individual ministries – school, sisterhood, choir, special events, etc. This information will be valuable to both current parish members, and visitors, thus educating and growing the parishes.
To improve communication between the parishes and their faithful a goal was developed to assist with the creation of Web pages, Facebook accounts, etc. These technological means of communication would reach a broad audience providing them with critical parish level information, including location, service times, and vital contact information.
The Strategic Plan is well under way. What it needs, is volunteers. The faithful of the Church need to realize that they are being called to serve Christ, by service to His Church. If we all pitch in, if we all volunteer our specific strengths and talents, this Strategic Plan will be successful and everyone shall benefit from it. The faithful of the UOC of USA comprise the living Body of Christ, and as such it is not only our responsibility, but, our duty to utilize our God-given skills and talents for the good of this Church, and thereby for the good of all those around us.
Having reviewed the Strategic Plan, answered all questions and inquiries, and with new excitement and determination, the Metropolitan Council continued with the next item on the Agenda which was a brief discussion about His Eminence Archbishop Daniel’s visit to Constantinople and meeting with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch.
Vladyka Daniel continued by updating the members of the Metropolitan Council on the Assembly of Bishops, as well as discussing various other topics of interest before breaking for lunch.
The second half of the day revolved around discussions pertaining to the final reports including the Historic and Educational Center, the status of the Museum project and the Library.
The final subject to be discussed was the upcoming Centennial Celebration. The UOC of USA will be having a Jubilee celebration in 2018, with the main event taking place at the Metropolia Center, on July 28, 2018, which corresponds with the feast day of St. Volodymyr the Great. The hierarchs hope that each parish will send representatives, and that those within driving distance, will hire a bus to transport as many of their parishioners are possible to the festivities. The hope is that this will be a great celebration, bringing together the faithful of our Church from all ends of the country. It is an excellent opportunity to introduce people to the Consistory, the Memorial Church, the Museum, and the entire complex of the Metropolia Center.
The celebration taking place on the 28th of July, will coincide with the 2018 UOL Convention, which will be taking place in South Bound Brook next year. It is hoped that by joining these two wonderful celebrations, the faithful of the Church will be encouraged to attend the various events and symposiums and enjoy the week getting to know not only the complex at the Consistory, but, getting to know each other, building life long bonds and friendships.
Smaller celebrations will take place throughout the year, following the grand event in July. There will be a less formal celebration at All Saints Camp over the Labor Day weekend; followed by a grand celebration on the West Coast in California on September 22, 2018 and in Chicago Metropolitan Area on October 14, 2018.
The Metropolitan Council finished their annual meeting by reviewing and approving the budget for the upcoming year. While funds are tight, the Church continues to do good work in the world. The Council reviewed the expenses involved in running the Church, the funds required in growing the Faith, spreading the word, educating the youth, encouraging the faithful, caring for the needy, doing the work of Christ, and being the light in the world.
Having reviewed the items on the agenda, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony offered the closing remarks. He reiterated the necessity for everyone being involved in the life of the Church. As members, we have all been designated the responsibility of furthering the Church and her teachings. It is up to us to carry the torch passed down to us from the Apostles, to grow the Church not only for our personal gain or benefit, but, for future generations. If we all do our part, there is no doubt we will succeed.
Everyone felt energized by Vladyka Antony’s words, realizing what an honor it is to serve the Church, thereby all the faithful, and through them to serve Christ. Contemplating the gravity of the responsibility given to them, they all rose for the Benediction given by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel.
Having concluded the formal portion of the annual meeting of the Metropolitan Council, the members walked over to the UOC of USA St. Sophia Library, which serves as the temporary home for Museum Exhibits. The members were awed by the current exhibition of the UNESCO cultural treasure from the village of Petrykivka, Ukraine – Petrykivka Spring. Everyone was impressed with the colorful displays and talented individuals who had painted such wonderful and whimsical creations.
To conclude the day’s activities, the members walked to the museum, which is still under construction. His Eminence Metropolitan Antony gave a tour of the various galleries, explaining what would be displayed where and what to expect when the complex was completed. Listening to His Eminence’s detailed explanations, those gathered could already envision the paintings hanging on the walls, the lights shining down on statues, and show cases displaying manuscripts and ancient documents. The museum will be a gem when it is completed, and a place that will be visited for generations.
Exiting the museum everyone noted that with the onset of the St. Thomas Sunday weekend, the complex was a hive of activity. Vendors had begun to arrive and display their goods, while the seminarians and staff members were busy cleaning, planting, and pruning. The weather conditions look positive for the weekend, and are perfect for a Pilgrimage to the Metropolia Center, and St. Andrew’s Memorial Church and Cemetery.
Metropolitan Council Concludes Its Annual Meeting - 04/21/17
Photos by Elizabeth Symonenko