Parish Development

A Little Leaven

One church’s recipe for meeting a need in their local community

Starting a new outreach ministry in a parish can be as simple as responding to a need in the local community with a few dedicated volunteers and a vision for service. Christ the Savior, a small Greek Orthodox church in Tennessee, had all the ingredients to start such a ministry. They knew that their northeastern region of Tennessee had been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis of the last several years. The local food bank reported that one in four people in the region live in poverty; nearly one in five adults and two out of five children in the area have food insecurity. This means many households have to choose between food and other basic necessities. The local food pantries and shelters saw a marked increase in clients over the past few years, some an increase of as high as twenty-five percent.

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One of the needs of the food pantries in the area is for bread. Pantries rely on day-old bread donations from local grocery stores or must purchase bread when donations do not meet the need. Christ the Savior had many of the resources to match this need: two volunteers with certification and experience in baking large quantities of bread, a professional kitchen, and the commitment of parish leadership to meeting the needs of the local community. Only one thing was missing, a large capacity mixer. Read More →

Testimonial: A Leap of Faith

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Several decades ago, when I was raising my children and growing in involvement at my church, disaster struck the parish budget. Our annual Greek festival, without which our parish could not survive, only broke even because of a weekend of torrential rains and high winds. That’s the year we started talking about making the change—the leap of faith, really—to total stewardship. Eventually we decided to go ahead and do it, no longer holding a festival and asking parishioners for stewardship to cover the operating budget.

I was a part of the fledgling stewardship committee, and the discussions we had in the Board room inevitably led to discussions at our kitchen table. When I suggested that our own family take the same leap of faith the church was taking—that is, that we work toward tithing—my spouse resisted, at first. We were people of modest means, raising a large family, how could we possibly afford to tithe? Read More →

The Multiplying Our Gifts Challenge

A case study of a parish giving program

Fr. P. has done a lot of thinking, reading, and praying on the subject of stewardship. At the small, urban parish to which he had been recently assigned, finances were said to be a constant challenge. The giving paradigm long in place was membership dues with several fundraisers throughout the year to fill in the budget gaps. The overwhelming perception at the parish was that there was never enough money, and no more could be raised in the small community.   Read More →

Mission Impossible

Situated within blocks of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Holy Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church has always had a special ministry to the clinic’s patients. Annually over 1,000 Orthodox visitors from throughout the U.S. and the world find a spiritual “home away from home” during what can be intensely difficult times. Parishioners have always reached out to their visitors proactively: cooking meals, driving to appointments, and hosting in their homes. Christ’s call to show love to the stranger, philoxenia, is a way of life at Holy Anargyroi.

Contact with patients over the years made it clear that long-term lodging was one of the greatest challenges for patients and their families. Costs associated with an extended stay during treatment—sometimes spanning many months—can be financially devastating. While some free or low-cost guest housing does exist, such as the Ronald McDonald House, demand for it far exceeds availability. Read More →

Asking Effectively

Frequently, parish leadership discusses the challenge: “How can we increase parishioner support for (the parish budget, a new ministry, a building project…)?” We would do well to examine how we ask for funds from stewards, drawing from nonprofit fundraising research and experience in our Orthodox Christian environment.

Don’t forget to ask (personally). The number one reason people give is surprisingly simple: they are asked! From time to time, the call to give may seem “obvious” and may have been broadcast through the bulletin and from the pulpit. But unless a steward is personally asked, ideally in the most individualized way possible, they will not likely take the action of giving. Read More →

Candles, Thank You.

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Each Sunday morning we swing the big wooden doors of Saint George Church open as a welcome, and in doing so, allow the sounds of New York City to serve as a backdrop to our worship.  My favorite sound as I face the altar during worship is to hear the clip-clop of the horses pulling the hansom cabs toward Central Park, though they are often drowned out by the sirens from Midtown North Precinct across the street.

Change comes slowly to an old city parish where, during the difficult years of mass exodus from the city, churches struggled to survive.  Though once a hub of community activity, many small New York City parishes were forced into survival mode just to keep their doors open.  Read More →

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Planning is the most important step in your parish project

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If Jim could offer one bit of advice to a parish about to begin raising funds for a large project, it would be this: Don’t shortchange the planning process. Once your project’s concept is approved, it’s a natural inclination to jump right into asking people to give.  Jim and his parish, however, chose the wisest course of action for a parish on the verge of a major fund raising project—to begin with a Planning Study.

In brief, a Planning Study is an assessment before fund raising begins of the parish’s readiness and capacity for fund raising; it requires several months and usually some financial investment to complete. It should be carried out by a trusted outside source that will tell the parish not what it wants to hear but what it needs to hear about the viability of the project.  Read More →

About Us

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” James 1:17 (NKJV).

We chose this verse for our blog because it highlights a central truth about giving: everything we have comes from God, so our act of giving is simply offering back what was first given to us.

Everygoodandperfectgift.org is the work of the Office of Parish Development of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In this blog, we seek to build a one-of-a-kind resource that will help individuals grow the spiritual practice of giving back in multiple ways and assist priests and parishes with spreading this message to our faithful.

ArchdioceseSeal_GoldFoilVisit our webpage at www.development.goarch.org
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