On the evening of Tuesday, February 16th, over 200 participants comprised of clergy, parish council members, and ministry leaders from the 62 parishes of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston met for the first meeting of an introductory series for the Metropolis of Boston’s new Thriving Congregations Initiative.
Over the course of the evening, members of the Thriving Congregations Parish Teams met to discuss this five-year initiative to revitalize parish life and embrace the call to, “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18) Participants who enthusiastically responded to the opportunity to strengthen the spiritual fabric of New England will gather over the next two months to learn more about this project and about what it means to be a thriving congregation.
In order to assist 62 Greek Orthodox New England parishes with the knowledge necessary to thrive in a rapidly-changing society, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston submitted a proposal requesting grant funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The Indianapolis-based foundation has made grants available to organizations seeking to revitalize parishes and other congregations through its Thriving Congregations Initiative. The Metropolis of Boston focused its proposal on establishing an educational program to reconstruct the framework of outreach from Greek Orthodox parishes in New England.
In its Thriving Congregations Initiative document, Lilly Endowment announced that charitable organizations may submit proposals for grants to be used for up to “a five-year period to design and implement programs that support Christian congregations and help them develop and strengthen the community” by working with the congregations directly. The following five-year program plan is open to all parishes in the Metropolis and will be carried out as follows:
The project’s four phases:
- Understanding social and cultural context.
- Crafting mission and vision.
- Cultivating Orthodox Christian practices.
- Sustaining ministry.
Throughout the duration of the program:
- Parish leadership and clergy will receive extensive leadership training necessary to ensure success.
- The youth and young adult community will be engaged to provide insight into the changing cultural and social contexts of parishes and their neighboring communities.
- District seminars will be hosted twice yearly in each of the nine districts of the metropolis for the purposes of:
- Conveying knowledge of each of the program’s aforementioned four ‘phases.’
- Equipping parishes with the tools necessary to research parish makeup.
- Providing a framework for understanding research findings and creating a path forward.
- Parish teams and the metropolis-level program will be evaluated. Key insights and parish efforts will be documented, memorialized, and distributed to all parishes.
- Starting in September of 2021, the parishes will be introduced to the first of the four program phases, each running from September to August.
- Toward the end of the program, all parish efforts and findings will be documented and distributed.
Seminarians and students from Hellenic College Holy Cross will be heavily involved in supporting this program. Extensive training will be developed for and offered to them, thus developing the future lay and ordained ministry leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- Growth in membership and stewardship.
- A rise in the number of parishioners engaged in ministries in all age groups, especially young adults.
- Realization of strong leadership driven by clergy and parish council members.
- New and existing ministries that invite those outside the current community are created/strengthened.
Parishioners interested in assisting on the parish level can contact their parish priest. Individual inquiries may be directed to the Metropolis directly.