Posted by: sailingmartha | April 3, 2011

Outreach

I’ve been thinking about how one reaches out to let others know about Orthodoxy. I stumbled upon it by accident, almost, through a Greek Orthodox food festival. I had no idea what it was, and I didn’t know anyone who was Orthodox. I found a couple of ladies on my online message board who were Orthodox and corresponded with them a bit.  Then I looked up an Orthodox parish in my area and started attending, and the rest is history.

I started thinking about my parish this week, and trying to recall if anyone there is a convert besides myself. I couldn’t think of anyone. Everyone there is, to my knowledge, a cradle Orthodox. Which has me thinking about outreach.

Father has talked before about reaching out to the community, but I’m fairly certain that he has only directed his efforts to those who are already Orthodox, and maybe aren’t attending church for whatever reason. I don’t think our parish has done anything to let non-Orthodox know who and what we are. I know from talking with a number of people online, that there are those in other denominations who are dissatisfied with their current church. Some of the reasons are that their denomination doesn’t believe in the Real Presence and treats communion as something purely symbolic; their denomination has women and/or openly homosexual pastors; the teachings are not consistent with Scripture; there is not enough depth; the services are too casual; they are tired of church politics; they are upset with what they feel is a tendency to box women into certain submissive roles.

Here are some words that I’ve heard people speak when they talk about what they are looking for: historical, liturgical, sacramental, traditional, mystical, purposeful, sacred, challenging, beautiful (visually), communal, experiential. I see people seeking for something deeper than what they have now. People are realizing they are unsatisfied with their church life; something is missing. A lot of times they don’t know what it is.

I want to make it a goal to try to reach these people. Orthodoxy has what they are seeking. I want to make our parish more approachable and more present in the community. I have a few ideas to start with…first is that we need to make our website more informational. I’d also like to see us advertise in the newspaper, using some of the key words mentioned above. I would like us to host a get-to-know-you BBQ, with tours of the church, and games for kids, and maybe some printed informational material for them to take home. No pressure, but just to say “hello and welcome, we’re here if you’re interested, and we’d like to know you better”. I would also love for us to have some kind of a soup kitchen or food locker, where we can assist the needy in our community.

I’ll be talking with the other parish council members soon and getting some feedback and ideas from them, and hopefully we can reach out to the larger community. People are looking for the pearl of great price. They may not know it yet, but it is found in Orthodoxy.

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Responses

  1. Good ideas on outreach!
    Loved the informational website, the BBQ idea, and newspaper ad with key words. All of it was good.


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