NEW KENSINGTON, PA -- The Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of the Midwest and Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania will co-sponsor the fourth annual Small Parish Forum at Saint John the Baptist Church, New Kensington, PA July 13-15 2016.
"The Forum will focus on specific parish situations common to the numerous 'small' parishes throughout the OCA and other Orthodox jurisdictions," said Joseph Kormos, Forum co-chairperson and Parish Development Ministry leader for the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania. "Workshops and presentations will explore ways to assist parishes with memberships of 75 or fewer souls to achieve stability, build a positive self-image, and accept their calling to live a life in Christ without necessarily becoming 'big'.
“Most Orthodox parishes are small, yet just as a clinic is not a large metropolitan hospital with fewer beds, so too small churches are not immature, mini-versions of larger parishes," Mr. Kormos continued. "Small parishes can bring people to Christ in intimate and exciting ways often unavailable to larger parishes.
The theme of the 2017 Forum is "On Behalf of All and For All: Becoming a Community of Engagement”.
"With this theme as a framework, we will explore how small parishes with limited resources can worship well, care for one another, teach, serve their community, communicate the parish to the neighborhood and share Christ's love with others," added Archpriest Daniel Rentel of the Diocese of the Midwest, Forum co-chairperson.
“Previous forums held in Byesville OH, Weirton WV and Canton OH were successful because people left with actionable ideas, tips and good practices valuable to clergy and lay leaders," Mr. Kormos said. "The agenda for the fourth Forum will include an array of speakers, case studies, interactive workshops, sessions focusing on worship, and parallel sessions for clergy and laity.”
Past Forums attracted attendees from seven OCA dioceses and four other Orthodox jurisdictions.
"The 2017 New Kensington, PA location is just a two-hour drive from Cleveland, four and a half hours from Detroit, less than four hours from Buffalo, and five hours from Philadelphia," Mr. Kormos concluded. "Over half of the OCA’s parishes are within a manageable drive of the site.”
Registration will open May 1. To maintain an atmosphere of fellowship and dialogue, registration will be limited to 65 persons. Sessions will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 and conclude at noon on Saturday, July 15. Blocks of rooms will be reserved at local hotels. The $100 per person registration fee will include meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and forum materials. Parishes from the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh that send a team of three or more delgates are eligible for tuition rebates and grants to assist with travel costs.