Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a successful resolution for 2016 (so far)- reading aloud every day

Life gets crazy, I teach at the college late, and I needed a push to read aloud to my children. I made it a resolution for the new year, and I told them. They keep me honest. 
My children are 16, 15, 8 and 6; all are fluent readers and book-lovers except for the baby. She would be considered behind if we were at a brick and mortar school, but we are working slowly as usual in our homeschool. My gentle, slow and steady method of teaching reading has been successful but perhaps 'behind' by today's standards. Children #1 and #3 were fluent at the end of second grade and child #1 was fluent at the end of first grade. 
One reason why they love reading, I believe, is because I read to them a lot. With only one non-reader, I feel like I wasn't reading to them enough. My resolution was to read a chapter from our chapter book and one picture book a day every day- bare minimum. So far, so good. Here is what we have read this year so far (affliate links if you click through and buy) ....
our chapter books- finishing up is so satifying when Nellie gets her comeuppance, and the Christmas chapter is so wonderful. I love stories that depict true girl power in a context of family and morality. My children listens and wondered to the portions about church days. They cannot understand going to church in a space that is simply an empty box with no vestments, icons, stautes or Eucharist. They can appreciate the Bible verse memorization, though and poor Laura's humilation when the teacher gave her the shortest verse to memorize. 
We are reading The Trumpet of the Swan. I adore the language of the prideful cob swan father; his vocabulary is so challenging to my six-year old, but he uses so many synonyms in a row that everyone understands the new words in context. This is a story that is really all about overcoming disability to the best of one's ability... lots of lessons here, but not preachy or heavy-handed. 
some of our 2016 picture books so far...mostly for fun
I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems is a new favorite. Gerald the elephant decides to try a tiny bit of slop (part of 'pig culture') so he can understand his best friend, Piggie. Elephant and Piggie books consistently depict strong, loving friendship and empathy. We love them!
The Flowers' Festival by Elsa Beskow is vintage illustration at its best with a beautifully gentle, simple story. The only conflict is that the troublesome weeds want to join the flowers in their Midsummer party. I am on the hunt for her other books.  
We keep our Christmas books in a bin, hidden away; it only comes out during St Philip's Fast (Advent) and the Christmas season. Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree is a new favorite. What happens when the tree is too tall for the room? Trim it, and then....someone else gets the trimmings...and then...
Jen Brett just is Christmas for me, so we read all of her works during wintertime... every book has so many surprises to find....and I love hedgehogs!

We enjoy everything from Tomie dePaola. Probably our favorite is The Holy Twins, about saints Benedict and Scholastica. The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Night of Las Posadas are Christmas favorites.  
Debi Gilmore's crabby small fox asks his mother- "if I were a squishy bug, would you still love me and give me a hug?" She answers like all mothers, fox, chicken, sheep or human. 
and there were so many more! It has been fun fulfilling this resolution! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What concrete steps could improve your Eastern Christian faith community? survey results

In the words of one of the priests, teach them that it's a church, not a club. We need to reach out and bring in, one by one, the scattered and lost
more spirituality
projects to help needy / sick / incarcerated
I'm not sure, we have regular teachings and lots of activities already, but maybe keeping our website updated would be a good start.
Encourage men that are married to educate at local seminaries rather than up and leave family to study at the designated seminaries. I believe this may encourage an increase in men who are considering the priesthood.
We'd love to have a permanent community in this area that we could attend more regularly.
Visitors not being run out by obnoxious behavior by a zealous nationalist, or something like that
Try to go to more services, learn more about the faith.
Active outreach to unchurched/dissatisfied; public events to raise visibility; efforts on the part of members to bring more people to parish
that some members would attend Divine Liturgy more frequently.
More open and growth oriented.
Pews gotta go!! I'm always trying to be an "non-ethnic" promoter of the parish, and welcoming to visitors. I have been thinking about doing "St. Paul Street Evangelization" for the parish. I wrote a book about the icons in the temple. I take a turn reading the epistle, and try to do a good job. Amateurish reading detracts from the liturgy. We have icons in Greek and in the ethnic language. We have a few icons without names, and I tried to get them added in English, but got shot down. I think even a couple icons in English would send a message to visitors. Change the name of the sui iuris church, at how it's referred to in English. From what I can tell, the band we have now only dates from the mid-20th century, and the patriarch discussed changing it in the 1990s.
Something like an organized Eparchical RCIA. Training in things like an organized evangelization. Training and encouragement in things like the Byzantine Divine Office.
Outreach to others in need throughout the community. Currently, they only care for Greeks.
I figure the best thing I can do at this point is pray and try to be kind to fellow parishioners.
Closer cooperation with other Eastern Christian communities, both Catholic and Orthodox.
More clergy
Extending an invitation to others to visit our parish and worship with us more often.
better advertising perhaps.
Getting help from the bishop for new books, and a better church website.
If I had the answer to this, it would be wonderful
I have given this much thought. in my childhood, my father became a cantor and our entire family has served in several Byzantine parishes in many, many capacities throughout my lifetime. I personally have taught ECF for over 30 years until just a few years ago when the program was disbanded. I am at a loss...I just wish there was more enthusiasm on the part of the clergy. They just seem so tired. They are stretched so thin that there is no time for spiritual fatherhood. They don't reach out anymore. My humble opinion is that it may be time to merge parishes to give us the sense of community that we long for, and a priest who has time to take care of us, and who takes the spiritual leadership of his flock seriously. Many here are so apathetic, and it is difficult for their flock to feel otherwise when they are faced with such leadership.
I'm not sure what I can do, someone suggested we start a young adult group but then stopped attending the parish.
Change the priest. Barring that, have the priest understand that the people have good ideas too and to listen. Have a parish council. Have ECF and adult education and teen groups.
Better pastoral leadership - concrete action to help disciple believers and lead the congregation to a "faith that works".
evangelisation, more parish activities, more parish sponsored open invitation events
Printed and digital newsletter, digital bulletin on web site, frequent web updates
If we could provide our priest with housing, he would not have to work full-time outside of the parish.
If we could grow it. For example, being raised Roman Catholic I kind-of (in a very fringe way) may have known Eastern Catholics existed but I knew nothing about them.
We need more fellowship. We have limited space but when we do have a social event we overflow into the church. We need to do more of this. I know it's not supposed to be about the money but we need to do a major fundraiser. It has been over ten years since our last one.
Offer more liturgical services.
Try to stay out of and dispel conflicts. Try to be impartial and peaceful and lead by example of God's Love. At some point try to get my head organized enough to come up with something for the young adults to participate in and enjoy.
More youth activities, more effort to make visitors welcome.
Better catechesis??
More clergy.
Priest in residence
Reach out to the community to grow our parish, make others aware that the church is here.
Invite more people my age, help the young people feel welcome and appreciated
1. better cantors 2. regular choir rehearsals 3. Reaching out to those that now attend Latin churches 4. Having a Bible study
A hungry administrator ready to evangelize the people.
Education of the parishioners in what is truly their tradition.
They need more parishes for the unchurched or churched immigrants who live far away.
doing more akathists
Act as if one's eternal destiny depended on one's faith, and then spread that faith to others.
Evangelization to unchurched
Bigger building would encourage growth. Congregation may be right sized for our tiny chapel.
Education classes on the bible and the liturgy and theology.
a younger priest able to offer all the feast days, etc.
Actually my friend and I organized an after church lunch/coffee hour! Next week will be the first one so I hope it goes well. I was craving more community with them.
Increased church and activity attendance
A priest and regular access to the Divine Mysteries. Our own space from whence we could engage in evangelization and outreach to the community.
The priest could use some help, additional priest.
emphasis on Byzantine tradition and follow the typikon; release financial statements
More outreach to nonbelievers, other Rites.
I'd like to see the kids do more because I believe that will lead to them feeling more ownership which means they will be more likely to stay with us as adults.
being a Community instead of paying lip service to it
I'm a Latin Catholic - not in a position to say one way or another
Find ways to better integrate the local population.
Catechism and falling in love with the Divine Liturgy.
We'd try to build steps to greater evangelization, using our personal talents/skills advantageously.
More-dynamic preaching, stronger leadership from the pastor (saying this doesn't cancel out the problem with clericalism), finding some way to involve single people that's not bound up in the traditional "men's club"/"ladies' guild" activities
Outreach to help the community grow. Education program.
More regular liturgy
Getting more people more involved, instead of just the same core people doing things.
Getting more parishioners involved in chanting the Epistle, helping to cantor (especially men), & having some men help to serve at the altar. It would also be nice having a deacon in our parish.
I do not attend Divine Liturgy enough to offer any advice.
Increase membership
We invite friends. We are as active as we can be. We pray the Lord will sustain us.
Outreach to younger families.
The demographic of the city has changed significantly since the founding of the church, so to reach our base we need a mission that is close to their suburbs; we also need to open the church to the neighborhood and local colleges
The parish needs a good, regular Bible Study.