The Fifth Annual Small Parish Forum sponsored this year by the Orthodox Church in America’s Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, the Diocese of the Midwest and the Bulgarian Diocese will be held at Saint George Cathedral in the Toledo, OH suburb of Rossford July 12-14 2018.
As in years past, this year’s Forum will focus on specific situations common to “small” parishes throughout the OCA and other Orthodox jurisdictions. 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, small churches are not immature, mini-versions of larger parishes,” said Joseph Kormos, Forum Co-chairperson and Parish Development Ministry Leader for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh. “Small parishes can bring people to Christ in intimate and exciting ways often unavailable to larger parishes.”
“This year’s Forum theme will be ‘Equipping Leaders and Parish Councils for Discipleship and Change,’” added Archpriest Daniel Rentel, Forum Co-chairperson. “With this as a framework we will explore how small parishes with limited resources can shape leaders and leadership structures to take advantage of the many positive qualities of small parishes.”
Participants in previous forums especially appreciated the focus on practical, hands-on topics and resources.
“As a result, people left with actionable ideas, tips and good practices valuable to clergy and lay leaders from small parishes,” Mr. Kormos explained. “The Forum agenda will include topics such as ‘Tools of Christian Leadership,’ ‘Techniques of Productive Dialogue,’ ‘Fresh Views on Parish Councils,’ and ‘Communicating Your Parish to the Community.’ Case studies of renewal in small parishes will also be featured.”
Attracting attendees from as far away as Florida, Missouri, Connecticut and Toronto, the 2017 Forum attracted participants from seven OCA dioceses and five other Orthodox jurisdictions.
“The 2018 Toledo-area location is an hour from Detroit, less than a two hour drive from Cleveland, less than four hours from Chicago and Pittsburgh and five hours from Buffalo,” Mr. Kormos added. “Approximately half of the OCA’s parishes are within a manageable drive of the site.”
Registration will be available online beginning May 1. To maintain an atmosphere of fellowship and dialogue among attendees, registration will be limited to 65 persons. Early registration is recommended. Sessions will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 and conclude at noon on Saturday July 14. Blocks of rooms will be reserved at local hotels.
The $100.00 per person registration fee will include meals, breaks, a hospitality reception and forum materials. Attendees from the OCA’s Bulgarian Diocese, the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Diocese of the Midwest are eligible for full tuition rebates and grants to assist with travel costs. Many other OCA Dioceses offer scholarships to small parishes desiring to send attendees.