On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, nearly 100 priests and deacons from throughout the Orthodox Church in America gathered digitally to participate in a conference organized by the Office of Pastoral Life. The theme of the conference was Growing Stronger in the Priesthood.
The afternoon conference was developed with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon in order to foster the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of the clergy and their families. The conference opened with an introductory talk by His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda, Chair of the Office Pastoral Life, in which His Grace, on behalf of Metropolitan Tikhon, noted with appreciation the valiant efforts of the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America to serve their faithful during the difficult conditions of the pandemic. His Grace also emphasized to the clergy the strength that comes from meeting in assembly, and reminded them that always, “God is with us, God is for us, and God sees all of this and is working something through it.”
Office member and Thriving in Ministry facilitator, Archpriest Nicholas Solak, then explained and modeled for the participants the small group work in which the clergy would later participate.
The participants divided into thirteen break-out rooms each with a facilitator. The facilitators led their groups in a discussion meant to encourage the clergy to speak honestly about their situation and build supportive relationships with their brother clergy. The participants also shared methods and ideas developed and used to minister to the faithful during the pandemic.
“Through parish ministry priests gain wisdom every day and the peer work we accomplished through this conference allowed our clergy to share and grow from the experiences and struggles of their brother priests and deacons,” said Archpriest Nicholas Solak.
The hours-long conference ended with a further word of encouragement from His Grace Bishop Alexis and a final prayer
Due in part to the success of this conference and the Thriving in Ministry program, the Office of Pastoral Life hopes to hold other such conferences in the near future. Similarly, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon will soon be hosting an online meeting of widowed clergy wives.
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