St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church is a parish under the spiritual and ecclesiastical oversight of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Metropolis of Atlanta, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Messengerof St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church is published on a monthly basis. Publication is the first of each month. Deadline for notices and announcements for the Messenger is the 10th of each month. You may send announcements to the church office or through
email to : firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.greekorthodoxchurchtampa.com
“May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
St. John Greek Orthodox Church is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
The church shall seek to fulfill its mission by:
Embracing the Spiritual Life of the Orthodox Church through regular prayer, worship, and frequent participation in the sacraments.
Supporting the Church through stewardship of time and talent and sacrificial giving.
Providing a welcoming, caring, loving environment.
Having its members exemplify Orthodox Christian character and morals.
Supporting ministries that facilitate the overall mission of the Church
Exemplifying commitment to community service and charitable outreach.
Creating an environment which encourages members to grow in their faith.
Fr. Stavros’ Message Getting to Heaven is a lot like Climbing Mount Everest
I have always had a fascination with Mount Everest, the tallest mountain peak in the entire world. Mount Everest stands at 29,029 feet above sea level. That’s over FIVE MILES high. Walking or running five miles on level ground seems like a long way. Imagine climbing five miles straight up into sky. It’s hard to even fathom. For serious mountain climbers, Mount Everest is the pinnacle achievement.
Now, I have no desire to go climb Mount Everest. But I have read several books about expeditions up the mountains, some that ended in success and others that ended in tragedy. I have also watched several documentaries and movies about Mount Everest.
On some of the documentaries, the journey to the top of Mount Everest begins with almost a leisurely walk through Tibetan forests, across scenic rivers, and over small hills. Gradually the altitude begins to increase, the terrain becomes steeper. Snow can be found on the ground. Eventually the tree line is passed, so that all of the trees and forests are not behind and below. And ahead lie the rugged mountains of the Himalayas. Steep trails wind around small mountain peaks until suddenly, Mount Everest is in sight, the most imposing and most majestic of all the mountains in the Himalayan range. One looks up at the mountain, and can barely see the top. Clouds lick the sides of the mountain, like smoke coming off of a fire. It is truly an awesome sight, in the sense that it is imposing and strikes fear and awe in not only the climber, but even in the observer who has no intention of climbing farther.
The walk-up to the mountain has been beautiful and challenging in its own way. Trying to walk at an altitude above the tree line is a workout on the lungs of even the elite athlete. But the real challenge lies ahead. The first part of the mountain is known as the Khumbu Icefall. It is an actual glacier, sheets of ice and snow that spreads over a large swath of the mountain. Beneath the glacial sheets lurk dangers crevasses, empty gorges that open suddenly and are hundreds of feet deep. A fall into a crevasse usually results in serious injury and sometimes death. Ladders are carefully laid over the crevasses and climbers make their way gingerly over them and through the obstacles of the icefall.
After the icefall, then the real danger begins. This includes climbing up steep rocks and mountainsides that are covered with snow and ice. High wind whips against people and equipment. The air temperature is frigid. And this is not even the worst part. As people climb higher and higher, the air becomes thinner, and less rich with oxygen. It becomes harder and harder to breathe. Climbers must acclimatize themselves to the high altitude. They must get used to the thin air. They must train their lungs to survive on less oxygen. They do this by establishing a series of camps at progressively higher altitudes on the mountain. They establish one camp, then go higher and establish another. They then retreat back to the first camp to rest their lungs, before ascending to camp two, then go to establish camp three, then back to camp two, then up to camp four, then back to three, then to four and finally the push for the summit itself. The journey up Mount Everest takes weeks to achieve and before one actually achieves the summit, he or she has in reality ascended and descended sections of the mountain multiple times between the various camps. Only between camp four and the summit is done by one time. There are actually days when climbers descend rather than ascending as part of their overall ascent of the mountain. As the saying goes, sometimes they have to go backward in order to go forward.
Climbing Mount Everest is dangerous. 4.3 percent of climbers die on Mount Everest. And we’re not talking “couch potatoes,” but elite climbers. The fatality rate of 4.3 climbers per 100 is very high. And reaching the summit of Mount Everest is a rare feat. As of a year ago, only 3,142 people in the entire history of the world had stood atop the mountain.
There are at least three things that all climbers on Mount Everest share:
RESPECT for the Mountain. No one approaches a climb up Mount Everest casually. No one goes climbing up the mountain with a cocky attitude. There is almost a reverence for the shear mass of rock and mountain, the high altitude, the danger and the challenge. I guess there are a few people who are cocky going up the mountain—most of those, however, die. They don’t’ make it. The Mountain is very unforgiving to all its climbers, especially those who do not show proper respect for the dangers of the mountain.
TEAMWORK—there have been a handful of solo ascents up the Mountain but this is very exceptional and far from the norm. Even the most experienced of mountain climbers and guides uses a team to pursue the summit. Some members of the climbing team include “Sherpas,” or local Tibetan or Nepalese guides who spend their lives at high altitudes and are used to the thin air. The Sherpas help guide expeditions and also ferry gear up and down the mountain for the “paying” customers. Ropes are laid out ahead of climbers, sometimes by Sherpas, and sometimes by the climbers themselves. There are coordinators and communicators who stay at base camp and direct the parties up the mountain, pointing out bad weather and other obstacles. But, suffice to say, it is nearly impossible to ascend Everest alone, it requires a team of people.
STRENGTH-Going up Mount Everest is not for the physically weak. It requires a great deal of physical strength to hike, to climb and to survive at a high altitude. But it’s not only physical strength. There needs to be mental strength as well. As the air thins, the brain has a hard time functioning. Even thinking and decision making becomes a major effort. There are many more failures than successes on Mount Everest, even for elite climbers, many of whom have to turn back before the summit. They simply lack the strength to complete the climb. There is no one who has ever ascended the mountain without struggling. And certainly, even from the low levels of the mountain, one takes great risk in attempting to ascend.
In Greek, the word for “saint” is “Agios.” “Agios” means “the Holy One”. So, in terms of climbing Mount Everest, the “Agious,” the saints, are the one who have reached the summit, the pinnacle, which is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is attained only by God’s Grace at the end of life, but we get snippets of the Kingdom even in this life. But the Saints are the ones who have climbed the Mountain successfully.
“Agios” also means “set apart.” When we hear in the Liturgy, “Ta Agia tis Agiois,” it means the “Holy Gifts for the Holy People of God.” Yet, if no one in the church on earth has reached the summit of faith, then who are the “Holy People”? The “Holy People” are those who are trying to become saints, those who are trying to set themselves apart from the secular world to focus on the spiritual world. They are the ones on the mountain who are struggling to reach the top. They have left the safety of the base and are somewhere on the mountain, struggling, climbing, getting higher and higher towards the pinnacle, God.
The Christian life is a lot like climbing Mount Everest. To reach the summit, one has to climb. He cannot just stand at the bottom and look up with interest or even awe. If you want to reach the summit, you have to climb, and no one can climb for you.
But we know from the experiences of those climbing the Mountain, that some on the mountain are climbing with vigor. Others are resting at one of the camps. Others are even retreating for rest, letting their lungs strengthen. Some are acclimatizing, waiting for their bodies to become ready for an ascent to higher altitudes. But all are on the mountain, and to some degree, all are “climbing.”
Heaven is like the summit of Mount Everest. It is the pinnacle of the Christian life. It is the ultimate destination, the ultimate goal. However, just like with Mount Everest, not everyone will make it. Many will fall, some even fatally.
There is a beautiful icon called the “Ladder of Divine Ascent.” It shows a ladder that goes from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the icon. The lower left corner is earth. The upper right corner is heaven. And the lower right corner is hell. Ascending the ladder are priests and bishops, ostensibly the most pious of the Christians. Above the ladder are angels, and below the ladder are demons. The demons are trying to knock the priests and bishops off of the ladder and are successfully in getting many of them to fall. And so the icons shows the bodies of the bishops and priests falling towards hell.
St. John Chrysostom wrote in his book “On the Priesthood,” that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of dead priests and bishops. Yes, the ladder doesn’t go across an icefall on Mount Everest, but ascending to God through the obstacles of this life is indeed a treacherous journey, fraught with challenge and temptation. And even the best can fall. Not only priests and bishops, but plenty of lay people as well.
Like the walk-up to Mount Everest, the “walk-up” to the Church and the Christianity is beautiful, tranquil, not very challenging. The first time one sees an Orthodox Church, they are usually awe-inspired at the beauty of the icons, the smell of incense from the last service, the peaceful light of candles burning, the sense of mystery behind the icon screen, the majesty of the Altar Table, the ornate decorations. These things are impressive, no doubt. But just like walking up to Mount Everest, you haven’t achieved anything just by looking at the Mountain. You don’t become one with the Mountain until you take your first steps on it. You don’t reach the summit until you’ve risked life and surmounted continuous challenge.
I’ve visited many houses over the years of my ministry that have beautiful icon corners. People have proudly shown me icons that are hand-painted, or made of precious metal, or have been in the family for generations. And some of these houses and icons belong to people who rarely, if ever, come to church. Some people with beautiful icons never pray in front of them. Some people wear ornate crosses but sit in judgment of priests and constantly talk badly about others. There are many people who gaze at the Mountain of God and never really begin to climb. They can’t bring themselves to pray, to repent of sins, to go to confession, to struggle, or to really try. And so, years go by and they never really get anywhere. They just sit at the bottom of the mountain, looking up, perhaps even criticizing those who are climbing.
Serious climbers on Mount Everest don’t spend much time looking at other climbers. They look ahead to the summit and to their team that is helping them get there. The climbers ahead or the climbers below don’t really matter. In fact the climb of Mount Everest is really a challenge against oneself, one’s own willpower and inner strength.
As Christians, climbing a ladder of ascent to God, we too experience a challenge. Actually we experience lots of challenges. It is a challenge to live a Christian life when so many around you are not Christian, or do not practice Christian values. It is a challenge to live a Christian life in a world where there are so MANY opportunities to participate in unchristian things—whether it is watching a TV show that goes against Christian values, or entering a gossip-filled conversation, or falling prey to other temptations like stealing, or swearing, or cheating, or lying, or worse. Staying focused on God is a constant struggle—it’s a struggle to keep climbing while avoiding temptations, the demons swirling around the ladder trying to tear us off of it.
There is actually danger in being a Christian. Doing the right thing is hard, especially in the face of criticism and peer pressure. To stay true to God and to your Christian calling is going to at some point bring you ridicule and consternation, even from your peers. Our basic human frailty drags us away from God. I confess that I don’t do the right thing all the time because doing the right thing gets hard at times, and sometimes I’m tired, or even lazy and don’t do the right thing.
Just like the climber on Mt. Everest, there are three things that successful Christians do:
They show RESPECT—Just as even the most talented climber respects the harsh conditions on Mt. Everest, and doesn’t become cocky or arrogant in a climb, so, too, the devout Christian comes to God with a great sense of respect, a great sense of honor, humility and unworthiness. Those who are truly Christian strive to approach God on God’s terms, rather than on their own. They strive to obey the commandments of God with joy, not merely obligation or fear.
Christians work as a team—there is a saying, “one Christian is no Christian.” Part of being a Christian is relational. We exist in relation to other Christians. So, the Christian who sees himself or herself as part of a team is:
Charitable—they offer freely and joyfully of what they have to the “team.”
Not divisive—Christians are unifiers, not dividers.
Inclusive—see God in everyone and try to include others and bring others to Christ. They do not see themselves as part of an exclusive group or club or clique.
Purposeful—A Christian has one eye on the present, but one eye on the future and the future goal of salvation. Likewise, the successful church not only ministers for today, but looks to the future, and offers it’s ministries in a way that uses prudent planning and thoughts for the future.
If you don’t feel like you are part of the team at the church, why is that? Is it that you haven’t been welcomed properly? Is it that you haven’t made the time to become part of the team?
Christians struggle—There is no one who has ever ascended Mount Everest without a struggle. And there is no one who has successfully navigated the path of the Christian life without some sense of struggle. For the true Christian, struggle is caused by a) the devil, who tries to drag down those who are really trying. And struggle is caused by people, even some well-intentioned people, who try to drag down the committee Christian. If you have never experience “struggle” in your life, or “struggle” with being a Christian, this might be something you’d like to talk about or read about.
Use this month to evaluate where you are on the mountain of Christianity, on your ascent to God. And remember, the Church is not here for those who have made it, but for those who are struggling. The pinnacle of Christianity is the end—the entrance into the Kingdom of God. And no one is there yet. Thus, all those who are affiliated with the church fall into one of three categories—they are either struggling to climb (because the climb is always a struggle, but a joyful one), resting, or admiring from below.
If you are resting because you are tired, there is no sin in that. No one can vigorously climb all the time. Just don’t stop—keep up the climb.
If you are admiring from afar and have not begun the climb, get started.
And if you are struggling to climb, keep up the struggle—the reward will be well worth it, I believe that!
At some point, we all need to climb. And our Church is here to help lay the path, to assist the climber, to give rest to the tired climber, and to give encouragement to the one who hasn’t yet begun the climb.
Good news: Unlike the ascent up Mount Everest, the climb up the ladder of Divine Ascent cannot kill you. What can kill you is not making the climb! With love in the Lord,
Liturgical Schedule for October
Sunday, October 7 Orthros 8:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Altar Boys: Captains and St. Matthew (Nicholas Kavouklis, Karter Lenardos, Gregory Koutroumanis, Harry Koutroumanis, Brigham Sibley)
Ushers: Brett Mourer, Kevin Fentress, Ippokratis Kantzios
Altar Boys: Captains and St. Luke (Yonathan Alem, Christos Nenos, Peter Makrides, Alexios Diniaco, Nicholas Katzaras, James Katzaras)
Ushers: Chris Kavouklis, George Fellios, Florin Patrasciou
Coffee Hour: Glendi Dancers (with bake sale also) Monday, October 22 Evening Divine Liturgy for Feast of St. James
Orthros 5:00 p.m. Divine Liturgy of St. James 6:00 p.m.
Friday, October 26 Feast of St. Demetrios
Orthros 9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 28 Feast of the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary (OXI Day)
Orthros 8:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Altar Boys: Captains and St. John (Mihail Kaburis, Michael James, Dean Mitseas, Dominic Garcia, George Tsillas, Nicholas Alsina)
Ushers: Pete Trakas, Ed Gerecke, David Voykin
Coffee Hour: Daughters of Penelope—OXI Day/Founders’ Day Event Thursday, November 1 Feast of the Holy Unmerceanaries, Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Orthros 9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 4 Orthros 8:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Altar Boys: Captains and St. Matthew (Nicholas Kavouklis, Karter Lenardos, Gregory Koutroumanis, Harry Koutroumanis, Brigham Sibley)
Ushers: Nick Kavouklis, Gregory Tisdale, Demetrios Halkias
Coffee Hour: Daughters of Penelope Weekday Liturgies in October
Liturgy of St. James—to be celebrated Monday, October 22
The Orthodox Church celebrates four different Divine Liturgies throughout the liturgical year. The most prominent is the Divine Liturgy written by St. John Chrysostom, which is celebrated almost every Sunday and on most feast days. The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is celebrated 10 times a year—on the eve of Christmas, the eve of Epiphany, on the five Sundays of Lent, Holy Thursday morning, Holy Saturday morning, and on the feast of St. Basil, which is January 1. The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Wednesday and Fridays of Great Lent and the mornings of Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday. The Divine Liturgy of St. James is celebrated only once a year, on his feastday, which is October 23. The Liturgy of St. James will be celebrated on Monday evening, October 22, the evening before his feastday.
The Divine Liturgy of St. James is the oldest of the Divine Liturgies and is also the longest. It was written around 70 A.D. making it the oldest Eucharistic service in the entire Christian world. Among the interesting things about this service is that by the end of the first century, the structure of the Liturgy we celebrate today was already loosely in place. The Liturgy begins not in the altar, but in the Narthex of the church, as was the custom of the early church. The priest and faithful enter the church together from the narthex, and the next part of the service is conducted on the solea, with the priest facing the people. The priestly prayers, while very long in the liturgy, reveal a beauty and completeness which would later be shortened by St. Basil and even more by St. John Chrysostom. The most unique part of this service comes at the reception of Holy Communion. In this liturgy and this liturgy only, it has become the custom for the faithful to receive Holy Communion in separate elements, in similar fashion with how the clergy commune. The communicants first receive the Holy Body of Christ in their hands and consume it, and then drink from the Holy Chalice. This is a special beautiful tradition which will be continues at St. John, and it is encouraged that all who attend this service fast beforehand and prepare to receive Holy Communion at this Liturgy.
The Liturgy of St. James will be held on Monday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. Feast of St. Demetrios-October 26-St. Demetrios was born into a wealthy and distinguished Christian family in the Greek City of Thessaloniki in the late 3rd century. Demetrios was noted for his wisdom, and was a good speaker and polished orator. St. Demetrios was also a distinguished soldier. Thessaloniki was known for popular gladiatorial games which attracted the local pagans. Travelling with the Emperor Galerius after a military victory, Demetrios stopped in Thessaloniki, where many pagans, who were jealous of his successful life, denounced him as a Christian before the emperor, who ordered Demetrios put in prison. A man named Nestor befriended Demetrios in prison. The Emperor went to the arena to see his favorite gladiator, Lyaios and offered a reward to whomever could defeat him. Nestor accepted the challenge, and through the prayers of St. Demetrios, defeated the giant. When Nestor refused to kill Lyaios, because he had been helped by the “God of Demetrios”, the Emperor ordered that both be killed. This occurred in the year 306. We commemorate St. Demetrios on October 26 and St. Nestor on October 27.
Philoptochos is an army of women whose collective drive, dedication and heart help those who need it most. Philoptochos is compassion; love; and strength. Philoptochos is YOU.
PLEASE JOIN US FOR OUR KICK OFF MEETING OCTOBER 7th FOLLOWING CHURCH SERVICES. Parish Registry
Baptism-Ava (Evangelia) Madill, daughter of Chad and Stephanie Madill, was baptized on Sunday, September 16. Godparents were Angela Schopke, Matt and Rebekah Luttrell. Na Sas Zisi!
Baptism-Jaxon (Maximus) Horack, son of Scott and Irene Horack, was baptized on Sunday, September 16. Godparent was Katerina Gerakios. Na Sas Zisi!
Condolences to Florin Patrasciou on the passing of his father, Mircea Nicolae, on September 19. May his memory be eternal!
Meet our New Office Staff, Christine Bostrom and Brandi Ramos—As you know, we have gone through some changes in our church office. Christine Bostrom was hired to be our Church Administrator/Book-keeper in July. Her email address is email@example.com. Brandi Ramos is going to be our Church Secretary. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. When you have the opportunity, please stop by the office and meet them. Please begin sending correspondence to them at their respective email addresses. Christine’s hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Brandi’s hours are 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Welcome aboard Christine and Brandi!
Greek Festival Preparations-Our Annual Greek Festival will be held November 9-10-11. We need EVERYONE’S HELP. Weekly announcements in the bulletin will keep you informed of baking dates and other preparations needed as the Festival approaches. Also, in October, there will be sign-up sheets in the Kourmolis Center during the coffee hour to sign up volunteers to work at the festival. Again, we need EVERYONE’S HELP to make this year’s festival a success. Please participate in the preparation as you are able to, and please, everyone sign up to work at the Festival so we can have another successful festival this year.
Baking dates that have been set so far include:
Koulourakia October 1-2
Kourembiethes and Finikia October 8-9
Tsoureki October 15
MORE DATES WILL BE ANNOUNCED—Check the weekly bulletin
All baking sessions start at 10:00 a.m. Any questions, please contact Mary Nenos at 813-935-2096.
Get Acquainted Sunday-October 7—In an effort to get to know one another better, we are going to continue our “get acquainted Sundays” the first Sunday of each month. We will have nametags and markers in the entry way of the Kourmolis Center and will ask that each person put one on during coffee hour and introduce yourself to at least one person that you do not know. This will serve to help us increase our fellowship and sense of community. Our “Get Acquainted Sunday” for August will be Sunday, October 7.
Meeting Schedule for October
Sunday 7 Philoptochos After Liturgy Zaharias Room
Tuesday 9 Young at Heart 11:00 a.m. Zaharias Room
Sunday 14 GOYA 5:00 p.m. Kourmolis Center
Tuesday 16 Festival 6:45 p.m. Multi-Purpose Room
Sunday 21 AHEPA/Daughters After Liturgy Check with each group
Sunday 28 JOY/HOPE Fall Festival 4:00 p.m. Lunch area
Tuesday 30 Festival 6:45 p.m. Multi-Purpose Room
Bible Study is held on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the multi-purpose room. The class is led by Dr. Bill Manikas. All are welcome to join us for evenings of lecture/discussion on the Orthodox faith.
October Meeting-The GOYA Meeting for October will be held on Sunday, October 14 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. in the Kourmolis Center. Dinner, as always, will be provided.
Fall Harvest Festival-On October 28, our HOPE/JOY (ages 3-6th Grade) will have a fall harvest festival. Please see enclosed flyer for details.
The Philoptochos meeting for October will be Sunday, October 7, following the Divine Liturgy in the Zaharias Room.
Sunday, October 7th is Church Musicians Sunday. On this day, the feast day of St. Romanos, the patron saint of music, all choir members and psaltis are honored and recognized. A special tray will be passed. We sincerely thank our choir, under the direction of Artie Palios, as well as Nick Andreadakis, our chanter, for their tireless work in chanting the beautiful services of our church. The Choir will also sponsor the coffee hour.
Community Outreach Initiative
Thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers who have faithfully dedicated their Saturday morning to feeding the homeless at the First Presbyterian Soup Kitchen, which is a partnership with Metropolitan Ministries. Each month we feed over 120 guests. We will continue volunteering on the third Saturday of the month (October 20, November 17, December 15). Please consider getting involved in this ministry! Contact Betty Katherine Palios at email@example.com or 813-468-1596 to get on the e-mail listserver to sign up.
September 15, 2012 September 15, 2011
Number of Steward Families 283 307
Amount Pledged $279,291 $278,000
Total Collected $230,283 $214,027
For those who have pledged this year, thank you for your generous support of St. John Greek Orthodox Church. For those who have not pledged, please send in your pledge form today. Extra forms are available in the church office .As you can see, we are a little behind last year’s pace in terms of forms received, so if you haven’t pledged for 2012, please do so today. If you are new in the community, it is important to pledge for the remainder of 2012. Remember, the church relies on your generosity to not only keep it’s door open, but to offer it’s many ministries. We all benefit from the church. We all must do our part in support of our church!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF ST. JOHN GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH IN TAMPA
SUNDAY SCHOOL NEWS:
On September 23rd the Sunday School participated in our first YOUTH SUNDAY SERVICE. Our students sang the Liturgical Hymns with the choir. Angelina Bartucci read the Epistle and Christopher Scarfogliero joined her for the Creed. Our two Narthex Angels were Nedi Ferekides and Arianna Krinos. The congregation of St. John’s is truly blessed to have such wonderful children. We are proud to announce that the PROSFORO for the Youth Sunday Service was made by our 5th and 6th graders. Those students arrived an hour early for church, the Sunday before, to make the seven loaves that were needed for this service. We would like to thank Mary Nenos and Melissa Krinos for helping us make this special bread. Our plan is for the children of St. John’s to make the Prosforo for every Youth Sunday Service. The Sunday School sponsored the Coffee Hour on Sept 23rd. We served a Pancake Breakfast to honor our Godparents. Godparents were welcomed to go to Sunday School with their Godchildren. We would also like to thank the Hambos Family for preparing this delicous meal. The fifth and sixth graders served this breakfast to our parishioners. CLASS PICTURES were taken on Sept. 16th and 23rd. We would like to thank Edie Kavouklis and Rebecca Diniaco for take these pictures and donating the prints for our bulletin board display in the hall. This year we will NOT have our monthly perfect attendance awards. Instead each classroom will create their own attendance incentive. Teachers will also reach out to students who are absent frequently through e-mails, phone calls etc. We will have Attendance Awards at the end of the year acknowledging only 2 absences, only 1 absence, and Perfect Attendance. The Sunday School has been busy collecting cereal for the less fortunate. Our goal is to collect over 100 CEREAL BOXES. If you would like to help our cause, please drop off your donations in our church hall. SEPTEMBER 9TH Sunday School Lesson UPDATE:
PRE-SCHOOL: The class discussed the fact that God created us and also loves us. Reviewed what is expected in class and what will happen this year. The students made and wore "God Loves Us" badges. KINDERGARTEN: The class spent time getting to know each other. They reviewed making the sign of the cross and what it means. The children discussed the power of daily "phone calls" to God via prayer. FIRST GRADE: God made every person special. The students made paper dolls to look like themselves. Afterwards the children mixed and matched pieces to see what would happen if they looked like another student. The class learned about the holy day: Elevation of the Cross. They colored an icon of this feast day. SECOND GRADE: Jesus said, "Love one another." The class discussed examples of love and kindness. They also shared thoughts about their family and friends. THIRD AND FOURTH GRADE: Introductions, understanding of the Ecclesiastical Church Calendar year, and the Elevation of the Cross. FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADE: Introductions and the Holy Trinity. We used three candles and three flames to demonstrate the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When we put the three flames together it became ONE flame. There is only one God. We also read a book called "3 in 1, a picture of God", which explains the Holy Trinity using an apple (the peel, the flesh and the core).
SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADE: Activities and icebreakers to get to know everyone.
HIGH SCHOOL: Introductions by answering the following questions: Who are you?, How do you identify yourself?, Why are you here?, What do you enjoy about Sunday School? SEPTEMBER 16TH Sunday School Lesson UPDATE:
PRE-SCHOOL: The class learned about creation. God created the Heavens, the Earth and all things. The students made a craft to go with this lesson. The teacher went over their classroom attendance incentive program. KINDERGARTEN: Class discussion of what the first line of the Lords Prayer means in real terms. What does it mean to BE KIND & how can we do it? How can we show God we love him in many creative ways? This led to the idea of taking care of God's House with money to keep it going. The class decorated their class treasure chest of "For God's House" and each child was given a quarter to put into the chest.. The class will continue this "monetary care of God's house" with the children's donations each week. FIRST GRADE: Lesson: God Helps Us to Learn. SECOND GRADE: The class learned about God's Love and how God created everything and gave us many special talents. The students drew pictures of their God-given gifts and read the story of Adam and Eve. THIRD AND FOURTH GRADE: Lesson: People feel happy when they share. Discussed the Icon, "The Hospitality of Abraham" and the story of Abraham and Sarah receiving the news from angels that they will have a son. FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADE: Our lesson on Sunday was a followup to the Prosforo making. The students not only learned how and why we make Prosforo, they also learned about the Disko/Star and the religious seal used on this holy bread. The students made their own Disko/Star to bring home. Discussed the Feast Day of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADE: Gospel Lesson and the Elevation of the Cross.
HIGH SCHOOL: Understanding the Gospel Reading: "How to deny ourselves and take up our cross." Introduction to "Heaven on Earth - The Divine Liturgy" Please feel free to contact us with any questions, suggestions, or comments regarding St. John’s Sunday School Program. Parents: If you do not receive our weekly e-mails about our Sunday School Program, please contact Vickie Peckham at 406-5626 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metropolitan Methodios, representing Archbishop Demetrios, offers prayer at Republican National Convention
On August 29, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, who represented His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, offered the Orthodox Christian prayer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. The prayer was offered immediately following the acceptance speech of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Originally, the Archbishop was scheduled to offer the benediction but was unable to do so due to his travel to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.
Metropolitan Methodios also met with several officials of the Republican Party including the Greek Orthodox Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus, who is a member of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America.
Below is the prayer offered at this evening's Republican National Convention:
Let us pray,
"O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth Who is ever present and fills all things, the Treasure of all blessings and source of life, we beseech you to dwell in our hearts" as we hold in prayer our brethren who suffer the ravages of Hurricane Isaac. Embrace them in your love and keep them safe. Enable us to reach out to them in acts of philanthropy and generosity. As we close this evening's program, we pray that You bless and inspire the delegates of this Republican Convention to be your devoted servants and dedicated citizens of our great country. They have nominated two of your faithful sons, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, to serve the highest offices of this beloved land, a nation which has always opened its embrace to welcome "the tired, the poor and the huddled masses, all the tempest tossed to breathe free" a nation that has always been a model of peace, justice and the rule of law. Shine in the hearts of the nominees of this convention the radiant light of Your divine will. Imbue them and Chairman Reince Priebus, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with insight, wisdom, and boldness, with courage, compassion and competence. Tonight, we remember the intrepid members of our armed forces who place themselves in harm's way in defense of our freedom, and like our Founding Fathers, are steadfast in keeping America the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. May every American be more sensitive:
To the neglected and forgotten
To those who have been victims of discrimination and crime
To those who are hungry and homeless
To those with no jobs and little hope
Help us, Lord, to break down the walls of enmity and distrust, and show us the way to a new era of peace, equality and opportunity. Strengthen the hand of America as it reaches out to clasp the hands of our brethren throughout the world to build bridges of understanding. May we rediscover the path that leads one to another, and all to You. Amen. Metropolitan Nicholas, Representing Archbishop Demetrios, Delivers the Invocation at the Democratic National Convention His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, representing Archbishop Demetrios of America delivered the invocation at the official opening of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. Originally, Archbishop Demetrios was scheduled to offer the opening prayer, at the invitation of President Barack Obama, but was unable to do so due to his travel schedule.
While in Charlotte, Metropolitan Nicholas met with several officials of the Democratic Party.
The text of the uplifting prayer as delivered by Metropolitan Nicholas follows:
O God most pure and Author of all creation; As you spoke to us of old, Speak to our hearts anew; You who had fellowship with Abraham and Sarah, Come and stay in our midst; As You led your people through the wilderness, Lead us now, as the Democratic National Convention opens its deliberations for the benefit of the people and the land of these United States; You have brought us here from every place on earth, that Native Americans and Immigrant Americans, People of Color and of every Tongue, might find not just hope, but a land which seeks life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Grant to all here a deep and abiding respect for the task at hand, so that our common efforts will perfect our desire that law and government be for, by and of the people. Assist us to set aside personal differences, so that our unity of purpose will be rise above us all as an enduring symbol of freedom. Let freedom reign in our hearts so that we would never fear to lead the oppressed to freedom; never fear to give shelter to the homeless and displaced; never fear to treat our neighbor as our selves; to give dignity and opportunity, as in Detroit and elsewhere in America, to the struggling unemployed and less fortunate brothers and sisters in this great land. Let us never be afraid. While our prayers and assistance are with those affected by Hurricane Isaac, we trust in You, O Lord, that your gracious love will be with our President, Barack Obama, with our Vice-President, Joseph Biden; with all of our public officials and those who serve the good of this Nation. We ask also that You preserve and protect those who stand in harm’s way, as they defend and serve for the benefit of all. Come and be with us, O Mighty God, as fortress and deliverer, so that through You, and by the faithful and strong leadership of our government, we shall rejoice knowing that our children and our children’s children will know peace and every blessing. To You be glory forever. Amen.
From the outside looking in to the inside looking out by Jon Irwin
I was baptized into the Southern Baptist Church at the age of five and I cannot recall a time when I did not consider myself a Christian. My mother read all of us Bible stories every night before bedtime. Sunday School in a “SolaScriptura” (Bible only) Protestant church was just as important, if not more important, than the worship. The highlight of the service was the sermon. If the delivery was good it was considered a good worship experience and all was well. If it was not then a discussion would ensue on the way home about how it made you feel and what the poor pastor could have done to make it better. I never knew any other way to live but being Baptist. Everyone I knew was a Baptist. As far as I knew the whole world was Baptist. Even after I left home I stayed inside the Baptist church because I was comfortable there. I was saved and “once saved always saved “was our motto.
It wasn’t until I met my wife, Pam, that I ever had a thought about leaving the Baptist church. Pam is the daughter of an Independent Baptist pastor. She has a hobby of studying church history. She has a brilliant and uncommonly inquisitive mind. She not only studied Baptist history but other Protestant churches as well. She had even considered the Catholic faith as a possibility. We were both taught from our Baptist upbringing that the Catholics were evil and were not Christians at all but worshipped the Virgin Mary. Our research into the Catholic Church found it to be a Christian Church. We learned new terms like “apostolic succession”. The ancient roots of what we found were inviting however some of the “new dogma” such as the immaculate conception of Mary (being born without sin), purgatory, indulgences and other dogma created and instituted into the church by Pope Pius IX in the 1800’s gave us pause. By reading and studying the subject over a period of nine years, we stumbled onto the Eastern Orthodox Church. We discovered the writings of the early church fathers and from there it was a short trip to the ancient church. I found two Orthodox churches in the Tampa area, the largest one being Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Because I did not speak Greek I was a bit apprehensive about attending and decided to try the Bible study class first before attending a worship service. It was taught by Fr. Stavros who gave me other study aids about becoming Orthodox. I stayed in the Bible study for a year before braving a Sunday in the Church. The following year, joined by our new godparents Brett and Ana Mourer and Bebe Blackburn, we were chrismated into the Orthodox church on Lazarus Saturday.
It was a long and arduous journey investigating various churches - Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. Finally, by the grace of God, we were home. When I viewed the Orthodox Church from the outside, through the prism of my Protestant faith, it looked like Eastern and Western churches (Catholic and Orthodox) were the same church. Then like the blind man in the Scriptures, I saw clearly what I once had missed. I now have both an appreciation of the Biblical knowledge I gained as a Baptist and the fullness of the faith that I have gained from the ancient church which kept her theology pristine. Now I actually experience the transcendence of time in the Divine Liturgy. We experience true worship and visualize from the icons that all of the saints and the heavenly host of angels who had been singing their eternal praises to the Almighty God join with us in worship. This is no longer strange to me now – my understanding has changed. I was no longer on the outside looking in. I was on the inside looking in -at the true body and blood of Christ with a grateful heart and awe. I am communing with the All Mighty God.
Jon and Pam Irwin are members of our parish. They attend Bible Study and Jon works for the bookstore. Role of Women in the New Testament By Dr. Bill Manikas
The Orthodox Church sees women as equal with men. Genesis 1: 26-31 and 2:5-25 contain two creation stories. They express the relationship between humanity and God, the Creator. Secondly, it expresses the relationship between man and woman within the God-man relationship. God created man (Generic sense) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gn.1:27).
When Jesus came into this world, He did not come as a political agitator or a reformer of the traditional mores of society in which he was born. He did not spend His time transgressing the customs of His time. Christ was concerned with interior truth, conversion and changing of the heart, to open man’s heart so he could enter the kingdom of God. But this change of heart has to be expressed in action.
Jesus did not encourage women to take on roles or life styles that were considered masculine in the culture of the time. The women Jesus associated with were busy with household chores and served at the table. Some of the women were prostitutes. The women who followed Him were not sent back to their husbands and to their pots and pans.
He praised Mary of Bethany who left domestic chores to her sister, Martha. He did not separate his listeners into women and men, but addressed the rich, the Pharisees and the scribes. What counted for Jesus was the here and now.
Jesus fully assumed his historical condition as a masculine human being, but the values he exalted, as in the Sermon on the Mount, which according to today’s western cultural tradition are suppose to be feminine—gentleness,, humility (Mat. 11:29), forgiveness, nonviolence (Mat.5).
Jesus is not portrayed as masculine, unfeeling, but He cried (Jn11:34-35) at his friend’s tomb. In dealing with women, He did not display domination or seduction Jesus took care of the sick, physically and morally weak men as well as women. He treated them and then put them back on their feet. Matt 9:2; Mk 2:3; Lk5:18 and Lk 13:10-13.
In Matt 15 and Mark 7:28 we see Jesus speaking to women. He asked them questions and allowed them to ask Him questions---the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well or the Syro-Phoenician woman. For Jesus they were real persons, not sexual individuals. He had fruitful dialogues with them. His disciples were surprised by this attitude which contrasted so sharpely with rabbinical principles (Jn4:27 and Lk7:39).
Among His intimate friends included women. Besides Peter, James and John, His friends included Martha, Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala. There is total equality among men and women. He did not treat men and woman stereotypically. Jesus respected the differences of His friends. He respected feminine sensitivity when the sinful woman’s (Lk7:36-50) tears fell on His feet, she wiped them with her hair and kissed them. This may have put Him in an awkward position but He did not rebuke her. He saw in her faith and love as opposed to the coldness of His host, Simon the Pharisee.
Jesus neither scorned nor feared sexuality. He performed His first miracle at the Wedding of Cana. His presence changed the earthly joy of conjugal union into the anticipated joy of the messianic kingdom. In His encounter with everyone, Jesus is opening the door to His Kingdom. It is Mary of Magdala who first encountered the Resurrected Christ and announces to the Apostles that Jesus has resurrected.
Dr. Bill Manikas is the Vice-President of the Parish Council, teaches our Adult Bible Study and sings in the choir.