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by Fr. Hector Firoglanis

On October 14th after the Divine Liturgy, our parish will be holding a special congregational meeting to learn about the Facilities Master Plan which has been in the works for several years under the direction of Kosta Kontanis (please see informational blurb on the back page of the Annunciator).  The Master Plan includes various phases of expansion and renovation of our parish facilities which will require congregational approval.  More information on this meeting will be sent out to the parish via postal mail and email in the coming days and weeks.  

 Interestingly — or, providentially — the Master Plan is being presented to the parish as we approach the Centennial Celebration of our church’s founding in 1921.  It is a perfect time to reflect on the last 100 years of our church’s illustrious history as we map out our plan to continue the work and mission entrusted to us for the next 100 years.   

 As with the beginning of any endeavor, we believe and proclaim that we are building on the rock of our Faith.  As Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: “[You are] fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).  If our plans are not based on the foundation set by our Lord Jesus Christ, we labor in vain.  “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 126:1). 

 During the past 100 years, faithful Orthodox Christians have labored with love and sacrifice to build up the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church upon the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Chief Cornerstone.  They came from Greece and pulled together their limited resources —      pennies earned through the sweat and sacrifice of manual labor — to build an Orthodox Church in Lancaster County.  The parish evolved and grew into a beacon of faith and service in Lancaster and beyond under the strong and sustained leadership of Fr. Alexander Veronis over a span of several decades. 

Under the direction of Fr. Alexander Goussetis, the Parish Council in 2008 carried out a Strategic Plan, with Maria Querry as the facilitator and Niko Veronis as the Parish Council President.  The strategic plan may be found on our parish website:
http://www.annunciationorthodox.org/publications/reports

As Fr. Alex and Niko Veronis wrote on the cover letter of the strategic plan 10 years ago: “By integrating the input of our community together with the core beliefs of Orthodoxy, we can blaze a path into the future with confidence and hope.”  This is where we are today as we sit at the crossroads of reflecting back on 100 years with gratitude, while looking ahead at the next 100 years with conviction — to give to the next generations what past generations have given to us with their faithfulness and sacrifice.

It is a known fact that the world we are living in now is much different than the world our forebears inhabited while building and growing our Annunciation Church during the past 100 years.  We are now entering a Post-Christian world, and the findings show that if we do not see a shift in our Archdiocese from a maintenance mentality to a growth mentality in our parish life, many churches will begin to die out and close their doors in the years to come. 

 There is no question that we are called – as Orthodox Christians and as a Church – to be less concerned with preserving and maintaining and more concerned with growing and expanding the witness of our Faith to all people. 

 The facilities of our parish must reflect the loftiness of our mission.  When visitors pull into our parking lot on 64 Hershey Avenue, our facilities — the exterior and interior — must leave no doubt that we are a unified Body of believers carrying out the Church’s eternal and apostolic mission of bringing Beauty, Light, and Life into the world.  The world will know that we are Christians by our love (John 13:35), but to our visitors the state of our facilities is the first visible expression of our love and devotion to God and to His House. 

One hundred years ago our parents and grandparents left the security of their homelands, took great risks, and sacrificed much to establish the churches that have been entrusted to our care.  The Gospel is about taking risks and extending beyond ourselves.  If we allow ourselves to become complacent and comfortable – concepts that were foreign to our forefathers – then our faith and our churches will stagnate and fade away.  On the other hand, if we take risks, make sacrifices, extend beyond ourselves, and remain faithful to Christ’s commandments and mission, we will not only survive – we will thrive and spread the Light of Christ for generations to come. 

The Facilities Master Plan, which will be presented by the Building Committee on October 14    immediately following the Divine Liturgy, is a guide to ensure that our vision for our facilities is consistent with our vision as Orthodox Christians to witness and expand our Faith.   ALL parishioners are encouraged to attend, so that we may all share in the vision and mission of growing our      Orthodox Faith and sharing the Light of Christ entrusted to us with all people. 

Indeed, we are entering into a post-Christian age, and it is the most exiting time to be an Orthodox Christian – “For the light shines in darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it” (John 1:5).

 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 126:1). 

 

   

 

 

by Fr. Hector Firoglanis

When I was in eighth grade, I wrestled at the 105 pound weight class for my school’s team. One of my friends on the team was in ninth grade and he wrestled the 189 pound weight class. As the last two undefeated wrestlers on the team over half way through the season, there were two things we shared in common:

  • We were both Orthodox Christians — two of several Greeks on the Manheim Township Wrestling teams in the early 1990’s.
  • We shared a custom of drinking Holy Water (Agiasmo) — which we kept in little glass bottles in our lockers — after each weigh-in.

Was the Holy Water responsible for our undefeated records? Of course not, even though more and more of our teammates began to inquire about our “special water” as the year went on. The Holy Water, however, did give us spiritual strength and was a tangible reminder that God was with us before, during, and after our matches — which was very comforting and calming. This assurance of God’s presence was helpful during the victories, and even more beneficial when the losses eventually came as well.

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Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
64 Hershey Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603

Phone: (717) 394-1735
Fax: (717) 394-0991


Weekday Office Hours: 8AM-4PM

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