Christ is the Good Shepherd John 9-39-50 – 20th day of Lent

Continue reading Christ is the Good Shepherd John 9-39-50 – 20th day of Lent

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2017 Pastor’s Report- Fr. Shnork Souin

It gives me great joy to welcome you for this year‘s annual assembly. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be out of the hospital and back with my parish family. Because I have spent the past five months in a hospital I have not had an opportunity to prepare a report as I normally would for an annual assembly. This year I am requesting a bye and thankful for your indulgence in this matter. It has been a tumultuous year for me personally as I had major surgery and spent almost 5 months between hospitals and rehabilitation. It is so good to be home and to have returned to church on the Sunday of Good Living Poon Paregentan.

I’m getting stronger every day and I look forward to resuming to my full schedule of pastoral activities.

While in the hospital, except for while I was in an induced coma for over one month, I maintained regular contact with Fran in the office and with Joyce. I also communicated with parish council members and also made many calls to most of our elderly parishioners. I called newlyweds and those who have been given the great gift of parenthood over the past year or two. In addition to this I also communicated with many parishioners either through phone calls for social ministry. I was able to update our parishioners through Facebook, in the church Lighthouse bulletin when there were important milestones that were being met in my recovery. For those who are not aware, I have been battling with a genetic disease called cardiomyopathy for the past nine years. This is a progressive disease and typically leads to end stage heart failure. I reached that point in around July and in August and was hospitalized for three days then finally on the feast of the Holy Cross on September 17 was hospitalized where they eventually removed 50 pounds of retained water then after being transferred to Tufts University hospital the advanced heart failure team installed two ventricular assist devices on my heart. The surgeries took quite a toll on me and on my family. They had quite a scare and lived through a difficult time full of uncertainty. he likely reason for the challenges was the deteriorated condition of my body and organs.

I am now feeling much better than I have over the past four years and I’m on a heart transplant list. My conditioning is getting better every day after a long bed stay. My kidneys and liver have miraculously fully recovered, and I am hopeful and prayerful that when the call comes as a gift from Almighty God, I will be physically prepared to undergo the next surgery and continue a new life with a new heart to the glory of God.

I want to thank Joyce Avedisian for going out of her way not only as Parish Council Chairman filling in the void that Was left by my absence and also being an incredible support in the office and administration. In addition to her many acts of selfless sacrifice she has also been an incredible friend and support to me and my family. The parish council has worked tirelessly and all members have contributed in immeasurable ways in making the year all that it was.

It was a good year in that we had a very successful bazaar, Golf Outing and picnic, three of our greatest fundraisers. We also had, thanks to the leadership of Marc Janigian and a dedicated crew of hard workers, an outstanding banner year in hall rentals and Memorial meals. We can’t say enough in thanking Marc Janigian for the tireless an outstanding job that he does on behalf of our church in securing rentals and overseeing the Memorial meals at funerals. He also chaired the very successful Bazaar as well as the golf outing. Laurie Onanian Once again did a terrific job in creating a very successful Bazaar booklet this year.

We were able to purchase the property across the street from the church adjacent our parking lot which was razed and gives us full ownership of the properties on Jefferson Street. I want to thank Joyce and the parish council for seeing this through.

YOUTH

The ACYOA had a good year and held a couple of very successful events and sent Co-chairpersons Christina Parnagian and Greta Janigian to the leadership conference. We also had a number of members attend St. Nersess summer conferences deacon’s training as well as going to serve as counselors at St. Vartan Camp. We had a number of young campers attending St. Vartan Camp and we hope that these numbers continue to grow.

Unfortunately due to my continuing illness and the cancellation of four of our campers I had to cancel our summer camp at Husenig Grove. I am hopeful to resume it next summer by God’s will.

I’m so happy to announce that three new people have taken leadership for the ACYOA juniors. They are Sonya Taraian Linda Salas and Ellen Ferrara. Steve Megurdichian continues to add incredible support in making this one of the most important valuable ministries of our church.

The Armenian school has continued to grow and has been putting on wonderful functions and activities for the whole parish and have become involved in the bazaar and various other church events. This has been a wonderful boon to our parish and it’s great to have an injection of new life into our youth ministry.

Our Nazeli dance group and junior choir had a good year and we even traveled to the nursing home in Jamaica Plains where a wonderful performance was put on for the residents under the direction of Maestro Konstantin and Janna Petrossian and with the direction of Narine Lemme and Narine Amroyan. The junior choir saying during the Badarak on a couple of occasions throughout the year also.

In April I participated in the annual youth day where I did a class for a group of the older children.

EXTRA PAROCHIAL ACTIVITIES

I visited a number of Orthodox parishes in Rhode Island Throughout the year. I attended most Rhode Island orthodox clergy fellowship meetings and hosted the annual retreat at HuSenik Grove.

I was invited to preach at St. Mary Church in put Tuckett Rhode Island during one of their inter Orthodox Lenten services.

I attended the Regional clergy Lenten retreat in Hartford, the annual clergy conference as well as, the diocesan assembly in Florida, Hosted by St. Hagop church.

I was able to attend a number of functions hosted by the nights of Vartan including their men’s pizza nights at the evangelical church a number of services and events at Saints Vartanants church as well as the annual Husenig Grove picnic.

SCHEDULE

Events for 2017

January

5 Armenian Christmas Eve

6 Armenian Christmas

8 Women’s Guild Luncheon after church

15 Hantess for Armenian School after church

February

12 Soup & Salad Luncheon Women’s Guild

19 Sunday School Luncheon in Egavian

26 Parish Assembly

March

4 Concert

10 Lenten Service & Fellowship

13 Focus Group

15 Bible Study

25 Focus Group

26 Soup & Salad Luncheon

31 Lenten Service & Fellowship

April

5 Bible Study

7 Lenten Service & Fellowship

9 Palm Sunday Dinner

10 Mary House Meal Kitchen

13 Holy Thursday Services

14 Holy Friday Services

15 Easter Eve Sub Shop

16 Easter Sunday

18 Youth Day

21 Movie Night

30 Wedding

May

1 Diocesan Assembly

7 Sunday School closing, Movie

12 Sports Banquet

14 Women’s Guild Cake Sale Mother’s Day

June

3 CC Talent Show

7 Knight of Vartan Graduates Night

11 Armenian School Hantess

14 Movie – Maestro

22 Clergy Retreat at Husenig

25 Blood Drive & Breakfast

26 Golf Tournament & Mary House Meal Kitchen

30 Concert Maestro

August

19 Picnic

20 Assembly (written in but don’t know what it is)

23 Camp (don’t know if it was cancelled)

September

5 Armenian School Open House

10 Sunday School Opening Day & Picnic

13 Movie – Maestro

October

1 Srpazan Visit & Dinner

6 Women’s Guild Dinner Dance

11 Movie – Maestro

22 Spiritual Music Festival

29 Seminarians vosot and Flu Shots

November

4 & 5 Bazaar

8 Knight of the Year Dinner

15 Movie cultural Comm.

19 Parish Council Fellowship

20 Mary House Meal Kitchen

25 ACYOA Dance

December

9 Christmas Concert

17 Armenian School Christmas Party

24 Christmas Eve Day Morning & Evening Services

SACRAMENTS

Weddings – 4

Funerals – 20

Baptisms – 15

I was pleased to be able to attend a number of our soup kitchens at the Mary house under the direction of Joyce Avedisian. I’m so thankful to her and the many volunteers both old and young to come on a regular basis to help at this most important outreach ministry.

LITURGICAL AND EDUCATIONAL

in 2017 we held our regular Lenten services but contacted them on Friday evenings and follow them by a potluck Lenten dinner. This was a very well attended program and we look forward to re-initiating it for next year. I conducted Bible studies for Lent Wednesday nights and hope to initiate The program next year.

My hope and prayer would be that greater numbers of people would make the time to study God’s word. This is a great time fellowship and meditation to get closer to God and to better understand his will for us. Bible studies in the not too distant future.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Our Sunday school continue to grow in numbers and they have increased their social ministry along with enhancing the educational. I was pleased that the Sunday school join forces with the Armenian school and making the Christmas party in 2017 a great success. We hope that this tradition continues and grows in the future. Sunday school is capably led by the CEAB.

Armenian school conducted Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings continue to grow in 2017 and it’s such a joy to see so many new children being incorporated into life of our church. Armen school conducted a number of fundraising programs which were very successful along with their annual contest and their outings. The Armenian school is led by Shushan Hagopian Hagopian, Lilit Amroyan and Mariam Saripekian.

CULTURAL COMMITTEE

This year we hosted a film festival which has continued into 2018. This has been a successful new endeavor attended by many people.

Hosted Orthodox Church Music Festival

Annual schedule of events

Directed by Maestro Petrossian

CEAB

Directed by Martha Jamgochian

The committee has identified two people to join the committee this year.

ONCD

ONCD continues to meet regularly and has had many workshops where we continue to utilize the input of parishioners from various demographics in order to improve our loving relationships in our parish.

SENIORS

The seniors continued to meet on Monday mornings. I always enjoy my frequent visits with the seniors and I am deeply saddened when our numbers dwindle and I’m always prayerful that new people will come and join our group. I pray that God bless them and keep them healthy and that our precious ministry continues to thrive under the direction of our chairperson Rose Masoian.

ORDINATIONS

Our altar servers have worked extremely hard and I’ve participated in most liturgical services throughout the year. Young man who are studying attended St. Nersess summer conferences and came to many classes and even med not only with me but with V. Rev. Father Odabashian and pass the requirements for ordination to the sub diaconate.

Imagine my disappointment in September when I was unable to be present at the visit of our primate Archbishop Barsamian where he ordained young acolytes as well as two young men to the sub diaconate. Fortunately I was able to watch the proceedings through Internet technology and witness to the ordinations especially the granting of stoles to Sdns. Aren Antranig And Anthony Maldonado. The occasion also saw Dn. Hagop Ghajanian receive the prestigious St.Vartan aWard by the primate. I want to thank Davit Gevorkian and Charles Kalagian for providing the artistic portion of the program

I want to thank Joyce Avedisian for putting the program together and Zita Butler for overseeing the wonderful meal and preparations for the event. I want to especially thank my good friend and the Vicar of our Diocese V. Rev.Simeon Odabashian for being a who pinch-hit in my absence and oversaw all the liturgical arrangements for the day. Fr. Odabashian has been a wonderful friend and went out of his way to help oversee the liturgical needs of the church during my absence. In addition to making himself available to celebrate the divine liturgy, he was able to arrange for visits from the following clergy who I personally thank, V. Rev. Fr’s. Aren Jebejian, AnaniaDzaturyan, and Rev. Fr’s. Mampre Kouzouian, and Dajad Davitian. We were also blessed by a visit by father Mardiros Chevian and

PUBLICATIONS

While there is a great effort to publish our auto’s newsletter on a quarterly basis there’s been some talk in making improvements. There is some discussion started in the parish council to prepare the Paros in color and more professional print production.

We are so pleased that by the efforts especially of Mher Saribekyan we have relaunched a church Website. In addition to enhancements to our communications, I have started a personal Blog where I am able to publish articles thoughts and meditations for not only our procedures but for the education of all.

I want to thank you all for your many kind letters cards calls and visits throughout my illness. I am also overwhelmed by the outpouring of financial support that many if you have given in this difficult time of need for us. Please accept my thanks and thanks for my family for your contributions towards the Father Souin Fund. Your love your support and especially your prayers were so meaningful and provide a great strength to me in these most difficult times. I pray that God return the favor to each and everyone of you and may you all be blessed.

In closing, I want to personally thank Len Arzoomanian for his tireless efforts in compiling and having published the Paros, with the editorial support of David Griego, throughout the year as well as the great efforts he puts in during the preparation of this annual report.

I want to offer special prayer of blessing to Sdn.. Tim Aznavourian who is the top student at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and a seminarian at St. Nersess seminary. It is so good to have him visit us on various occasions throughout the year. We are hopeful and expectant to see him complete his studies and enter by God’s call into the holy priesthood of the Armenian Church.

I congratulate our parish council, our nominating committee as well as our auditing and budget committees for an outstanding job in putting this year’s assembly together.

We are very saddened to lose an institution of our parish and one very beloved christian or who will never be forgotten and will always remain in our prayers. Shake Arslanian passed away after an illness and her loss will be felt for many years into the future. May God illuminate her soul.

I want to thank Fran for her tireless support and efforts in keeping the office and it ministration in order throughout the year as usual. I want to specially thank God for a very loving and supportive family my patient and always optimistic wife Julie and my four wonderful children Nicholas Susan Conner and Elizabeth. I am especially thankful for you our parishioners and members who make every sacrifice to keep our Church a Holy and faithful Family where together as one we offer worship, glory and honor to Almighty God, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit now and always not to the age of ages, Amen

I discount my own righteousness but cleave to the Righteousness of Christ through Faith. A Lenten meditation on Romans 1:16.

The righteous shall live by faith.

The apostle St. Paul on two occasions first in his letter to the church in Rome and then again in his letter to the church in Galatia states that “the righteous shall live by faith.”

The simple passages have been the impetus of some of the most profound theological study and debate over particularly the past 500 years. It was Martin Luther who was so moved and transformed by this passage that he was spiritually enabled to battle the forces of Roman popes and kings.

I have personally both prayed and meditated on this verse throughout my life and Ministry. It has clearly occurred to me on numerous occasions that I could do nothing without faith in Jesus Christ, and more specifically the faith of Christ (Pistis Christou). All that I am and all that I believe is grounded in faith. Faith is a gift of God. It is given in Baptism and nurtured in the frequent reception of the sacraments and participation in the life of the church.

What does it mean to be righteous? Is righteousness something that we choose to be? Is it something that we can cultivate by doing good and by being loving? Is it something that is intrinsically an aspect of our character? Clearly righteousness is intimately associated with goodness and with love. But the goodness and the love by which righteousness is apparent in one’s life is God’s own goodness and love. If in baptism the old man is dead to sin and the new man rises with Christ in spiritual rebirth, then righteousness must be understood as the righteousness of Christ in us.

If we count on our own perceived righteousness rather than Christ’s righteousness, then we are deceiving ourselves and fall into the prey of the devil. Let us look carefully at the words of the prophet Isaiah.” All oll of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)”

See how the prophet tells us that our own works, which we perceive as righteousness, are like filthy rags. Imagine if you left the house on a daily basis dressed in filthy garments. What would people perceive about us? How are they to look at us? Will they want to be near us? Would they look at us as an example of wholesome living? Clearly one who is well groomed, clean and presentable is going to be perceived as much more wholesome and one who others will naturally gravitate toward. The righteousness of Christ has the same effect. When we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, then we live by faith and the goodness, the purity, and the wholesomeness of Christ which becomes an attraction to those who come into contact with us and nurtures and safeguards in us Eternal life found in him.

St. Paul clearly believed and taught that it is the faith of Christ that produces righteousness which is a fruit of Christ’s own Faith. He states for the church of Rome, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).” It is worth noting that clearly the righteousness of Christ is not nearly based in a historical faith in the Scriptures nor on the other hand and emotional attachment to Christ but also an obedience to Christ and subjugation to his life. Saint Paul boldly confesses “I no longer live but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)” Even if we are found to be weak in our face the face in which we live is Christ only. This means that the week will grow in strength of Faith while those who have a false faith, one based in personal works and “righteousness”, will perish and wither like a leaf.

My personal objective for this lenten season is to repent of any perceived notion of righteousness. I will look to Christ and seek to grow in my obedience to him and his will. I will pray that he will plant in me by his Holy Spirit the fruits of righteousness in faith and that I may become worthy in my unworthiness to reclaim his surpassing glory and eternal life which she one for me on the cross on the holy, Great and Good Friday.

The Oriental Orthodox Church: Keepers of the Alexandrian Christological Tradition.

The Oriental Orthodox Church:

Keepers of the Alexandrian Christological Tradition:

In 451 Pope Leo of Rome sent a delegation of legates into the city of Chalcedon with orders to issue his Tome and allow no compromise regarding its complete acceptance. The council of bishops assembled there had a choice: accept the Tome without debate or face the prospects of a divided Church. Pope Leo knew that the Emperor would accept nothing short of a united Church and an end to the controversy plaguing the empire. The bishops of the Antiochene Christological tradition welcomed Rome’s ultimatum and support. Yet one third of the Church did not buckle under Roman & Imperial pressure.

These Churches were committed to the Alexandrian Christology which was officially endorsed at the Council of Ephesus, the Third Ecumenical Council. The Tome of Leo sought to reconcile and rehabilitate the Antiochene Christology which had been brought into question at Ephesus. The Antiochene school of Christology emphasized a sharp distinction between Christ’s divinity and humaninty. The Alexandrian school taught a Christology which emphasized the complete unity of divinity and humanity, “without confusion, change, separation or division” in the one nature and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope Leo’s attempt at a new theological formula was seen as an offense to the Church’s offical Christology as taught by St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. Questions also arose due to the fact that Nestorians (& Nestorius himself) were claiming victory as a result of Leo’s Tome and the Chalcedonian definition. Although the next two Councils (Constantinople II and III) attempted to find a middle ground between Ephesus and Chalcedon, this ancient wound to the unity of the Church is only being healed in our day.

The Oriental Orthodox (consisting of the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian and Syrian Churches) did not accept the Council of Chalcedon. These Churches rather upheld the original three Ecumenical Councils and were in turn falsely accused of following the heresy of Monophysitism.

Monophysites taught that Christ is solely Divine: His humanity was “swallowed up” by His Divinity. Oriental Orthodox are Mia-physites -following St. Cyril of Alexandria and, before him, St. Athanasius the Great, who taught the “one nature (mia physis) of the Word of God incarnate.” While the prefix “mono” connotes numerical oneness, “mia” conveys our doctrine of Christ’s composite oneness. We are thus Orthodox Miaphysites rather than heretical Monophysites.

While the Latin Catholic and Byzantine Orthodox Churches upheld the Antiochene Christology, Oriental Orthodox have maintained the historic Alexandrian Christology. Chalcedonians teach Christ is in two natures. Oriental Orthodox teach that Christ’s one composite nature is from two natures.

Modern ecumenical dialogue between our ancient Churches has revealed that the two respective Christologies, Ephesian (i.e., from the Council of Ephesus) and Chalcedonian -if properly understood- are orthodox and compatible. Theologically, this 1500 year old schism has been settled in our day through the offical Christological Statements between the Latin Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches as well as the landmark Agreed Statement on Christology between the Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox Churches in which we state:

“We have now clearly understood that both families have always loyally maintained the same authentic Orthodox Christological faith, and the unbroken continuity of the apostolic tradition, though they have used Christological terms in diferrent ways. It is this common faith and continuous loyalty to the Apostolic Tradition that should be the basis for our unity and communion.”

This was discovered long ago by the 12th century Armenian Church Patriarch St. Nersess the Gracefilled who wrote in his Pontifical Letter, “If one says ‘one nature’ in the sense of the indissoluble and indivisible union and not in the sense of confusion, and if one says ‘two natures’ as being without confusion, alteration or signifying division, then both positions are within the orbit of orthodoxy.”

The Living Waters- 4th Sunday after Theophany

Fr. Shnork Souin

John 7:37 — John 7:38

37 Now on the last great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.

Based on this proclamation,“Jesus is either a blasphemer and an enemy of God‘s people or the Messiah and the Son of God.”

If one reads and studies the Scriptures, he soon finds out that Jesus, in his dealings with the people of Israel, was either loved or hated. There was never an even ground where it came to their feelings for Jesus. Of course we know that his greatest enemies were those in charge, in other words the rulers of Israel. Their contempt for Jesus and his teachings were further compounded by his proclamation that “whoever follows him out of him will flow rivers of living water”. This implied an indwelling of God’s Spirit among the followers of Jesus.

In Jesus words they could not help but notice the implication that that spirit about which Jesus spoke was have a Denteley not a parent in their lives. The leaders of Israel thus resolved to betray him into the hands of the Romans, who at that time were firmly in control of the nation of Israel. It would be the Romans who would have the right according to law to put Jesus to death, on the grounds of insurrection, claiming to be King of Israel. This was, for the leaders of Israel, a question of blasphemy but a charge with which the Romans had no interest not wanting to get involved in religious conflicts and differences.

The passages from the Gospel of St. John chapter 7 from versus 37 to 50, depict the sermon and message that Jesus delivered on the great festival, otherwise known as The Feast of Weeks. During these days of festival, Jerusalem would’ve been packed with many pilgrims who would gather in the streets and seek to make many sacrifices at the temple as well as gather at the courtyard of the pool of Siloam where they would be ceremonially cleansed with the waters, a symbolic refreshment with God’s spirit and the atonement which comes from the offering of sacrifice and cleansing.

Before one looks at the verses one should understand that just proceeding this passage we are reminded once again that the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus knowing that his enemies were lurking among the people ready to pounce on him while teaching in the temple cries out allowed “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me (Jn. 7:28-29). Notice how Jesus acknowledges that that the Pharisees in spite of their hatred recognize who in fact Jesus is.

His statement above from versus 28 through 29 could not have been more offensive to the ears of the Pharisees. He was essentially stating that he was from God and that he bore the authority of God and with that the authority to shower the Spirit of God upon all those who calls and who love, follow and obey him. These statements considered of the greatest blasphemy were further compounded intentionally by Jesus’ Proclamation that whosoever follows him out of him shall flow rivers of living water. This is obviously a reference to the Old Testament prophecy from the book of Jeremiah which states “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Do you reference seems to point directly at the Pharisees and scribes as those who have forsaken God in the fountain of living waters which is none other than Jesus himself the Messiah and son of God.

As children of God we have become partakers of the life which is sprung from our communion with that living water our Lord Jesus Christ. This has been affected by the Holy Spirit of God in our baptisms and continues to be refreshed on a regular and consistent basis through our communion in the Lord’s supper.

The stirring g of the Holy Spirit in our lives brings joy peace and happiness in all that we do in our service to God and to our fellow man.

This reading is appointed in our church on this date in order to coincide with the Entry into the Sunday of Great Lent after which follows a 40 day fast and the solemnity of holy week which of course is mixed with a sense of great sorrow and much greater joy as the reenactment and pledge of our salvation and with it the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit from which flow from us rivers of living water.

The outflowing of Living Waters produces patience, love, thanksgiving and mercy. In addition we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the witnesses to the joy of eternal life received in baptism and our faith in our Lord Jesus. We are enabled to proclaim his holy Name among the nations and to exalt him in our prayers, both private and in public, calling upon the one true God, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom is befitting glory dominion and honor, both now and always and unto the ages of ages, Amen.

Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Orthodox Church Membership and Stewardship

By Fr. Shnork Souin, Pastor

God has blessed us with many gifts and talents through which we can bring glory to God. These gifts are manifest most perfectly when they are shared for the common good, for God and for the sake of God’s people. The Holy Scriptures and the tradition of our church fathers encourage us to share of all that we are and of all that we have — Of our Time, and of our Talent, and of our Treasures.

It is at times hard to see past our own needs and wants, and to focus on our deficiency. Nevertheless, God empowers the faithful to do His will and in discernment and with spiritual maturity, realize that the gifts are His and we are merely their stewards. “But who am I and who are my people, that We should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and We have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14. St. Gregory of Datev (1346-1440) teaches that “We must offer to God a portion of everything we possess. A human being is made of soul, body and possessions. The soul offers prayers; the body; prostrations; and from our possessions a portion to God.”

Many will say, “but I am a member of the church.” Who are members of the church and who are the stewards? Members are those who commit to the annual membership dues of $175 or $125 for students and seniors. Membership has its privileges and responsibilities. Recognizing the significant role, the church plays in your life, you want to support her mission. As a member, you have the privilege of participating in the decision-making process by attending and voting at the Annual Parish Assembly (dues must be paid in full by year-end in order to vote). Our parish provides outstanding scholarship opportunities for the children of members to Diocesan summer camps and St. Nersess as well as a partial qualification for the annual Jerusalem Pilgrimage for young adults. Members can also qualify for full scholarships and academic scholarships through the Diocese and Sports Committee as well as qualify to receive reduced sacrament and offering fees as well as reduced fees for church hall and facility rentals.

Stewards are members who contribute to the church over and beyond the standard membership dues of $175 per member each according to their ability. You may ask, “Why should I become a steward?

As a steward, you participate in the implementation and realization of programming and projects which support the church’s ministry and mission. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Give, and it shall be given to you. . . For with the measure you use, it shall be measured to you.” Luke 38

Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. Mal. 3:10

Christian Stewardship is a grateful and responsible use of God’s gifts in the light of God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. Stewardship is lived out in living and telling the Good News, sharing with God in seeking justice, peace, and the integrity of creation, wisely employing God-given human resources, abilities, and relationships, sharing the material resources we hold and giving them in service, justice, and compassion, providing for future generations, sharing in the life, worship, and responsible stewardship of the Church and of its mission. Stewardship for both the individual and for the community, is a joyful act for the sake of God’s world.

Stewardship of God’s gifts can be easily demonstrated in the management of Time, Talent and Treasure.

The Gift of Time – The Great Commission is the normative mission statement for the church.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a RSV).  It is through our Missionary giving of time that we can make Christ known to those who know Him not.

The Gift of Talent – Christian stewardship is using the gifts God has given us, to do the work God is calling us to do.  Discerning and carrying out God’s purpose is the primary purpose of our lives.  The primary role of the church is to guide individuals in discernment of the mission for their lives and the use of their resources in accomplishing it.  Do you hear a call to be truer to your Christian beliefs? What gifts do you have that can be offered to Glorify God?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 1:1-8

Gift of Treasure– How we use money says more about our value system than anything we say or do.  Some would think that the way we handle our money is a window into our souls.  There is such great joy and comfort in giving. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

In funding ministry, there are three faces of financial stewardship.  Annual giving (ordinary stewardship) is the regular practice of returning to God a portion of all that God has given us.  Capital giving (extraordinary stewardship) involves the special occasions that arise in the life of Christian communities that call us to give beyond our ordinary habit. Legacy giving (legacy stewardship) is the way in which we address the matter of disposing of the accumulations of our lifetime or by remembering the church as a beneficiary of a will.

The giving of monetary gifts, from the treasury of our labors, is a most tangible way to express our love and thanksgiving to God. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Please consider the many options and diverse ways that you can include the church in your stewardship. You can choose any amount according to what you purpose in your heart. You can handle it on a regular basis, periodically or all at once. You may wish to add an amount to your regular annual dues and or you might even begin thinking and praying about the long-term establishments of wills and bequeaths. If you have any questions about your many options, please feel free to contact me for a very confidential conversation about stewardship. You may notice that on this year’s dues statement, there is a section for a stewardship contribution if you choose to proceed this way.

The scripture teaches that the greatest joy comes from giving, for “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35) for “You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.” Deuteronomy 15:10, Amen.

Aiming for God’s Righteousness in My Weakness.

Fr. Shnork Souin

II Timothy 2:15-26

[15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

[16] Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

[17] and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae’us and Phile’tus,

[18] who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.

[19] But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

[20] In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble.

[21] If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.

[22] So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.

[23] Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

[24] And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing,

[25] correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,

[26] and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

God’s Strength is Manifest in my weakness.

For all I’ve been through over the past four months, some of the darkest hours have blossomed into the greatest blessings. I recognize fully that the horrors of losing a month of my life and being in a state of confusion and uncertainty due to the massive amounts of drugs and narcotics to keep me sedated have truly served to strengthen my resolve and my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This may seem strange to some people but I pledge with certainty that in fact this whole experience has made me stronger in my faith and has transformed me into a better person, more patient, more kind and probably more compassionate. Additionally, I could say that I am certain that I will be a better husband and a better father as well as a better pastor. The devices that have been placed in my chest which are replacing the pump of my heart from the left and right ventricles, make meI feel better than I have in the past five years. I truly feel like a new man and one who has experienced, at least dimly, the miracle of resurrection. It’s been clearly pointed out to me by many doctors that I was in fact on death’s doorstep. Not only was I very ill when I went into the hospital retaining upwards of 50 pounds of water, due to the weakness of my heart and the ensuing heart failure, but my kidneys were failing as well as my liver. The devices which are placed in my chest have allowed the free flow of oxygenated blood to all the organs of my body, places that were sorely deprived for so long. I have been given a clean bill of health where my organs are concerned and my liver is functioning at practically 100% while my kidneys, which were near complete failure requiring dialysis, are now considered “pristine” by one of my nephrologists at Tufts University Hospital.

What is so exhilarating about having this new lease on life is not only the opportunity to begin to truly enjoy my family and being the kind of husband and father that I always dreamed I could be but that I look forward to continuing my ministry with a renewed sense of passion and purpose. The Epistle reading appointed for today from the hand of St. Paul the apostle tells us to present yourself as one approved and rIghtly handling the word of truth. There is no greater imperative for a pastor and a preacher then to handle God’s word correctly. He even goes on to say that one should avoid useless chatter and controversies but to be gentle in their approach to proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. The promise associated with this imperative is that some might be granted the opportunity to repent and turn to the truth of the Gospel escaping the snare of the devil.

Imagine how challenging it is for one who was called by God to render this miraculous service to the church and to be deprived of this privilege for over a four-month period.

This time has given me the opportunity to take a self-assessment and to psychologically rid myself of those things which are superfluous to faith and in some cases even work against the activity of faith and serving as a hinderance. The apostle says, stay away from stupid controversies and be kind to everyone. In spite of myself, I find that the miracle of faith has given new birth to a sense of peace and love for not only my family and my parish but also for those who are known and unknown or have come into my life recently. When I tell nurses and healthcare workers that I love them and appreciate them I can say with all honesty that I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. The Miracle with which I have emerged more hole physically than I have been in five years has shown me once again the hand of God in my life. I owe everything to him and I thank him for the honor to share, albeit dimly, in his suffering through my own suffering through which I passed with God’s presence and help. I sense without a doubt that our Lord Jesus was with me every step of the way and continues to sustain me. This experience overall has given me a much stronger resolve to battle against the forces of spiritual enemies, the work of the devil and to arm myself with the shield of faith through which I can accomplish all things in Christ Jesus my Lord. I pray that this Lenten period, which will begin in just a few short days will be a time for even greater reflection and preparation to strengthen our souls in the struggle to ward off evil and to set our minds on good deeds, calling on the Lord from a pure heart.