Community News 2015
SAINT DEMETRIOS ANNUAL CHRISTMAS COMMUNITY DINNER
SAVE THE DATE
CHRISTMAS PLAY SUNDAY DEC. 20TH
In community center after the Divine Liturgy
INVITING THE CHRISTMAS ANGELS CHOIR TO YOUR DOOR STEP
If you desire to invite the Christmas Angels Choir of the St. Demetrios to make an appearance at your door to sing the good tidings on Dec 13th, 2015: Please contact the office 386-252-6012 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The committee for the Annual Community Thanksgiving luncheon would like to thank all of the wonderful donors who contributed to the 22nd year of this event.
We give thanks to our dynamic servers who served everyone with a joyous smile. And acknowledge the items donated by Moores Fine Foods, Pizza King, and the Greek American Ladies Society (G.A.L.S.). We are thankful to our Sunday school for the very artfully decorated placemats. This event is a blessing for our church to serve our community in this manner.
PHOTO NOTICE 40TH FESTIVAL ALBUM
Thanks are due to many of the Saint Demetrios parishion-ers and guests who took some wonderful photos and helped in promoting the Greek festival to the public by posting these beautiful pictures on their social media sites. Please share these photos with Phyllis at the church office in order to help Ms. Irene Koutouzis to have an adequate selection for next year’s 40th festival album, which is going to be a special publication.
ST BARBARA’S PHILOPTOCHOS LUNCHEON
In honor of our patron Saint Barbara, Philoptochos will host its annual luncheon on Sunday, December 6, 2015. The luncheon will take place after church in the hall and will feature a silent auction and raffle, including a “Basket of Cheer!”
Help yourself to some wonderful presents as you help Philoptochos help others.
Tickets are $12 per person.
Lunch menu: fried fish, rice, veggie, salad, skordalia and dessert. Free cheese pizza for children complements of Pizza King.
Purchase your tickets during Coffee Hour on Sunday, November 29 or by contacting Cathy Moutsopoulos Stafford (386.290.7488 / email@example.com).
We look forward to seeing you there!
Kate Sayers, President, St. Barbara’s Philoptochos
Cathy Moutsopoulos Stafford, Chair, St. Barbara’s Philoptochos Annual Luncheon
ST DEMETRIOS CHRISTMAS CARD UPDATE
This is the time of the year where families participate in the Christmas Card Drive and submit their names. Thank you for your continued generosity, and support of this free will offering. Should you desire for your name to be included in the Christmas card, please contact Tina Kaniaris at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office 386-252-6012. The Christmas mailing will be sent out around the end of the first week of December.
THANK YOU ANONYMOUS DONOR
Thank you is due to an anonymous donor from St. Demetrios for the purchase of tablecloths to be used during luncheons and events in order to avoid using lower quality disposable table covers. This donation is significant and goes beyond the action of a simple donation. It reveals the level of deep commitment which lies in the hearts of the St. Demetrios parishioners. It also shows the desire of wanting to see beauty prevailing throughout the life of St. Demetrios community. Thank you to the anonymous donor of the table cloths, and to all other parishioners who are helping every day in many ways to beautify the parish life within St. Demetrios community. Ministries leaders who would need these table cloths for any of their ministries events are kindly advised to contact the church office.
IN CASE OF A SUDDEN EMERGENCY
This is the time of the year where usually Father Theodore Stavru graciously relieves Father Joseph from some of his duties. In case you or your family might face during the absence of Father Joseph any medical emergency, critical hospital need, or death situation; please call the church office at 386-252-6012 or reach out to Phyllis through her email at email@example.com you may also seek the help of any of the parish council members.
“O God, you came to Cana of Galilee, and blessed there the marriage feast: Bless also these your servants”
Thanksgiving prayer was offered last Sunday in gratitude of our great God for 61 years of married life on behalf of Frank and Sophia Guzzo. It was absolutely an amazing experience and very touching act to have prayed and thanked God for this special and rare gift of life, which God has given to his servants Frank and Sophia. Thanks to our true and only real God Jesus Christ for his awe-some goodness and generosity, and may all married couples enjoy the same joy, harmony, and longevity as Frank and Sophia. Amen
SAINT DEMETRIOS CHRISTMAS COMMUNITY CARD UPDATE
This is the time of the year where families participate in the Christmas Card Drive and submit their names. Thank you for your continued generosity, and support of this free will offering. Should you desire for your name to be included in the Christmas card, please contact Tina Kaniaris at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office 386-252-6012. The Christmas mailing will be sent out around the end of the first week of December.
2015 ESSAY CONTEST
PURPOSE: The St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine, Mrs. Kathie D ‘Anna and AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) Speedway Chapter are sponsoring an essay contest for High School students to compare and contrast the immigrant story of a friend or family member with the experience of the Greeks who came to America in 1768 to settle what is known today as New Smyrna Beach. Some students may already know details of their family history; the intent is to encourage intergenerational dialogue as young people discover the personal histories that make up the tapestry of Americans everywhere and mirror the immigrants who settled the largest European colony in the United States. For more information about St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine Essay contest and the New Smyrna Colony, please visit www.stphotios.org and click on Essay Contest.
Entries will become property of the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine and may be posted on the Shrine web site or submitted to Greek and Hellenic publications in the United States. Prior submissions will not be permitted.
SUBMISSIONS: Entries may be written essays, video, audio or photographic presentations with narrative (prose or poetry) of up to 1000 words and/or not to exceed 10 minutes. Entries will be evaluated on the basis of content, originality, thorough research and documentation of sources. While Internet research may be helpful, direct contact with original documents, photos and individuals is recommended. Interviews with family members, relatives and friends are imperative.
CONTENT: Submissions may include but need not be limited to the topics below.
* Discuss the reasons for the departure from their homeland.
* Reasons why the immigrant settled where they settled.
* The contributions made that inspire you to comment on them.
* How the experiences differ, how the experience is similar.
* What we gain by remembering these stories, these people.
* How your ethnic background or culture has influenced your life.
* The importance of maintaining ethnic culture in America for coming generations.
* Only one submission per individual.
* The author is at the 9-12th grade levels in their schooling.
* The author must provide their personal contact information and the name of their home parish.
* Submissions must be received by November 21, 2015 via email. A hard copy (paper document, compact disc or USB memory stick) may also be sent and will become property of St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine.
Mail or deliver submissions to email@example.com
St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine
PO Box 1960
St Augustine, FL 32085
AWARDS: First Prize: $500.00
Second Prize: $250.00
Third Prize: $100.00
AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT: JANUARY 2016
BAKING AND COOKING DATES:
Nov. 9 Packaging of Pastries
Nov. 11 Skewering the Souvlakia
Blessing Prayer of the Festival Workers
Please mark your calendar and reserve a spot on Wednesday Nov. 11th, 2015 at 6:30 pm to participate in the prayer blessing service of the Greek Festival workers. This is a short prayer service yet powerful and indeed does impact our work at the festival tremendously. The children of Saint Demetrios are a huge part of this prayer service. Please make every attempt to bring them. There will be a special prayer said by them during the service as well. Every parishioner and volunteer will come at the end of the prayer service to be anointed with the holy unction. It is customary at this service to light the oil-lamp of the festival and keep it lit on premise until the end of the festival, so that all of our prayers are still carried and lifted up to the heavens. Please spread the word and bring in with you your family and friends.
Greek Festival City Hall to St. Demetrios Church Torch Run
It is an old established tradition that the children of GOYA would participate in the ceremony of the “Torch Run”. This traditional run starts by lighting the flame on the steps of the Daytona Beach City Hall, transferring it to the torch set up on the pier. Many of the parishioners of St. Demetrios have sweet memories of this event. Please make every effort to empower your children and grandchildren to gain their own sweet memories. The schedule is as follows: Thursday 11/12/2015 3:00 pm meet the steps in front of the St. De-metrios church for pictures and debriefing. 4:00pm the run will start in front of the City Hall. Please contact Billy Gahagan <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you are able to help with the logistics of the event
NEW GOYA ADVISOR
Pursuant to the new policy of term limits in regard to the min-istries, the parish council at its meeting of October 2015 has ap-pointed Tasso Kiriakes as the new Goya advisor for a two year term. Tasso has a long history and experience working with youth within the Metropolis of Atlanta, St. Demetrios church, as well as within the school system of the local community. His seasoned ex-perience as a motivator will be very helpful to further energize the current Goya team. Currently there are a good number of children in this age bracket. It is the strong desire of the parish council members and my personal desire to ensure that our children get the full Goya experience, and inspire upcoming generations. There are currently many college students from St. De-metrios who reside in town. Please encourage them to be part of this youth ministry. They will be as inspired and impacted as the children who are going to be taught by them. Thanks are expressed to Johnny Louizes who served this ministry diligently during the past two years and thanks to the parents and volunteers who supported and helped him. Thanks be to God for inspiring and energizing all of you to pray, offer support, and help in so many ways. Your positive response to God’s voice keeps energy and life flowing strongly within St. Demetrios, and benefits many desiring souls. Glory to Jesus Christ… amen
SAINT DEMETRIOS FEAST DAY CELEBRATIONS
Glory to Jesus Christ our true God; he granted his church community of Saint Demetrios in Daytona Beach a series of wonderful and eventful celebrations that involved all the rainbows of the parish. Much dedicated effort went into the church cleaning and decoration. The altar guild ladies as well as other volunteers along with the Sunday school team worked diligently to clean, accentuate, and beautify the sanctuary and the Sunday school building.
It was heartwarming to come back from the Diakonia Retreat Center after the clergy gathering to see things in good order, icons already decorated, and the artwork of the children adding a beautiful touch to the sanctuary.
The Saturday before the feastday was another eventful day. The children learned how to make prosforo for the Divine Liturgy. His Eminence was impressed with the quality of the good seal as he prepared the gift during the Orthros service.
The Proskomide service has a prayer that mentions the maker of the prosforo, so the children of St. Demetrios were prayed for because they made the offering bread; “Bless this Offering, and receive it on your altar above the heavens. In your goodness and love for mankind be mindful of those who have offered it and those for whom they have offered it”.
Saturday was the day where the children practiced their roles as part of the St. Demetrios Play; they went kayaking, and enjoyed the movie night, the popcorn, and all the other things that come with this package.
The luncheon on Sunday received many compliments for the delicious meal, and the children’s program. The ladies of the Philoptochos set up the evening reception. It was very well done and very impressive. Many of the ladies of the St. Demetrios par-ish helped out and provided a variety of rich and delicious dishes.
The vespers service with His Eminence presiding, many priests present, and several chanters from the surrounding areas was another glorious event, and so was the Divine Liturgy on Monday followed by the reception.
As usual several families offered the artoklasia, and a memorial service was offered on behalf of all the departed parishioners of Saint Demetrios par-ish. His Eminence presided over the “Founder Memorial Service” that remembered all priests, parish council members, Philoptochos members, minis-tries leaders and members, and all the parishioners of Saint Demetrios from its inception until today.
This particular divine service is significant and very important. It gives hope to all of us who are still remaining behind (Militant Church). It is an incentive to do whatever is within our means to strengthen and perpetuate life within Saint Demetrios; be-cause as long as the liturgical life within St. Demetrios parish continues to exist, prayers will continue to be lifted up on behalf of all the departed parishioners.
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, His Grace bishop Demetri of Xanthos, the rest of the priests, chanters and visitors left to go home with the best of impressions. The parishioners of Saint Demetrios were joyful and happy, and this year’s celebrations ended up on a very good note.
Thanks to God for his grace and for such wonderful divine gifts. Nothing good would have happened without him. Thanks are due to all of you and for your labor of love helping in so many ways to make the feast day of Saint Demetrios another glorious event, before, during, and after.
Having enjoyed such a rich and uplifting event just a few weeks before the festival sets the right tone and mood for the entire parish, and all the parishioners to take on a large and demanding event like the festival.
CHRISMATION OF ANHELA KOULOURIS
Congratulations to Anhela (Angeliki) Kou-louris on her coming into the Orthodox Church through the holy sacrament of Chrismation. Anhela’s entrance into the Orthodox Church happened during the feast day of Saint Demetrios, and during the Divine Liturgy where His Eminence’s Metropolitan Alexios was presiding. It was a very emotional and beautiful service. Anhela was very touched by it. Thanks be to God for this unique and precious gift. Please pray for her strength and spiritual growth, and thanks to all of you for your expressed and kind sentiments.
ANNUAL THANKSGIVING COMMUNITY DINNER
Let us join together this year in keeping the tradition of hospitality strong within St. Demetrios by supporting the thanksgiving dinner. Please contact Joyce Louizes, Stacy Augustine or Maria Augustine –386-405-3025 to volunteer your time this day or to donate towards the cost of the dinner.Last year we had the largest crowd ever. 250 dinners were served to the needy and people who wanted to share dinner with others.
THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with the BikeOctoberFest parking last week. It was very encouraging and inspiring to see so many enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers taking initiatives and offering to help. Indeed it was real pleasure watching these busy working bees as they were welcoming the visitors, going extra step to help and to show courtesy and caring attitude while wearing big smiles on their faces. You all are commended for Job well done and for representing your parish with such bright colors.
Last week the St. Demetrios parish hosted the Annual Pre-Marital Seminar under the umbrella of the Family Life Ministry of the Metropolis of Atlanta. This event was another great opportunity to bring together wonderful couples from the various church communities of this conference. This seminar was part of the journeys of these couples as they are preparing themselves to start of their married life. Their stories as well as their presence were inspirational and a source of many valuable blessings. It was an eventful and joyful day that could not have happened without your prayers and support. Thanks are due to George and Sylvie Nikitas of Mr. Witch for donating a delicious and generous lunch. Our guests were very pleased with the hospitality as well as with the entire seminar.
Thanks are due to all of the volunteers; boys and girls who have been coming consistently and helping out with festival preparations. This is really a special time of the year when the church hall becomes full of life through their presence. Soon, once the festival is past, the church hall will lose much of its joy by falling into silence again. It is very inspiring to see many of you during these cooking times come together to share and to pass down your knowledge to the youngsters of the parish. I believe that these photos of Angie Lignos and Victoria Pitenis will encourage and inspire you to see the different generations standing side by side as one team working hand by hand within St. Demetrios. Please invite your friends and encourage them to benefit from these activities by bonding with other parishioners and getting to know them better. Take some youngster parishioners under your wing and help them become an active part of St. Demetrios community. The state of unity and harmony in every church community can only be achieved through concentrated and consistent effort.
In every church there is an invisible parishioner/s with a weird name called “Somebody Else”. This unknown and invisible “Somebody Else” seems to do everything and take care of everything. But who is this “Somebody Else”? This invisible and unknown somebody else that makes things happen is none other than you yourself. All of you, who come during the weekdays and weeknights to attend meetings, work on projects, or all of you who work on projects from home and take care of ministry responsibilities from distance are this “Somebody Else” that d
ives the life of the church community.
The lens of Father Joseph’s camera every so often catches some of those so called “Somebody Else” in action. This week it caught Dr. Athas and Donna Kometas building stands for the festival, as it caught scenes from the festival cooking, bike parking, and Sunday school meetings.
Thank you for being this “Somebody Else” and thanks for being aware that you through your willingness are the force and the energy that drive the life of the parish forward through the prompt of the Holy Spirit. Without your positive response and obedience to the calling of the Holy Spirit the divine synergy and cooperation with God cannot be fulfilled.
SAINT DEMETRIOS FEAST DAY WEEKEND INFORMATON & NEEDS
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,
We are about one week away from St. Demetrios Feast Day. Below are a few remaining needs and some necessary information.
Sunday Luncheon: Tickets for the St. Demetrios luncheon taking place on Sunday after the Divine Liturgy are going to be available by calling the church office. If any remaining tickets are still available, they may be purchased at the door for the suggested donation of $10.00. If you would like to sponsor the Sunday luncheon, please email the church office.
Evening Reception by Philoptochos: The ladies of Philoptochos are taking care of the reception after the evening vespers service through your help. Please if Presbytera Linda has not talked to you yet about your preferred dish that you would like to bring, please call her at 727-688-8806 to let her know your choice.
Koliva on Monday: Koliva is still needed for the memorial service to pray for ALL St. Demetrios parish departed parishioners on Monday 10/26 with his eminence presiding. Please call the church office if you are able to help.
Artoklasia: It would be great if Artoklasia artos (sweet bread) is offered during the evening service on Sunday as well as on Monday; the day of St. Demetrios. Please let the church office know if you would like to offer an Artoklasia.
Helping hands: Few helping hands are still needed with the serving and cleaning during Sunday luncheon, evening reception, and morning coffee hour on Monday after the Divine Liturgy.
Thanks to all of you who have worked hard on taking care of most of the needs so far. Thanks are due to our Sunday school for planning a fully loaded and exciting program. Thank you Philoptochos ladies for planning a very nice reception on Sunday evening, and for extending yourselves to enhance Monday coffee hour. Thanks are due to Nick Koulouris and his team members for staffing the kitchen for Sunday luncheon, and to all the parishioners who are helping with the church cleaning, preparation, and donations.
Congratulations to all of you and your beloved ones on the occasion of St. Demetrios feast Day.
Congratulations to Lambros and Panorea Papalambros for reaching the mile stone of fifty years of married life. Likewise congratulations to Panagiotis and Stephanie Drymonis along with Andrew and Eleni Temple. Both couples have just gotten married. Our prayers are lifted in thanksgiving to God for the blessed married life of the Papalambros, and on behalf of the new couples for a joyful married life. May they become inspired by this example and motivate other couples to walk steadily on the same path.
VICTORIA NICOLE PAVGOUZAS
Congratulations to Andrea Pavgou-zas on the forty days blessing of her newly born baby girl Victoria Nicole Pavgouzas last Sunday. May God who granted her to see the physical light, deem her worthy of receiving his divine light through the sacra-ment of the holy baptism.
Thanks be to God for a wonderful and joyful day Last Sunday. The children of Saint Demetrios were instrumental in touching many hearts through their genuine and sweet words that they shared with everyone during the DRC Brunch. Thanks are due to Katherine Nicolaou, and her team, Peter Merris, and all the parents who made last Sunday a beautiful and joyfilled event. Everyone in his or her way offered the best of themselves. Thanks to all the parishioners who blessed the event with their presence and were extra generous with their donations and their complements. Last but not least, thanks are due to Mary Ioannidis who as usual donated generously and joyously toward the cost of the brunch. Many of our guests shared some of the most heartwarming words to express their positive impression and shared their feedback. May God reward all of his giving servants known and unknown according to his mercy and wisdom.
A REQUEST FROM HID EMINENCE METROPOLITAN ALEXIOS
Metropolitan Alexios needs your help to contact the Greek American Veterans in our parish. Ideally what is needed is their full name, address, contact phone numbers and their Branch of Service. Please provide the contact information of those living and deceased. His Eminence wants to be in touch with their families if the veteran is deceased. Please indicate the family relationship. His Eminence wishes to invite Greek American Veterans and their Families to Ceremonies and Special Events at the DIAKONIA CENTER. Thank you for responding to our request by November 10, 2015 by email@example.com or informing the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MISSION CENTER
2016 Orthodox Mission Teams are now available! Please prayerfully consider joining one of the teams that will be serving in Alaska, Albania, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, and Uganda. Spend two weeks volunteering at a youth camp, teaching the faith, empowering Orthodox women, restoring a church, or providing healthcare. All are needed, and anyone over 18 can serve! Visit www.ocmc.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 1-877-463-6784 for more information or to volunteer.
GREEK FESTIVAL HELP NEEDED
We Need Your Help Flyer
2015 SAINT DEMETRIOS THANK YOU
A huge thank you and offering of praise are lifted up to God Jesus Christ for giving his vineyard of Saint Demetrios a wonderful annual dinner dance event. The people who cared about the success of this parish event and contributed toward a family oriented dinner dance are more than what can be listed. Parishioners of all ages, and of different interest came together to celebrate, rejoice, spend fun time and add sweet and nice memories to their life, and the life of the St. Demetrios Parish.
Johnny Louizes is to be commended for taking the lead of this event, and for working closely with the Kevin Moore team, the dance team of St. Demetrios, Philoptochos as well as other ladies, and with Phyllis up until the last minute to make the entire parish proud and thankful for another happy get together. I hope that you enjoyed some of the videos that were posted on Facebook, and the photos that have been emailed to you. Please enjoy the anthology of photos below. May our God Jesus Christ continue to bless and protect your life with his mercy and heavenly benediction.
THE JOURNEY OF BUILDING THE DIAKONIA RETREAT CENTER
The journey of building the Diakonia Retreat Center started with a dream His Eminence Alexios Metropolitan of Atlanta had for the benefit of all the children of our Metropolis. His eminence had a personal property owned that he gifted to the Metropolis as seed money to start this project. Later many other people and parishes’ contributions brought the Diakonia Retreat Center to its current state.
Personally, I want to thank God for the vision of our Metropolitan that he chose to establish a center for the benefit of the families and the children as one of the goals for his ministry. He has led this path with a personal example by being invested in it, contributing to it time, thoughts, and energy, as well as significant financial support.
Today the Diakonia Retreat Center has summer camp facilities, a candle factory, a farm with domestic animals, a house built and donated by his eminence, and a beautiful chapel that is being built.
The abovementioned is only part of what the Diakonia Retreat Center will have in the years to come, as more housing for seniors and other categories are going to be added, and more programs will be happening to benefit the rainbow needs of all ages and people of our society.
Your free will offering gift will be forwarded to the Diakonia Retreat Center in the name of the “Children of St. Demetrios, Daytona Beach” as window sponsors. One day in the years to come when they visit the property, worship in the chapel, and look back to remember today, they will rejoice, celebrate this accomplishment, and pray for the contributors like yourself who made it possible for such a valuable institution to be handed down to the following generations.
May the grace of the Panagia; the Queen of heaven and earth who is the protector of this chapel protect and bless your life, amen
The Fall General Assembly will be held on November 1st, 2015. Six positions on the Parish Council are open to reelections. The nominations take place during the General Assembly. Please consider com-ing onboard by submitting your name, and by talking with a parish council member for further inquiry. There is a re-quired PC candidate training seminar. The date has not been decided. It will be determined later. The nominations so far are as follows: Billy Gahagan, Gary Koliopulos, Irene Koutouzis, Johnny Louizes, Demetri Mahairas, Charlotte Nichols.
PRAYERS AT HILLSIDE CEMETERY
A small group of parishioners came together on October 5th after the Divine Liturgy at the Hillside Cemetery in Ormond Beach to pray for all the parishioners of St. Demetrios that are buried in that site. The idea was ignited when the family of Andy and Aliki Xepapas had requested a prayer for their relatives. It was a touching experience to walk and read the names of parishioners from St. Demetrios parish that have been summoned up by God to the eternity. Thanks are due to all who have made this opportunity of prayer become possible, and may God rest the souls of all the departed. Amen
FESTIVAL NEWS & SAVE THE DATES
Save the following dates November 12,13,14,15,2015 Again this year’s feature will be the FREE ROUND TRIP SHUTTLE SERVICE all four days between St. Demetrios and Our Lady of Lourdes parking lots. Last year we brought 3,000 visitors using the shuttle. Please let all your friends know!!! FESTIVAL FLYERS: Festival flyers will be available for pick up from church office beginning Monday, October 5,2015 Please see Phyllis in the church office. We need them to be distributed to all banks,businesses,schools,library’s,7-11’s,etc.. BAKING AND COOKING DATES: Please post the enclosed “Baking and Cooking Dates” flyer on your refrigerator!!!!!! Mark your calendars!!!!! Volunteers needed to bake, roll, and cook in preparation for the Greek Festival. Your participation is invaluable to our success. Preparation begins at 9:30a.m. On each of these days in the Community Center. Please call the office to volunteer or if you have questions. October 19-20 Dolmades November 4 Pastitsio/cooking of ziti November 5 Pastitsio / making meat sauce November 6 Pastitsio / making Crema and assembly November 9 Packaging of Pastries November 11 Skewering the Souvlaki When we are blessed with many hands we get thru ahead of schedule so be sure to call the office before coming. Your time is valuable to us and we appreciate it.
FESTIVAL VOLUNTEER PASSES
Parking during the festival this year will be a challenge as it was the case in years be-fore, or even bigger challenge. Parking will not be allowed on the street at all. Your cooperation is needed. There will be designated parking for the Festival volunteers. Volunteers are required to place the parking pass with the Booth name printed on it on the dashboard of the vehicle prior to entering the parking lot. This is very important to get access to the designated parking area. Booths chairmen, please provide Irene Koutouzis with the number of parking passes that are needed for your volunteers. Please pick up the passes no later than Thursday, November 5th, before Festival begins. Only the volunteers who have parking passes will be allowed to park in in the parking lot across from the church, and in the few spaces that are available behind the church. Visitors who come to enjoy themselves are encouraged to use the bus shuttle with the extended hours and services. Thank you for your help and cooperation in making Greek Festival 2015 another success. Irene Koutouzis
CONGRATULATIONS HOLY CROSS & FATHER MICHAEL
Congratulations to our sister church community of the Holy Cross and to Father Michael Byars on the celebration of 20 years of active ministry in this local area. His Grace Bishop Antoun came to preside over the celebrations. It was interesting to listen to some of the stories about the humble but faithful start of this parish. May God grant them strength and keep them strong and steady in carrying on the respon-sibilities of serving Christ.
ELIAS MICHAEL KANIARIS
Baptism of Elias Michael son of Petros and Jennifer Kaniaris, and brother of little George was a beautiful event. Baby Elias Michael was enjoying himself the whole time during the service. Glory to Jesus Christ for granting his great a nd divine grace to one more child of Saint Demetrios parish.
WELCOME TRISTON MICHAEL
Blessing a new born baby boy, Triston Michael. Congratulations to Sophia Gifford for a safe delivery, and for having received this divine gift. Baby was sleepy during the prayer service but very cute.
ST BARBARA PHILOPTOCHOS NEW BOARD
Last Sunday marked an important day in the life of the St. Barbara Philoptochos Ladies Society with the installation of a new board. This team consisted of many moms and working ladies who have been inspired by the examples of other Philoptochos ladies and became interested in carrying the mission of Philoptochos forward. My heart carries a lot of gratitude to God for his work within his parish of Saint Demetrios. Thanks are due to all the parishioners who took under their wings these ladies. The mission of Philoptochos is vital for every Christian parish as it is vital and necessary for St. Demetrios. Please continue to pray for your parish, the ministry leaders, all the ministries, and for all the ladies of the Philoptochos society.
CHURCH LIFE AT SAINT DEMETRIOS PARISH
Celebrating the Sunday before the feast of the Holy Cross with a procession led by the Sunday school chil-dren was an added joyful event last week. The Sunday school team and parents are to be commended for at-tempting to increase the involvement of the children in the church life to higher level and degree. An added blessing was the recent renovations within the Sunday school building. The parish council has noted during its meeting on September 17th its appre-ciation and admiration for this wonderful effort. This project has become a source of inspiration to many other parishioners and ministry servants. It reveals the hidden and profound abilities within St. Demetri-os parishioners and ministry servants and leaders. Thanks are due to Voula and John Koulouris along with the help of Dean Karris and the entire Sunday school team the Sunday school building renovations are completed. They all spent many evenings working hard and long hours. Many times they stayed very late through the night to meet the deadlines. Thanks are due as well to our custo-dians Jim and Jose who showed a high level of cooperation, care, and ownership. This is one of the many positive things that are happening within St. Demetrios parish, and around us through the grace of God and his mercy. Please keep your prayers of thanksgiving and praises to the Lord fervent for all that God does in your life, and in the life of your church community.
PHILOPTOCHOS OF ST BARBARA LADIES SOCIETY UPDATE
Many of the professional and working moms within Saint Demetrios parish have expressed genuine interest in getting involved with the Philoptochos ministry. After several organizational gatherings, discussions on the level of the parish council, and talks among many of the ladies of the parish, a new Philoptochos board has been elected. During the feast of the Panagia on August 14th last month, a good number of ladies cooperated in a very nice way and turned the feast of the Mother of God into a really happy event. In addition to a joyful event that allowed many people to come together and celebrate the feast of the Mother of God, it has become apparent through the grace of Panagia; our Mother, that the ladies who are going to serve on the new board are eager to learn from all the previous Philoptochos members. They are excited to bring back the same spirit of enthusiasm and dedication that ex-isted within St. Demetrios through and because of the Philoptochos ministry. Thanks are due to all of the ladies of St. Demetrios parish; those that existed as part of the active mission of Philoptochos, and those who supported Philoptochos missions in various ways. You are to be commended for taking these new ladies under your wings, and for encouraging and supporting them to carry on the mission of Philopto-chos, and to serve the needs of the poor as you all have done for many decades. All the men of St. Demetrios parish are encouraged to join Philoptochos by becoming non-voting members through making a free will offering to help the Philoptochos mission. Philoptochos Society Oath of Office “I do solemnly affirm that I will uphold the dogma, teaching, traditions, holy canons, worship, and moral principles of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the Constitutional Charter, discipline and regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and that I will fulfill faithfully and sincerely the duties and obligations required of the Board of Directors of the Philoptochos Society. So help me God.
Parking during the festival has been and continues to be one of the difficult challenges. While it is desirable to make parking widely accessible, this beautiful wish is currently not feasible. Non-working parishioners who would like to enjoy the festival events are kindly asked to use the shuttle service. Its hours have been extended to make it more efficient, and easier. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
SUNDAY ELEVATION OF THE CROSS
FOURTY DAY BLESSING OF DIMITRA MARIA GIRARD
The Forty days blessing of a beautiful baby girl; Dimitra Maria, a divine gift born to Lukus and Despina (Kotsonis) Girard took place on August 30th. It was wonderful seeing her at the hospital for the first time only a few hours old, and it’s just as wonderful seeing her coming to church for the first time being forty days old. Looking forward to being part of her rebirth from above at her baptism.
FOURTY DAY BLESSING OF ADAM
One more added blessing to the life of Saint Demetrios last week was the forty days baby blessing prayer of baby boy Adam son of Nick and Lisa Koutsoulis.
It was a pleasant treat to have had with us Jeanie and Johnny Ellinas from the Saint Christopher church in Peachtree city of GA. Jeannie (Alexandra) and Johnny visit Saint Demetrios couple of times during the year, and look forward to attending the weekdays’ Divine Liturgy services. They have promised and they intend to live up to their plans to be with us during the Greek Festival
LET THE DANCING BEGIN
With the start of the school year, many of our youth programs at Saint Demetrios enter into an intensive motion of activities. The Sunday School and the Greek Dance started last Sunday. Children, parents, and ministry servants are excited about and looking forward to a productive year. Preparations for the dinner dance are well on their way. The preparation for the weekend celebrations of the feast day of Saint Demetrios name’s day are also moving forward with a satisfactory speed and efficiency.
HELP NEEDED WITH PREPARATION OF THE BASIL TRAY
Volunteer’s help is needed to decorate the tray for the procession of the Holy Cross with BASIL branches and the three candles. The basil is cut ready to make it easy to be given by the priest to the faithful at the end of the procession. Angie Forest for many years had taken careful care of these invisible tasks where the tray would disappear from the church for few days, and reappear on the day of the feast beautifully decorated, and ready for the procession. Please contact the church office or call Father Joseph for further information, and thank you for your help.
THE ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE
The Annual Memorial Service sponsored by AHEPA in memory of the Pioneer Greeks those who were instrumental in starting the New Smyrna colony in 1768 was held on Saturday August 29th, 2015. Along with the voyagers of the three ships of the indentured servants who were sponsored Dr. Andrew Turnbull, all other unknown servants and slaves who came to these shores were remembered and prayed for as well. There are many reasons as why this memorial service is significant, but probably holding it as a token of gratitude is one of the added spiritual values. As deceased they cannot ask for it or demand, and there is no expectation on our part for tangible return or reward. Thanking unknown people who made the blessings that we enjoy today possible to reach us and praying for the rest of their souls is very uplifting spiritually.
GEORGE HAZLARIS SPEAKING TO VIP CLUB
GREEK DANCE PRACTICE
Greek dance practice begins on Sunday September 6, 2015. There will be a parent meeting directly after church on Sunday September 6th. The practice schedule is: Asteria (K-2) 12:30 to 1:30 Neolea (3-5) 1:30 to 2:30 Fotia (6-8) 2:30 to 4:00 Diaskedasi (9-college) 4:00 to 6:00
Thank you goes to all parents for making the backpack blessing last Sunday a happy and laughter filed event. Without the dedication of parents and their hard work, it would have not been possible for the entire community to cherish the presence of the children and the joy they bring with them. Thank you to the entire Sunday school team of teachers and volunteers for investing their time and talents to care for these children that are precious God-given gifts.
THANK YOU VOULA KOULOURIS
Thank you to Voula Koulouris for taking up the challenge of heading the Sunday school ministry, and thank you to the entire team of teachers and volunteers, those that have come back, and the new additions. May God bless the volunteers of the Sunday school family for investing their time and talents to care for the Saint Demetrios children. They are precious God-given invaluable gifts and taking care of their Christian education is an awesome undertaking and one that is highly rewarded by God, Jesus Christ the prototype and teacher of all. Sunday September 6th will mark the first day of Sunday school classes. The blessing service of the start of the school year will take place at the church nave following the reading of the holy gospel around 10:15. Please be on time. After the children have received the Holy Communion, they will go down stairs to start their classes along with their teachers. Parents are kindly asked to sit in the Sunday school first three pews to participate in the parents orientation offered by the Sunday school director Voula Koulouris following the conclusion of the Divine Service. Please do not miss out on this important presentation.
COSTA MAGOULAS TV PROGRAM
If cooking shows interest you, you might like to know that Costa Magoulas will be hosting a live cooking show on WDSC 15 starting on September 24th every Thursday evening from 7:30-8:00PM. Area restaurants will be featured; the first restaurant will be the Athens in Edgewater.
WELCOME BABY PAVGOUZAS
Congratulations to Andria Nicole Pavgouzas for giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, and thanks be to God for keeping mother and daughter safe and healthy.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER 2ND PHASE
The feast day of Saint Phanourios on August 27th, 2015 will mark the kick off of the 2nd phase of the capital campaign. On this day a gathering of names will start until the end of 2015. Any and all parishioners who have a beloved departed family member(s) or a dear friend(s) may choose to reserve one line for his/her/their name(s) on this specially made bronze plaque. The plaque space is limited to EIGHTY lines only. Each line can accommodate two first names and one last name without titles. One size font will be used to keep uniformity throughout the plaque. The suggested donation has been set for one thousand dollars per line. This plaque will be placed inside the holy table wooden box and once or twice a year will be put out on display, with a memorial service said for the rest of the souls of the names that are inscribed on it. Checks should be made out to Saint Demetrios church and should be earmarked “Capital Campaign 2015.” For further questions in regard to the details of names, please call the church office.
STEPHANIE CHAMBERS CHRISMATION
Saint Demetrios Parish is happy to welcome Stephanie Chambers into the Orthodox Church through the holy sacrament of Chrismation on August 17th, 2015. May the divine grace of our Triune God in the name and power of Jesus Christ strengthen her on her spiritual path of perfection through faith in Jesus Christ.
FOURTY DAYS BLESSING OF ALEXANDRA
Another happy occasion in the life of Saint Demetrios parish was the forty days blessing of Alexandra Veloditsa daughter of Kyriaki and Kenna Dyrmonis. Glory be to God Jesus Christ for granting Saint Demetrios community such a beautiful gift. May the Lord God strengthen and illumine father and mother to rear this child on the path of piety and Christian faithfulness.
PANAGIA WEEKEND CELEBRATION
The feast of the Mother of God in the honor of the ever Virgin Mary was a wonderful occasion in the life of Saint Demetrios Parish. The blessed efforts of many people came together in a nice and harmonious way resulting in a very joyful celebration. The ladies of Philoptochos society of Saint Barbara worked hard to organize the event with the help of the ladies of Saint Demetrios parish. May the great God of our hope Jesus Christ bless all those who honored God’s Mother on the occasion of her Dormition, and protect all the ladies that helped the efforts of the Philoptochos ladies to put together a joyful event. Your generosity of time, effort, and upbeat attitude made a huge difference. Also a special thank you goes to George Zissimos of Porto Fino Restaurant who is always enthusiastic to support the various events of Saint Demetrios community and the Saint Barbara society.
TIME TO REGISTER FOR GREEK DANCE
Greek Dance Practice starts on September 6th. Registration is open to children from Kindergarten to college. There will be a parent meeting after church on Sunday September 9th before the first practice begins. Please contact Ashleigh with any questions at GreekDanceDB@gmail.com.
Greek Dance Flyer
BEST WISHES FOR PERRY & ELAINE COSTIDAKIS
Best wishes for Perry and Elaine Costidakis on their move back to the north to be with family. We will miss them, but after some unexpected serious challenges with health it is best to be nearby family. I had the opportunity to wish them a safe travel. Please keep them in your prayers.
RESTROOM RENOVATION UPDATE
The restroom renovations are going well; things are moving along in a promising way. Due to the tireless efforts of Parish Council and Philoptochos members an outside luxurious temporary restroom unit has been rented. This unit has been placed by the main hall doors as pictured here. Please feel free to use it. This luxurious unit is air-conditioned and well maintained. Some parishioners might have a bit of difficulty to open the door while negotiating the steps to get in. But, the process of exiting is a lot easier. Please watch your steps as you climb the stairs, and do not hesitate to ask for help if it is bit hard for you to climb the steps while having to hold the door open.
MUNICIPALITY OF RHODES – OFFICE FOR RHODIAN DIASPORA
MUNICIPALITY OF RHODES
ARTHUR AND SALLY MILLER
Arthur and Sally Miller are always very gracious and good hosts. They truly appreciate being remembered in prayers and that they are kept in the thoughts of Saint Demetrios parishioners. Being able to pray and receive the holy sacrament is a beloved and awaited visit for them. Visiting with them is always a treat and updating them about the life of the parish is an interesting conversation. Please keep them in your prayers and your thoughts.
DIMITRA MARIA GIRARD
Friday July 24th was another blessed day in the life of Saint Demetrios parish. Luke and Despina (Kotsonis) Girard received a divine gift with the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Dimitra Maria. Mother was tired but very happy, baby was gorgeous but hungry. Everyone else was joyful and ecstatic. Tentatively, the forty days blessing has been scheduled at the end of August. Glory be to God Jesus Christ for such a gracious gift and for granting mother and baby safe delivery.
Our old kitchen dishwasher equipment will be replaced by a newer machine that is more efficient. As it is customary in the restaurant world, these machines are usually rented, and its cost is going to be one hundred dollars per month which is being donated through the generosity of Elias Drymonis and his family. The responsibility of Saint Demetrios parish will be limited to taking care of the detergent cost only. Thanks to God for taking care of the needs of his home at Saint Demetrios by inspiring his children into taking these and many similar initiatives to the glory of his name.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN 2ND PHASE
Through the loving mercy and kindness of God many of the long awaited maintenance projects have been accomplished during record time due to the amazing success of the 2014 campaign. This would have not happened without the enthusiasm and the sacrificial giving of many God loving parishioners at Saint Demetrios. On the occasion of Saint Phanourios feast day a sealed envelope that contains the names of all the donors of the year 2014 will be placed under the holy table in the chapel of Saint Phanourios. With the same token, after the completion of some of the most urgent maintenance projects, and after depleting the campaign funds of 2014, time has come to kick off the 2nd phase of the three year capital campaign. There are still important projects that are waiting their turn to be accomplished upon the availability of the needed funds. The feastday of the Saint Phanourios on August 27th, 2015 will be a good day to kick off the 2nd phase of the capital campaign as it had been agreed upon at the last general assembly in March 2015. The tentative plans and besides placing the 2014 names of participants donors inside the holy table, gathering of donations will start and will last until the end of 2015. The purpose will be to attempt to gather about one hundred thousand dollars as was the case in 2014. Any and all parishioners who have a beloved departed family member or a dear friend may choose to reserve a place with his/her/their name/s on a special plaque dedicated to prayers for the rest of the souls of these departed beloved ones. It is an ongoing process at this stage and many details are being flushed out, and more information will become available as we get closer to the actual day. The purpose is to place this plaque inside the holy table wooden box so that when the petition “and for those who lie asleep at rest HERE and everywhere” is said; these names are automatically prayed for. Depending on some logistics, and if it is permissible, it is envisioned that on a certain appointed day once or twice a year, this plaque will be put out for display, and a memorial service will be said on their behalf. At a later point and once more details have been clarified, the amount of proposed donations and the available number of names will be announced. Please continue to pray to God that through the intercession of his great Saint Phanourios he will shower our parish with his mercy and love sending his generous and loving spirit into the hearts of his children so that Saint Demetrios community through your enthusiasm and dedication will continue to soar from one height to another, and will shine even more brightly as a beacon of light in this town for the glory of God and in the service of his people. Amen
PARISH COUNCIL MINISTRY UPDATE
Thank you to Maria Andreoulas for five years of dedicated service as Sunday School Director. Her help and leadership brought the Sunday school up to a higher level of efficiency. The Parish Council and the entire parish of St. Demetrios wish to express their gratitude and appreciation for her service and dedication.
WELCOME ALEXANDRA DRYMONIS
Saint Demetrios parish has enjoyed one more great blessing from God. The birth of Alexandra on July 10th, 2015, the daughter of Kyriakos and Kenna Drymonis has definitely been one of the awesome gifts awarded by God through his mercy and goodness. Mother and daughter are doing well. Dad and grandparents cannot contain their joy and excitement. Thanks be to Jesus Christ for his love and divine providence
ALIKI DESPINA PSILOPOULOS
The feast day of the great martyr Saint Euphemia brought with it another added joyful event besides to the commemoration of such a great saint. It was the baptism of Aliki Despina the daughter of John and Maria (Augustine) Psilopoulos. Godparents are Vasili, Debbie Gahagan, and Ashleigh Augustine. The physical birth of a baby is definitely an awesome and most amazing miracle, but the birth through baptism is even a greater miracle. Baptism is a birth that happens through God’s creating power and makes the person the child of God. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) Thanks and glory to Jesus Christ for granting Saint Demetrios parish family such a wonderful gift with the addition of Aliki Despina, and for being gracious to grant the spiritual birth the water and the Holy Spirit.
Cleo Marcinko was hospitalized this week for a necessary procedure. Please keep her in your prayers!
LUCA TEMPLE 40 DAY BLESSING
Congratulations to Andrew and Eleni for the forty days thanksgiving and blessing prayer service to God this past Sunday for preserving her during the birth process and for the beautiful divine gift of their son Luca Temple. This is another added joyful event in the life of Saint Demetrios parish. May God preserve mother, baby, and dad, and give them the strength and the energy to live up to this new awesome responsibility.
AID TO GREECE PHILOPTOCHOS COFFEE HOUR
Thanks are due to our great God for every gracious gift and for all of his inspiration within people’s hearts to will and to do acts of goodness in his name for the benefit of others. Last Sunday several Philoptochos ladies came to-gether to organize and hold a coffee hour to bring awareness of and line up support to the national drive to aid Greece. There are many philanthropic organizations that offer help to worthy causes in Greece who are currently facing hardship in continuing their invaluable mission. Your donation small or large com-bined with donations from other caring people from across the country can make a difference in the lives of many people. It is true that Greek Orthodox people in America are helping friends and families directly since many people maintain close ties with their relatives. But as noble as this personal help is, giving help through the church organized errand is still needed, and will be greatly valued in the eyes of God. Requests for aid are frequently sent from reputable and worthy sources in Greece to the Archdiocese, hierarchy, and communities. Many times the situations are desperate, and it is heartbreaking for our hierarchy and/or our national Philoptochos to ignore these cries for help or choose to do nothing about them, and therefore our support is greatly needed. How can the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, who is the leading representative for the Greek Orthodoxy in this country, or any of our metropolitans, choose with good con-science when they are asked to show no support to their brothers in the faith or ignore their needs? Your generosity means a lot in the eyes of God as it goes to aid people that you do not know, but still want to help because you care for them in the name of Jesus Christ. Your support enables our hierarchy and Philoptochos organization to demonstrate their level of care and sensitivity for a country that is rich with spirituality, deep in its Christian values, and now happens to face hard times. May God reward you according to his unfathomable wisdom for your generosity. Thank you to all the volunteers and the ladies for organizing a rich coffee hour, and for their warm and welcoming spirit. May God continue to preserve Saint Demetrios parish as a beacon of light and grace to our city and to people elsewhere as well.
Thank you for your donations to offset part of the incense cost. I picked up our order when I was at the clergy laity conference. Our supplier was gracious and generous and threw in some extra small boxes of incense as a gift to his patron Saint that are worth about one hundred dollars. This shipment of incense is the product of “Vatopaidi” monastery from Mount Athos. It is one of the best quali-ties I have found so far. With the rising of allergy symptoms within the population, finding good incense that does not trigger people’s allergy is becoming a hard task.
FATHER’S DAY LUNCHEON
Thanks and glory to Jesus Christ our God and true savior of our souls for granting a wonderful celebration of father’s day this past Sunday. The uplifting and cordial atmosphere was nothing short of many miracles from our great God given to us freely and generously out of his love and mercy.
During the entire time preceding the event; starting with the drafting of ideas to the actual preparations the enthusiasm was contagious and inspiring. So many parishioners came together out of love for God and Saint Demetrios parish to outdo themselves in putting together an unforgettable celebration.
Their success was dazzling! The team put together an event that was filled with laughter, tears, music, including an amazing simplicity of children. The helpers and the doers who made this event such a huge success are more than what can be numerated, and everyone’s efforts were more than what can be described adequately. It would not be an exaggeration to state that those who came to be a part of this event left cheerful and energized.
It is inspiring to see a group of parishioners even before the event started so enthusiastic in thinking about next year’s event. May God bless all of your efforts, and thank you for being real and genuine. Your words, comments, emotions and affections were a great source of joy and happiness.
DIAKONIA CENTER CHURCH
Diakonia Center Church
One of Saint Demetrios parishioners; Ernest G. Georgi, 80, of Daytona Beach Shores, FL passed away last Monday, June 15, 2015 while he was vising his family in NJ to celebrate the graduation and achievement of his grandchildren. Most of you, especially those who had volunteered at the church office, would know his wife Gabrielle Georgi. Ernest and Gabrielle have two children who live in NJ; Anthony Georgi and Monica Kenah & her husband Steven James. The funeral service was set to take place at 11:00 am this past Friday, June 19th at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Clifton, NJ.
Ernest’s family invites all the family members and friends from Saint Demetrios parish to celebrate with them the Divine Liturgy in his memory here at St. Demetrios on Friday July 3rd. 2015 starting 8:45 am.
Ernest was a fun and humorous person. It was a joy to be around him. He was a highly intelligent person and a genius achiever. His stories from traveling and working around the world were always exciting and entertaining. He will be missed, may God rest his soul and have mercy upon him. Memory Eternal.
SAINT STEPHEN SUMMER CAMP
Please, all families who have registered their children in the last session of St. Stephen summer camp in S.C. are kindly asked to contact the church office to update Fr. J. on their travel plans. In the meantime, there is a charted bus that will be originated from south of Florida and willing families may use this option to send their children to St. Stephen. For further information; please contact Fr. J.
As for families who have not yet registered their children there might still be few open spots. Children who finished elementary school and up are eligible to register, please contact Fr. J. or the Metropolis youth office directly at Atlanta Metropolis Youth <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
This is an awesome experience, please do not miss out this once a year awesome opportunity.
THE PLIGHT OF CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
|The Plight of Christians in the Middle East|
We are sharing with you a report from the Center For American Progress about democratic freedoms and the plight of Christian minority communities in the Middle East. Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow at the Center For American Progress and a member of the Saint Andrew’s Freedom Forum Advisory Council led the team of analyst who authored the report.
Andreas Akaras, President
Saint Andrew’s Freedom Forum
The Plight of Christians in the Middle EastSupporting Religious Freedom, Pluralism, and Tolerance During a Time of Turmoil Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are disappearing in the very lands where their faith was born and first took root. During the past decade, Christians around the Middle East have been subject to vicious murders at the hands of terrorist groups, forced out of their ancestral lands by civil wars, suffered societal intolerance fomented by Islamist groups, and subjected to institutional discrimination found in the legal codes and official practices of many Middle Eastern countries. The past year has seen brutal atrocities committed against Christians and others because of their religious identity by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. These incidents underscore the gravity of the situation. As a consequence, Christians have migrated from the region in increasing numbers, which is part of a longer-term exodus related to violence, persecution, and lack of economic opportunities stretching back decades. They have also moved to safe havens within the Middle East, and the Christian presence has become more concentrated in places such as Jordan, the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, and Lebanon. Today’s overall Christian community in the Middle East is estimated to range from 7.5 million to 15 million individuals, with the largest numbers living in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. These estimates vary considerably because of the massive waves of forced migration over the past decade and the sharp growth in the number of Christians from the Middle East living in exile since the start of the new millennium. The total number of Christians remaining in the region has increased numerically since the start of the 20th century, but substantial growth in the non-Christian population combined with decades of migration mean that Christians represent less than 5 percent of the region’s overall population. In some places such as Turkey, this declining Christian presence has taken place over the past century. During World War I, 1915 was a particularly devastating year for Christians in the region. A century after those events resulted in the death and forced migration of millions of Christians, the current wave of extremism, civil wars, and a complicated mix of state collapse in some places combined with the re-emergence of authoritarianism are leading to a new wave of victims. The ongoing decline is such that many Christians in the Middle East today fear that their churches will turn into museums, rather than places of worship serving vibrant communities of believers. The Middle East uprisings that began in 2011 have created new pressures on Christians, other religious groups, and nonbelievers. More than four years after the start of the uprisings, the status of Christians varies considerably across the region. In Egypt and Lebanon, there is a stronger sense of protection and security for Christians than in places such as Syria and Iraq. But the overall picture looks grim, and the reactions from the United States, Europe, and other key powers to this new wave of destruction have been marginal. The goal of this report is to offer an overview of the status of Christians in the Middle East at this moment in time and to suggest practical and effective ways for the United States to engage on this issue. The status of Christians in the Middle East is an important leading indicator of the type of region that is emerging. Christians have historically acted as a bridge connecting East and West. Sadly, the picture of the past decade is alarmingly negative. If one of the most important religious groups in the world continues to be forced out of the Middle East, this bodes negatively for pluralism, tolerance, and the ability of the region’s people to live interlinked with the rest of the world. Christians are discussed in this report because they represent a significant group with deep roots in the region, and their status is a barometer of whether those of other faiths or no faith at all will be able to live and thrive in the future Middle East. This is important at a time when the United States and other countries continue to wrestle with the question of how to most effectively counter violent extremism and to politically defeat terrorist networks and radical ideologies that undermine the overall stability and prosperity of the region. In recent years, the United States has outlined a number of different engagement strategies aimed at highlighting the need for greater tolerance and pluralism as a means to undermine extremism. The 2013 National Strategy on Religious Leader and Faith Community Engagement released by the Obama administration is one example of such efforts. But the implementation of these strategies has been mixed and not as integrated as it needs to be with overall U.S. foreign policy approach, including military and diplomatic efforts to respond to the crisis in the Middle East. In the meantime, the overall status of Christians has deteriorated over the past decade. Some of this deterioration is the direct result of unforced errors: For example, the 2003 Iraq War and its aftermath had devastating consequences for the Christian community there. Some of it is the consequence of flawed engagement strategies: For example, the Obama administration’s decision to position U.S. engagement under the banner of Muslim world engagement failed to effectively promote pluralism and tolerance and reflect the broad diversity within the Middle East. But most of what is happening to Christians in the Middle East is the result of wider regional trends related to struggles for power and the use of religion as a tool to build influence with constituencies that have ultimately divided societies. The United States needs to engage on these issues with great care and sensitivity. The fact that extremists accuse the United States and other outside powers of being so-called “crusaders” who promote an agenda supporting Christians is a reality that creates many potential pitfalls for engaging directly on this issue. But accusations from extremists should not be used as an excuse for silence or for taking action only on the margins. In 2014, the Center for American Progress, or CAP, initiated a research project and policy review examining the status of Christians in the Middle East that involved field research in a number of key countries in the broader Middle East. The effort included interviews with important leaders involved in the region’s religious, political, social, and economic life. The research culminated in the following 10 overall analytical findings:
- Christian communities are caught up in the broader regional struggles for power and influence in the Middle East.
- The declining Christian presence is the product of historical factors and long-term trends.
- The status of Christians in the Middle East varies significantly according to the political, social, and economic conditions in specific countries.
- Basic equality in citizenship is a common challenge for Christians in the Middle East.
- Extremist groups exploit institutional weaknesses in the justice, rule of law, and police systems to threaten Christians.
- Difficult economic conditions and the lack of jobs create incentives for Christians to leave.
- Radical ideologies foment societal intolerance against Christian communities and other religious minorities.
- Disunity and insufficient coordination among Christians in the region prevent them from achieving their potential.
- The role of monarchies and Gulf countries is pivotal for Christian communities, but their efforts and influence remain very mixed.
- Broader geopolitical tensions between Russia and the United States have a small but important impact on Christian communities of the region.
Based on the above findings, this report offers the following 10 recommendations to address the plight of Christians in the Middle East:
- Expand the tools and resources available to U.S. policymakers to elevate freedom of religion and conscience as a priority in U.S. engagement in the region.
- Build stronger and more diverse networks and partnerships with the private sector and nongovernmental institutions to address the current challenges facing Christians.
- Redouble efforts to advance international diplomatic approaches to conflict resolution in the region.
- Prioritize assistance to refugees and displaced persons with specific responses for Christian refugees.
- Weigh carefully the benefits and costs of special visa programs for Christians that may be seen as encouraging emigration, aiding in the exodus, or providing special treatment.
- Make use of U.S. strategic communications to promote religious freedom, pluralism, and inclusivity as a priority.
- Expand economic development and reform efforts in the region.
- Invest in education as a key tool for advancing religious freedom and pluralism.
- Use U.S. military force and security assistance cautiously and beware of potential pitfalls.
- Work with international organizations and leading churches to preserve Christian heritage in the Middle East and the Arab world.
The Middle East remains in the midst of an extended and bloody battle for power and influence that has allowed extremist groups to rise in prominence. Sectarian and ethnic conflicts are contributing to state collapse in areas such as Syria and Iraq and a reassertion of authoritarianism in other parts of the region. The status of Christians is an important sign of broader regional trends in pluralism and tolerance, and adopting more effective engagement strategies to address the plight of Christians could help produce greater stability in the long run. However, this strategy will only be successful if the issue is approached with great sensitivity and care to the broader landscape of change in the region.
Read the original article here
WELCOME LUCA JAMES TEMPLE
Even a long and overloaded day can still end with a wonderful and uplifting surprise from a late visit to the hospital for a thanksgiving prayer for a newly born baby. Saint Demetrios welcomes its newest addition. Please thank the Lord God for his gift of life through the birth of “Luca James Temple”. Son of Andrew Temple and Eleni Deligianis. He came into the world at 8:21 pm on Monday June 1st.
MIRACULOUS ICON YPSINI
The visit of the Mother of God through her miraculous icon “Ypsini” was another added blessing to the Saint Demetrios life. This beautiful spiritual event brought with it feelings of joy and a sense of jubilation to our midst that will last for a long time and will inspire many desiring hearts and minds. The nuns along with Father Christodoulos left with the best of impressions and they carried with them fondly the fruits of your generous spirit, great hospitality, and the enthusiasm in receiving them while showing great reverence toward the Mother of God and her icon. Thanks to God for this extra sweet gift that he sent us, and for all of you for making the reception of the God’s Mother such a special event through your help and support.
NOTE FROM IOANNIS TSAMIS
As soon as Gianni had landed at the airport of Thessaloniki; Greece, he sent a very nice note of appreciation and thank you to Saint Demetrios parish. Huge thank you to all of you for the various initiatives and actions of care and loved. You have truly made his stay among us pleasant and memorable. Please enjoy reading his thank you note. Father Joseph, Christ is risen!! The moment my foot stepped in Thessaloniki, Iwanted to thank you one more time for the invitation to chant at the church of Saint Demetrios in Daytona Beach, for the hospitality, and for the honorarium in return for my presence at the chanter stand of your church. Please convey my greetings to all the parishioners, the parish council, and to your family. Respectfully, Ioannis Teams Πάτερ Ιωσήφ Χριστός Ανέστη!! Πατώντας μόλις το πόδι μου στη Θεσσαλονίκη, θα ήθελα να ευχαριστήσω ακόμη μία φορά για την πρόσκληση να ψάλλω στον Ιερό Ναό του Αγίου Δημητρίου Daytona Beach, τη φιλοξενία, αλλά και την οικονομική αμοιβή ως αντίδωρο για την παρουσία μου στο αναλόγιο του Ναού. Χαιρετισμούς σε όλους τους Έλληνες, το Εκκλησιαστικό συμβούλιο και την οικογένεια σας, Μ’εκτίμηση Ιωάννης Τσάμης