Sunday, March 03 2024

Clergy Laity



It was great pleasure on Saturday last week to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church in Columbia SC in honor of Saint Sampson the innkeeper after an eventful conference.

The conference of the Atlanta Clergy Laity was concluded on the previous day with a Paraklesis service to the honor of God’s Mother and warm reception at the church hall.

Driving back home it kept occurring to me that the hardest part of these gathering is the moment when the time comes to say our goodbyes.

We come together for few days, rekindle our bonds and relationships, pray together, learn, laugh, cry, and treasure sweet and wonderful memories in our hearts, and depart looking forward to our next gathering.

The conference had started with various small meetings in different room for various groups on Wednesday after the registration, but the first gathering where everyone came together was actually the Philoptochos luncheon.

It was an edifying and inspiring event. “ZOE for life” is an organization that was born out of our own Philoptochos. Its birth reassures us about the truth of the gospel; when people come in the spirit of God together, they can accomplish the impossible and move mountains as Jesus said.

It was inspirational time to listen to Paula Kappos talking about how this organization helped many women in pregnancy crisis, and made huge positive difference in their lives. It brought tears to many eyes to learn about the children who were helped by “ZOE for Life” and now are grown up, while at one point they had faced the option of being terminated from life while they were in the womb.

Another initiative this year that saw the light through Philoptochos’ help at the Diakonia Center was a special camp for children with autism. Children, parents, siblings, counselors and priests came together to share in carrying the burden of each other and offer support to one another. One cannot help but be reassured after listening to these testimonials that God is truly alive, and the faith and goodness within people will never cease to exist, and it will never fail to light people path and lighten their burden.

The conference program contained several activities and meetings for the different delegates. The clergy had a lengthy meeting with His Eminence to listen to an extensive explanation about the “Atlanta Strategic Plan” and to respond to various questions from the clergy.

Thursday was another lengthy day filled with long meetings and further presentations and workshops about the strategic plan and its impact on the life of the local parishes.

On Friday several workshops were offered about different areas of interest. Presbytera Linda was attending different sessions with other presbyteres and ladies, while my interest was focused on the youth and education area.

The day concluded with the plenary session where the various ministries’ reports were presented, budget, numbers, and time for various questions.

After the Paraklesis service at the newly built church of the Holy Trinity which was the highlight of a long day, I saw Father Anthony Stratis who grew up in Daytona Beach and his presbytera Eleni who grew up at the annunciation cathedral in Atlanta.

We had wonderful time comparing notes and reconnecting. After the reception we walked back to the hotel and said our goodbyes to many of the delegates. I knew that in the morning most of them would have left.

I thanked God for this opportunity and for enabling me to see the face of the Christ in my brothers and sisters at the clergy laity.

I thanked God for my Saint Demetrios family that made this reunion possible for me. We traveled back thankful for the grace and gifts of God.

Always and every time after the end of these gatherings, I ponder in my heart upon one unfulfilled desire that I wish to be fulfilled one day; my desire is to have most if not all the members from my parish to be able to delight in the same way and to taste the same joy during these days… may be the day will come, and my wish will happen, after all, is not sharing the other side of loving!!