Report to 2010 Diocesan Sobor:
Mission Establishment Plan


Introduction

Following the 21st Diocesan Council in South Bound Brook, NJ last summer, His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas appointed the following to serve on the newly-formed Diocesan Missions Commission: Protopresbyter Michael Rosco, Chairman; Protopresbyter Frank Miloro, Father Andrew Fetchina, Father James Blomeley, Deacon Michael Rustick, Donald Lauffler and Pani Constance Miloro. The formation of this Commission was brought about by the overwhelming sentiment expressed by the Sobor delegates that the Diocese needs to be more aggressive in establishing and supporting mission parishes, being mindful of the fact that, by virtue of our baptism, each of us has the calling to be an apostle and a missionary.

Focus

To date, our meetings have been productive and fruitful, and we have focused our energies on the following areas:

  1. Identifying areas for possible new mission parishes. From people simply reading about our new Commission on our Diocesan website, we have received several credible inquiries about how to go about establishing a mission. With proper use of the internet, it is possible to easily determine the number of potential Orthodox living in a given area. "Facebook" provides a forum for making contact with perspective parishioners.

  2. Developing a two-year plan for a new mission to follow. This would include a timeline for gathering names of perspective families, meeting with all interested parties, finding a temporary site for worship and ultimately committing to building/purchasing a permanent church complex. It is felt that it is unwise for the Diocese to make any open-ended, long-term commitment of finances and clergy as we have sometimes done in the past. If, after 2 years, a mission is showing little or no progress, it should be understood that it may be time to move on.

  3. Establish some basic “building plans” for a mission church complex. To paraphrase a famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” “If we build it, they will come.” We have actually researched some very basic plans that would be attractive, functional and affordable. Perhaps the greatest obstacle for a mission parish to deal with is the lack of proper facilities for worship. People “looking for a church” are doing just that: looking for a church! While it is understandable that missions must “make do” initially, there is a definite drop-off in interest when a parish has no real spiritual home for an indefinite period of time.

  4. Educate our faithful so that they understand the need to support our missions. There is so much more that the Diocese could do—if only we had the funds to do so! Somehow “missions” must be connected strongly with “stewardship.” Our long-range existence as a Diocese may depend on it. For the most part, our parishes in the past have helped our missions with donations of liturgical items and with a certain degree of financial support. Somehow, we must be able to do more.

  5. Compile a manual for missions to follow.  There is much to do as a mission parish develops, and in most cases, those involved with the group as doing this for the first time. This manual would hopefully provide proper guidelines that might assist them in staying focused and on the right track.

Bearing Fruit

I must say that the work of this Commission has already been exciting and inspiring. We have already identified an area—Farmville, Virginia—that is our “time line test case.” In just 5 months, they are well on their way to following the steps set down by the Commission for forming a mission and they are well along the road to being a viable mission parish. In May, the Commission met with the Farmville faithful and were impressed with the conviction and dedication of the new community, and especially the potential of ministering to college students at two universities there. The first Liturgy was celebrated there on Sunday, June 6th with 24 people in attendance. The parish has been placed under the patronage of St. James the Apostle.

Since the 21st Diocesan Council recessed last summer, there are four new mission parishes in the Diocese: St. James in Farmville, VA; St. Nicholas in Murphy, NC; Holy Myrrhbearers in Hampton Roads, VA and Holy Cross in Columbus, Ohio. Representatives from each mission will address the Sobor today and explain in detail the progress they have made--and the ways we can offer them assistanc

Here is a basic plan for the Diocese to follow in the process of establishing new missions:

24 Month Mission Time Line


Initial Contact

Everything has a starting point--including missions!Someone must be interested enough to initiate contact with the Diocese throughthe Missions Commission, so that an assessment can be made whether or not theremay be merit in considering a mission in a given area.

30 Days

The contact person should begin gathering information oninterested individuals through whatever means available.

60 Days

If enough people have been identified as being interestedin establishing a mission, promotion of an initial meeting with representativesof the Missions Commission should begin in earnest. This could be done throughlocal newspaper articles, distribution of flyers, use of social networkingsites on the internet, etc.

90 Days

Hold initial meeting--possibly tied in with a serviceand/or social activity. For example, the Farmville group came together for adinner meeting at a local restaurant the first time they met.

120 Days

Try to secure a temporary site where the mission communitymight gather for worship and for educational purposes. Ideally, a"storefront" setting would be preferable to a shared facility thatwould require a setting up process every time a service is held. With theblessing of the Metropolitan, the local Dean should be contacted to assist incovering the mission temporarily with Deanery clergy, with as regular of aworship schedule as possible established.

6-8 Months

Petition the Metropolitan requesting the assignment of afull-time priest. It is understood that the parish would, by this time, havecome up with proper housing for the priest and his family. The Diocese wouldcommit to the financial support of the clergy assigned. A visual image of aproposed church complex should be displayed so that the faithful have adefinite goal for which to work. The priest would assume the lead role inoutreach to the local community. If the temporary site lends itself to this, amini information center and bookstore should be established, where the publicis invited to come and learn more about the Orthodox Faith.

19-20 Months

By now, a serious search for property for a church complex should be well underway. The Parish Planting Program of the Diocese would offer a modest complex that can be built in stages, with room for expansion if necessary. Phase 1 would call for the building of an entry way attached to a parish hall, which would initially provide worship space. Phase2 would be the construction of the church itself. The hall and church would each be approximately 1,200 square feet.

24 Months

Can it be done? The mission's status would be evaluated and a final determination would be made to continue or to terminate.

Moving Forward:  A Need For Support

It cannot be emphasized enough that without financial support from the Diocese and our Diocesan faithful, and without clergy willing and able to enter the mission field, our successes will be limited. We would love to be in the position of helping our missions to the point where the cost of Phase 1 could be assumed by the Diocese. To do this, however, everyone must be totally committed and "on board" with our missions program. Sadly, we have already had to inform several people with mission interests that we simply do not have the resources at this point in time to assist them.

Conclusion

In behalf of the entire Missions Commission, I would like to thank His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas for his vision and support of this important endeavor. I appeal to all of our delegates to go back to their respective parishes and strongly encourage them to take an active role in supporting our missions. May God continue to bless our efforts!

Listen to Audio recording of Mission Commission Report to 21st Diocesan Sobor

Protopresbyter Michael Rosco
Chairman
Diocesan Missions Commission


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