Maybe the first thing to remember about “meetings” is that most people find them about as appealing as going to the dentist—maybe necessary, but rarely a favorite activity. So keep that in mind when planning your “get-togethers.” Plan to do some activities for fun and change of pace. In fact, planning is more the half the secret. You may try what many successful groups have done, have an annual planning meeting/party/session. When you have an annual list that already includes the fun thing you are going to do for that month you can just add the “meeting” part to your fun time and most will find it quite palatable. It will also save you the monthly headache of last minute trying to figure out what to do and wondering why no one will come to the “meetings” any more.
Expand your horizons
For groups that find themselves complaining that: “the young ladies won’t come to the meetings” or “ only a handful of us ever do anything, take a good look at what you are doing and ask the hard questions. What have we done to get the young ladies or more help to come and do we meet at times they can come? Many may work in jobs that prevent them attending at certain times. Do we have a plan for child care? Have we planned an event to specifically invite them to? Do we insist on doing things our way or ‘the way we have always done it"? Fresh ideas come from fresh faces. Have we prayed that God would show us what to do? Have we truly obeyed His leading and then been dissatisfied that God is not calling everyone to what He has called the few?
The following are some general ideas done by groups in the Eastern Region: (see also Humanitarian Ideas)
- Create an herb garden: grow biblical & liturgical herbs, i.e. Basil for Feast of Holy Cross on Sept. 14
- Sew costumes for the Sunday school plays
- Tours of mutual Orthodox interest such as Icon exhibits at various museums, i.e.
- Dumbarton Oaks Byzantium Exhibit—DC
- Merriweather-Post, Hillwood Mansion & Gardens-icons- DC
- Education Day- St. Vladimir’s seminary, NY
- Visit Tabernacle display by Mennonites in PA
- Ethiopian Icon Exhibit- Smithsonian, Ethiopian Lunch
- Monastery retreats
- Class on weaving pashca baskets
- Class on making prayer ropes
- Class on floral arranging
- Meeting on funerals, burials, help establish a guild.
- Invite speakers: missionaries, authors, priests w/ special ministries-college students, prisons, etc.
- Reception/retreat inviting pan-orthodox women’s groups i.e. A patronal feast of the women’s group—
- Meeting on child rearing
- Lenten Food tasting and Recipe Exchange to get ideas—especially if not used to doing Lenten cooking or just tired of your old recipe ideas. May make up mini cookbook of the ideas.
- Meeting w/ speaker on Lenten nutrition
- Annual, “Beautiful Egg Breakfast” to make Ukrainian Style Eggs- open to public…outreach
- Annually, plan, plant & tend the flower beds
- Take home and “plant-sit” potted palms used on palm Sunday
- Annual “Breakfast in the Garden”, fancy food, lace table cloths, stemware, etc. eaten in Flower gardens we tend.
- Various wedding and baby showers, birthday parties for elderly, etc.
- Host or pilgrimage to annual Lenten retreats and Advent retreats
- Hosting and baking ethnic cookies for booth at local fare to benefit local food pantry
- “Lunchless Luncheon” mailed out “invitations” for Lenten Almsgiving or Nativity Almsgiving for Orthodox orphanages throughout the world.
- Tutoring offered
- Letters to college students
- Themed luncheons where sponsor of table decorates and sells tickets to their table. They have elaborate and unusual themes on each table, even golfing!! With time women vie for the opportunity to host tables!
- Plant sale
- Jewelry fashion show and sale
- Traditional bazaars, both for fund-raising and just to introduce your parish to community
- Retreat on dealing with stress Orthodox Women in Healing Ministries
- Group discussion based on material from Religious Coordinator or parish generated