General Notes for Diocese of Worcester Parish Council Seminar, January 2014


Parish Council service is a kind of diaconia or service in the Church and must be carried out in good Christian order, humility and love.

All Christians share in Christ's royal priesthood with responsibilities.
The bishop's role is to rightly divide the word of truth. The "divide" is to separate what is in and what is outside the truth that the Church upholds.
Bishop visibly connects us to the Church Christ established throughout time and the world.
Presbyters represent the bishop when he is not present.
Together the bishop, presbyters deacons and people express the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christians are stewards of Christ. All we have comes from God.
Parish Councils, Sunday School teachers, ushers, are all kinds of diaconal service
Business of the Church is to bring people to Christ and Christ to the world.
Parish Council members should be dedicated Orthodox Christians who are seeking union with God and willing to seek His direction for our lives as persons and parishes.
Parishes elect Council members to administer with the pastor the properties and affairs of the parish.
Clergy are the members of the parish who lead in love by example and are from within our Orthodox Christian community, not from outside.
Clergy are representatives of the Metropolitan and are responsible to him in all matters involving canon law, spiritual function, priestly rights and duties. The Pastor and any other clergy shall be under the direct supervision of the Metropolitan and not subject to any rules or regulations of the parish.
The parish council offers council to the pastor and together they administer the daily needs of the community.
Council members are elected to administer the needs of the Church, not represent constituents. At the council meeting, everyone shares their understanding and concerns. Through an interaction of concepts and ideas, creative solutions are discovered to meet the needs of the Parish.
According to the model constitution, the parish council shall be the representative of the parish in the administration of its properties and affairs. It shall be responsible for the receipt and disbursements of all general and special funds.
Christians subject themselves to one another in love and humility to better understand God's will.
Clergy and Parish Councils are on the same side; both want to build up the Church which is in the Body of Christ.
Excluding people from the church does not encourage people to participate in the Church.
Like the clergy, council members lead by example.
The iconographic expression of the church is to be without a door. It is a visual to express that the church is open to all people.
When you give $50 to the Church, it belongs then to God. It is not yours any more. You need to let it go and allow it to work for the benefit of Christ and His Church without controlling it.
The Church is bigger than just our four walls. It is for the whole world.
God gives every diocese all the charisms or gifts that the Church needs. The Bishop coordinates these gifts to build up the Church.
The bishop is the chief pastor of every parish of the diocese. The diocese and parish are sometimes interchangeable. They are united.
The people offer the gifts to the Lord. "That we may offer this holy oblation in peace. A Mercy of Peace, A Sacrifice of Praise."
There is often a power dynamic between the clergy and council that is negative but shouldn't be. The priest can kill anything the parish council wants to do, and the parish council can kill anything that the priest wants to do. But the Church isn't about death, it's about life and building up the body of Christ. We need to work together.
By struggling with differing opinions and conflict we can discern God's truth.
The Bishop is still a priest. A priest is still a deacon. A deacon is still a Christian. A Christian is always a child of God.
"Become what you are, find Him who is already yours, listen to Him who never ceases speaking to you, and own Him who already owns you." - St. Gregory of Sinai

Characteristics of Christian Leadership:
Personhood (Who am I?)
Stewardship (What gifts do I have to give? / How responsible am I?)
Service (How well do I care for others?)
Rules for parish councils to utilize:
Be honest and transparent
Speak respectfully and with love
Love and care about all of the other council members
Listen and understand before disagreeing
Understand that everyone wants what is best for the Church and that you don't have a monopoly on correctness
Be good examples to the parish
Attend worship regularly and be a sacramental member
Express the generosity of God
Lead in stewardship and be willing to work at parish events

Books about leadership:
Oriented Leadership: Why Every Christian needs it by Benjamin Williams and Michael McKibben
Planning for Success, by Richard S. Webster Living on Purpose by P. Paulson

Identity Questions:
Who sort of person am I?
Why do people want me in their lives?
What quality do I give others that they consider to be my strongest asset?
What do people always say about me?
What quality is it that shows up spontaneously and naturally?
What have I done so far in my life?
What's right with my life? What's wrong with it?
What do I really want out of life; to do and become?
What themes do I think about regularly?
What do I care about?
What's holding me back?
What kind of things am I best at ?
What do I know the most about?
What am I enthusiastic about?
What do I enjoy doing?
What am I doing right now? Which of these things do I want to do? Which do I have to do?
What circumstances today caused me to be enthusiastic, energetic, and full of spirit?

Our Christian identity starts when we are born. Look at the prayer for the Churching of a mother and child. "Increase him and sanctify her, enlighten him, give virtue to him, for You have brought him into being, and shown her the light. ..." From the very beginning, we have a vocation, a purpose and direction. Look at the prayers of the baptism service or the marriage service as well.

Without knowing ourselves, we cannot know our neighbor and we cannot know God.

Basics of Leadership:

Let's begin with a "generic" description of good leadership. Robert Greenleaf (Servant Leadership) describes the following characteristics which distinguish a leader. His is a useful inventory of basic leadership traits and capabilities.

Basic Leadership Traits:
A leader initiates
A leader provides ideas and structures
A leader takes the risk of failure
A leader elicits trust
A leader is a good listener and responds to problems by listening
A leader always accepts and empathizes, never rejects
A leader is genuinely interested in the followers
A leader has a sense for the unknowable and foresees the unforeseen
A leader is a good communicator
A leader is naturally intuitive
We don't need to come up with an end goal; that has been provided for us. It is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Topics of Interest for future workshops:
Stewardship
Council Member Recruitment (What does our parish need? Identify the needs and then identify those who meet those needs.)
Ministry to Young Adults
Ministry to Non-Orthodox
Missions and Evangelism
Interfaith Marriage
Budget and Cash flow
Why do we believe what we do?