God's Blessings to St. Philip Church + Souderton, PA
Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:
By God's grace, the prayers for many, and the wisdom, love, and forbearance of Sayedna Philip and Sayedna Thomas, much good for the Kingdom of God is being accomplished here at St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
We were recently blessed with an special visit from Bishop Thomas, October 7-10.
On Thursday, Sayedna accompanied myself and Cranford Coulter, the founder and director of The King's Jubilee to Center City Philadelphia where a food, clothing, and a good word was shared with about 150 homeless and hungry people. (For more on The King's Jubilee see www.shoutforjoy.net)
On Saturday, our parish hosted the Deacons of the diocese for a retreat (click here for report and pictures). It was a beautiful day full of prayer, education, and fellowship. The retreat leader, Dn. Nicholas Belcher, Dean of Students of Holy Cross Seminary, spoke to our parish in the afternoon regarding "Youth and Young Adult Ministry in an Age of Relativism". It was an excellent talk wherein he underlined the reality that LOVE = TRUTH, and the two can not be separated. But since our relativistic society tells us otherwise, we must struggle to main this essential bond of truth and love in our minds, our hearts, and our actions.
The services were especially inspiring with all of the deacons "flying about like angels". All of the nervousness that this young priest inflicts upon himself when his bishop visits vanished during the powerful chanting of the Hierarchical Trisagion Hymn.
Our parish was especially blessed with the ordination to Sub-Deacon of two faithful men of the parish who desire to grow in ministry: Vincent Kaufmann and Ben Nectarios Daniel. Many years of service to God and His Holy Church to Ben and Vince and his wife and angelic little daughters!
Following Liturgy, Sayedna enjoyed a relaxed Coffee Hour and then spent quite a while visiting the Sunday School classes.
Besides the usual Lord's Day and Feast Day services and ministries that we undertake as faithfully, smoothly, and lovingly as possible, I'd like to highlight the following special undertakings:
- Youth Choir will begin rehearsing for Vespers and Artoklasia for St. Nicholas. Also, every Sunday they join the choir after they've received Holy Communion to lead the congregation through the rest of the Liturgy.
- The young women of our parish enjoyed a "Handmaidens' Tea" wherein they discussed opportunities for service for women: service professions, marriage, monasticism, missions, hospitality, baking Prosphora, etc... They each were given a copy of the wonderful book _The Illustrated Life of the Theotokos_ and encouraged in modesty, obedience to parents, and the Life in Christ.
- We hosted an Open House on September 18th. It was an enjoyable day with, thank God, excellent weather, free food and children's activities, many visitors, engaging church tours, edifying lectures, information booths on parish ministries and other aspects of our Life in Christ, and a stirring choir concert. We learned a great lesson: Personal Invitations are the best way to bring people in.... Of the 35 visitors, only one of them came because of our advertising, the rest came as invited guests.
- Our Altar Boys have been organized into executing their liturgical tasks and many clean-up tasks through the efforts of Deacon Herman and the older boys servers. Simeon Acker, our eldest server and captain, has them buzzing around like bees straightening up the church before they head out to Sunday School following Divine Liturgy.
- At the request of many parishioners, we've added a constant mid-Week service: Wednesdays at 7 PM we offer different Akathist Services on a rotating basis. The Akathists have proven to be short, accessible, easy-to-participate-in services, and mid-Week boost; it has been a great blessing for myself and all who attend them.
- Ben Daniel, one of the new subdeacons, will be teaching an adult Bible Study on the Book of Revelation with special reference to the Fathers' Insights. We are hoping that this series will be a good outreach event and also strengthen our Orthodox understanding of eschatology against the wild speculations that many Christians hold to.
At St. Philip's, the seeds of salvation have been planted into the rich soil of missions: modeled after the pattern of relational evangelism of its Patron, St. Philip the Holy Apostle (who invited a future-apostle to Christ with these simple words, "come and see"), under the blessing of Sayedna PHILIP and the inspiration of his dream to "make America Orthodox", and by green thumb Fr. Boniface Black. I ask for your prayers as we keep growing in missions and evangelism, an essential dimension of our faith in Christ, who was Sent from heaven for the life of the world and its salvation.
Your Servant In Christ,
+ Fr. Noah