Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:
October 18th, 2011
Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the Beloved Physician
Glory to God!
We are so blessed to be living in Christ as members of His Body, the Holy Orthodox Church. Sometimes we feel this great blessing more fully than others. Thanks to a recent visit by Bishop Thomas Oct 1st - 6th, we are refreshed in the joy, peace, and vitality of serving God in this God-protected Antiochian Archdiocese and reaching out to this beautiful country of ours. We are Grateful for our Fathers-in-Christ, Metropolitan Philip and our Bishop, Thomas, for the loving, intensely mission-minded tone they have set and we are working very hard to bear fruit worthy of their examples. His Grace came for his annual archpastoral and gave us the challenging and joyful message of following Christ robustly and bringing people into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Since we are well aware that we are "stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10), we are burning the candle on both endings, laboring as much as possible to further the Good News of Jesus Christ and His continuing presence with us in the Church...
On the one hand, we strive to be faithful and consistent in preserving what God has given us.
- We are excited that our Sunday School, Choir, Women's Organization, Outreach Ministries (The King's Jubilee continues to grow in its Philadelphia mobile soup kitchen operation), and Parish Councils are going very well, accomplishing much for God's glory and the building up of the Church.
- There is new fire in the bones of our teens this year. While they continue the strong academics they are growing in diocesan fellowship and service opportunities.
- Our Altar Boys have new captains as the older ones have graduated. It is nice to see young stepping up and old ones growing in ministry roles in other parts of parish life.
- It was a great blessing for ten young parishioners to attend Antiochian Village; I think it gave them a taste of the "joy of salvation" (Psalm 50). I am hoping we'll have 15 to 20 young people at AV building their relationship with God and other young Orthodox Christians.
- In 2011, I've challenged each parishioner to "bring someone to church". Bishop Thomas, during his visit, amplified that by saying we must invite someone 10x before they will begin to take us seriously. To that end, we've worked hard to schedule interesting events to give opportunities to invite people... The most noteworthy of those was our recent Sacred Arts Festival. Twenty visitors enjoyed free food, an engaging church tour, an edifying slide-show lecture on the differences between Iconography and Western Religious Art, as well as booths on iconography and liturgical sewing.
- Youth Choir will begin rehearsing soon for Vespers and Artoklasia for St. Nicholas. Also, every Sunday they join the choir after they've received Holy Communion and lead the congregation through the rest of the Liturgy.
- The young women of our parish are enjoying sisterhood of growing in service, prayer, and purity. They have hosted teas for and invited special guests to speak to them about various aspects of the life in Christ that are suited well to women.
- We continue to celebrate various Akathists on Wednesdays at 7 PM. This service continues to offer a short, accessible, easy-to-participate-in mid-week boost. It is also a good service to bring a visitor!
St. Philips was formed as a mission-minded church under the wise, practical, and dynamic pastorate of Fr. Boniface Black. I ask for your prayers as we continue to grow in living fully and spreading joyfully the Gospel!
+ Fr. Noah