Clergy-Laity Congress Theme Article
“You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World”
As the Father has sent me, so I send you (John 20:21). You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In a few weeks we will gather in Nashville for our 43rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress. As we prepare prayerfully for this time of fellowship, discussion, and planning, we continue our reflection on the theme of the Congress: “You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World.” In previous articles we have examined the priority of knowing Christ and His voice in order to offer the Gospel to all in a world that is rapidly changing as well as challenging us in many ways.
In this article our focus is on how we are offering the voice of Christ in a changing world through the ministry and service of our Greek Orthodox Church in America. During our discussions in Nashville, our primary work should be evaluating the current ministries and resources at all levels of our Holy Archdiocese and planning for more opportunities to offer the voice of Christ.
First, we offer the voice of Christ through worship and ministry in the parish. Through worship, the parish becomes the Body of Christ, gathering in His presence, communing with Him, and offering a witness of the power of His presence and grace. It is in the parish that physical and spiritual needs are met through service offered by dedicated clergy and laity. In words and actions the voice of Christ is spoken, heard and experienced so that the parish becomes a home, a place of comfort, renewal, and hope.
The parishes of our Archdiocese have been and must continue to be the focus of our planning and resources. To do this we need the input of our hierarchs, clergy and laity from throughout the Church in America in the forum of our Congress. This is an opportunity to share struggles and success, to discuss the current challenges facing our communities, and to explore new opportunities for being a light of faith and grace in our changing world.
Second, we must continue the vital work of offering the voice of Christ to families. We have seen ministry and resources grow significantly throughout our Archdiocese since our last Congress. However, the challenges to the family are tremendous and growing. Many other voices and demands are pressuring families to conform to the world and to live by temporal standards of success and happiness.
We cannot relent in our efforts to care for families and to offer the voice of Christ in a changing world that is attempting to alter radically what God has created. Family ministry and our Center for Family Care should continue to be a major focus of discussion and planning at our Congress so that we are equipped to share the voice of Christ in truth and grace and provide clarity, love, and guidance in the midst of so much confusion.
Third, related areas of service in our parishes and throughout our Archdiocese are age-related ministries to our children, youth, and senior adults. In a changing world filled with tremendous pressures, debates about the value and quality of life, and challenges of substantive nurturing and quality care, the voice of Christ must be offered and heard through consistent ministry in these areas. We should be engaged in our communities and on a societal level in discussions regarding education, families, technology, medical and social services, as well as many other pressing and social issues so that the voice of Christ is heard. From the foundation of strong national and parish ministries, we must be diligent in sharing the light of the Gospel so that our children and youth receive guidance in Christ and our elderly are blessed with quality care and fellowship within the community of faith.
Fourth, as we are called to be the light of the world, we are sent into a changing world to offer the voice of Christ to those who are not connected to the Church. This includes those who have never heard the voice of Christ, others who have not been prepared to listen, and still others who need a new invitation to return to Him. For these and even others who are distracted by disparate and deceptive ideas, the voice of Christ through us offers meaning and purpose in truth and love. In fulfilling our commission from God, we must continue to strengthen our ministries of outreach and evangelism so that our clergy and laity have the guidance, programs, and resources to offer His voice clearly and effectively.
This focus on our ministry and service at all levels of our Holy Archdiocese is part of the essential work of our Clergy-Laity Congress. Our goal is to ensure that all we are doing offers the voice of Christ and reveals the light of the Gospel. In an atmosphere of prayer, faith in God, and commitment to His will, we will be able to address these areas and many more in a manner that will bring Him honor and glory. I look forward to seeing you in Nashville, and I ask that you continue to join with me in prayer for a Congress that will be a blessing and inspiration to us all. In addition, I ask you to consider how you are offering the voice of Christ. So many people need to hear His voice so that in Him they will find true and abundant life.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America