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Pastor’s Corner September 2013

10 Sep

Happy New Year!

You’re probably wondering why I’m greeting you with an expression usually reserved for midnight on January 1st.photo 2

I’m doing so because the Church’s New Year, the “ecclesiastical New Year,” begins on September 1st.  Why? A few reasons.

0803131605aIn ancient Rome, the New Year was marked by a tax assessment by the Emperor, called an “Indication,” which occurred annually on the first day of September. In nature, the completion of each year takes place at summer’s end, with the harvest and gathering of the crops into storehouses, and we begin sowing of seed in the earth anew for the production of future crops in early fall. The Church also keeps festival on September 1st, beseeching God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth.

In our parish, we have ended the summer liturgical feasts of Transfiguration and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, and we have already celebrated the first major liturgical feast of the New Year, the Birth of the Theotokos. We will begin our church school program soon, and our theme this year will be “The Lord’s Parables.” We’re also beginning choir rehearsals, welcoming new members, and learning some new music.  My sermons for the next few weeks will comprise a series that will help us better understand our Sunday service, the Divine Liturgy.

photo 3Additionally, we’ll be involved in two projects totally new to our parish.  In October, we’ll be submitting a grant proposal to The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation that will enable us to assess the condition of our building from top to bottom.  A grant award from The Connecticut Trust for this assessment would then allow us to submit applications for major projects in the future,  perhaps major renovations that will help us better serve the wider community (Think: new industrial kitchen!).  In December, we’re going to welcome YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) to our parish,  a ministry of FOCUS North America that is designed to provide local parishes and youth workers with the resources necessary to involve junior and choirehearsal2013senior high students in local community service and short-term missions projects.

It’s going to be quite a year. We ask God’s guidance during it, and His blessings upon it.

Pastor’s Corner January 2013

15 Jan

Fr. Steven Belonick copyDear Friends,

Are you seeking a church home? If so, we welcome you to Holy Ghost parish.

We have a long history here in Bridgeport, Connecticut (founded in 1894) and an even longer history as part of the ancient Christian faith. As Orthodox Christians we have been handed down the faith presented by Jesus Christ to His apostles and successively passed on to generations for more than 2,000 years. We are keeping and living that same faith today!

The word “Orthodox” means “right teaching” and “right praise” and you will find both in our community. As far as “right teaching,” we follow the inspired Holy Scriptures, the writings of the holy saints who have witnessed to our Lord, and the decisions of the councils of the ancient Church, whose participants untangled points of dispute among Christians and defined the proper teachings about God the Father, and His Son and Holy Spirit. As far as “right praise,” we are nourished by the services of the Church, which are replete with biblical references and ancient hymns passed down from early Christians. And, every week, we gather on Sunday to receive our Lord’s Body and Blood  in Holy Communion.

Although immigrants from Russia and Slavic countries originally founded our parish, bringing with them their Orthodox Christian faith, nowadays times, places, and faces have changed! Our congregation is multi-national and multi-generational. We find ourselves now situated in an inner city that needs the grace of God, and our members have developed a special ministry to the poor and needy in response.IMG_5223_2 copy 2

In short, we are Christians trying to live as Jesus taught. We are striving to live the faith He handed down to His Apostles.

It would be impossible for me to express in a short space the long history of the Orthodox Church or the richness of its teaching and the depth and beauty of its services. I can only invite you, as the Apostle Philip said to his friend Nathaniel: “Come and see!” (John 1:43-46). You are always welcome to our parish, God’s house.

Sincerely, with love in our Lord, Father Steven J. Belonick

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