Department Of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism: An Overview (By Fr. Jim Kordaris)

Fr. Jim Kordaris

The Department of Outreach & Evangelism was created in January of 2003 with the following five-point mission:

1.      Revitalize the faith of active Orthodox Christians;

2.      Reach out to inactive Orthodox Christians;

3.      Meet the needs of those inquiring about the Orthodox Christian faith;

4.      Offer the tools for parish renewal; and

5.      Offer guidance in the establishment of new parishes.

In 2009 Stewardship was added and the Ministry became the Department of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism.  Our mission continues to focus on the parish, providing parish leadership with practical tools and training to engage active and inactive members, inquirers and those unaware of Orthodox Christianity personally in order that they learn more about the faith and ministries of the Greek Orthodox Church, leading them to become fully committed members of the Body of Christ, actively participating in and supporting the ministries of the local parish, the Metropolis and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Efforts are made to coordinate programs and initiatives with other departments and organizations of the Archdiocese.

From the start, the Department would receive inquiries on methods of promoting “church growth.” We read in the Book of Acts (2:47) that “…the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved….” These parish leaders were seeking to allow for church growth by making their parish a healthy and vibrant place of worship, fellowship and service to others. The Department seeks to offer various tools to assist them in this effort.

One comprehensive tool came to our attention several years ago when the Director was invited to participate in “making Orthodox” a process called Natural Church Development (NCD). This program, in use for over 30 years and in over 80,000 parishes worldwide, is designed to assist parishes to objectively evaluate, assess and measure church health by focusing on eight quality characteristics of ministry. The most attractive aspects of the ONCD program are that it is quantifiable and engages church members in the process.

The program was piloted in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the two Long Island parishes of Resurrection in Brookville, and Archangel Michael in Roslyn Heights/Port Washington. Both implemented the program through several cycles and saw positive results.

With the assistance of a Leadership 100 Grant, we were able to implement the program in additional parishes throughout the Archdiocese.  The success of this rollout has shown the program to be a viable tool for evaluating and improving parish ministry in a quantifiable way. An additional benefit of this program is the engagement of parishioners in the process through surveys, meetings and focus groups.

PLANNED GIVING

The National Stewardship Ministries Subcommittee on Planned Giving provides a complete set of resources to assist parish members in end-of-life issues and estate planning, encouraging them to remember the Church in their plans. An investment by the parish in this program could yield exponential results for the parishes while providing our members with much-needed guidance and materials, including an Orthodox Christian Living Will, for end-of-life planning from an Orthodox Christian perspective. Printing of these materials was done with the support of a generous grant from Leadership 100.

Planned Giving resources include:

1.      A General Outline of the Various Ways to Make a Planned Gift;

2.      A Tri-Fold Brochure for general distribution in the parish;

3.      A Parish Implementation Plan for a Planned Giving Program;

4.      A Planned Giving Poster for Display in the Parishes;

5.      Sample Documents for Making the desired Planned Gift(s);

6.      An Article co-authored by parish priests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese titled “Preparing to Say Good-Bye: Do You Have a Plan?” offering guidance from an Orthodox Christian perspective; and

7.      An Orthodox Christian Living Will/End-of-Life Planning Document that is legally binding in most states (in final stages of preparation).

REACHING THE DISTANTLY CONNECTED: An Urgent Ministry for the Orthodox Church

Produced in 2016 and distributed throughout the Archdiocese, this handbook for reaching the distantly connected is distilled from extensive research done by Fr. Charles Joanides, PhD, LMFT, who served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for 16 years as a researcher in Interfaith Marriage. This volume applies Fr. Charles’ research on intermarried couples and the non-Orthodox spouse to the topic of reaching those distantly connected to the Orthodox Church, outlining the case for this ministry and providing a roadmap and resources for addressing this area of Outreach & Evangelism. This research and the printing of the handbook have been made possible by generous grants from Leadership 100.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE: Bringing Orthodoxy to America

In October 2016, with the generous support of a Leadership 100 grant, over 150 Orthodox Christians from throughout the United States converged on Saint John the Baptist Church, just outside of Portland, Oregon, for a 3-day National Conference on Missions & Evangelism. This first-ever Greek Orthodox conference dedicated to domestic mission was presented by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism and the Metropolis of San Francisco Commission for Orthodox Missions & Evangelism (C.O.M.E.) with a generous grant from Leadership 100. Speakers included Fr. Luke Veronis, Fr. Theodore Dorrance, Fr. Evan Armatas and Fr. Barnabas Powell. The conference welcomed representatives from every Metropolis and the New York District of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese or America, as well as guests from Kenya, Romania, Canada, and other jurisdictions.

HOME MISSION PARISH PROGRAM: Establishing New Parishes and Helping Parishes to Become Self-supporting

The Home Mission Parish Program helps establish new Greek Orthodox Parishes and helps support small Greek Orthodox Parishes which are striving to become self-supporting parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. With the generous support of Leadership 100 Home Mission Parish grants, it has aided mission parishes throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in their critical first years of existence.  In special situations assistance may also be provided to parishes that have declined but are in a period of renewal and outreach.

In many areas of the United States, there are clusters of Orthodox Christians who, with the approval of the local hierarch, would like to establish a parish.  To do this requires the services of a priest.  Often these communities are unable to afford a priest and the additional expenses that would be involved.  Over the more than 25 years of this program such groups, as well as existing parishes struggling to become self-supporting, had been assisted with monthly grants from Leadership 100 to make it financially feasible for a priest to be assigned.  The priest was able to offer much-needed consistency in leadership during the critical stages of parish formation and renewal, increasing immensely the likelihood of the parish becoming self-sufficient. 

 Fr. Jim Kordaris

Fr. Jim Kordaris serves the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as Director of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism. Fr. Jim was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  At St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, under the spiritual leadership of Fr Anthony Coniaris, he served in many capacities. In his youth he attended Sunday School and served as an altar boy. As an adult, Fr Jim served on the parish council, including two years as president. He also served the parish as Bible Study leader, camp counselor, IOCC coordinator, Festival Co-Chair and Stewardship Committee Chair.

Fr. Kordaris has BA-Psychology (1979) and MBA-Finance (1983) degrees from the University of Minnesota. Following twelve years in the financial services industry, he entered Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, receiving his Master of Divinity degree in 1999.  He was ordained to the Diaconate in 1998 and to the Priesthood in 1999.  He has served at St. Demetrios Church in Jamaica, NY and Archangel Michael Church in Roslyn Heights, NY. Fr. Jim was appointed Director of the newly-formed Department of Outreach & Evangelism in January of 2003. In 2009 Stewardship Ministry was added to his responsibilities.

In addition to his duties at the Archdiocese, Fr. Kordaris has served as pastor of Saint George Church on West 54th Street in New York City since 2004. During his time at Saint George, applying the programs and resources developed by the Department, he led a revitalization of the parish, initiating a Sunday School Program, adopting Stewardship, establishing Sunday Fellowship, a Young Professionals Group, a full parish library, A Parish Book Store, a program to feed the hungry in NYC, clothing drives for the neighborhood shelter, and sending a parishioner on an OCMC mission trip to Tanzania. At the same time, he oversaw the complete restoration of all four floors of the church building, which was erected in 1886. The restoration included a complete gutting, insulation and reframing of three floors, cleaning and restoration of all iconography, and the installation of a Pantocrator with Evangelists and angels and the replacement of crystal chandeliers with Byzantine-style brass chandeliers.  

Fr. Kordaris is married to Cally (Moraitis). They live in Cold Spring, New York with their 8-year old son, Christopher.

 

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