It’s our privilege to apply for and administer a generous grant provided by Leadership 100. For more than two decades, the grant has been supporting priests that serve new parishes and parishes that are in a period of turnaround or renewal. In carrying out our responsibilities, we receive reports from the priests of these parishes on their progress and their efforts in ministry. What follows is the most exceptional report we have ever received. It is shared here to inspire all parishes of every size to re-imagine ministry and all the possibilities.
REPORT FROM FATHER DUSTIN LYON IN DUBUQUE, IA
Good morning Fr. Jim,
Please find a short update below. If you have any questions, or want a more detailed one, just let me know.
We currently have 9 catechumens--one family of 2 adults, one family with 2 adults and 4 kids, and one college gentleman. We also have 2 inquirers who have started coming fairly regularly. I've had the catechumens watch Fr. Barnabas Powell's "Journey to Fullness" video series during coffee hour on Sundays. In fact, the most of the parish watched them with us, and they were very well received. This fall, I'm planning on doing some classes with the catechumens to explore the topics in the videos more in-depth, and to go over public prayer (i.e., the services), private prayer, and other theological topics. All of these catechumens have jumped in the life of the church, and I'm very excited.
We are continuing our "mugging" ministry. Every visiting family gets a "St. Elias" mug to take home and they are invited to fill it with coffee at fellowship. This has been a great way to bring them into the community to get to know people. I also have them fill out a "guest book" that captures contact information. I then follow up with a "thank you" (phone call, e-mail, or letter) later that week.
We hold a "Gyro Day" about once a month. In general, this is a good fundraiser for us. However, we also use it to introduce people to the Orthodox Church. Tours are available of the sanctuary, and we put fliers, brochures, or business cards in every customer's bag.
The parish works hard to extend a welcome to "disenfranchised" cradle Orthodox when they come for special feasts (e.g., Pascha), memorials, or name-days. They are always invited to start attending regularly.
The Evangelism committee is also looking to purchase an "icon banner" to hang outside.
I continue to have a monthly article in the local newspaper, the Telegraph Herald. This is a religious article that allows me to introduce Orthodoxy to a larger audience. I regularly get good comments from it.
I also have a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to all parishioners, and I regularly keep our Facebook and Twitter page updated.
I am also still very involved in the community: president of the local soup kitchen/homeless shelter (Dubuque Rescue Mission), co-chair of the CROP Walk, and on the board of our local inter-faith group (Children of Abraham).
Let me know if you have any questions.
Saint Elias the Prophet Church