SAN FRANCISCO – More than 180 clergy and lay representatives of the parishes of the Metropolis of San Francisco participated in its annual Clergy Laity Congress, travelling from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
The Congress was held at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Squaw Valley, California, and was replete with engaging discussions, edifying presentations, and vision for the future.
A financial report was given and the 2019 budget of $1,850,000 was unanimously approved by the delegates.
The theme of the Congress was the Great Commission of Christ “Go forth and teach all nations.”
In his keynote address, Metropolitan Gerasimos stated that “as we look at The Great Commission, we can see that our Lord has given us a straightforward charge: Go, teach, baptize. He places no limits on where we are to go, who we are to teach, and who we can baptize and incorporate into His Church. All nations, all people.”
Speaking to The National Herald Metropolitan Gerasimos said, “thank God it was a very good and productive Clergy Laity Congress not only numerically speaking but also from an essential spiritual and ecclesial view point. It was an opportunity to examine our ministry and evaluate our aims.”
Regarding the theme of the Congress Metropolitan Gerasimos said, “one of today’s challenges, which is at same time opportunity, is how we welcome our visitors and newest members” and he added, “and what these new people find and experience when they enter our parishes.” He also said that “we must be ready to welcome them and to receive them into a new spiritual home.”
The main speaker was Fr. Evan Armatas, presiding priest at Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox parish in Loveland, Colorado. His speech focused on how The Great Commission of Christ is achieved through a healthy parish. He explained that “parish health, while different for each community, has the same outcome – a vibrant, Christ-centered parish that is focused on growth, builds bridges, is transparent, has a clear vision and mission, empowers parishioners to effect change, develops leaders, and recognizes the essential task of caring for one another and building an interconnected social fabric.”
He said among other things, “If we know that God desires and creates growth, we first must strive to remove the barriers we have erected and enable the God-given potential in our communities to flourish.”
Fr. Evan also stated that, “developing a healthy parish culture that sets the stage for growth in faith and in numbers begins with identifying what is holding us back.”
Following the conclusion of the Congress nearly 70 priests from throughout the Metropolis participated in a Clergy Retreat led by Dr. Albert Rossi from Saint Vladimir Theological School. Dr. Rossi’s presentation was titled, “In Becoming a Healing Presence, Prayer is Not Optional.”