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Identity Statement

Who Are We? Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow is a community of believers called into unity by the Holy Trinity to become saints; to be the “Body of Christ” and to manifest the Kingdom of God here and now.  We are a local parish of the Orthodox Church in America; which by virtue of the Holy Spirit and by continuing in the teaching and experience of the Apostles is a visible and historical continuation of the early Church of Christ.

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9).

St Paul refers to the Church as the “Body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27) thereby, revealing its very nature. The Church is not just another human institution.  Nor is it simply a collection of people who believe in Jesus. The Church, by virtue of the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, forever remains to be the very presence of Christ. As Church, we are called to fulfill the sacred mission to manifest Christ!

Jesus Christ is the savior of the world! Thus, the Orthodox Church is dedicated to the purpose of salvation; that all people may be saved through personal communion with the Father, made possible through His Son Jesus Christ and in His Holy Spirit.

“For so the Lord has commanded us: I have set you as a light to the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).

By God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, our Church community seeks to live in accordance with God’s Will; to manifest the fullness of the Gospel; to be faithful to the Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church; to worship in Spirit and Truth; and to be to the world a source of life, light and hope by revealing Christ’s way of sanctification and eternal salvation to all!

 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).

Jesus told His disciples to go out into the world and to preach the Gospel, and to baptize…  In obedience to our Lord, our Church community continues to make God know through the ministry of Preaching the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Together with the ministries of Spirit filled Fellowship and Diakonia (service to others), our community stands on the four ministerial pillars of the New Testament Church.

Our Core Values

SCRIPTURE & TRADITION - We believe that God has called us to be steadfast in the Apostles Doctrine.  Acts 2:42

Goal: To develop an Orthodox Biblical World View in all of our people.  1 Peter 2:9

• Teach the people of our Church community how to properly study the bible within the context of our Holy Orthodox Tradition, i.e., liturgy, sacraments, Church Fathers, canons, saints, prayer, fasting, confession...

• Work for the renewing of our mind and heart - we are called to be saints and to grow in the likeness of God; to become Disciples of Christ.

• Support and equip the teaching ministry of the church including training and resources.

• Foster within our people an integrated way of life where knowledge about God, discipleship and Christian living are one and the same.  Strive to live with humility and integrity; conforming our actions to our beliefs.

FELLOWSHIP - We believe that God has called us to be steadfast in Christian Fellowship. Acts 2:42

Goal: To provide an understanding and overall experience of Koinonia - Fellowship in the Spirit.

• Foster an understanding of what it means to be the “Body of Christ” and encourage a commitment to this primary community. Look for ways to build community!

• Seek oneness in Christ by fostering a unity of vision and shared experience.  Acts 2:46

• Establish, effectively manage and enthusiastically support a variety of small groups (bible study, parenting, singles, couples, recovery…) to foster unity in diversity and to minister to differing needs within the community.  Small groups also provide the added benefit of providing an integrated understanding and experience of the “Body of Christ” (Church) and the Christian home (family). St. John Chrysostom calls the Christian home a “little church.”

WORSHIP - We believe that God has called us to be steadfast in the “breaking of bread” (Eucharistic Celebration).  Acts 2:42, John 6:54

Goal: To develop a Eucharistic perspective and worship experience grounded in the Spirit, Truth and beauty of our Lord - called to live out our baptismal promise.

• Foster a dedication to the 2,000 year old Orthodox Christian Tradition of keeping Sunday’s holy by gathering to worship God, to hear His Word, to repent of our sins, to receive His Body and Blood and to be the Body of Christ.

• We strive to have an active and full liturgical life, reflecting God’s call to worship Him and to be the doxological beings He has called us to be.  Worship enables us to experience God and prepares us to be citizens of His Kingdom.

• Develop a parish rubric (rule) that respects Orthodox Church Tradition (Sunday worship, Feast days, Vespers, Matins, Confession…) while being sensitive to the life demands of our contemporary culture.

• Develop and maintain a choir that is prayerful and beautiful in order to enhance the liturgical and sacramental life of our parish community.

PRAYER - We believe that God has called us to be steadfast in Prayer. Acts 2:42

Goal: To be a Church that is characterized by prayer - filled with God’s Spirit, Love, Truth and Life.

• Provide ongoing education, training and support in the development of an Orthodox life of prayer – understanding that dedication to prayer is our very life line to God.

• Encourage and provide multiple venues for people to engage in prayer, i.e., liturgical, personal, small groups…  We pray for one another!

DIAKONIA - We believe that God has called us to serve the needs of others revealing to the world His love for us and our witness to His eternal Kingdom here and now.  Matt 25:35, Acts 2:44

Goal: To encourage our people to be selfless; to serve God by using our gifts for His glory and to seek to meet the needs of our neighbor. Diakonia: Lit. Service to others. Matt 25:31-46

• Encourage everyone to consider how they can serve Christ in His Church.  Look for opportunities to serve one another and the community around us.

• Teach about spiritual gifts and equip our people to use their gifts for God.

• Identify and support individual ministries and a central core ministry of our Church.

• Encourage stewardship, alms giving, forgiveness and a virtuous Christian life.

EVANGELISM - We believe that God has called us to build up His Church through evangelism and discipleship - that the gates of Hades shall not prevail. Acts 2:47, Matt 28:19, Matt 16:18

Goal: To be the holy people God has called us to be and to make that reality known to others in an appropriate and Godly manner.

• To be a healthy, holy Church; the “Body of Christ” and to regularly host activities and events that reach out to those beyond our community.  St. Seraphim of Sarov states, “save your own soul and you will save thousands around you”.

• Warmly welcome visitors to our church and maintain a spirit of Christian hospitality.

• Exercise love and compassion to all and encourage our members to share their faith with others.

• Regularly train and equip our people to give a defense to everyone who asks. (1 Peter 3:15) For example, establish an Orthodox Christian Apologetics class.

• Encourage an evangelical approach rooted in a Spirit of love that seeks to bring about a unity in God’s Word and Truth.

SACREDNESS OF LIFE – We believe that God created us in His image and likeness. Life therefore, is of inestimable worth and significance in all its dimensions, including the preborn, the aged, the mentally disabled, those deemed unattractive, the physically challenged, and every other condition in which humanness is expressed from the single cell stage of development to natural death. Christians are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life.

Goal: To teach an Orthodox Christian view of Anthropology that respects life from the womb to the grave.

Our Parish Vision

The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (29:18). Thus, the importance of vision! The concept of vision asks the fundamental question: What is God calling us to become? This question is not static, but dynamic. That is to say, we continually ask ourselves this question because God is constantly calling us to an ever-deepening relationship and existence in Him. Our parish community plans to revisit this question, and process of discernment, regularly in order to remain faithful to God’s call.

Vision is something that is not just taught, it must be caught! Vision is a mental picture of the future, which finds its realization in the hands of those who “own” it. The actualization of a Church vision is a synergistic reality that involves us and God. A Godly vision must find its origin in God, be inspired by God and be accomplished by God’s grace. However vision also involves our personal decision, effort and dedication. It is our desire, that the Mother of God Orthodox Church vision become your vision; something you “own” and are passionate about. In essence, our vision for a Christ centered Church community must become incarnate in you and me.

• We envision an intentional community of believers who seek to live in relationship with each other for the purpose of salvation; called into unity by the Holy Trinity to become saints; to be the Body of Christ and to witness to the Kingdom of God here and now.

• We envision a community of people enthusiastic about being Church; generous towards one another and joyful; where volunteers abound and smiles decorate the Church.

• We envision a permanent Orthodox Church building that is beautiful, conducive to worship and which stands as an Icon of God’s Kingdom for all to see and encounter. We see a Church facility that will accommodate our growth, house our ministries and community activities, i.e., Sunday school, small groups, adult education, Bible study, prayer, retreats, fellowship and other gatherings of the faithful.

• We envision young and old engaged in meaningful, beautiful worship; where parishioners regularly attend Vespers, Matins, Sunday Liturgy and the Twelve Major Feasts of our Church.

• We envision an excellent choir that is beautiful and which contributes to our worship of God.

• We envision a full time pastoral ministry where the priest is enabled and empowered by the community to be effective in ongoing learning, preaching, teaching, visitation, spiritual counsel, training, equipping, relationship building, evangelism, ecumenical endeavors, sacramental administration, small group development, youth ministry, pastoral shepherding...

• We envision a community founded on the Truth of Christ; filled with His love, peace and Joy. We see a community that is truly united in mind and heart; where there are shared values and experiences; where there is truly a sense of oneness in Christ.

• We envision a community of believers dedicated to Christian education, formation and discipleship. We see the possibility of a Christian school being central to our parish ministry.

• We envision a community that has a thriving youth ministry and are dedicated to serving and supporting college age young adults.

• We envision a community that is family focused where mothers and fathers find support; where children are excited about Church; where adults, singles, grandparents and the elderly are equipped to share their wisdom, experience and love.

• We envision a community that values its elderly and ministers to them and is ministered by them. We see ourselves as having a senior citizen/assisted living community on our grounds.

• We envision helping all of our people—youth as well as adults—to discover their unique divine design (gifts and talents) so that they are equipped to serve Christ effectively in some ministry either within or outside of the Church. Our goal is for everyone to be a minister of Christ.

• We envision becoming a Church of small groups where our people model biblical community; a safe place where we accept one another and are accepted, love and are loved, shepherd and are shepherded, encourage and are encouraged, forgive and are forgiven, serve and are served.

• We envision a caring community where everyone has a sense of belonging and experience God’s love and care.

• We envision a serving community where believers are encouraged and equipped to reach out to those in need and to serve the imprisoned, sick and poor; where poverty is understood to include the poor in spirit, i.e., the lonely, broken, lost and those needing support…

• We envision an evangelical community where believers are equipped and excited about sharing the good news of God’s love, revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection. We see a Church that seeks to influence the surrounding community for Christ; to serve and to witness God’s presence and Grace in and through the Orthodox way of life (Tradition).

• We envision a healthy/holy community where our stated values find expression in what we say and do. Theology, spiritual piety, liturgical worship, physical health and everyday life are experienced as one and the same. We are called to live an integrated life to be both whole and holy!

• We envision a healing community which fosters healthy bodies, relationships and marriages; where people find support and any assistance needed; where people grow closer to God and each other in love; where people are valued for who they are; where miracles happen.

• We envision a welcoming community that seeks to foster unity with others by witnessing to God’s Spirit of Truth and Love.

“The Church is one and the same with the Lord – His Body, of His flesh and of His bones. The Church is one living vine, nourished by Him and growing in Him. Never think of the Church apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, from the Father and the Holy Spirit.”  (Father John of Kronstadt)

 

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