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Beyond the Plateau: Leading the Church through Needed Change

We all know the story, or have heard versions of it.  A new priest is assigned to a parish.  Upon his arrival there, the priest discovers or discerns that the parish is in decline, or is struggling with serious issues of Church growth and health, and resolves to do something about it.  He may be a priest with not only good ideas but inspiring vision, energy and talent, yet, at virtually every step of the way, he finds himself fighting resistance to even the concept of new ideas and different ways of doing things, ways that challenge conventional parish thinking and possibly even the very parishioners responsible for that thinking.  After a while, especially with no backup or support from fellow clergy, including his own bishop, he gives up and goes on with parish life as it has been.  And the declines only continue. CONTINUE READING

Reports Updated Often - Please Review BEFORE Assembly!

Please note that reports from all departments are being regularly added to and should be reviewed BEFORE the 53rd Diocesan Assembly.

Preparing for the Diocesan Assembly


Dear to God,

Blessed Feast! As we prepare for the 53rd Diocesan Assembly in Harrisburg, I asked our Guest Speaker, Bill Marianes, if he could make recommendations of any reading prior to our Assembly.
Although he did not recommend any specific reading at this point, he did suggest two videos. In his response to my request, he wrote:

"I am so looking forward to our time together, and I am preparing a special version of what will hopefully be an inspirational and motivational program for your clergy and faithful. I pray we will make excellent use of the gift of the time the Lord has given us and that we can start to do something transformational.
I would recommend two approximately 18 minute programs. One is one of the most profound and widely viewed TED talks, and the second is a homily I deliver to Parishes that focuses on same topic of why we are here and what we can do from an Orthodox perspective.
The TED talk is Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Action” located here
My Orthodox homily version of the Start with Why message based on Scripture and infused with practical application in our daily lives can be found here:  (scroll down just past the Effective Church Model diagram we will discuss to the embedded YouTube video).
When I do clergy retreats for Metropolises/Dioceses/Archdioceses, or strategic planning programs, I assign both of those videos and find that they motivate our clergy and laity to think differently and more effectively about how they can be better Disciples and people.
Thanks again for the opportunity to be of service and for allowing me to live my stewardship calling. I look forward to our time together, and may you have a blessed and joyous new year. Thanks and God bless."

As we desire to get the most out of our time together, your time in preparation for the meeting would be wisely invested in watching these two videos.  
Yours in Christ,

+Mark, Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania

TED Presentation          Orthodox Homily

Thursday Evening Presentation
Announcing the 53rd Diocesan Assembly


Dear V. Rev. Frs., Rev. Frs., Diocesan Council Members,
and Department Chairs,

The 53rd Diocesan Assembly will be held on Thursday and Friday, January 26 and 27, 2017 at Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church, 5501 Old Locust Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17109. All our active clergy, delegates and department chairs are required to attend this Assembly. Registration will begin on Thursday beginning at 3:00 p.m. followed by the formal opening of the Assembly at 4:00 p.m. Dinner will be at 5:00 p.m. and Great Vespers at 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. attendees will experience a special presentation - "Igniting the Flame," where they will learn how to discover and live your personal calling as a Disciple of Jesus Christ - see the flyer to the left. The Assembly continues on Friday the 27th, with a full schedule. Return your certifications and book your rooms at a special rate now!  All relevant documents and information can be found on the Diocesen Assembly 2017 Page. Please check back as it will be updated often.

2017 Winter Teen Retreat

Join in the Fun at the 2017 Winter Teen Retreat!
February 10-12 at Spruce Lake Retreat Center in Canadensis, PA
Students ages 12-17 are welcome.
Registration Deadline: January 16
Click here for more information.

Proposed Templates for Parish By-Laws / Constitutions *UPDATED DECEMBER 2016!


Christ is in our midst!

Here you will find two recently revised "Proposed Templates" for parishes desiring to adopt a set of By-Laws or Constitutions where there are none or update them in cases where the old By-Laws are incongruent with the Revised Statutes of the Orthodox Church in America or simply out of date. We welcome feedback on these "Proposed Parish By-Laws."  According to Federal Law regulating Non-Profit Organizations, every Non-Profit must have a set of By-Laws and follow them.  Those who do not endanger their tax exempt status as well as leave their parish council members open to personal liability.  The same could also be said of parishes that have bylaws but do not follow them..  

By Laws            Constitution

+ Mark, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania

Updated Guidelines for Clergy Compensation

Updated guidelines for Clergy Compensation have been posted and can be accessed HERE.

New Websites Abound Across the Diocese

Recently many parishes in the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania have updated their presence on the World Wide Web - too many, in fact, to give each their own separate news story. A website is your parish’s “store front” to the world -  statistics show that when searching for a church, the first place most people go is to the internet. Does your parish have a website? Is it updated at least weekly? Is your parish using social media? In the 21st Century these tools are used by many who are searching, and can reach millions.
Congratulations to the parishes below who have made their place on the internet extra special, for taking the time to ensure their message is being clearly and neatly presented. Did we miss your parish? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Holy Annunciation Berwick

New website featuring parish news and events

Holy Apostles Mechanicsburg

New website featuring news and events and new building fund

St. John the Baptist Edwardsville

New website featuring news, events, parish calendar

St. Michaels Old Forge

New website featuring 360 degree tour, news and events

Holy Cross Williamsport

New website featuring 360 degree virtual tour, news and events

St. Michael's Jermyn

New website featuring 4 part welcome and 360 degree tour

St. Mary's Coaldale

New website featuring 360 degree virtual tour, news and events

Hierarchs Gather in Detroit for Annual General Assembly Meeting
Assembly of Bishops Discusses Religious Liberty, Reviews Committees Work, Encourages Pan-Orthodox Cooperation

Holy Apostles Building Fund


Dearly beloved,

Holy Apostles is making tremendous progress in erecting their new worship space. Unfortunately, as with any construction there are unexpected expenses and delays that are quite costly. Any donations to move this project forward would be greatly appreciated. To make a donation, click HERE

+Archbishop Mark

As many of you know, for a number of years St. Stephen's Cathedral has been hosting a Diaconal Formation Program of St. Tikhon's Seminary.  We've been working on expanding this program to also allow for training of layity who are not planning to pursue Diaconal ordination but are active members of their parish and help out in various positions.  This program gives participants foundational knowledge of Orthodox Theology, Church History, Scriptural interpretation and Typical, so it can be especially important for those involved in Catechetical work, Sunday School (especially teen/high school level) and cantors/choir directors. More information HERE.

The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry

The Mission of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry is to bring the love of Christ to those who are in prison by providing encouragement, material support, transition and reintegration guidance, Christian education, spiritual guidance and the sacramental life of the Church. How can you help?

Toward the Great and Holy Council: Retrieving a Culture of Conciliarity and Communion

A presentation on Ancient Faith Radio you can listen to HERE.

Important Message Regarding Diocesan Insurance

His Eminence, Archbishop MARK, has released a message regarding an upcoming change with Diocesan Insurance which will require parishes to abide by the new carrier's sexual misconduct policies. Please review these policies.which can be found HERE.

Revised OCA Statutes

The revised statutes for the Orthodox Church in America are now available. The Revised Statutes are the governing document for the Orthodox Church in America, its' Dioceses, and Parishes. Please review the Revised OCA Statutes HERE.

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