Dear St. Stephen Family,
I am getting ready to leave for vacation tomorrow so this will be a short email, but there are some important things going on.
First, we all offer a memory eternal for Rima Litschko. She reposed at home yesterday morning after a long battle with leukemia. She endured her her suffering with patience and faith. She was a dear member of our Church family and will be greatly missed. May she inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Details on her funeral will be forthcoming. I regret that I will not be here for the funeral, but Fr. John Chudik from Bradenton is in town this week and will be able to serve. Fr. John has known Nick and Rima for a long time and he serves beautifully so the family is in good hands.
At our open forum we announced Kyriacos Markides will be our Nativity speaker this year. He will be at St. Stephens on Saturday, December 1 speaking on The Forgotten Path of Orthodox Spirituality. Mr. Markides is a professor of sociology at the University of Maine. He has written many books on Christian spirituality including the popular "Mountain of Silence." After moving to America he left the Greek Orthodox faith of his youth and became an agnostic, but he kept seeking out mystical teachers from various faith traditions and his journey took him to Mt. Athos where he experienced true Orthodox spiritual life. He has returned to the faith of his youth and now he writes and speaks about the Christian experience of God. He was interviewed on Ancient Faith radio last weekend. This interview should provide a good preview of what you will here when he speaks to us in December.
We also discussed coffee hour at the Open Forum. It has been difficult to find volunteers to help consistently with coffee hour. It seems like most people would rather have a simpler, low-maintenance coffee hour that does not require so many volunteers to prepare and clean up. Starting this week, the Church will provide coffee and bagels/pastries through Panera. Anyone is welcome to bring something extra to share if they wish. We also discussed the possibility of having monthly potlucks during coffee hour. Let us know what you think. Do we need to keep meat, fruit, and veggies as part of coffee hour? If so, are you willing to help prepare and clean up? What do you think of potlucks? Would you be willing to bring a dish to share after Liturgy?
Some exiting things are happening with Russians in the Diocese of the South. Fr. Arkady from Jacksonville just started Annunciation Orthodox Church, the first Russian language mission in the Diocese of the South. On Friday Fr. Ted, Fr. Arkady, and I met with a group of Russians from Winter Garden who want to start an OCA parish in Winter Garden. I may be going there on Sunday evenings to serve Vespers with a Bible Study. We also have started a Bible study in Oviedo which meats on Tuesday nights. Currently we are meeting at the Barnies on Lockwood. Pray for these groups that the Holy Spirit would bless their spiritual and numerical growth.
We elected Pdn. Michael to serve as our delegate at the All-American Council. Both Bible studies will be canceled next week since I will just be getting back from vacation.