Source: Orthodox Church in America
Members of the Orthodox Church, clergy and faithful of all jurisdictions, are invited to participate in The Servant Parish Project, a research study concerned with strengthening our commitment as Orthodox Christians to compassionate ministry to the poor and suffering. The study is conducted by Father Theophan Whitfield, rector of Saint Nicholas Church (Salem, MA), and the Project will fulfill a research requirement for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
“This project is a contribution to the literature of encouragement,” says Father Theophan. “Jesus for certain said ‘Come and see!’ But he also said, ‘Go and do likewise!’ At the heart of the Servant Parish Project is the conviction that our faith Jesus Christ does not just flower into right worship (doxologia), it also flowers into loving service (diakonia).”
In 1965, Father Alexander Schmemann wrote about the need to replace the false ideal of “serving the parish” with the concept of “the parish as servant.” The two key research questions guiding the study grow from Father Alexander’s diagnosis:
1. How should Orthodox Christians think about the commandment found throughout Holy Scripture to honor “justice” (Isaiah 1:17, Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8, Luke 18:1-8)?
2. What strategies can Orthodox parishes pursue to create “servant parishes” actively engaged in ministry, in particular, to the poor and suffering?
“In the Servant Parish Project,” says Father Theophan, “we are hoping to learn from you. As an adult Orthodox Christian or Catechumen, what are your attitudes toward serving those in need? What are your experiences? What has influenced your views about compassionate ministry in the local community?”
How do you participate? By completing a survey at the Servant Parish website: www.servantparish.org.
The survey takes approximately 20 minutes, and can be completed anonymously.
Rev. Theophan Whitfield is the rector of St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Salem, MA. With degrees in philosophy from Princeton and Columbia, he was a teacher of mathematics and the history of science before entering St Vladimir’s Seminary, from which he graduated in 2010. When he is not busy explaining to witches that Christians have been blessing water, homes, and graves for 2000 years, he enjoys exploring the North Shore of Boston with his wife, Matushka Manna, and three daughters.