To all Clergy and Faithful in the Diocese of the Midwest
Dear Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters,
In the Great Commission, our Lord commands us to evangelize, to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). This command was given not only to the Holy Apostles and Disciples, but to every Christian and to every local Church. This is why it is imperative that every parish, no matter how young or old, small or large, understand itself as a community which evangelizes. Every Orthodox community is one which preaches the Good News of the Gospel and calls others to Christ through its life and witness. We should all understand that every parish or mission within our Diocese is a missionizing community. This is a priority we all share.
On a diocesan level, we do this by planting and nurturing new mission communities. Mission communities allow us to share the Gospel with those who live in areas often outside the reach of our Diocese’s current parishes. Mission communities invite new people to accept the Gospel and follow Christ in the Orthodox Church. History has shown that these young missions, as they flourish, often become some of our most vibrant parish communities.
Every parish can, in some way, help our mission planting effort to have a greater presence and a greater local impact. Visits to missions, words of support and encouragement, the sharing of material and educational resources, and any form of new mission planting efforts by parishes like yours are a significant help. All these efforts, established and built upon your prayer, can surely result in success. I am asking each of our parishes to seriously consider the following four-minute video: https://domoca.org/grow-a-mission/. Please share it with your parish. View it and consider the discussion questions at the end of the video in your parish council and ministry groups. Use the discussion guide (https://domoca.org/grow-a-mission/parish-response/) to explore what assistance your parish might be able to offer. Then share your conclusions on the simple follow-up form with your Dean.
At the very beginning of my archpastoral ministry as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, I want you all to know of the high priority I place upon the establishing of new missions. I am also committed to overseeing and encouraging the continued growth of well-established parishes as well as the renewal of parish life in some of our
communities which might seem to be in decline. I ask your assistance in all these efforts. At the celebration of a hierarchical Divine Liturgy, quoting from Psalm 80, the bishop intones, “Look down from heaven, O God, and behold and visit this vine which Thy right hand has planted, and establish it.” May all our communities, new or old, be firmly established by the Lord Himself. May we all collaborate in this work of tending our corner of the Lord’s Vineyard.
With love in the Lord,
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest