Second Urban Ministry Summit – July 26-27 – Columbus, OH

Saturday Lunch program at St Gregory’s parish
St Gregory of Nyssa Church

The Diocese’ second Summit dedicated to issues of Urban parishes and urban ministry was held on July 26 & 27 2011 at St Gregory of Nyssa Orthodox Church in Columbus OH. The conference was attended by 50 clergy and laity. Day one was oriented to hearing the perspective of two clergy and two lay speakers. Day two was oriented to putting the ideas offered on day one into practice. Attendees had an opportunity to get a true sense of the spirit and ministerial effort of one of the Diocese’s urban parishes. Dinner on day one was served by neighborhood persons who are often participants in the parish’s Saturday lunch program.

Summary information will be posted here as it becomes available.

  • A summary of notes from flip charts can be found here.
  • Notes from Fr. Daniel Rentel’s talk found here
  • An excellent article by Charles Robbins of St Gregory of Nyssa parish can be found here
  • A 2007 video interview exploring St Gregory’s Urban Ministries

First Urban Summit 2009 – Cleveland, OH

Urban Summit Attendees Smile to Earn Lunch at St Theodosius Cathedral Cleveland OH

See photo gallery from the Summit here.

Reflections on the Urban SummitBy Father Stephen Hryciniak, St. Nicholas Church, Kenosha, WI

Fr. Stephen Hrycyniak and Bob and Joyce Zastany of St.
Nicholas Orthodox Church in Kenosha are just back from the diocesan Urban Parish
Summit all pumped up and ready to share all that we experienced through this
transformative two day event. The car ride home from Cleveland, OH was spent no
longer lamenting the parish we’ve inherited, which can sometimes be
characterized as weary, a bit stuck in a rut, perhaps, and generally resistant
to dynamic forward movement, but rather we found ourselves dreaming new dreams
of what are some distinctly Orthodox ways we can put our holy faith into
sustainable, concrete action for the sake of witness, service, and radical
hospitality, rooted in our existing commitment to a full liturgical life as a
faith community.

Beautiful St. Theodosius Cathedral served as the host community for Day One of the conference, where clergy and faithful from seventeen parishes were represented, and where we received lots of wonderful teaching and did some serious reflection upon the unique blessing it is to be located in an urban setting, with all the opportunities for building relationships with our (often needy) neighbors that it affords. A highlight for us was learning more about FOCUS North America, as well as of the amazing outreach ministry of St. Gregory of Nyssa in Columbus, OH. We ended the day exploring the specific tactic of hosting a block party as a way to get to know our neighbors better, as well as a means of surfacing real needs in the neighborhood that we might address as a parish–something we hope to do yet this year.

Archangel Michael in Broadview Heights, OH opened their state-of-the-art hospitality facilities to us for Day Two where we specifically explored the issue of fostering change and growth in the established parish, which could not have been more germane to our situation. Fr. Gregory Jensen artfully facilitated an extended sharing of parish stories and struggles and opened the door for us to spend the remainder of the day, through the use of case studies, as a means for the group to break through the feelings of stuckness that often surround our communal and ecclesial entrenchment, and to begin to think in creative new ways. Another concrete take-away from this day was the notion that we do not have to do things alone, but we can and must look for like-minded partners to accomplish our strategic objectives. For us, that may mean sharing some training events and learning from our neighboring parish of Ss. Cyril and Methodius who clearly are a bit further down the road with respect to successful urban outreach or to explore additional grant opportunities.

Since the conference, Fr. Michael Plekon has provided us with some source material about the recently glorified St. Maria of Paris, who seems like the perfect heavenly patroness under whose protection we are beginning to place our social action initiatives. The next step for us will likely be to begin a Fellowship of St. Maria of Paris so that we can begin to gather interested folks to pray and to become sufficiently formed as a group of co-workers before we, in our new found enthusiasm, jump into something over our heads, thereby allowing some room for the Holy Spirit to reveal the work God has in store for us. Very special thanks to Joe Kormos and his team, as well as to the host pastors, and presenters for not only informing us, but for inspiring us to dream new dreams for our parish and for the good work God has begun in us through this special event. May He bring it to fulfillment! So be it!
Why Have an Urban Parish Summit?
At least one fourth to one third of the parishes in our Diocese can be described as “Urban” parishes. They are located in major urban areas as opposed to the suburbs or rural locations. Often parishioners have long since moved away and have long commutes to church. Suburban parishes with lush lawns and newer facilities often offer an attractive alternative. Many parish neighborhoods are in decline — challenged by poverty and crime. Some neighborhoods however are enjoying rebirth.

Bringing Orthodox Urban parishes together to share, connect and define approaches to common problems was a critical first step in growing Orthodoxy in urban America.

Summit GoalsThe following were the Summit goals:

  • Explore the opportunities that uniquely exist in urban settings for proclaiming Christ.
  • Share good practices among attending parishes – to understand what is working and not working.
  • Identify and agree upon the top challenges facing Orthodox urban parishes.
  • Select a few key issues to develop potential approaches and solutions that can be used to tackle these challenges.
  • Identify key priorities for the Diocese of the Midwest for assisting urban parishes to live out their vocation.
  • Leave with solutions each parish can put to work in their own community.

Summit MaterialsThe following Summit materials are available for download:Preliminary Materials

FR Justin Mathews FOCUS NA


Workshops Enabled Discussion of Key Issues


Summit Summary
A document summarizing flip chart notes and workshops is now available.

Summit AttendeesAttending Parishes
Sixteen urban parishes attended the Urban Parish Summit.

Christ the Savior Church – Chicago, IL
St Makarios Mission Hyde Park

St. John the Forerunner Church – Indianapolis, IN

S Peter and Paul Cathedral – Detroit, MI

St. Mary’s Cathedral – Minneapolis, MN
Holy Trinity Church – St. Paul, MN

St John of Kronstadt -Lincoln

Holy Assumption Church – Canton, OH
St. Theodosius Cathedral – Cleveland
St. Gregory of Nyssa Church – Columbus
Ss Peter and Paul Church – Lorain,
Ss Peter and Paul Church Lakewood
St. Andrew Church – Maple Heights
All Saints Mission Delaware County OH

St. Nicholas Church – Kenosha, WI
SS Cyril and Methodius Church – Milwaukee, WI

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