This week’s blog is a bit different in a few ways. It’s not strange to have a guest writer as I haven’t been penning much lately, in an attempt to keep a decent balance during a busy season. What’s strange is that my blog always attempts to eliminate any lines drawn between life and faith, and usually does this by examining an issue or topic. Instead, this week’s entry focuses on an event, sort of “the event” that has been worked on in the background around our parish for the last four years. Our hosting of the biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention is less than six weeks away, and you might be surprised at the numbers of people who don’t understand the significance of this event, not only outside our parish, but within our community as well.
In an attempt to help shine some light on those in the dark on the importance of the Convention, Amy Amash, who is part of our leadership committee, wrote the following to shed some light on those still “in the dark” on the importance of this event. Hopefully, after reading what Amy shares you’ll see why this event is intimately connected to our lives, which are indistinguishable from our faith.


By Amy Amash

For those of you who still feel a bit in the dark about the Convention, let me break it down for you:

What exactly is “The Convention”? It’s a GRAND GATHERING that only happens every other year of the hundreds of Antiochian Orthodox parishes in our North American Archdiocese from all over the United States and Canada. These are our sister churches, and this is our giant FAMILY REUNION!

And this isn’t just any family. This is the body of Christ! And this is our one chance every other year to all come together to strengthen our bonds and celebrate our faith. As an Antiochian Orthodox Christian, you are part of this family, and we want you to be part of this Convention!

What can I actually do at the Convention?

Worship as one big united body in Christ at daily services with thousands of Orthodox Christians, including 250 Priests, 8 Bishops & Metropolitan JOSEPH. The very thought gives me chills!

Learn from our clergy, hierarchs, and other Orthodox experts at the daily Bible studies, large selection of workshops, and planned chats with the Priests and Bishops. Seriously, when else will you have direct access to such a wealth of knowledge?

Have fun! No, really. I mean it. There are some awesome parties planned.

Do you like riverfront parties with stilt walkers, jugglers, balloon artists, face painting, caricaturists, street tacos, sliders, ice cream and beer? Come to the Riverwalk Street Fair on Thursday night. I am definitely bringing my kids to that.

Do you like to be entertained? Of course you do! Come to the ‘From Broadway to Grand Rapids’ talent show on Friday night. They only let the best auditions into the show!

Do you like to dance? Come to the Hafli on Friday night! That means dance party, and it includes a live band and delicious Middle Eastern food. What? You’re not Middle Eastern? Who cares?? Neither am I. And I promise, the dabke (Middle Eastern line dance) is super fun, the music is infectious, and there are plenty of people who will welcome you with open arms and show you how it’s done!

Are cocktail hours and fancy sit-down dinners with dancing more your thing? Come to the Light the Night Gala on Saturday night! It’s the last big hurrah of the Convention and it’s going to be amazing.

And that just scratches the surface. Spend some time on the Convention website and you’ll find more outings, workshops, events, meals, get-togethers and the like than you can fit in your calendar. (Psst….and if you need a place to drop your kids so you can actually go to them, bring them to Kids’ Club! They’ll have fun too, so you don’t even have to feel guilty! Details are on the website.)

But I’m not Middle Eastern…isn’t the Convention really just a cultural gathering for people with Middle Eastern roots? First of all, no. It’s for all Antiochian Orthodox Christians who live in North America. Is that you? Great! You’re in! Cradle Orthodox or convert, native North American or immigrant, Middle Eastern or otherwise…we are all one big happy family!

And second of all, you actually do have Middle Eastern roots. You are an Antiochian Orthodox Christian. Do you know where Antioch is? The Middle East. Come and learn about your roots and celebrate them!

Oh, one other thing you can do at the Convention … you can volunteer! Hosting this giant family reunion is a giant undertaking, not to mention a huge honor. In order to pull it off, we need 100% of St. Nicholas parishioners to step up and help out. Did you think all of the volunteer spots were filled and you were off the hook? Nope!! We have a volunteer spot just waiting for you! Check here for specific ways and times you can help: [Volunteer] or talk directly with Alan Abraham, Kathy Abraham, Fr. Michael or just ask, “How can I help?”

So plan now to attend and volunteer at this amazing 2019 Convention! You’ll be blessed beyond what you can imagine!