As the name implies, the goal of the Outreach Ministry is to reach out and invite our surrounding community to learn about the fullness of the Christian Faith as experienced in the Orthodox Church. Sometimes, visitors walk in through our doors at St. Nicholas and make a discovery. Other times, we walk out of our doors to meet them where they are.
When visitors come to an Orthodox Church, they’re curious. Maybe they read up on us in a class; perhaps a friend of theirs is Orthodox and talked about us; or they could have spotted our dome and wondered what’s inside.
What’s inside is a totally different Christian experience, not an easy one to comprehend. It’s as ancient as the first church, the church we happen to be. While our ushers greet our guests and introduce them to our worship practices, it takes far more than a quick tour to grasp the profoundness and authenticity of Orthodoxy. For some visitors, they might be one and done. For others, it’s just begun.
Becoming Truly Human
This is a new initiative of the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is a film series spread out over several weeks. Called Becoming Truly Human, the movies focus on believers and non-believers, Orthodox and Non-Orthodox. It’s filmed documentary-style, personal stories told in their own words. The goal of BTH is to help us attain a depth of enlightenment that leads to becoming Truly Human, the way God intended us to be.
Throughout the year, our priest holds an 8 week, introductory class to the Orthodox Church. This class offers a broad, comprehensive look at Orthodoxy, emphasizing how a life of faith provides purpose, peace and fulfillment. Though this is an introductory class, it is for everyone, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
WORKS OF MERCY
Shepherds of Independence
Shepherds of Independence is an Adult Foster Care facility in Grand Rapids that provides shelter & care for those in need in a warm home-like environment.
The most oft repeated prayer in the Orthodox Church is “Lord Have Mercy.” We are always seeking mercy from God. At St. Nicholas Church, we are also trying to give mercy.
In our ministry, Works of Mercy, we are reaching out to share the love of God that He has shared with us. If the truth be realized, our works of mercy are probably doing more for us than the people we are trying to help.
Family Haven Breakfast
Family Haven is a homeless shelter for families in Grand Rapids. The shelter houses up to five families with as many as 25-30 children and adults in residence. Once a month, St. Nicholas parish members purchase and prepare breakfast for these families.
Grand Rapids Baby Pantry
The Women of St. Nicholas held a baby shower for Moms-in-need. They collected gifts for infants and toddlers and donated them to the Baby Pantry at Catholic Charities in Grand Rapids.
Care for our Neighbor
St. Nicholas is located near a subsidized housing community. We joined other neighboring churches to hold a block party for all the residents. We provided food and entertainment and back packs for the school age children. The Parish Council is recommending we as a parish begin to invest in local charities to provide relief for those in need. The Charity Committee will be making recommendations to the Priest and Parish Council for the disbursement of these funds. $5,000 has been budgeted for this effort.
Food for Hungry People
For more than four decades, our Antiochian Archdiocese has been collecting financial contributions for “Food for Hungry People.” All churches in our Archdiocese are asked to hold a donation drive every year during our Lent. St. Nicholas parishioners are among the top donors. The money goes to help the hungry in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.
A group of St. Nicholas parishioners, led by our priest, ventured to Mexico for a week, at their own expense, and built a home in the northern region of Mexico for one of the poorest families there. Safe, secure and weather-tight houses are constructed in just four days, all with volunteer labor. Other parishioners at St. Nicholas helped to finance the trip in support of the volunteer efforts of fellow members.
Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive
During the Thanksgiving season, we donate and distribute food for holiday meals to families in need in our community.
Foster Care Christmas
During the Christmas season, we conduct a “gift drive” to provide foster care children in Grand Rapids with Christmas gifts. Our church, along with 11 Catholic parishes, will collect several hundred gifts for over 1,000 children. St. Nicholas will also setup and “stock” the Foster Care Christmas store.
International Orthodox Christian Charities-IOCC
St. Nicholas offers annual support to IOCC. It is an organization sanctioned by Orthodox Churches throughout the world. IOCC provides and assists with food and shelter, education and health care, employment and business start-ups for residents in the third world, refugees and victims in war-torn regions.