MORE THAN WE COULD ASK OR IMAGINE:
An Update On Our Tenth Anniversary as a Parish
"More space than we'll ever need."
Those were the famous last words of our parish priest, Father Geoffrey, just hours before we signed for the purchase of our parish church in East Hamilton a few years ago.
How could we expect to outgrow a parish building with room for 60+ people at Sunday Liturgy, and lots of space for up to fifty people at lunch? Surely, even a mission parish of the Orthodox Church should expect slow but steady growth, just as the Gospel tells us - right?
Clearly, God had other things in mind than our modest expectations three years ago. Back in 2010 when our parish was only seven years old, we were amazed to have one or two inquirers each year into the historic Orthodox Church, and felt overwhelmed with twenty souls at Liturgy on Sunday.
Now - after ten years of mission work in Hamilton and the Golden Horseshoe - the fruit of the prayers and generosity of many brethren and friends is beginning to become clear in many ways:
• DEEPER TEACHING - To make room for growth in numbers of those seeking to learn about Christ, His saints, and His Church, we've expanded the stock of our Desert Wisdom Book Room to over 1000 items, to meet the growing need for solid, traditional spiritual education materials;
• ROOM FOR HOSPITALITY - To meet the need for space for our frequent guests and visitors, we removed a wall this fall - shrinking and renovating our men's washroom to make way for another dozen or so guests;
• ROOM FOR SPIRITUAL LEARNING - To accommodate the growing number of catechumens and attenders at our monthly Question Hour, we've brought in a room divider and digital display (not to mention extra new chairs!) to allow more varied delivery of Church life and teachings to a larger number of people.
None of this could have happened without the generosity of many friends and donors, the untiring labors of our faithful, and the unremitting prayers of the faithful and the saints.
Saint Paul tells us that God is "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," (Ephesians 3:20) - but sometimes we have to see it to believe it.
It's with this in mind that we were overwhelmingly encouraged when the first fruits of the Raise the Roof Campaign rolled in - $15,000 toward the completion of the front of our church, the construction of a portico, the erection of a cupola, and the completion of landscaping and fencing to keep the church in good order.
We still have a long way to go to reach our budget of $60,000, to complete this church construction to the glory of God, and in honor of all the saints of North America.
Yet through ten years, we have learned two things:
Firstly, God does infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
And secondly, no church building will be enough to forever contain all the faithful, where the Holy Spirit is at work.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Donations to the Raise the Rood Campaign by cheque or money order may be sent to: All Saints of North America Orthodox Church, c/o 10 Princip Street, Hamilton, Ontario, L8W 2M3. Regular updates can be found at our website, www.asna.ca