Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Missoula, Montana
Leadership 100 responded to the initiative of the Small Parish Subcommittee of the Finance Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in 2015 by funding a three-year Small Parish Program to stimulate the growth of new and struggling parishes throughout the Archdiocese. Grants in 2015 and 2017 each supported four parishes with $200,000 and $155,000, respectively.
Designed as a complement to the Home Mission Parish Program, also supported with Leadership 100 grants since the 1990s, and which supports priests assigned to new or turnaround parishes, the Small Parish Program funds the implementation of parish initiatives. Included are ministries and programs that bolster new parishes or reverse the downward spiral of struggling parishes in an effort to re-engage existing parishioners and reach out to Orthodox and non-Orthodox inquirers and non-inquirers.
The program is overseen by the Archdiocesan Committee for Small Parishes, still a Subcommittee of the Finance Committee, chaired by Dr. Louis Roussalis, a member of Leadership 100. The committee looks to the Archbishop in the Direct Archdiocesan District and the Metropolitans in each Metropolis to provide profiles of one or two proposed small parishes for consideration by the committee. The committee is comprised of one member from each Metropolis and the Direct Archdiocesan District.
After selection, the respective Hierarch provides updated financial statements and progress reports every six months for review and evaluation as to whether the parish is meeting goals for developing and improving stewardship, outreach, evangelism and membership. The selected parishes issue quarterly progress reports to the committee.
According to Dr. Roussalis, the program grew out of an idea developed in the Metropolis of Denver, which Metropolitan Isaiah often describes as a “Metropolis of small parishes”. Dr. Roussalis further points out that “most parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are struggling to grow and, in some cases, struggling to survive. Unable to make long-term changes because of short-term needs, they continue to take measures that may provide short-term relief, but do not provide for long-term growth.”
Four parishes were funded in 2015 and four in 2017. They included St. Peter the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church, Bronx, New York, in 2015; St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church, Dubuque, Iowa, in 2015 and 2017; Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Missoula, Montana, in 2015 and 2017; Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Prescott, Arizona, in 2015 and 2017; and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Norwich, Connecticut, in 2017.