First Things First
The parish is approaching an anniversary milestone in 2020, recognizing 60 years as a community. Milestones offer a time for reflection, celebration, and hope. My reflection this month looks at the start, growth, and current state of our parish. Indeed, we must know the past in order to understand the present, as Carl Sagan said.
The Heart of the Matter
Looking back at the beginning decades provides a reminder of what the founding and early members built for us in Glenview. Archbishop Iakovos authorized our ecclesiastical charter on March 25, 1960. A temporary altar table made in Kathy (nee Cardis) Lucas’s dad’s basement was used for the initial worship services at Crow Island. The church building was completed in two years with the first service in 1964. The building reflected a simple aesthetic of the Midwest plains, avoiding indulgence and enabling focus on worship. By the late 1960s the Sunday School had swelled to 450-500 students, and parish growth was on track to the original estimate of 450 families. The community center with gymnasium was completed in one year, opening in 1974 to provide a permanent space for the schools, the offices, and community gatherings.
Beyond the buildings, the next decades continued to establish the community, with members, their children and grandchildren, friends and family gathering in worship and fellowship together. Those years saw the continuing effects of the parish decision to worship predominantly in English. Families joined our community north of Chicago because their kids or their spouses could understand the services. The 1977 adoption of a stewardship program to replace dues enabled the parish ministries and ministry leaders to expand through the next decades and eventually to retire the accumulated mortgage debt. The period also saw continued dedication to the youth, establishing in 1981 the first full-time paid youth director within the Diocese to ensure that the children of the parish could have vibrant life in the Church, developing faith in the Orthodox way.
After a half century characterized by community building, this last decade was difficult for our parish. Three changes of clergy leadership occurred in the 10-year period, compared to two changes in the first fifty years. Despite the impact of change on the parish family, the recent period of listening, calming, and planning has stabilized emotions and directions. A strategic plan was completed for the first time in 2015 to guide change, to focus on welcoming and inviting visitors and members alike, to expand our ministries for unmet needs, and to adapt staffing and technology infrastructure for better reach and support across our diverse membership. The council is currently pursuing an annual approach to capital maintenance and expansion projects, seeking to avoid complications of deferring needs. The passing sixth decade stands as a testament to our community, facing change from within and without that has ultimately strengthened our resolve and purpose.
As we approach our 60th anniversary milestone in 2020, I recognize that the community of our founder’s vision remains viable and thriving. An anniversary steering committee has been formed and is planning events to let us come together under a common theme: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Appropriately, these words were spoken by St. Peter to Christ after witnessing His transfiguration, as in Matthew 17:4. The anniversary plan includes events that celebrate us, like a parish Talent Show, and that celebrate us here, like a Farm Liturgy or marching in the Glenview Days parade. A culminating gala event is in the works for the fall on 10-11-2020 (adding up to 60 plus 1 to grow on!). After the last decade, it is indeed still very good for us to be here and ready to start a new decade. Let us give thanks this month and pursue our purpose next month.