: Orthodox Evangelism Symposium held in Brisbane QLD

The ‘Open Doors’ Orthodox Evangelism Symposium, held on May 26, 2023, at St Seraphim Russian Orthodox Church in Brisbane, gathered clergy and laity from around Australia to discuss welcoming visitors, including newcomers, developing parishes, and enculturation.

The day began with registration and coffee prior to the formal start of the day.  This opportunity for networking created an atmosphere of camaraderie.  Being the first event ever to be about Orthodox Evangelism in Australia, there was great anticipation – each participant being aware that they were involved in something that was simultaneously both ground-breaking and within the Orthodox tradition.Attendees were formally welcomed by Fr Andrew Smith, including an introduction to the Committee for Diocesan Evangelism, where he serves as Chair.  He then introduced Fr Barnabas Jellings, who delivered the opening keynote address, “The Art of Parish Hospitality: Welcoming Guests and Visitors into our Parish Community.”  This talk provided many insights on the need to create a welcoming environment within our parishes.  These were shared in a group activity, where participants explored ways to implement parish hospitality in communities of various sizes.  These group activities became opportunities for participants to meet one another, and to learn from each other’s experiences.A fireside panel followed lunch, with participants hearing from Fr Andrew Morgan, Fr Barnabas Jellings and Fr Andrew Smith on a variety of topics, including welcoming outsiders, adapting to local conditions, understanding the impact of parish size on community engagement, and the impact of cultural differences.Fr Andrew delivered a demonstration of a resource for parish management, showcasing its potential for aiding parishes in growth and development.  The group activity that followed allowed participants to collaborate, exchange and refine ideas on how to contribute to the growth and development of their respective parish.Vespers was celebrated by Fr Barnabas Jellings, assisted by Pdcn Alexander Abramoff, with the choir (mostly comprised of Symposium participants) conducted by Mrs Alecia Sams, the choirmistress of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church.After dinner, Fr Andrew Morgan introduced the closing keynote address, entitled “Common Ground between Australian Culture and Orthodox Christianity,” which was delivered by Fr Andrew Smith.  He defined and evaluated Australian culture through the lens of the ‘Alaskan Missionary Trilateral’ – accepting what is already in common with the Orthodox faith, rejecting what contradicts the faith, and transfiguring what could be adapted.  An engaging Q&A session followed.The ‘Open Doors’ Orthodox Evangelism Symposium fostered an environment of openness, hospitality, and cultural exchange. Attendees left with valuable insights, practical strategies, and a renewed commitment to welcoming newcomers to our parishes, embracing communities and neighbourhoods alike, and extending the warmth and beauty of the Orthodox faith to all who seek their spiritual home.
Special thanks to:
– The Diocesan Missions Fund, for the grant towards the costs of this Symposium;
– St Seraphim Russian Orthodox Church, Woolloongabba, as our hosts;
– Our logistics manager;
– Guest Speakers and MCs;
– and, all Symposium participants.
For more information:
– A Photo Album for the Symposium: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.6180304852091487– Committee for Diocesan Evangelism: https://www.HolyAnnunciation.net/CDE– Playlist of Talks (released weekly on Tuesdays in June 2023): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3gZNx8OhjtbLJNF_muDJ2dk3xKueb6Y5
Fr Andrew Smith;Chair – Committee for Diocesan Evangelism