Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Heb 12:1)
Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
I would like to take this opportunity to report to you on behalf of the Parish Council with some of our major accomplishments of 2018, as welook ahead to 2019.
It has been my great honor to serve alongside my Parish Council colleagues for the past two years – they have once again done an outstanding job in meeting the needs of our community in 2018. I would like to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of all, and particularly of our Secretary Eleni Rahimzadeh and our Treasurer Jeanine Kumarelas Russell, whose contributions to our parish community have been invaluable.
Through mid-December our community has operated on-budget and made zero withdrawals from our Endowment to cover operating losses. Let me emphasize that we still have to make a final push to fulfill our Parish Stewardship goal by year end. But assuming that we do so, we are on track to operate on a break-even basis for the first time in over 20 years. The credit for this achievement can be shared by all and is the result of several incremental factors. These include:
- Our solar energy system resulted in a reduction in electrical expense of over $70,000 in 2018. Many thanks to all of our generous donors, and especially the leadership gift by the Gousios family. This project will generate savings to our community for decades to come.
- We topped our record setting 2017 Festival, with a still more successful Festival in 2018. Many thanks to co-chairs Paul Fakaros and Sofo Kyriakopedi and their team.
- We raised our facility rental costs for non-members to market rates, increasing revenues.
- Following a record setting Stewardship achievement in 2017, we are on pace to meet or exceed this amount in 2018 (please fulfill your gift if you have not done so already!)
Creating a stable cash-flow model is a challenge in any parish environment, and I credit your Parish Council for taking ownership of this challenge and delivering a remarkable outcome.
Other important milestones were also achieved in 2018. Perhaps most important among these was reorganization of our front office, including the appointment of lifetime parishioner Cathy Giouzelis as our Office Manager. Cathy threw herself into this challenging position with gusto and has taken ownership of her role with the passion and determination that only someone who truly loves this community can. Also, we have brought stability to the finance office, begun the transition to the PDS parish software system, and transitioned much of our back-end bookkeeping function to Church Shield, a vendor specializing in church finances. Each of these steps will create a far more effective front office model to meet our community’s needs in the years ahead.
In Parish Life, we successfully established a new coffee hour program that brings both families and ministries into the process of hosting coffee hour. We established a Family & Wellness speaker series highlighted by an inspiring luncheon talk given by Holy Cross seminarian Christos Papademos. We enjoyed a joyful March 25 celebration, a memorable Easter Picnic and a splendid Christmas Pageant and Luncheon. Much of the credit for this vibrant programming belongs to our Parish Life co-chairs Ria Gassoumis and Alexis Lagios. Thanks also to Dr. Gene Bobroff and his team for leading our new Welcoming Committee which has already engaged several visitors and inquirers who are now exploring the faith.
Importantly, despite our own financial challenges, we fed over a thousand hungry people on Thanksgiving Day and were able to make a generous contribution to victims of the tragic Camp Fire in Paradise, CA. My sincere thanks to all of you for keeping our focus on serving those in need.
We worked hard to make a number of upgrades to our campus. In early 2019 a new stage curtain and the updating of the interior of the Fr. Tom Paris Event Center will be completed. Thank you to Building Committee chairman Tom Banis for leadership on these improvements. Notably these enhancements are the result of private donations that have zero impact on our operating budget. Also, our bookstore has been a wonderful reinvention of an overlooked space and created a place to learn more about the faith or find a wonderful gift for a loved one. Meanwhile upstairs the Parish Council approved the remodel of the church office foyer by the Historical Committee to showcase our history and many precious artifacts. This project is now underway.
After two serving as President for the past two years, I will step aside in 2019 so that others can take our community to new heights. Serving in this noble post has been a privilege, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every day of it. This was made possible through the support of so many people within our community who constantly inspired me by their devotion to this blessed parish family.
I would most especially like to take this opportunity to thank Fr. Tom Zaferes, whose guidance and friendship and example meant everything to me. I would also like to thank our dedicated assistant priest Fr. Ninos Oshaana, whose deep faith and talents in bringing converts into the faith was something that I was blessed to witness more than once, as Theodora and I became godparents to adult converts on multiple occasions this year.
Finally, let me also take this opportunity to say thank you my wife and our three boys. Their many sacrifices made my service possible and I am forever in their debt. I love you all!
Yours in Christ,
November 25, 2019
November 19, 2019
November 18, 2019