Kamal Hourani is a first year student in the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.
Even after a scrumptious lunch that begged for an afternoon nap, participants in the Speaking to Secular America Conference gathered in the Maliotis Cultural Center for the final presentation, which was made by Fr. John Parker. It was called: “Inspiring the Apathetic and Reaching out to the Nones and Dones”. Fr John Parker is the pastor of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, and the Chair of the Department of Evangelization of the Orthodox Church in America.
The main premise of his presentation was that secularism is not something that can be fought with programs or techniques because it is fundamentally a spiritual problem (especially considering its nature as a heresy as stated by the late Father Alexander Schmemann). Spiritual problems are cured with love and sympathy.
Fr. Parker stated that we must first eliminate our own apathy and fully commit ourselves to the faith in order to bring other people into the fold. Our hearts must be open to receiving seekers into our parishes. Father Parker compared our resistance to converts like politicians debating over immigration.
The truth is we cannot rest if there is even one non-Christian in the world. Thus, we must always be evangelists.
While admitting there is no silver bullet for secularism, Father Parker offered a few suggestions on ways we can witness more often to the faith of Christ such as writing essays in local newspapers, ministering to those in prison, hosting SA or AA meetings at our parishes, or offering homilies at services like funerals and weddings.
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