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Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church is a young, vibrant and dynamic parish located in Southeast Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1998 with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, St. Nektarios hosts parishioners from many backgrounds, dedicated youth ministries, and considerable philanthropy that works locally, nationally and internationally. Their vision: to provide a loving, caring and welcoming environment where all belong and grow in the faith through worship, service, witness and fellowship. The Orthodox Christian Network was able to speak with Fr. Steve Dalber, Presbyter of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church, and Ms. Evelyn Klund, Parish Administrator, to highlight their faith in action to serve Christ’s Church.
For the last year and a half, the St. Nektarios community has been supporting an Orthodox school in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The church adopted 300 children of the school who live in these slums. What is remarkable is that each month, the St. Nektarios community contributes more than $8,000 to the school, ensuring that its teachers are paid, students have clothes to wear, and providing three meals a day.
“We had been supporting the school for years, but when I went to Kenya myself, it just so happens that it had also been funded by some doctors who, when the economy crashed, were no longer supporting,” Fr. Steve said. When he returned to Charlotte, he made an appeal to the community, and they received the project very well. “We are blessed in being able to come up with the money to provide support,” he added.
“Kenya is an unbelievable story, that it seems like it comes out from the Bible,” said Evelyn Klund, Parish Administrator. “So many people coming to Christianity, and just as much, Orthodoxy.” More than 300 parishes have been founded throughout the Diocese of Alexandria, in addition to schools and hospitals, all under the metropolitan. The church in Charlotte is now in the process of developing a thrift store to continually support the school in Kenya.
Just as much, the parish and its stewards are actively involved in serving people of all backgrounds in the local community. The church operates many ministries, including feeding programs, prison visitations and clothing drives. From GOYA-led food drives to volunteering at the soup kitchen, and from military support to visiting seniors, St. Nektarios Charlotte has many volunteers representing many ministries.
Evelyn highlighted one such coordinated effort called the Samaritan’s Feet. As the church has many philanthropic “themes” throughout the year, the current project involves raising funds to purchase shoes and socks for youth around the world so that they may be healthy and able to achieve their dreams. Right now, the church has a Giving Tree in the fellowship hall in which parishioners may donate $20 for a pair of shoes, which will be donated to someone in need in the community, the country or around the world.
When FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) gave 2,500 shoes to St Nektarios, the church was tasked to distribute all of these shoes to those who need them.
With more than 50 volunteers sorting and distributing shoes, the shoes were given to the homeless who needed them, and to teachers who could give them to their students.
On June 13, St. Nektarios in Charlotte will once again be sorting shoes for distribution.
Not only does the parish provide food and clothing to those in need, it educates them, even if they aren’t Orthodox. St. Nektarios Orthodox Church in Charlotte hosts an open house, coffee hours and tours of the church frequently to non-Orthodox Christians. Sometimes, the local senior citizen center visits to learn more about the Orthodox Christian faith. And often, the Chancellor of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in the church’s neighborhood sends his students to research at the Orthodox church.
According to Evelyn, the Parish Council welcomes visitors and helps them understand the service. “The church is a very welcoming and accepting atmosphere when someone walks through the door,” she said. Often there are non-Orthodox who attend services. They don’t seek to be christened or baptized, but simply seek the peace of the church. Fr Steve said, “people feel welcomed and engaged by parishioners.”
“Overall, we have people who are regularly calling us up who want to learn more, “ Fr. Steve said. “We invite them to come by.” Fr Steve said that the church hosts many ethnicities, and thus tries not to be centered on any single ethnicity. There is no language barrier, and thus, there is always someone in the pipeline wanting to be Orthodox.
When asked what do people love the most about their St. Nektarios Church, Fr. Steve and Evelyn echoed similar sentiments. With so many opportunities to serve in ministries and the love they feel from working together, the community rallies around those who want to receive the Church. “We have an attitude of doing things,” said Evelyn. “We are always trying to keep our eye on our purpose and why we are here.”
St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church is dedicated to the continuation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s ministry of salvation through the proclamation and teaching of the Gospel; through Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and through loving service to God and to mankind.
My work as an Assistant Parish Relations Coordinator affords me the opportunity to speak with priests, lay leaders and parishes across the country. Every day I hear the remarkable stories of both small and large communities who go above and beyond to share their faith. Each week, the Orthodox Christian Network will feature a church community whose words, deeds and faithfulness represent one of many pieces of the Body of Christ.
If your church would like to be featured in a parish profile, please call or email James W. Carras, Assistant Parish Relations Coordinator, at 954-522-5567, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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