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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of December 6, 2009)

posted Dec 7, 2009, 2:42 PM by Ilya Buchkin
Annual Voters' Meeting Results-
Bill Spencer was elected and Todd Wiblin was appointed, both to three year terms on the Parish Council.  The 2010 budget was approved with one minor change.  The budget will be posted on our financial bulletin board in the narthex.  Several other items were discussed.  Complete meeting minutes will be released once they are prepared.  Thank you to all voting members who stayed and participated.

Choir Recognition Sunday-
Today, Sunday December 6, is Choir Recognition Sunday across the Antiochian Archdiocese.  We want to thank all of our choir members who help us all to worship the Holy Trinity by lending their voices at all the divine services.  Special thanks goes out to our choir leaders: Tania Van Dinter, Amy Jongeling, Lori Branch and Kristi Abuissa.  All four work very hard to keep our church music sounding beautiful.  May God grant them, and all choir members, many years!

St. Nicholas Revealed: An Historical Perspective from an Ancient Church-
On Saturday, December 12 from 2PM-4PM, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church of Cedar Rapids will be presenting a talk on St. Nicholas at the Marion Public Library in Marion, IA.  Fr. Ignatius will join with Fr. Ciprian Sas of St. John the Baptist Church and Deacon Edmund of St. George Church to present the historical St. Nicholas to all who are interested.  

Decorating the Church for Christmas-
       Do you want to help decorate the church for Christmas?  Because the church has no budget for this decoration, we are looking for donations of poinsettias, evergreen boughs (real or artificial) for our window sills and iconostasis, and a Christmas tree (real?) for the narthex.  The Valentine family has volunteered to decorate the tree.  We would like these decorations to go up over the weekend of December 19-20.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you plan on donating decorations or helping to decorate.

Bless a St. Raphael Member with a Christmas Card-
One of our members, Luke Snyder, would welcome receiving Christmas cards from other St. Raphael Church members.  Luke is currently incarcerated at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility in Mount Pleasant, IA.  He sends his greetings to all of you.  His contact information has changed from what is printed in our church directory.  For his current address, please ask Fr. Ignatius. 

A Call for Donations for Vigil Lamp Hooks-
With our new, larger space, and our walls filled with clusters of icons, we would like to hang vigil lamps (lampadas) in front of the seven clusters that do not yet have one.  We have the vigil lamps but do not have the hooks to hang them.  For a donation of $18, you can cover the purchase and shipping of a hook.  $126 will cover the whole cost.  If you would like to donate to this, please speak with either Kristi Abuissa or Fr. Ignatius.

Looking for Volunteers to Organize a Fundraising Event-
Last January, our church family banded together to pull off a wonderful fundraising event at Old Brick that we called "An Evening in the East".  From that, we raised approximately $7000 for our Capital Campaign.  We would like to do something similar again this winter, and schedule it for late January or early February, before Lent begins.  For this to be successful, we need volunteers to organize all of us into an efficient structure of cooperation and division of labor.  It will take most or all of our members participating in some way, for this event to be as successful as it can be.  If you feel motivated to head up such an effort, please contact Fr. Ignatius or Kristi Abuissa.

Short-term Mission Opportunity-
Are you looking for ways to serve God, participate in works of mercy, and extend your hand to those in need?  If you're thinking, "Yes, yes, yes!"  Project Mexico has an opportunity for you!  Project Mexico is committed to shining our light into the communities and hearts of the Mexican people in the Rosarito/Tijuana area and into the lives of orphaned teenage boys. Since 1988, Project Mexico has been involving young people in the alleviation of suffering by building homes for Mexico's poor. Hundreds of homes have been built for needy families with the help of nearly 10,000 volunteers. In 1996 our outreach expanded through the opening of St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage in Tijuana which provides a home for teenage boys who live on the streets or who have been put out of other orphanages. 

Project Mexico has  built over 180 homes for impoverished families, changing the lives of one family at a time. They have expanded their program by introducing Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) where several hundred Orthodox Christians from all over the country gather together with the common goal of answering Christ's call to serve the poor. Divided into small groups, they go out into the community to build a home for a Mexican family in need. Everyone stays in tents at St. Innocent Orphanage.  These weeks include fellowship, daily prayers, evening speakers, and a chance to speak with clergy, monastics, and people currently working in the mission field.

They can now accommodate 300 volunteers in each week of OBT, June 22-28 and July 6-12. There is still space available. So, if you have been thinking that there must be some way for you to shine your light, perhaps this is your calling! To sign up for a week, or if you have any further questions or concerns, please contact  Madi Franck at mfranck@projectmexico.org.

Overflow Shelter Volunteering-
       During the cold winter months, local churches and other organizations in Iowa City work to provide an area where people who do not have a bed in the local shelter, because of a lack of space, can find a warm place to sleep.  This winter, St. Patrick's Catholic Church has volunteered the use of their parish hall for this purpose.  St. Raphael Church has volunteered to provide staffing for the week of January 17-23, 2010 for this overflow shelter.  We need volunteers that week (no training required) to bring breakfast, clean up in the mornings, do laundry on Wednesday and Sunday and serve as a morning or evening driver.  The sign up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in the hall outside the fellowship area.  For further information, or to volunteer, please contact Amy Jongeling at 319-331-2275 or ajongeli@gmail.com

Holyland Pilgrimage-
       With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and being lead by His Grace Bishop Basil, a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mt. Sinai is being organized for August 17-31, 2010.  The itinerary will include Tiberias, Nazareth, Mt.Tabor, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Samaria, Hebron, and so much more.  A highlight of the trip will be the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Dormition (old calendar) at the Church of the Tomb of the Theotokos.  A two day trip to Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine will end our pilgrimage.  The cost will be approximately $2235/double, $2830/single (if we have 20 in the group) reduced to $1835/double, $2430/single (if we have 50 in the group).  A deposit of $300 will hold your spot with the balance being paid up to 45 days prior to leaving.  (These prices do not include flights.)  If you, your family, or your friends are interested in this Pilgrimage, please reply to Fr. Joe Abud at njja@aol.com and you will receive more information and updates.

Nativity Fast-
We are in the season to prepare for the coming Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.  During this time, the Church asks us to alter our diet and abstain from meat, dairy and eggs, and on some days, wine and oil.  As with each of the fasting seasons of the Church year, this is a particularly good time to prepare to make a confession.  During this time, we are encouraged to increase our giving to the Crisis Center's  food pantry.  The box to receive non-perishable food items is located in the narthex, underneath the candle box.

Do You Have a Prayer Request?

       Please give it to Fr. Ignatius and he will distribute it by email to all those on the Prayer Chain.  If you wish to join the Prayer Chain, please let Fr. Ignatius know.

Holy Bread and Coffee Hour-
       On Sunday, Dec. 13,  the  Branch/Peterson family will provide the holy bread. The food for coffee hour will also be provided by the Branch/Peterson family.  Thank you in advance.  Anybody who would like to host the coffee hour or bake the holy bread can sign up to do so.

Choir Leadership-
On Saturday, Dec. 12,  Kristi Abuissa will direct the choir for Vespers.    She will also direct the choir for matins and Liturgy on Sunday, December 13. 

Food For Thought-

Shout aloud to the Lord, all the earth; serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with great joy.  Know this: the Lord, He is God; He made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with hymns; give thanks to Him; praise His name; for the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth is from generation to generation.

Psalm 99 (100), Orthodox Study Bible