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Greeting At the Celebratory Banquet for the Fortieth Anniversary of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (Egg Harbor, NJ)

 

GREETING

By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

At the Celebratory Banquet for the Fortieth Anniversary of the

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

November 19, 2022

 

Your Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia,

Protopresbyter George Liacopoulos,

Parish Council President, Dr. Haitham Dib,

President of Philoptochos, Maria Marinakis, and beloved Sisterhood,

Parish Organization Heads,

Forty Year Jubilee Sponsors, Archons and Members of Leadership 100,

Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 

We have just come from the service of Great Vespers, and we should note here that by commencing this anniversary celebration with a Vespers, we have actually initiated the beginning of tomorrow. In the liturgical life of the Church, the evening begins the next day. What a wonderful image to keep in your minds. We are not so much celebrating a milestone that has passed, but a time of commencement – a time of new beginnings.

This fortieth anniversary of your Holy Trinity Parish is a generational moment, as I implied at the Vespers. It is a time of celebration of the past, and of expectation for the future. But what I would not have you miss is the present hour, when you are gathered together as a community.

Tonight’s feasting and dancing is a worthy celebration of these past forty years, but it is also a reinvigoration and re-energizing of the parish. Sometimes, I think we forget that the only day that we ever possess is today. As we so often hear in the hymns of the Church the words Σήμερον.

Σήμερον τῆς σωτηρίας ἡμῶν τὸ Κεφάλαιον, at Annunciation.

(Today is the Chapterhead of our Salvation…)

Ἡ Παρθένος σήμερον, at Christmas.

(Today the Virgin…)

Σήμερον κρεμᾶται ἐπὶ ξύλου, on Good Friday.

(Today He is hung upon the Cross…)

Σήμερον σωτηρία τῷ κόσμῳ, at Pascha.

(Today is salvation come to the world…)

The Church constantly calls us to the present moment, so that we fully experience the life in Christ as a living, vibrant reality. And that is what Holy Trinity is tonight: a living, vibrant reality.

Our celebration tonight is an occasion where we can dive deeply into the experience of this parish – remembering the good and recalling the challenges and how they were overcome. It is a moment when we embrace all of our brothers and sisters in the same love, with which God loves us. A love that remembers no wrongs and wants only what is best for the beloved. A love that gives of itself without demand for a reciprocal reward. A love that binds the community together at its most fundamental reality – the Body of Christ.

For, my beloved friends, that is what we are – the Body of Christ. For forty years you have incarnated that Body here in Egg Harbor Township. It has been a journey that knows no end, because to arrive at the Kingdom of Heaven is to go, as the Apostle says, “from glory to glory.”[*] We always move forward “in life, faith and spiritual understanding,” as we pray in the Divine Liturgy.[†]

This has been a year of milestones throughout our Sacred Archdiocese, not the least of which is the fact that in 1922, our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople granted the Tomos – the Synodical Decision – to bring the Church in America under the protective wings of the Holy Mother Great Church of Christ. Thus, we celebrate our centennial!

And for forty years of that history, Holy Trinity has been an active member of the National Greek Orthodox Church that has ministered to hundreds of thousands and presented the face of our holy faith to the American public. You all have much to be proud of and are to be congratulated for your devotion to this parish, and your sacrificial generosity that has made Holy Trinity and all her ministries possible.

Therefore, let us enjoy this moment of celebration of the forty-year mark in the march of this wonderful parish. And let us envision what the next forty years and beyond will look like.

Let us leave to your children and grandchildren a dynamic, energetic and optimistic community of faith – based in the love of our Triune God, for whom you are named.

Thank you, and again, congratulations to all!

 

Photo: GOARCH/Dimitrios Panagos

 

[*] II Corinthians 3:18.

[†] Second Prayer of the faithful: προκοπὴν βίου καὶ πίστεως καὶ συνέσεως πνευματικῆς.