Delivered at the Annual General Member-ship Meeting of Saint Gregory Church
Your Board of Trustees worked very hard throughout the year to provide guidance and leadership to support the operation of our beloved St. Gregory Church.
The four Pillars which we have focused on in the past remain our priority: Spiritual Growth, Uniting the Community, Church Growth and Financial Stability.
Even though we faced lingering headwinds from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the early part of the year, we were encouraged to see our church attendance increase and our Sunday and Armenian Schools finally open for in person classes in the fall. Nevertheless, there are still some faithful who have chosen not to return yet. We understand that the past two years have been transformative for all of us in one way or another, but rest assured, St. Gregory wants you to know that no matter what has changed, our church will always be here for you to come home to.
One area we can be thankful for is the renewal of in person fellowship which helped to UNITE THE COMMUNITY. We were all spiritually and socially reunited through the long awaited, in person fellowship with church events including Coffee Hour, the Annual Picnic, the 52nd Anniversary Dinner, Men’s Club Cigar Night, Fall Fair and Thanksgiving Family Night to name a few. These events helped to bring back our sense of church family and community. This coming year is sure to be another exciting and fulfilling year with many events contemplated and planned, including His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, who will make a pontifical visit to the Eastern United States which will include a visit here at our beloved St. Gregory on November 1.
The Church continued its OUTREACH through our parishioner’s charitable giving where food drives were conducted for The Lazarus House in Lawrence, providing help for our neighbors who are less fortunate.
St. Gregory continued the sponsorship of 11 orphans in Armenia through the Prelacy Orphan Program. We are proud of all our church bodies, the Sunday School, Ladies Guild and Men’s Club, for their continued dedication to this important outreach program.
The church also supported the Prelacy’s Lebanon disaster relief program through financial contributions funded by second plate collections and Sunday School donations.
FINANCIAL STABILITY and a balanced budget are always at the forefront of the Board of Trustees concerns. In 2022 we faced rising costs in all phases of our church’s operation and had to make certain decisions to hold very tight to control our spending which ultimately resulted in a slight net positive for the year. However, it should be noted that in 2022 and for the past few years, we had the benefit of several one-time events like the gas explosion reimbursements, PPP loan forgiveness and funeral donations which have provided us with much needed financial relief. We should recognize that this is not a sustainable financial model for which we can plan for in our budget process. The church must work to keep our regular fund-raising events successful while looking for new ways to improve our financial stability.
In addition to the need for regular church events, we must also look inward at how our individual families can financially commit to St. Gregory. This is an area which deserves our attention. I call on each of you to take a heartfelt look of how you give to the church. Be thankful for what God has provided to you and your family and look at how you can give back to His house. It’s our collective responsibility to sustain what we have through the giving of both our financial support and our time.
On the topic of CHURCH GROWTH, this past year did bless us several new members and families for which we are thankful and who we warmly welcome to our church community! This is not a new story, but it bears repeating; increasing membership remains the key to our success. Therefore we urge each of you to communicate to others the benefits and importance of becoming involved at St. Gregory and tell them what makes our spiritual home so special.
In conclusion I would like to thank the many people who have made this year a success:
The deacons, choir members and choir director who dedicate every Sunday to making our Badarak so special.
Our Men’s Club and Ladies Guild members who work tirelessly at church events to make them as successful as possible.
The director and teachers of the Armenian and Sunday schools who bring the Armenian language and Christian education to our children.
The maintenance crew for keeping our grounds beautiful and our facility operational and safe.
My fellow Board of Trustee members who worked very hard throughout the year to keep our church vibrant and alive. A special thanks to outgoing members Sylvia Mahlebjian and Treasurer Susan Parigian who tirelessly worked to keep our finances stable during these unprecedented times.
And of course, many, many thanks to Der Stephan for his spiritual leadership and guidance. May God’s blessings give him and his family much love, happiness, and good health throughout the coming year.
I am happy to serve and proud of our church’s 52 year history, but now more than ever, we ALL need to work together to foster new growth so that we can preserve this spiritual house we call God’s home.
Joe Almasian, Chairman Board of Trustees
Annual General Membership Meeting
March 5, 2023