Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley Delivered at the Annual General Membership Meeting by Gregory Afarian, Chair, March 11, 2018
Throughout the entire year, the Board of Trustees has progressed with our four goals. The following is a summary of the accomplishments within the year.
Spiritual Growth - Of all of our goals, we must continue to view this goal as our most important – the one that should drive our entire mission at St. Gregory. Teaching, involvement and participation are instrumental in achieving this goal. To that end this year, we continued the practice of having parishioners partake in the Epistle and Confession readings during Divine Liturgy. Lenten Dinners and Easter services were very well attended, while American and Armenian Christmas attendance numbers were strong this past year. Sunday School and having parent volunteers has been a new approach to help with teachers. Getting kids involved in church duties is something the BOT would like to continue as we are trying to implement new roles for our youth. This was our first year for our Sunday School Graduate Interns, which was successful. We had a successful family movie night during Lent. Our bowling trip was another great event, very well attended as well as a new activity, which was a prayer hike. Der Hayr’s weekly email previews, using video and social media is another way we are engaging with fellow parishioners. Adult Education Course will be taking place this spring and we need all parishioners to do a better job of wanting to further their spiritual growth!
Uniting the Community – This is also a key goal as we must continue to reach outside of our community and provide assistance and outreach to the larger community. This past year, St. Gregory was a sponsor for 10 total orphans through the Prelacy. The Avak Program / Luncheons was well attended last year considering the loss of Tom Vartabedian as coordinator of Avak. Greg Minasian took over for Tom until the end of the season and we thank him for his efforts. Our family nights, hosted by the Ladies’ Guild continued as a way to bring our community together in fellowship. We also participated in many Genocide events – including Flag Raising in Lowell & Peabody and as well as participating in the annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration at the Massachusetts State House. We continue to donate to the House of Hope and this year the Sunday School had a successful canned food drive for the Lazarus House in Lawrence. We also donated prepared foods to the House of Hope and our North Andover Fire Department.
Church Growth - We are proud to say that we again have made significant headway in the area of church membership this year. At year-end, we now have a total of 110 paid members in good standing! (doesn’t include 8 members in arrears) One of the key areas that we want to foster is keeping the connection with our former Sunday School students. We are working on getting out our popular care package program for all former students who currently attend college this year. Many were elated to receive word from their church while they were away from home! Thank you to Melanie Tokatlian for spearheading this effort again! Our Choir has never sounded better with the addition of several new members! We added a new and vital member to our choir in the person of Anthony Alexander as our organist. He has been a great addition and valuable member.
With the completion of the 3-stop handicap/elevator lift we have moved towards the final Building Committee project to put back our steeple that is sadly missed! We have gotten our design approved and are looking for donations. We have raised some $35,000 with a target of $75,000-85,000. Thank you to Rich Shahtanian as Chairman of the Building Committee and the rest of the Committee! You’ve all worked timelessly on something that is very dear to our hearts “Our spiritual home” and have brought her back to better than new status. What we’ve accomplished is glorifying to our God and I’m sure he is pleased with our community!
Financial Stability - 2017 ended with a net income of $1,000. This is troubling considering our organizations had banner numbers! The Ladies Guild contributed $18,000 to the church while the Men’s Club contributed $30,000 to our income, with another very successful Cigar Night event. Our church picnic generated over $6,500 in profit for the church. Special thanks for all efforts including the Avak Luncheon, and other program/event leads for the work they do to help us financially. I also would like to thank our volunteer grounds crew Paul Demoorjian, Mike "Red" Boloian, and John Dagdigian who stepped up this year again and allowed us to save a considerable amount of money in landscaping fees. The TD Bank Affinity Program is still ongoing and we hope to grow in this area over the coming year and online giving is continuing to grow. Our new website and our blog with the help of John Boloian and our very own Der Hayr is the main vehicle to promote and enhance user communication / experience for our parishioners. We are rolling out our Aghavn-E Newsletter for church communications for events and church happenings. Finally, our Saint Gregory Endowment Fund program is growing! Through the grace of our Lord we received another generous bequest of $59,000 from the estate of Ms. Elizabeth Koorkanian. This means that during the year 2017 we grew our Endowment Fund to $290,000, making our goal of $1,000,000 in the next 10 years seem attainable. This goal will ensure St. Gregory’s financial stability for years to come and ingrain our spiritual legacy for generations to come!
Last year I pleaded that if everyone gave an extra $25 a month towards a pledge we could eliminate any potential shortfall.
100 members multiplied by $25 for 12 months totals $30,000! How can we spend $100 on a dinner out on the town without a blink of an eye, but not cringe at the fact our spiritual home is in need financial help?
Plans for 2018: As always, the work continues and we are always looking for new people to step up to help the Church / Community to glorify Our Lord Jesus Christ! As many of you know, running a church is NOT an easy task! Even though membership was strong this past year our overall weekly attendance has been mediocre! I must admit as Chairman this deeply saddens me. Our church and community has much to offer. I think a good question for everyone to ask themselves is, “How is your spiritual walk with God and our Lord Jesus?” Our own personal goal should be to try and gain a higher relationship with our Lord! We hope to increase attendance for Sunday worship and continue to make “time for church” a weekly priority in parishioners’ lives. As we did with last year, we plan to kick this off during the Lenten services, and the Easter season. This year we have the privilege to host the NRA May 9-12. Our Chairlady for the event, Christine Kourkounian, and the NRA Steering Committee have a tremendous amount of work to do -- and may ask you to block some of that time off to volunteer to help. This is a great opportunity to highlight our community and our parishioners. On top of it all, if things go well “God Willing” this will be a great way for the church to unify its members and also contribute to our bottom line.
The Board of Trustees has also chosen to support Neighbors in Need where we will build further commitment to our North Andover community and to its less fortunate and have plans to offer meal assistance at the Lazarus House in Lawrence. (more info to come) Our goal will be to engage in more outreach activities to help the less fortunate in our own surrounding communities to fulfill our true Christian mission.
I would like to thank Der Stephan for his commitment and his spiritual guidance to St. Gregory and our community. It is not easy being a priest in this secular world we live in and I feel very privileged to not only have a wonderful spiritual leader to help build our community but also a true friend! I would also like to thank all of the Board members – I’m very grateful for their support and all of their hard work. I am so grateful to have such strong BOT Members, friends and brothers-in Christ. It is because of people like this and their dedication why we can continue to thrive. We love you guys! We have accomplished much this year but as St. Paul says constantly we MUST finish the race! I am confident that we will continue to accomplish great things for the benefit of our beloved church but we need everyone’s help! Thank you all again for all of your support!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
May the love of Our Lord Jesus bless you all!
Gregory Afarian, Chair
Board of Trustees