Coronavirus changes at St. Anna – March 17, 2020

Dear Faithful of St. Anna:

Blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ as we continue our Lenten journey through these unusual times. I am sure you all continue to monitor the evolving Coronavirus situation and attempts to mitigate the pandemic facing us all.

In response to government guidance, our Archdiocese has issued new directives for the church in order to do our part to protect our congregations and our communities. Though some of the following instructions may seem drastic, they are prudent and necessary to get to the other side of the pandemic as soon as possible. With that goal in mind, the following directives are implemented until further notice:

1. All non-liturgical activities (church school, meetings, meals, coffee hour, etc.) are cancelled.
2. Services are limited to Orthros/Divine Liturgy (commencing March 22) and Akathist (commencing March 27). Services will be limited to CLERGY and CHANTERS ONLY  “on behalf of all and for all.”
3. Confession will be offered only in case of great, immediate spiritual need.
4. Baptisms are postponed until further notice.
5. In case of a funeral, only immediate family may attend (limited to 10 persons).
6. Service texts for home use will be available on the http://www.antiochian.org website under the Liturgics section.

If you are a chanter and show symptoms of any sickness or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test for you or a loved one, please stay at home. I will coordinate with John Meese which chanters will be present at each service.

I hope each of you will see this difficulty as an opportunity for a truly meaningful Lenten offering. What could be more of an acceptable Lenten offering that to give up our own will and desires in obedience to the service and welfare of our community?

We are exploring ways to enhance our journey through these times such as video homilies and other communications, as well as providing a list of churches providing streaming services as soon as possible.

Above let us pray for another and take the time to reach out to each other by phone or email. Obviously, I will keep you informed of any changes as soon as they are implemented.

Holy Saint Anna, pray for us!

Fr. Stephen

Becoming Truly Human Discussion Group Ministry Leaders Training Workshop

St. Anna Orthodox Christian Church – 700 Woodland St, Columbia, TN 38401, 3 Wednesdays: Oct 2, 16, 30; 6:30-8:30 pm (Please plan to attend ALL 3 Wednesday sessions)
During these three 2-hour session those in attendance will learn how to arrange a warm and welcoming discussion group environment, how to ask great questions which will foster open and honest discussions about important life issues, and how to anticipate and deal with possible pitfalls in many discussion groups.
Attention will be given to where to hold the discussion groups, how to invite others to attend, how often to host the groups, and what time of year is best, and who should come (and who shouldn’t!). Then with the helpful guidance and ongoing support of our staff the discussion group leaders will be introduced to the online and telephone support and conference calls. To register: www.becomingtrulyhuman.com/register
Note: $25 donation per attendee is requested payable to “Truly Human, LLC” for materials

St. Anna Church School – Begins THIS Sunday

St. Anna Church School (Ages 3-9) – Begins THIS Sunday, September 15 at 8:45am.

Introducing…….  (You and your child are going to LOVE this!)

St. Anna Church School – “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd” Method

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a common religious experience involving children and adults in which the religious values of childhood, primarily those values of contemplation and enjoyment of God, are predominant. This experience is shared in a place particularly prepared for the religious life of children called the Atrium.

The Child – God and the child have a unique relationship with one another particularly before the age of six. The growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult, but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child. Children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship. This spiritual growth is best served through tangible but indirect means. “If we want to help the child grow near to God, we should, with patience and courage…seek to go always closer to the vital nucleus of things. This requires study and prayer. The child himself will be our teacher if we know how to observe him.” Sofia Cavalletti

The Atrium – The Atrium (or prepared environment) is one of the important elements that helps the relationship between God and the child to flourish. After a theme has been presented, the child is free to choose an activity that will make possible the inner dialogue with the “Interior Teacher.” How does the atrium help to nourish this relationship? ~ The atrium can be compared to a retreat house facilitating recollection and silence. ~ The atrium is a place for religious life, for community and worship—not a classroom for instruction. ~ The atrium is a place of meaningful work through which the child can have a conversation with God. ~ The atrium was the place in the early church where the catechumens were prepared. For the child, too, the atrium is a place of preparation for involvement in the larger worship community.

The Adult – The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to give selected presentations from scripture and liturgy that “call forth” the child’s response rather than “pour in” information.  The catechist listens with the child and together they ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?” The adult reflects with the child on the questions generated by the presentations with the materials offered to the child to aid the child’s reflection. The catechists work together in a spirit of unity and harmony, in tune with God’s plan for communion in the history of salvation and in keeping with the themes of unity so strongly expressed in the parables of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1ff) and the True Vine. (John 15: 1ff) They generously offer their talents and experience for the good of all.

A Catechesis Born of Joy – The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was born from the joy of the children in their encounter with God and lives in being nourished by this joy. It has also been observed that children of the same developmental stage even though belonging to different cultural backgrounds, respond to certain elements of the Christian message in the same way. Over time through being with children in a specially prepared environment called an atrium, observing and listening to their responses, scriptural and liturgical themes developed that most resonated with children’s religious needs according to their age levels. Thus the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd divests itself of any strictly scholastic character, so as to become an experience of life, an education in faith, and a celebration of the encounter with the Father, in listening to Jesus, the one Teacher, and in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

God and the Child with the Adult – An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, all the more so when that relationship is between God and the child. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw nearer to God. The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to give selected presentations from scripture and liturgy that “call forth” the child’s response rather than “pours in” information. The catechist listens with the child and together they ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?” The adult reflects with the child on the questions generated by the presentations with the materials offered to the child to aid the child’s reflection. The atrium (or prepared environment) is one of the important elements that help the relationship between God and the child to flourish. After a theme has been presented, the child is free to choose an activity that will make possible the inner dialogue with the “Interior Teacher.”

Taken from: http://www.cgsusa.org

For more information about Orthodox Catechesis of the Good Shepherd please go to:  http://www.cgsusa.org/discover/cgs-and-ecumenism/cgs-in-the-orthodox-tradition/

Bishop NICHOLAS’ First Visit to St. Anna

On the occasion of our very first Episcopal visit at St Anna Orthodox Christian Church, His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS prayed Great Vespers with us on Sunday, August 18, 2019. Truly an historic event for the first known Orthodox Christian Bishop to ever visit and pray in Columbia, TN! We were encouraged to remain faithful to God, pray for those in our community and invite them to join us.