2021 Pastor's Report

Fr Paul's 2021 Annual Pastor's Report for the Annual Meeting (Jan 24, 2021)

The pastoral part of my pastor’s report was given as this morning’s Sunday sermon. Now, let me report on some ‘nuts and bolts.’

Establishing a Quorum

Having moved away from assessments based on the number of “contributing members” to “proportional giving”—a percentage of a parish’s annual net income—to determine what each parish should give out of its treasury to fund the work of the diocese, we are able to count as adult voting members all adults who are faithful Orthodox Christians. In other words, each one of you is considered a voting member of the parish based on your age (18 and older) and your sacramental participation and not on your pocketbook.

On this basis, then, and taking into account certain other extenuating factors, I am reporting to the parish, for the record, that we can put our adult voting membership for this 2021 annual parish meeting on Jan 24, 2021, at 67. If a quorum is 1/3 of that, then we can establish our quorum at 23. To answer the question that may inevitably rise from this calculation, if we were to count everyone, children and adults as well as inquirers and catechumens who, by their having become “regulars” with us, our number is well beyond 130.

Baptisms, Chrismations, Weddings

In 2020, we brought into the Orthodox Church 12 souls: five by the sacraments of confession and Holy Chrismation, seven by Holy Baptism. Of these 12, 10 have become members of St Herman’s. Megan Thweat was chrismated as Gorgiona (sponsor, Cheryl Doely) on July 11; her husband, Dan, was baptized and chrismated as Cyprian (sponsor, David Doely), and their children, Lucas and Gabriel, were baptized and chrismated as Athanasius and John Chrysostom (sponsors, Caleb Tkach and Corinne Johnson), all on Saturday, July 11, at the Divine Liturgy. Dan Faust (sponsor, Emanuel Sas) and Alex Wauck (sponsor, Joe Slater) were chrismated as Justin and Alexander at the Divine Liturgy on Saturday, July 25. Nick Kelly, taking St Nicholas as his patron saint, was chrismated on St Nicholas Day, Sunday, Dec 6. His sponsor was Peter Tabeling.

One of St Herman’s “favorite daughters”, Hannah Tkach, was married to Shawn Small of Bismarck, SD, on Sunday, May 24—but not before Shawn was received into the Orthodox Church at St Herman’s on Saturday, May 23, under the watchful eye of his sponsor, Joe Slater. The two were married at St Herman’s and promptly moved to Bismarck. There, they are working with other Orthodox faithful to establish an Orthodox mission.

(Another favorite daughter, Katie Wesche, plans to be married to Jerrius Jubran (he grew up at St George Antiochian in West St Paul; they met at Church Summer Camp) on June 20, Pentecost, at St Herman’s.)

Gabriel Roman Sas was baptized and chrismated by his uncle and godfather, Fr Cyprian Sas (pastor of a Greek Orthodox parish in Milwaukee), at the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, June 20. Harlin Peasley was baptized and chrismated as John Chrysostom (sponsor, Brad Kampf) on Sunday, August 2. The following Saturday, Aug 8, Cyprian Wesche was baptized and chrismated (sponsor, Peter and Susanna Tabeling).

With our archbishop’s blessing, Fr Christopher baptized and chrismated Natalia Labrada at the home of her parents, Abraham and Anna Labrada, in Rochester, MN, on Sunday, July 12. Andrew and Mary Stallman were Natalia’s sponsors. Since Fr Christopher performed the baptism, because he is attached to St Herman’s, the record of it is entered into our St Herman’s metrics book.

In sum, the seven souls received at St Herman’s through Holy Baptism and Chrismation were:
1. Gabriel Roman Sas
2. Daniel Thweat
3. Lucas Thweat
4. Gabriel Thweat
5. Harlin Peasley
6. Cyprian Wesche
7. Natalia Labrada

The five souls received at St Herman’s through confession of Faith and Holy Chrismation were:
1. Shawn Small
2. Megan Thweat
3. Dan Faust
4. Alex Wauck
5. Nick Kelly

We performed one marriage, that of Hannah Tkach to Shawn Small, now Mr and Mrs Shawn Small in Bismarck, ND.

Beauty and a Seed

In the pastoral part of my pastor’s report, delivered as this Sunday morning’s sermon, my theme wasthe biblical therapy for healing our soul from trauma, in particular the trauma each one of us hassuffered this last year and will continue to suffer. Let me add a couple of points to that.

Beauty and smell are essential elements in the soul’s therapy. Have you noticed how our nave smellsgood, even a day or two after a service, from the incense? It is a palpable reminder of the reverenceand piety, the kindness and goodness shown by the faithful of St Herman’s. Smelling the incense and witnessing the good spirits of St Herman’s faithful in unpretentious action is always to me a sourceof healing from the bitterness of anger that assails me during the week from all that is going on these days.

Now, I can tell when someone is chanting or singing in prayerful love or as a matter of routine, trying to get through the prescribed prayers as quickly as possible. I can feel the love or the indifference of their heart, and it doesn’t depend at all on the beauty of their voice. To this point, the singing at St Herman’s during this trying time has been beautiful, even when only four or two are singing. I can feel in the singing the love the singers feel in their heart for the LORD’s Holy Church. It truly makes the worship of St Herman’s a prayerful vehicle fit for carrying the LORD of Glory into our souls. I am confident I speak not just for myself: from the beauty of the singing, I often experience the worship at St Herman’s to be healing and ennobling.

Ah, but I have an ulterior purpose for speaking of the beauty of spirit in the souls of our St Herman’s faithful. We have often and rather wistfully spoken of installing chandeliers in the nave to beautify our worship. For, if the LORD Jesus Christ—whose Pantocrator icon is in the dome overlooking the whole nave in a traditional Orthodox parish, built from the ground up according to Orthodox theological principles—is the Source of Beauty, then worship that is truly beautiful will lift the soul to God and to her true self, for she was made a beautiful image in the Image of God (Col 1.15), who Himself is Beauty. Our wistful talk of chandeliers is therefore appropriate and right. Installing chandeliers—I envision three of them—is a dream that should not be allowed to go away.

In the course of my literary meanderings in the last month, I came upon the Winter 2016 issue of the Orthodox journal, Road to Emmaus. This issue features an interview with the founder of Byzantine New World Studios. This man happens to be a member of an OCA mission parish in South Carolina. He is an artisan who builds chandeliers for Orthodox parishes, and his purpose is to make chandeliers that are beautiful, appropriate for a parish’s particular space, and affordable. Our treasurer’s report will show that, even with the capital improvements we made three or four years ago, and the building of the soleia, we are still in a very good financial position. We will be discussing at our meeting some options for putting our wealth to good use. I mean for now only to sow a seed in our minds in preparation for that discussion: it is meet and right to consider investing at least some of our capital, or raising some, for the purpose of purchasing and installing beautiful chandeliers, possibly from Byzantine New World Studios, above our nave, especially if they are both beautiful and affordable. Why is it meet and right? Dostoevsky has answered that question: because “Beauty will save the

If we feel the time is not yet for us to undertake such a venture, let’s begin to consider seriously when a good time would be. If not now, when? If when, well, when, then?

In Christ
Fr Paul Wesche

Annual Report to Parish