Nativity 2007 - Yearly General Donation Appeal
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Nativity 2007 - Yearly General Donation Appeal

My Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 Bless!  The Lord!

 In the All-Night Vigil sung in church before great feasts and most Sundays, in the service of Orthros or Matins there is a lovely hymn sung whose words come from Psalms 134 and 135 and include these verses, “Praise the Name of the Lord, praise Him, all ye servants of the Lord.  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” and “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”  So we see in this wonderful hymn important words we need to take to heart not just during the church service itself, but throughout each moment of the year: to first of all praise the Name of the Lord, and then to give thanks to Him for He is good, as His mercy is everlasting.  These are words that will enliven and change us to become conformed to live here and now like we wish to live someday in Heaven.  God has come down to be born among us, so let us truly glorify Him.

How can we praise God in our minds, hearts, and lives?  This can seem complicated unless we make this concept concrete and doable.  First, we must think in praiseworthy terms about all of the ups and downs in our life, and thank God actively for the blessings that are easy to see, and also the ones that are harder to appreciate, including what seems difficult and unpleasant.  This takes conscious and willing efforts on our part.  We must see that the joys and sorrows of this world are just passing, not permanent, and change our perspectives to always include Godly terms and Godly ways, for our true home is not just here on earth, but in Heaven.  We cannot praise God when we are not thankful, because ultimately blame always returns towards God, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time.  Gratefulness is the fundamental underpinning of a blessed and praiseworthy life.

Besides learning to think this way by mere thought, we must use our physical and mental energies to actively seek expression in generous and God-pleasing ways.  Alms-giving, generosity towards those who are weak, or poor, or without emotional support, making time for those who need someone to pay attention to them and their own thoughts and things they feel are important can teach us how to be merciful as Our Father in Heaven is merciful.  Being prayerful and keeping God in every aspect of our daily lives, not just formal prayer times or at church, will focus the mind and heart to become tuned towards Christ and the Holy Trinity, and to keep Heaven open before us.  Self-restraint is also  important to teach us how to fast from mere self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking activities, so we can be sober and watchful over our souls, and strive to enter the narrow gate as the Lord Himself taught us.

In seeking the Kingdom of God first, all of our true needs will be added unto us, especially if we dedicate our lives and each good activity to God for His blessing and to make it blessed for our souls. 

St. Nicholas Church
Iconostasis with new marble tile floor
and new Candle and Incense stands 

Now at this time of the year we here at the Skete, Convent and Mission make our yearly general appeal to you for financial and prayerful support for the end of this fiscal year and to begin our next one with thanksgiving.  Much, much has been accomplished this year through your timely help and we have shown you many pictures in particular of this building of St. Nicholas Church for its recent consecration just last September 22, 2007.  Our Metropolitan Joseph said that it was one of the most beautiful churches in his Diocese.  That is a compliment to your wonderful generosity over the three years of recent church building to bring everything together for that special consecration day.  There is, however, still a little left to accomplish before the church is fully complete.  Because we did the general contracting ourselves and donated labor, the building came in at less than half of conventional costs from commercial builders.

- Church Consecration -
Metropolitan Joseph chants 
with the Faithful and Clergy
- Church Consecration -
Metropolitan Joseph in front of Holy Altar

Click here to see photo highlights of St. Nicholas Church Consecration.

We had a most generous donor who made an offer last August of matching funds up to $10,000 for all monies given for the church construction until the end of this year.  That means that every dollar given is matched by the donor’s offer to make it double in value.  To date we have only received $6,921 since this generous offer, so that means we have $3, 079 left to fund-raise to receive their double value.  This would become just over $6,000 if you give now.  Please help us pay for the rest of the Altar Vestments as yet not made, the second bathroom tiling and fixtures and the baseboard trim for the entire church not yet finished or installed, the candle and censer stands and the chalice and paten (discos) set already used at the consecration, and the incidentals from the installation of the marble flooring.  All together this would cost only $9,000, but with the matching funds it would only be $6,000 in new donations before the end of the year.  These timely donations would allow us to finish more of the fine details still unfinished today and use the matching funds resources to make our monies go further.  Please help.  If 80 people give $75 for this worthy cause, we would have these funds to finish this part of th e work on the new St. Nicholas Church. 

New Candle stand
View towards back of Church
Holy Altar

Choir Loft

In addition, I have right now several friends of the Skete who would donate the labor to install the tile floors and walls in the Common Monastic Building this Fall and Winter if I can just purchase the tile itself and the mastic to attach it and the grout to fill it.  The largest expense in any tiling project by far is the labor, not the materials which would only cost in this case about $9,000.  It would go a long way in completing the most obvious eyesore and unfinished interior construction in the Common Monastic Building, and would faithfully convey the heat from the bare concrete floor to the rooms.  If 80 people gave $115 for this cause, it would cover the cost of the materials and we could get started right away before the weather and early sunset made this work more difficult.  The back valley only has kerosene lanterns to work by after dark. 

Common Monastic Building
in quiet back valley
Visitors on tour of building
at the annual Open House

Our two new postulants (another one is due to arrive on November 7th) are living in the Common Monastic Building’s novice dormitory which is still without plumbing fixtures, a well, water tank and septic field, adequate solar electricity to run the water system, and the plumbing connections to complete the already purchased hot water radiators to work with the already functioning in floor heating system which is only barely adequate.  The solar electricity needs to be updated to run a larger pump to heat the floor more efficiently and also provide enough pressure to run the seven additional radiators already installed. 

We have put our own monastic needs last for years (especially in building St. Nicholas Church at the Mission Center), but now our young men could use support in their desire to live a dedicated life to Christ in the monastic state of prayer and fasting.  Since the solar electrical upgrade is expensive (about $16,000 at our last written estimate), we can probably get by this winter if need be with more clothes and blankets, but the floor tiling would be a necessary part of the total completion of the heating system in the future and make their surroundings much more appealing than unfinished concrete floors.  If you can help us also with this project.

Lastly, general donations, especially one time donations and monthly pledges help our general and the non-specific needs for the Skete, the Convent, and the Mission throughout the year.  We ask each year in this letter for help for these general needs.  May God bless you this coming year, mostly with the abundance of spirit, and make you a truly cheerful giver, praising God and giving thanks to Him for all of your blessings, and keep you in His Holy Name.

        Keep us in your prayers and love,

 Your Brother in Christ,

 Father Simeon, Abbot and Archimandrite
   and the brotherhood of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
   and the sisterhood of St. Silouan’s Convent
   and the community of St. Nicholas Church

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