With the words “Neither Snow Nor Rain…” begins the US Postal Service creed. Well, this can be said to apply to Annunciation Cathedral’s parishioners who, on Sunday, February 8, braved the worst rain storm in decades to turn out for the Parish Vasilopita, sponsored by the Cathedral Ladies Philoptochos. The kalanta (New Year’s carols) were sung and the Vasilopita (St. Basil’s Bread) was offered. After the Vaslilopita was cut and pieces distributed to the heads of the Cathedral’s various ministries and parish organizations, a wonderful brunch was served. Each table also had a Vasilopita. Tradition has it that whoever gets the Vasilopita coin has a special blessing for the year. The individual Vasilopitas contained one coin each. The main Vasilopita, however, had three coins. The three coins fell to Tula Mouroufas, who that day represented all those who are contributing to rebuild the Cathedral church; Deno Konstantinidis who, as coach, represents the Cathedral’s basketball program; and Dr. Katina Kostoulas, who represents OIKOS (Orthodox in Koinonia Outreach Services). Congratulations and best wishes, and to all, a blessed, happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year!

As we mentioned in the last issue of the Herald, a parishioner recently asked whether the Church ever takes public stands on social justice issues and whether there has ever been a thought to forming a social justice committee. Notice, here, the word “Church” is capitalized, meaning it has to do with the entire Body of Christ, including the church at the parish level. The answer to the first part of the question is a resounding yes. One may recall Archbishop Iakovos marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, or the stand the Archdiocese has taken on Cyprus and other issues, especially the recent plight of refugees and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The Church, both on its own and together with bodies as the World Council of Churches and other agencies, has often addressed issues of world hunger and other issues which may be considered to be social justice issues. The Bible regularly addresses social justice issues, as do the Fathers of the Church, especially St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great. The foundational “for so God loved the world” (John 3:16) encompasses what is often called social justice. We must note that the Church [the Orthodox Church] never separates social justice concerns from theology, and takes a dim view of movements that claim to be concerned with social justice without a firm grounding in the Gospel. This said, let’s go to the second part of the question. The part about forming a social justice committee. The Annunciation Cathedral is open to exploring this. In doing so, it extends an invitation to parishioners who might be interested in meeting and doing just this. The committee will do well to look at the Metropolis Strategic Plan, especially its singular outreach ministry program, as well as the work of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. Its 2016 Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast, in fact, honored San Francisco congregations with Social Justice Committees. It is time for Annunciation Cathedral to take its place among those congregations, addressing Social Justice issues from an Orthodox Christian point of view. If you are interested, please let us hear from you. Communicate with Father Stephen, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., initially, and, then, with the committee chair. We would like to bring together a group of at least ten people.

Sure, why not? But, what’s a “Biblical garden?” Well, if you look through the Old and New Testaments, you will find any number of plants mentioned, familiar plants like the olive tree (Judges 9:9), the fig tree (Joel 1:7), hyssop (Leviticus 14:52), pomegranate (Song of Solomon 7:12), and wormwood (Revelation 8:11), but also many unfamiliar plants, as terebinth (2 Samuel 18:9), spikenard (Song of Solomon) 4:14, nigella (Isaiah 28:26), and boxthorn (Proverbs 22:5). The best known of all is, is perhaps, the burning bush, mentioned in the Book of Exodus (3:1). Now, some of the plants mentioned in Scripture will do well in the Mission District climate, others not so well. A while back, thought was given to planning an urban garden in various areas around the new Cathedral, one that could support the Community kitchen. This would be primarily a vegetable garden and would, therefore, be seasonal. Our current thinking is that a Biblical garden could feature plants that would be in season the year round and, at the same time, connect us to our Scriptural roots. We welcome your suggestions, meanwhile. We have some time to go before planting begins, but it’s not too early to ask, “a Biblical garden on Valencia Street?”

The Community Kitchen, which began under the name Soup Kitchen, operates the third Tuesday of every month. The volunteer work involves food prep, cooking, hall setup, serving the meal and---so important!—cleanup. We also have a food pantry, so a few awesome volunteers come early to bag up canned/non-perishable goods for our guests to take with them. Some volunteers arrive earlier, but the typical timeframe is 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Won’t you consider volunteering once in a while? All you have to do is show up. By the way, there’s no age limit. We have teenagers volunteering and we have people “forever young” volunteering. Just look at the collage at the beginning of this Herald. Tots and teens. Seniors and all. Everyone turned out to make our Christmas Community Kitchen a true family event. How wonderful it would be for every month’s Community Kitchen to be like this. We prayed and we sang. We ate and we connected. Guests and hosts alike. We thought, what if the entire world took notice and tried a little bit of outreach: the world would become a better place. How about it. It would be truly wonderful to expand our volunteer base, so we can do more. Please communicate your willingness to Father Stephen, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He will put you in touch to those who’ve taken the lead and are coordinating this important ministry. Thank you.

Our amazing dance groups are busy preparing for the Greek Orthodox Diocese's Annual Folk Dance Festival (FDF). FDF takes place every year in a different part of the Metropolis, and this year it is in San Diego, CA. We have 4 groups presenting suites of dances from different regions of Greece. Our 4 groups are To Mellon, Revmata, Thisavri, and Spithes. Out of over 70 dance program participants, 65 are able to attend and we expect them to have an unforgettable experience. All groups are currently closed in preparation for FDF, however they will be open to new dancers starting in March 2017. You will be able to get a sneak peek of the FDF performances at an FDF preview breakfast sponsored by our dance groups on Sunday, February 12th after church. The flyer is included in this month’s Herald.

As we’ve been doing for a while, periodically, we schedule speakers, through our OIKOS program. OIKOS (Orthodox in Koinonia Outreach Services), under the direction of Dr. Katina Kostoulas, Ph.D., and the assistance of Dr. Tony Elite, sponsors the talks , which are aimed at informing, engaging, and edifying our parishioners in any number of areas involving individual and communal spiritual growth, family dynamics, and parish life. Some of them are erudite (i.e. they are offered by people who teach at the college/university level. Some are instructional in a different way. They are offered by clerics or by laypeople with responsibilities over a particular ministry in the Church. Other are offered by fellow parishioners based on their experiences. All are informative and worthwhile, as they offer a variety of views. The talks take place the first Sunday of each month, during the coffee hour. We’ve had a monk speak to us about the meaning of the komboskene. We’ve had a talk by Alex Kozak who explored St. Maximos the Confessor, e.g. on the topic of the Incarnation. We’ve heard Basil Crowe talk about the development of ecclesiastical music. Dr. Katina Kostoulas has spoken to us on dealing with teenagers and other issues of parenting and nurturing according to the Church Fathers. And the list goes on. We are looking ahead to hearing a first-hand experience with Syrian refugees on the island of Lesbos, from Barbara Karvellis, on Sunday, March 12, to Professor Martha Klironomos on the Bloomsbury Group and how their travels to Greece and Italy inspired the integration of Byzantine motifs into their art. We also look forward to hearing Professor George Kordis, when he comes to “write” the icons in the new Cathedral; he will be speaking, as well, at the PAOI/Graduate Theological Union and at Stanford University. We plan to hear, finally, from Janine Economides and others. Perhaps from young professionals, who have come to San Francisco to work in the tech world, medical research, journalism, etc., as well a number of others.

The new Cathedral exterior has taken shape wonderfully, and it’s truly inspiring to be able to see it in (almost) all its glory now that the scaffold and netting are gone. The finishing touches to the exterior and the courtyard restoration work are on temporary hold due to rain, and will resume as soon as we get a couple of weeks' dry weather. This is a good time to pause and consider all we’ve accomplished, and remember why we’re engaged in this great work. The first time I was in an Orthodox church (I’m a convert) someone explained how each of the elements of the physical building was tied to one of our human senses (ikons for our vision, incense for our sense of smell, etc.). He further explained that the purpose was both to remind us of our spirituality and to help us to directly feel the presence of the Divine. So all the splendid decorations and elaborate services serve a very practical purpose. Our new Cathedral will serve this purpose beautifully. It will be a gracefully imposing space, which we can already see as its exterior nears completion. Inside, it will be harmoniously filled with air and light, much like Yosemite Valley or any other place of great natural beauty. And in this way, it will be more than just a refuge from the bustling world literally outside its doors, though it will provide that. It also will embody the Divine Presence to all who enter, and invite us to encounter God directly in our prayers and worship, not only inside the edifice, but in our daily lives. (Even though it’s still incomplete, all who enter it already feel God’s presence.) And, of course, it will be a beacon to passersby, inviting them to come and see for themselves. While we’ve come a very long way since the first asphalt was taken up, we still have some distance to go to fulfill the promise of this work. So this really is a time of rest and renewal. We are creating something truly amazing, not only for ourselves, but for all who will come after. This pause point can be our opportunity to renew our commitment to see it completed. “Look,” he said. “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” - Acts 7:56 – Ken Katen

It was at one of the Thanksgiving breakfasts sponsored by the Interfaith Council that Nancy Pelosi (then speaker of the House) attended and spoke at. She quoted Matthew 25, saying, in essence, it is what religion is all about. We recall the words of Jesus telling us the heart of the message is to “love the Lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (so far, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5) “and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus adds “and your neighbor as yourself.” One’s “neighbor” is anyone who is in need, as the Lord reminds us in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Our neighbors are those who come to us the third Tuesday of every month to our Community Kitchen. This month’s Herald honors these neighbors of ours. Below are photos of our most recent Community Kitchen.
  • Intro to Orthodoxy

    Intro to Orthodoxy

    The Cathedral’s Intro to Orthodoxy class, taught by Alexander Kozak, has now entered its eighth year! Read More
  • Ask Father

    Ask Father

    Our web site, Facebook page, and Twitter account are an extension of our ministry serving all of the Orthodox Read More
  • Community Link

    Community Link

    Community Link, a Cathedral ministry now in its ninth year of existence, is one of the greatest programs offered Read More
  • FDF

    FDF

    What exactly is FDF? Is it just a dance or singing competition? It's much more. It's about Faith, Dance & Read More
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Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.

John 4:7