Unofficial website about Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto
Canada Uses Technology to Boost Outreach
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto certainly utilizes many forms of available public media in order to connect with its parishioners and provide them with new updates on church events, religious services, and to be able to answer a variety of other questions easily and instantly. Strong organization and leadership is reflected in online outreaches for youth, missionaries, and members of the congregation who want to participate in church related camps or gain a more in-depth spiritual education.
The church organization in Toronto is clearly a prominent link between Greek Orthodox members in Canada and in Europe, and provides religious services in translated form to Canadians to enjoy and participate in at their leisure, regardless of language proficiency or familiarity with the typical Greek traditions of the church.
Utilizing assistance from the Greek Radio Network to provide daily broadcasts to Canadian members (and any church member globally who has access to the internet), the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto is able to share wisdom from His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios. Additionally, unification is encouraged in times of need through the use of technology. Church leaders are able to share news of the deaths of passing clergy or parishioners, which adds to the sense of connectedness within the church regardless of member location.
Indeed, with such a vast congregation to keep track of, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto is able to use technology to share the progress of individuals, groups, and major church endeavors. Such an undertaking included a beautiful Dome Raising Ceremony at St. Panteleimon in Markham, Ontario in 2004. Photos released to the church as a whole were instantly available at a time when few churches in the world even considered using technology to expand their reach and influence.
Confidence is bolstered and proud moments are shared with members when individuals or groups make headlines within or outside of the church. A local township newspaper covered such a moment when young students of the Greek Orthodox church had the opportunity to share their culture and history surrounding the Olympic tradition with a local athlete with aspirations to rank well internationally.
Excited students were able to celebrate along with other parishioners upon their graduation from the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy in 2004. Church administrators ensured that speeches and photos would be available to all online and preserved for posterity. By these means, family across the world could express congratulations and take part in the festivities.
Gradually, as the church found itself spreading out and taking in members from all different walks of life, it could no longer be expected that Greek was a sufficient means of communication. With new options of communication, special, sacred hymns for feast days that were found on the Orthodox Liturgical Calendar were made widely available in English so that church members without any formal education in Greek would be able to easily participate in meetings, services, celebrations and in general church culture.
A particularly sentimental and sweet part of this new media outreach is the newfound possibility of people who find themselves homebound due to age, disease, or circumstance can participate in their favorite religious services even if they can not enjoy the immediate company of other worshipers.
As time progressed, the church made available a directory for the entire parish, as well as a guide for Metropolis programs. Gone are the days of having to physically go to the church to get information (assuming someone is available to greet you and is not busy with other church matters). With the availability of this information platform, many members of the clergy are relieved from additional clerical duties and can focus better on the spiritual needs of the parishioners.
As mentioned earlier, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto wants to provide a place where many could be given voice. The youth have ample opportunities to actively participate in church affairs and share their views and triumphs in learning. The Youth Department supplies their own general education articles to provide information for masses on many topics, such as Holy Week. More information is readily supplied through the church newspaper that is also made available in both English and Greek.
Just like other churches, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis relies on the support of various sub organizations, such as the Ladies of Philoptochos, which is a group of special membership who tend to religious work across all of Canada. With the aid of new technology, these groups are able to share valuable information to members and celebrate with the whole church their unique contributions and accomplishments. A unified church accomplishment in 2004 was the culmination of great missionary work in Canada, and even internationally. The Metropolis Missions Board supplied the church with progress updates and requests in order to carry out their efforts and help share their beliefs with all who were willing to listen. The church was able to send a full mission team to Guatemala to share the gospel of Orthodox Christianity and to make a significant impact at an Orthodox-run orphanage.
There was great necessity of spiritual and mental strength both in preparing for and carrying out the plan of the missionary effort. Volunteers assisted greatly in the preparation of classes within the orphanage school, and in a special youth outreach program. With over 150 resident children in the orphanage, there was a great deal to do every day and many spirits to be lifted.
And back at home in Canada, (and across the world really), anyone who seeks more information on the particular beliefs of the Greek Orthodox faith are able to get their questions answered at their convenience via an entire dedicated Q&A section created by clergy who recognize the need to make principles of faith accessible to everyone, and understand that interest and subsequent conversion could begin with a single click of the mouse. Any person who is learning about their Greek heritage could learn much from the website of the Metropolis, even if they do not share the faith of their ancestors. Other Canadian organizations have a great example of outreach, efficacy and unity as expressed through the utilization of technology by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto.