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Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church
Hunt Valley, MD

Beloved in Christ, 


Greetings to you and your families and I pray that you are all staying healthy and safe. 

I wanted to say first how much I miss seeing your faces filling the church and how much I miss the warmth of the prayer when we gather together in our beautiful church to give Thanks to God. I miss seeing your kids running around, our activities and committees going from meeting to meeting and from event to event, I miss the vibrant community we have.

The Last 7 months have been very tough and challenging, to say the least, to all of us at work, home, and also church, and I affirm you that this Pandemic at some point will be "some difficult time" to remember. Things will get better and the church will always be giving us hope and reminding us always with Jesus Christ's words "I am with you always until the end of ages." God is always in control and He loves His people and I am always find comfort in reading the Book of Revelation especially the verse in Rev 21:4 "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

So, Hope and Faith and Love are our weapons and tools that we use in such times we are going through. I know that many of you are coming to church every service, others cannot wait to come when things ease down a little bit, and many others are doing a sacred service in caring about an elderly at home, and many others are dedicating time always to pray with us online. I am looking forward to welcoming you all at church at once as soon as possible. 

I have few announcements to keep you up to speed,

1. We are entering Phase 3 reopening and increasing capacity for our services to 75%. In the last couple of months we have been accommodating 50% capacity which is70 people for each of our weekly services Sunday Liturgy, and Wednesday night Liturgy. Now as we are entering the new phase and increasing our capacity to 75% which will go to 110 people in each service. Taking in consideration the physical distancing requirement and the good ventilation will prevent us from going easily to 110 people at the same service but we are trying hard to make it safe and possible and we need your help in this. I met with the Parish council chair and vice chair today at church and we planned the seating capacity to accommodate as much as we can. We added some chairs on the Solea next to the bishop throne and the choir stand and in a couple other places. Our ushers will work diligently to accommodate as much as we can and for now we will put the limit of 100 people for each and see if that will work. We need you to attend to the following as you continue the good work of face mask and social distancing and signing up for service. Along with these we ask you to:
+ Please when you enter the church and after the check in, wait for the usher to escort you and show you where to sit. 

+If you are one person attending and no family please make use of the individual chairs that were added today on the right side entering the naive and on the solea. 

+ All ages are welcome at church with all the public health and mitigation tools, face mask, sanitizing, check for symptoms, and stay home if you are sick. 


+ Sign up for services here: https://reopen.church/r/tcRZqcFA


2. As many of you have seen that we launched an online fundraiser to fund the restoration of the Dome through Go Fund Me. This is an effort all of us should help in, and by help I mean many ways to help. Here is how:
         +Go online to see the fundraiser first: https://gf.me/u/yvsfr3 we are raising $50k for the project. So first, this is a process and it is not an overnight fundraiser, we have received $2700 so far, Thanks to all who have already donated. 
         + We understand that many of us think that this number is huge, and it is, but it will be much less than losing the iconography and the structure of the building. I am asking all of us to come together as a family and put the amount we can $5, $10, $20 or any other number according to the availability and willingness of the donor, and contribute to this fundraiser. It is your church, your building and your responsibility. 
         + What if I cannot put any money right now? Yes, many of us might be in this position nowadays, but I can still help by sharing this link on facebook pages, write a nice post and encourage those who see the post to donate. Simply spread the word. 
         + One other way to help is to make a monthly contribution to this project by dedicating a small amount toward this fundraiser every month. 
Bottom line, we are going to do it and we succeeded many times in the past to come together and support our church and keep it going. 

Finally, I love you all, and I am here for you always, I am thankful to all of those who call me to check on the church and on my family, to inform me about someone who is sick or in need of help (I have no other way to know unless you let me know). I am so looking forward to seeing us all back again to make the space Holy and vivid. I encourage those who still have not had the chance to come to church to sign up and come and see how safe it is and how we are making everything possible to make you come and pray and above all participate in the Body of our Lord that many have been away from uniting themselves in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for so long. Let us come all together around the Holy Altar and enjoy the unity of faith and Communion of the Holy Spirit; this is the only thing that will make us truly human. 


Yours In Christ, 

Rev. Fr. Damaskinos Issa
Saint Mary Orthodox Church
A Parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

Most Rev. Metropolitan JOSEPH 
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese
 
Right Rev. Bishop THOMAS  Diocese of Charleston and Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic
 
Rev Father Damaskinos Issa, Pastor
 
 
Parish Council and Church Leaders
 Robert Sallitt
Sam Darraj
Mary Rizkallah

Eiad Nasser
George Makhamreh

Sylvia Tsakalos
Andy Markopoulos
Nuha Jabaji 
Christ Kerlish
Choir Director: Elie Azar
Sunday School: Sylvia Tsakalos
Youth Director: Zade Jabaji
JOY:Hayat Jabbour, Yousef Jabaji
Teen SOYO president:Sarah Jabbour
SOYO Advisors: Abe Morjana, Andrew Markopoulos
Ladies Society: Nuha Jabaji
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Our mailing address is:
909 Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley, MD 21030
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St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church · 909 Shawan Rd · Cockeysville, Md 21030 · USA

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