The Parish Council of St. Mary’s Church is composed of parishioner-elected and pastor-appointed men and women from the congregation. The Parish Council operates under the established by-laws of St. Mary’s Church and each member is held to the standards set forth in the by-laws and the Orthodox Christian faith.
The Parish Council functions to speak for the congregation, to work for the pastor, and generally to keep the church in operation. Members of the Parish Council meet on a monthly basis and more often when needed. Everything from financial budgets to maintenance issues are discussed at PC meetings. Time away from their families and careers is a sacrifice many Parish Council members make for the benefit of the parish and for the glory of God. Close to sixty years of Parish Council committees have brought St. Mary Orthodox Church through difficult times, and served as an essential piece in many of its greatest accomplishments.
Fr. Damaskinos Issa
Andy Markopoulos (Chair)
Robert Sallit (V-Chair)
Chris Kerlish (Treasurer)
Sam Darraj (V-Treasurer)
Nuha Jabaji (Recording Secretary)
Sylvia Tsakalos (Corresponding Secretary)
Dr. Eiad Nasser
The Men’s Ministry, originally called Men’s Fellowship, was a strong driving force for fundraising and fellowship in the early years of The Nativity of the Theotokos Antiochian Orthodox Church. The ministry started in 1981. Monthly meetings were held at the homes of different members. Members paid dues to be in the ministry. As the ministry grew in membership, more fundraising events were established. One of these events was the annual Bull & Oyster Roast which will enter its 34th year running in 2020. The first Bull & Oyster Roast started off strong with the raffle of an ’84 Chevy Monte Carlo.
Today’s Men's Ministry continues to create new relationships and cultivate existing ones between brothers in Christ. They actively participate in lunch and dinner outings, volunteer their time for the betterment of church facilities and community projects, and ensure new faces in the community receive a warm welcome. The Men’s Ministry is a dedicated and wonderful set of gentlemen looking forward to increasing as the years go on. God willing!
The Ladies Society, as it is colloquially known, has been a steady and strong source of financial support and spiritual energy for St. Mary Orthodox Church over the last fifty three years. It held many fundraisers even before the Church hall was built. The first recorded Ladies Society fundraising event was selling homemade cupcakes outside the old Ames department store at the intersection of Ridgley Road and York Road in Timonium. Other fundraisers included making and selling aprons and zalabia (a type of Middle Eastern funnel cake) at church benefits. It also sponsored a Hafleh in the hall at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.
While gathering funds to support the building of the church was necessary, the Ladies Society also recognized the importance of going into communities to share the story of Orthodoxy and the multitude of its ethnic influences. To date, fundraising, outreach, and spiritual-related activities sponsored by the Ladies Society have grown to include: annual coffee hour luncheons; Lenten food sales; preparing and delivering Thanksgiving baskets to underprivileged families in Baltimore City; coat and clothes drives for underprivileged children in Baltimore City; International Cookie Walk and Christmas Bazaar; visits to local monasteries; visits to local assisted living communities; sponsoring children of St. Mary’s to attend summer camp at Antiochian Village and donating funds towardchurch-related items and church-related events.
St. Seraphim of Sarov
Young Adult Ministry
Our mission is to aid in the spiritual growth of the young adults within the Archdiocese, bringing them to a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We strive to foster an active Orthodox Faith in Christ through: Worship through the full liturgical-cycle of the Church including attending weekday services together, gathering at a local parish for its Feast Day, and the combined services at diocese and Archdiocese gatherings. Spiritual Renewal and Education through retreats, conferences, speaker series, pilgrimages, and bible studies aimed at the needs of our young adults. Service through short-term mission trips and volunteer activities on a local level. Fellowship through social outings, conferences, and gatherings.
Come join us for a study of the Bible each week, led by Fr. Damaskinos. The current book of the Bible that we are studying is the book of Revelation. Meeting times can be found on our online calendar.
The Maintenance Ministry consists of hard-working parishioners who volunteer many hours a week to keep the buildings of the parish hall, the Church, and Saint George Chapel operating and cosmetically updated. These volunteers often interrupt their work days to meet with service companies, such as plumbers, electricians, sound system operators, to restore broken systems to working order. Additionally, the Maintenance Ministry provides an opportunity for youth to get involved in and learn valuable trades that are needed for the future of the church.
The Sunday School program serves children in preschool through 5th grade. While the program has evolved many times over the years, it has remained steadfast in its approach to teach children the Gospel through lessons developed by the Sunday School teachers or adopted from eternal curricula. Sunday School has always commenced following Divine Liturgy to allow families to worship together, to allow children to learn the rhythm and meaning of services, and to help them apply what they learn in Liturgy to the lessons they learn in the classroom. While the idea of Sunday School conjures up images of classroom teachings, many activities have occurred outside the classroom.
Through the years, the Sunday School students have enjoyed and spread joy through Nativity plays, Christmas concerts, and annual visits to Weber’s (pumpkin) Farm in Parkville, MD. The students have also enjoyed celebrating kicking-off new school years with visits from ice cream trucks and ending the school year with picnics.
As St. Mary Orthodox Church has grown over the years, so has the need for more classrooms and the need for a safe outside site to play. Many families have come together to fund and build classroom spaces within the parish hall and a playground just outside the parish hall. Creating permanent well-sized classrooms remains a goal for the church. As many recognize, the youth of the church are the future of the church. For this reason, we must ensure they have a place to grow.
The mission and goal of our JOY ( Junior Orthodox Youth) ministry is to bring our young children (grades2-5) closer together by learning about the Holy Orthodox Faith as well as communicating through planned activities.Through relationships with each other and our Lord, Jesus Christ, our children will experience Christianity in various ways and become active members of our church. Starting these connections from now will allow them to prepare to live as Christian examples as well as make lasting friendships throughout their lives.
St. Mary's Teen SOYO (Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations) seeks to integrate each young person fully
into the total life of the Church. SOYO brings its members to a deeper devotion to the Holy Orthodox Church, its faith, canons and worship. Teen SOYO creates and fosters ministries to encourage members to commit themselves to living the Orthodox Faith daily. The combination of Worship, Witness, Service and Fellowship are the natural expressions of that commitment. SOYO is led by dedicated young adult volunteers who devout many hours to the youth through instruction, attention and love.
St. Mary’s Teen SOYO is enriched by a program called SEF (SOYO Educational Fellowship). SEF was established at the church in 2017. The purpose of SEF is to provide students the opportunity to learn about and adopt Orthodox Christian teachings, and practices through education, fellowship, and spiritual growth. The youth of SOYO routinely meet with their advisors to work on projects and assignments that guide them through Orthodoxy. SEF is a model of Sunday School for the teens at St. Mary’s Church.
SOYO’s activities have included and continue to include: making and delivering food to homeless men and women in Baltimore City; sponsoring an annual Independence Day parking fundraiser for people to watch fireworks from nearby Oregon Ridge; taking part in Debkeh dancing at festivals; participating in Bible Bowls; participating in the annual SOYO month activities directed by the Archdiocese; enjoying fellowship with other churches through yearly retreats ; and enjoying fellowship with each other through bowling events, ice skating, hiking, camping, putt-putt golf, exploring museums and much more. St. Mary’s Teen SOYO brings energy of joy and excitement to many church events such as festivals. These teens are the future of the church and are deeply loved by our community.
Byzantine Ecclesiastical Choir
Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, hymns have been used to communicate theology and doctrine to worshipers. This began in the early centuries of the church with a few chanters leading the congregation in prayer. Composers in the early church developed musical notation to dictate more intricate melodies and hymns, leading to the most current form of Byzantine notation used today. As the repertoire of music increased over the centuries, choirs began to be utilized in the services.
Choirs hold an important role in the Orthodox Church, as they respond to petitions on the behalf of the congregation. The choir at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church has greatly blossomed over the years. Our choir consists of twenty dedicated members, representing no fewer than nine different nationalities. The St. Mary’s choir is one of the few multilingual choirs in the United States that has preserved the use of traditional Byzantine music for all services.
Our mission is to foster the growth of creativity and togetherness through the arts with particular attention but not limited to music. Our vision is to realize the talents of our parish to better understand and know each other. Our goal is to provide an outlet for these gifts within the Church and to offer a safe haven for those who wish to reveal those God-given talents.