Growing their own: st. anna's parish in Roseville, ca
For her Girl Scout Gold Award, Ephemia Nicolakis interviewed Fr. Chris Flesoras, priest at St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church in California. The main goal she has for the project is to educate parishes and individuals how to be more sustainable by providing them with the resources necessary to make small, yet powerful, changes throughout their simple tasks and events.
At St. Anna, the community is completely environmentally-focused. The parish that Fr. Flesoras leads is doing nothing new; these practices of incorporating nature into the church life date back to many monasteries in Greece and Africa.
Regarding their overall growing goals, St. Anna is geographically perfect. On the campus there is space for vineyards, and the parishioners volunteer their time to make the grapes into communion wine. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 of the Bible it says that, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The public garden on the church campus is there for parishioners and members of the community to use for when they need it most; doing God’s work by giving back to those who are in need.
Beauty and simplicity are well known throughout the church community. Rose gardens surround the facilities to make it prettier. The rose garden also brings more life by having bees come to and from the garden. In addition, these bees are used for their beeswax to make candles for the church. Beeswax candles are biodegradable and burn with little to no fumes which is a better resource for cleaner air quality.
Through an interview with Fr. Flesoras, he stressed the importance of building the community at St. Anna. In his eyes, that starts by getting the parishioners involved. Of course, this only makes sense as we are called to use our God-given gifts. Romans 12:6-8 states "Having gifts that differentiations according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." Through this calling, it is only fitting to serve our church in the simplest ways: through using our gifts to support the house of God.
By George Hathaway and Ephemia Nicolakis
November 20, 2020