Dearest faithful and loving Parishioners,
Father Christos and the Parish Council Executive Board greet you all in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. We hope and pray that you and your family are in good health. It has been nearly three weeks since Governor Newsom ordered the state of California to shelter in place and we encourage everyone to continue to adhere to the requirements to avoid social gatherings so we can do our part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We would like to provide you an update on how the coronavirus has impacted our Panagia and the steps we are taking to protect our community and help one another during this unprecedented time.
First and foremost, we place the health and safety of our community at the top of our priority list. In accordance with the shelter in place requirements, all activities at our church have been cancelled since March 20th. This includes all church services, meetings of all ministries, rentals of our Hall and Family center (gym), etc. Out of an abundance of caution, Father Christos and our employees are working remotely as much as possible and visit the church and church offices only as is necessary.
With the assistance of Philoptochos, we have been reaching out to our seniors in our community to offer any assistance including offering to purchase groceries, supplies, etc. We will continue to reach out to see if any member of our community needs help and we are committed to provide the necessary support. If you or any senior member of our community requires assistance, please let us know and we will respond quickly.
Many of you have already seen our liturgies, all of which are being streamed to you live via the internet. Although we cannot be together in person, we are able to stay connected as a community with the use of technology. For those of you who have not watched our livestream liturgy, you can access it through our website at www.assumptionlb.org. The livestream of our services will be available throughout the Holy Week and all are encouraged to go to our website to see the entire schedule of upcoming services.
The coronavirus has created financial uncertainty throughout our economy and is expected to have a negative economic impact to individuals and businesses throughout our country. As a church and religious organization, we are not immune to this financial hardship. In early March, we began taking steps to review our financial condition and all non-essential costs budgeted for the rest of the year. We adopted a strict policy of eliminating any discretionary spending and reviewing all vendor relationships to identify ways to reduce or defer expenditures. With the leadership of our Parish Council we will continue to be proactive in ensuring we are being financially cautious during this crisis.
Please know that our Panagia is financially sound—we are blessed to no longer have a mortgage on our property and we do not have any exposure to the volatility in the stock market. However, our revenue has been significantly impacted for the near term—we no longer have gym rental from local club teams, banquets have been cancelled for the foreseeable future and, of course, we do not have your candle and tray offerings from Sunday services. Despite the steps to reduce discretionary spending, we have continuing fixed costs for our church operations. Our reserves will help us in the short-term, but our “rainy day” fund is not sufficient to cover all of our expenditures without your assistance. We know many of you have been impacted financially so we can only ask that you do the best you can. Our request is the following:
Stewardship – As of April 7, we have received 207 stewardship payments and/or pledges for 2020 (some payments were submitted without pledge cards). Thank you to those who have pledged for this year. In 2019 there were 350 pledges, so we still have families who have not renewed their pledge for 2020. We recognize that many of you prefer to wait until the end of the year to make payment, but it would be extremely helpful—even if you cannot make a payment until later in the year—to receive your pledge card so we can budget more effectively for the rest of the year. Pledge cards are available on our website and can be completed in just a few minutes electronically.
For those who have pledged and have not yet paid your full pledge, we ask that you consider accelerating some portion of your pledge payment during the next 15 – 45 days. Receiving earlier payments will be extremely helpful to our cash flow.
Candles/Trays – The inability to hold in-person services directly impacts our collections for trays and candles. Last Sunday, we implemented a “virtual tray” on our livestream which allows you to use Venmo to contribute during services. Thank you to all who contributed to the “tray”. We ask you to use this efficient method of making any contribution but if you prefer contributing by check, you can always mail it to our office (5761 E. Colorado St., Long Beach, CA 90814). You can also notify us by phone (562-494-8929) or email (email@example.com) if you would like a 7-day candle lit on your behalf and payment can be made using Venmo, PayPal(for credit card payments) or mailing a check to our office. Whatever method is most convenient to you, we appreciate anything you can do to contribute to our weekly collection.
Holy Week/Luminaries – Please stay connected during Holy Week. In addition to the Holy Week schedule posted on our website and our weekly newsletter, Father Kanakis has shared a resource booklet to follow for home worship. This additional resource will allow you to participate in all the religious services during our most important time of the year as Orthodox Christians. We will also provide an opportunity to honor the Good Health of the Living and the Memory of the Departed through a contribution for Luminaries. The Luminaries will be personalized and placed inside the church on Holy Friday. Please see our website for more information on how you can participate this year.
Thank you for your continued support of our Panagia during this challenging time. Our faith has never been more important than it is right now, and we continue to pray for the safety and well-being of all of you and your loved ones. The strength of our community will help us through this difficult time, and we will emerge stronger and more united.
Rev. Fr. Christos Kanakis, Proistamenos
Jimmy Eleopoulos, Parish Council President
Tasos Papas, PC Vice President
Savvas Roubanis, PC Treasurer
Gregory Karapoulios, PC Recording Secretary