By Lori Kochan
1) Pray and Worship Together
After Sunday Liturgy or on Feast Days, plan a get-together with the parishioners to have a brunch. Everyone should bring a covered dish to share. Rejoice in the Resurrection or the Feast.
2) Puzzle Day
Bring your favorite puzzle for all ages, a puzzle that can be done in a short period of time, up to an hour. Then serve pizza or snacks. Afterward you can donate the puzzles to your area children’s hospital or a nursing home.
3) Movie Day
Periodically pick a Sunday and have a movie for all ages to enjoy. Serve a light lunch, and have everyone bring snacks. Popcorn, too.
4) Movie Night
Choose an evening to have a movie for a specific age. (Young elementary-school children can bring their sleeping bags and pillows to lie on during the movie.) You can decorate and have snacks that fit the movie theme. For instance, with the movie “Finding Nemo,” hang streamers with fish dangling from them; give everyone a goldfish to take home; serve snacks with fish in them—Jell-o with gummy fish or Goldfish crackers.
5) “Take a Hike” Sunday
Find local parks or a state park and make plans to meet and hike on different paths each Sunday. This is a great activity for the fall season after Liturgy. Pick a different park each time to vary the hike. Post a schedule of lunch menus/hikes/meeting place/time so that parishioners may plan ahead to bring appropriate food items and clothing to church. This is the favorite activity at our church.
6) Parish Picnic
Have a picnic on your church grounds or at an area swimming/picnic facility. Provide games for all ages.
7) Family Festivals
In the fall, winter, spring, or summer, have a special day for families to get together. In the fall, for example, meet at a corn maze. Decorate pumpkins, bob for apples, have hayrides, build bonfires and make “s’mores” (toasted marshmallows and squares of chocolate “smushed” together between two graham crackers).
8) Help out at an area homeless shelter or soup kitchen
Plan ahead with the facility to know which day would be best for some of the parishioners to come and help serve lunch or dinner to the people. Ask if desserts can be donated or whether other food items are appreciated.
9) Pizza Night
Meet at an area pizza house or other restaurant and enjoy each other’s company.
Go Chinese. Go Mexican. Have fun!
10) Game Day
After Sunday Liturgy, have lunch together and then have everyone bring their favorite game or a deck of cards. Play the game and then switch players and play another game.
11) Hats, Gloves, and Scarves
Collect these items for donation to an area shelter. Have parishioners present them to the shelter. (This is a good project for some of the parish women who like to crochet or knit items.)
12) Christmas Caroling to Parish Shut-Ins
Pick a day around the Nativity Feast to celebrate with the parish’s shut-ins by caroling. Travel from house to house or nursing home. (This is best done with the choir director or someone with some musical ability to get the singing started.) Present each parishioner with a small gift of stationery, puzzles, candy (sugar-free), books, a craft item, and a festal icon print.
13) Blanket Day
All parishioners bring a blanket to the Liturgy to be donated to an area shelter. Take a picture of the parish to send along with the donated blankets. This will not only help keep the people in need warm, but will also warm the hearts of the parishioners to know that they helped someone in need.
14) Craft Day
Have adult parishioners prepare materials for craft items that the children and young adults can make together. These can be kept by the children or donated to a church event.
15) Parish Camping
Plan a weekend or week to go camping with your family or other parish families. This can be an annual event that includes games, canoeing, biking, hiking, swimming, campfires, worship, eating, and more. Vary the sites.
16) Parish Family Bowling Day
Meet at a local bowling alley and have a tournament with goofy prizes for most strikes or spares, lowest scores, highest scores, youngest player, oldest player, and so on.
17) Park or Museum Day
Visit an amusement park, baseball park, playground, museum. Choose a day and travel together to the park or museum. Enjoy each other’s company.
18) Visit a Monastery
Visit a nearby monastery. (Pre-arrange with the monastery.) Travel for a day or for a weekend pilgrimage.
19) Learn How to Make Prosfora
Make prosfora with your parish priest. He can explain the significance of the ingredients and how they are prepared. He can then invite the preparers to attend the Service of Preparation (Proskomedia) just before the Divine Liturgy to see how the prosfora are used.
20) Visit a Sister Parish for Vespers
Have a Parish Exchange for Vespers. Invite another parish to join you for the service, and then visit them on another weekend. The host parish can serve a light dinner or dessert following the service so that the people can get to know one another.
Lori Kochan is a member of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Mogadore, OH. She is very involved in FOCA Junior activities throughout the Ohio District and is the director of St. Vladimir’s Camp and Retreat Center, Farmingdale, OH. Lori serves in the OCA Department of Christian Witness and Service.