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ATTRACTING OUR YOUNG TO HELLENIC CULTURE AND HERITAGE (cont'd)

4. SCHOOLS: Formal schooling with a well designed curriculum for Greek Language, History and other subjects, is highly desirable and certainly very effective, and will require, steady, long term efforts. This project needs good planning and organization and can utilize young enthusiastic teachers from within and outside Greece. The recent establishment of the Athenian Academy, as the first Greek public school in the United States (in Pinellas County in Florida, which includes the City of Clearwater) is a spectacular development, and should be copied by most of our local communities. The overwhelming necessity for a private, first class Greek-American University in the United States, is blatantly obvious and will become the subject of a special essay.

Book and Journal exhibits (In Greek and English) held periodically at Hellenic Cultural Centers and at the premises of the Greek Orthodox Churches, can be very useful. A special edition of an Illustrated Greek History, both Ancient and Modern, in Greek and English, is needed.

An Illustrated Geography Book of various areas of Greece with emphasis on Archeological sites and on the Islands, is necessary. Additionally, bilingual Teachers could be recruited among the retired members of the Profession in Greece, in the US and elsewhere, with a strict requirement of fluency in both Languages.

5. CHURCH MUSIC: As related to melody the music in our Church in America has been less than outstanding for a variety of reasons. Some of the Church Choirs are weak, with a peculiar music adopted years ago, and with no attempt made since then, for subsequent improvement. The use of organ music is not enough to bridge the gap. At times, there have been some feeble attempts to encourage the parishioners to sing along, with little positive effect.

This observation is no criticism but merely a statement of fact, as we see it, and can actually be turned around to advantage, by organizing a few Church singing groups, similar to the famous Byzantine group "Ioannis o Koukouzelis" of Thessaloniki for periodic tours, in United States and Canada. These functions can be self-sustained financially, by charging a fee for presentations outside the Church. This will be the impetus for further improving local Choirs.

As an aside, it is well known that our Church is magnificent in Liturgy, in Hymnology (with deep philosophical meaning), in doctrine and in organization. Thus, improvements in Musical expression and certainly in the quality of its Sermons, could make our Church the envy of other Christian Churches. This is important because our Culture, Heritage and Religion are closely connected. Specifically, upgrading the quality of sermons, is absolutely crucial for attracting our young and older people alike. Today, there is an abundance of sophisticated Professionals, holding University degrees, who attend sermons in our Churches.

Unfortunately, our Church has been very slow in catching up, to this glaring fact. The Church cannot upgrade its sermons by relying only on Clergy. Very few hold Ph.D. degrees and there is no formal Continuing Postgraduate Education for them. Thus, selected Academics and Professionals can make an enormous contribution to our Church. The Church podium should be opened to talented and highly qualified individuals, who are knowledgeable and wish to speak on Sundays, during service, on issues of paramount contemporary importance to parishioners, especially on issues of concern to our young. Such a sea change, will substantially improve dwindling Church attendance among the young and will increase overall Church membership.

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