Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • 1. What are we building?

    The goal of the Capital Campaign is to build a new Church and Family Life Center on our 20-acre property on Beach Boulevard.  Our Byzantine Crucifix-form Church will meet the demands of our growing Community by providing a large sanctuary and a Family Life Center that will provide administrative spaces, kitchen, 10 classrooms, museum, multi-purpose space in addition to a luncheon and coffee area.

  • 2. Why are we building?

    In order to truly understand our parishes’ spiritual journey, we must not forget our beginnings.  A debt of gratitude is owed to the founders and previous generations for providing a church, a place of worship and fellowship, that has brought the parish to this point.  However, it is now evident that St. John the Divine has currently outgrown the beautiful parish and has reached capacity in its facilities. Our mission is to be united in the love of Christ and aspire to successfully live out the Orthodox faith with reverence and faith, building bridges of understanding and love, with the word of Christ, and sharing Orthodoxy both inside and outside of the four walls of this parish.

    With more than 350 families on the rolls, our makeshift Sunday school facilities are bursting at the seams and our Parish Hall is becoming uncomfortably crowded during banquets, luncheons and coffee hours. The sanctuary is increasingly overflowing and parking has become difficult if not hazardous at times. The parish currently boasts 20 active programs for Christians of all ages. Baptisms and Chrismations are steady as families grow and word spreads about the spiritual experience offered by Orthodoxy.

  • 3. How did we get here?

    The history of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church dates back to the late 19th century when Greek immigrants began calling Jacksonville “home”. In 1916 a residence was purchased and converted into the first Greek Orthodox Church of Jacksonville. Over the next 90 years, parishioners have worshiped in three different buildings which included a church in the downtown area and our beloved church on Atlantic Boulevard.

    In 1959, the Atlantic Boulevard property was purchased and in 1967 construction began. The first liturgy was held in 1968 and since then has been a place of innumerable weddings, baptisms, funerals and the center for the liturgical life of the faithful in the greater Jacksonville area.

    As the third oldest Greek Orthodox Church in the state of Florida, St. John the Divine has always centered itself around the Lord’s teachings and being a Holy Sanctuary for families to grow in their spiritual journey with Christ. Through this 90 year journey, the parish has grown to more than 350 families encompassing people from various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds all sharing a common love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Faith in which we believe.

    During the 1990’s, St. John the Divine parishioners began to address the future necessity of a new church campus under the leadership of a long-range planning committee which led to the purchase of approximately 20 acres on Beach Boulevard. This milestone led in to the formation of a group of experienced professionals within our parish who form the Millennium Building Committee. The St. John the Divine General Assembly of May 22, 2005 unanimously approved the selection of Papadatos and Associates of New York as the Master Planner for the new Church project. Through countless hours of meetings and diligent planning, the committee addressed several current challenges and those on the horizon for our growing parish.

    The Millennium Building Committee along with the Capital Campaign Committee have utilized the results of a Feasibility Study conducted by Father Constantine Zozos, other parish financial data, Master Plan information, construction costs estimates, and debt service to develop a sound financial plan to recommend the initial building concept whose scope falls within the financial means of the parish. The Building Committee along with the Capital Campaign Committee recommended that the initial building concept include a Church and a Family Life Center. The financial plan along with the recommended building concept was presented and unanimously approved by the Parish Council on March 14, 2011. On April 3, 2011, with the blessings of his Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, a Special General Assembly was held where the community unanimously approved proceeding with launching the Capital Campaign based on the recommended building concept.

  • 4. What are the benefits to the community from a new Church and Family Life Center?

    A new spiritual home in Jacksonville, will be a home that will meet the growing demands of our vibrant community today as well as in the future. Our new Church home will continue to build upon the sure foundations that have been previously built and allow us create new ministries, new programs, new opportunities that aim to bring people closer to Christ and to each other. We want to build a church home that will work towards fulfilling the mandate from Christ when He said, “go forth to ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19).

  • 5. When will we occupy the new church?

    The schedule for construction for our new Church and Family Life Center will depend upon the results of the Campaign (total pledged amount) and timing of payments received.  Accelerated payments of pledges will allow ground breaking to occur sooner. Thus, the Community will determine how quickly we are able to begin construction.

  • 6. How much will the new church cost?

    The initial construction estimate based on a preliminary conceptual design ranges between $8.3 and approximately $9 million.  This includes the Church, Family Life Center, and parking areas.  It does not include interior furnishings such as pews, the Iconostasion, and iconography.  Arrangements will be made to incorporate the parish’s current icons and altar into the design to connect past, present and future.  The outcome of the Capital Campaign will result in design modifications as necessary to reflect the affordability of the Community as well as be supported by a solid financial business plan based on the updated estimated construction cost of the building project.

  • 7. How will we pay for it?

    Construction costs will be met through the pledge commitments and corresponding donations of parishioners during a five-year Capital Campaign, the sale of the current Church complex on Atlantic Boulevard, current Building Fund assets, and a bank loan, as needed.  The goal of the Capital Campaign Committee is to raise $5 million for the construction of the Church and Family Life Center.  The Capital Campaign Committee is actively working towards achieving this goal.

  • 8. What is the plan to raise the money?

    Your Capital Campaign Committee under the leadership of Father Constantine Zozos of Parish Stewardship Development Consultants, a fund raising professional, has initiated a campaign to raise $5 million. The approach of the campaign is to hold individual meetings with parishioners for the purpose of disseminating information concerning the project, to answer questions, and to discuss your financial contribution to our new Church and Family Life Center. Every gift and every prayer will be received with profound gratitude. This approach of personal contact allows for dialogue and the answering of questions. You will be contacted by an Ambassador, Father Nicholas, Father Milton or Father Constantine to set up a meeting. Over time, every person and family in the parish, and beyond, will be afforded the opportunity to make his/her own sacrificial gift to the campaign. The goal for the Capital Campaign is to encourage every parishioner of St. John the Divine to be a part of the campaign and to submit a pledge.

  • 9. Why are we building during this economy?

    There is no ideal time to conduct a capital campaign. There are excuses in every phase of life and under all economic conditions not to give. When the economy is going great, we hate to give away an asset that is appreciating. When the economy is struggling we hate to give away an asset that is depreciating! The Capital Campaign Committee is fully aware of the economic challenge and therefore realizes that the Campaign might take a year or two. What is that to a Church that measures time by centuries? Of course, there are advantages to building during a down economy – labor and materials are less expensive.

  • 10. How may I prepare to participate?

    Allow Christ to guide your heart through prayer. Read Scripture passages that speak about giving, such as Corinthians 16:2, Proverbs 11:25, Proverbs 3:5-9, 2 Corinthians 8:1-21, Acts of the Apostles 20:35, the Gospel according to Saint Luke 6:38, and Psalm 116:12-19.

  • 11. How long will my commitment be?

    You are asked to make a financial commitment that can be paid between a three and five year period. You may pay in equal amounts each year or in increments of your own choosing including full payment in the first year. In addition to cash contributions, other types of contributions options (i.e. transference of title to marketable stocks, bonds, other securities, real estate, etc.) are available for you to consider. Please consult with the Capital Campaign Committee regarding these options.

  • 12. If I can’t give a large amount, does my commitment really matter?

    Absolutely! All commitments/gifts matter, regardless of amount, because we all participate according to our ability. God appreciates the sacrifice not the quantity (see Luke 21:1-4.) and multiplies our giving through His grace. Our goal is to achieve 100% participation by every parishioner so that everyone can share and rejoice in our collective achievement for the glory of God. No single amount has been determined as the right amount. This project requires sacrifices by all of us. The only expectation is that each family meets with a Capital Campaign Ambassador to discuss the project and follow up with an exemplary gift that falls within their means. The main message of the Campaign is not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.

  • 13. Do I have to be a church member to participate in the capital campaign?

    No. Participation in the campaign is a personal decision for each and any person who is interested in supporting the Parish of St. John the Divine. Anyone may contribute to God’s work in our church.

  • 14. Who will know of my commitment?

    All commitments will be kept strictly confidential. Only a few select and trusted persons responsible for managing the Capital Campaign will know, of necessity, in order to rally the commitment total and manage cash flows in payment of commitments during the five year period of the campaign.

  • 15. How will gifts be acknowledged, tracked and recognized?

    The Capital Campaign Committee are committed to ensure that Campaign is managed professionally. This means timely confirmation letters for pledge commitments, immediate deposit of gifts received and accurate statements to Campaign supporters reporting to them the present state of their pledge. Concerning recognition of gifts, let us remember the teaching and example of Our Lord who praised the Widow who, though she gave a small amount in the eyes of the world, she in fact gave a great amount in the eyes of God because it was a truly sacrificial gift. Every gift to the Campaign will be recognized and appropriately acknowledged.

     

    Those seeking to offer an extraordinary gift for a particular area, space or room within the new Family Life Center or Sanctuary will be uniquely recognized; those selecting Donor Opportunities will be recognized on a plaque set aside within the Family Life Center. Their name, the space selected and the names of those the donation is dedicated for i.e. in honor or in remembrance will be included on the plaque. Per the donor’s choice, each room selected will be given the name of a Saint, and where appropriate the Saint’s icon will be displayed in a niche, with a vigil light. No rooms or space will be named after the donor.

     

    Everyone who calls St. John the Divine their sacred space and spiritual home will be asked to contribute… each according to their ability and capacity. We realize that not everyone is able to participate in a “Donor Opportunity.” By no means do we want to convey that this meaningful and important project is restricted to the capabilities of a few. Thus, all contributions will be recognized in a dignified and meaningful way.