Speakers and Topics for Facing Forward: An Ancient Faith Conference for the Second Half of Life

Facing ForwardThe middle season of life marks itself in our experiences as an ending and a beginning. It is a season of change and realization and can be a time of great joy and great suffering. There are many questions to ask as we seek to reinvent ourselves, to stay connected with grown children, to care for aging parents, and to think practically about the end of natural life. We invite you to a weekend of thought-provoking conversation, worship, and good fellowship as we study the joys and trials that come to us as God grants us many years.

When and Where: May 28-31, 2020 at Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center, Bolivar, PA


Speakers and Topics

Fr. Gregory and Kh. Frederica Mathewes-GreenFr. Gregory and Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green. A Conversation for Parents of Adult Children. When our children become adults and build their own lives, our connection to them can stretch and shift in ways that are both fruitful and painful. How do you honor the life your grown child is choosing? How do you stay connected if they decide not to be Orthodox? How do you support them when they face complex moral struggles you don’t remember dealing with in your own life?  How do you abide in God’s grace and blessing in the present, if you have to say goodbye to some of the hopes and expectations you had for your family? With decades of pastoring and parenting to draw on, Fr. Gregory and Kh. Frederica share some hard-earned wisdom for staying connected with your adult children.

Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green is the founding pastor of Holy Cross Antiochian Church in Linthicum, MD, and Kh Frederica is a well-known author and speaker. Upon retiring in 2018, they moved to Johnson City, TN, where their son Fr Steve Mathewes is pastor of Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church. They were married in 1974 and have three children and 14 grandchildren.

Fr. Joshua and Kh. Tammy Makoul. Caring for Aging Parents. The importance of giving voice to the aging parent will be discussed in this session. In addition, caring for aging parents often brings emotional work for us that we did not anticipate. The grieving process often begins before our parent departs this world, in the form of anticipatory grief. We may also feel the window of opportunity closing to get closure in a relationship that may have been missing certain elements. This could be the ever elusive statement of affirmation, request for forgiveness, or a healing act or gesture that makes up for lost opportunities earlier in the parent-child relationship. Increasing awareness of these themes can help us navigate the process of caring for aging parents.

Fr. Joshua Makoul has been serving as the Dean of St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh since 2012. Before that time, Fr. Joshua worked in the Counseling Field for 16 years. This involved, from most recent to most past, 6 years in an outpatient setting, five years in a family based setting, and 5 years in a school setting. Fr. Joshua received two years of training at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and completed a one year certificate course in Cognitive Behavior Therapy under Dr. Arthur Freeman at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. During his last 6 years working in a small outpatient group, he was supervised by Dr. Jesus Salas who also supervises at the Beck Institute in Philadelphia. He received his Masters in Counseling Psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and his Bachelors in Psychology from Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. He is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania for counseling. For seminary he attended Holy Cross Seminary in Boston and received an M.Div.  In March of 2017, Fr. Joshua did a 4-part podcast for Ancient Faith entitled “Healing the Soul.”

Khouria Tammy is married to Father Joshua Makoul and has two teenage daughters.  She loves to garden which is her joy and therapy and also enjoys spending time with her two fuzzy Cairn Terriers.  Khouria Tammy received her BSW & MSW from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work, and is a Licensed Social Worker in Pennsylvania.  She has been working in the field of social work since 1997 in various positions:  began a respite program for children with disabilities and their families;  started a program through Gilda’s Club for children with cancer and their families; 12 years as hospice social worker; and currently social worker for the W. PA Huntington’s Disease Society of America.  All of these experiences have encompassed caregiving and loss & grief.  Currently an Adjunct Professor with the School of Social Work, Tammy teaches the Master’s Program Skilled Elective “Grief & Loss”.  She has developed the online “Navigating Grief and Loss for Older Adults” for the University of Pittsburgh Research Center (UCSUR) – Gerontology Certificate Program, and is teaching the online course. She will also be working on developing a new online course for UCSUR’s caregiving track this year and teaching it.

Bill MarianesBill Marianes. Why Are You Here – How Do You Discover Your Calling And Live A Life Of Greater Significance. Of all of the endless things God created, only you were made in His image and likeness. You were give unique skills, talents, abilities, experiences, genetics and a personal calling. So why are you here, what are you called to do with all of those gifts, and how do you figure this out and live a life of greater significance? As it turns out, there are several specific actions you can take, and several questions you can answer, as you determine how to fill this next season of your life with meaning and calling and move toward “a good account before the awesome judgment seat of Christ.”

“To help people and parishes discover and live their stewardship callings so that they may have a good account before the awesome judgement seat of Christ” is the WHY Statement of the Stewardship Calling ministry (www.stewardshipcalling.com) founded by Bill Marianes. For 36 years, Bill was a partner in 2 global law firms, where he served in many management positions, including being the managing partner of the Atlanta office of an international law firm with over 1,100 lawyers in 26 offices.  He was blessed with a highly successful mergers & acquisitions and corporate law practice where he closed many billions of dollars of transactions. Bill also helped start a major cable news network and 2 State Lotteries, and represent an amazing array of global businesses and non-profits in many different industries.

In 2017, Bill made the transition “from success to significance” and left those wonderful business experiences to work full time for free to help Christ’s church and people. Through his Stewardship Calling ministry, he has traveled over 315,000 miles presenting his Igniting The Flame Of True Christian Stewardship, Effective Church Model, Orthodox Servant Leadership, Living Your Calling and other programs to over 500 Orthodox parishes. He has also completed strategic plans that cover over 25% of all Orthodox Christians in the United States.

Bill is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and serves on the Secretariat, and Legal and Finance committees, of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. He also serves on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council and Archdiocese Legal Committee, as the Legal Advisor to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta and on the boards on several other church and nonprofit entities. Bill has a Bachelors’ Degree in psychology from Northwestern University, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Goizueta Graduate School of Business at Emory University and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law, all with honors. He broadcasts his Stewardship Calling 5th Sunday and 1st Wednesday live internet radios programs on Ancient Faith Radio from his AFR studio on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia. Bill is married to his wife of 38 years, Audrey, and has 2 daughters, Dr. Alexis Marianes (performing cutting edge research in the jungles of Trinidad and Brazil) and Eliana Marianes, a professional actress.

Steve Kellar. Managing Risk in Retirement.  My focus and number one activity is retirement income planning.  So I have the privilege of helping all kinds of people launch themselves into a satisfying post-career life.  This involves planning, implementation, and managing old and new sources of income.  Making the complex simple is my first task.  The transition to retirement is life-changing; and the importance of managing risk during retirement cannot be overstated.  This responsibility is my highest priority and provides my greatest satisfaction.

I began my career over 30 years ago as an insurance agent.  In 1999 I obtained my credentials as a Certified Financial Planner because I believed that a fiduciary standard of care is the right of every client – I still do.  In 2009 I joined Sheridan Road Financial to focus on investment management.  From that point forward I devoted my professional life to wealth management and the personal freedom that sound financial planning can provide.  I have been privileged to work with wealthy families, single parents, career professionals, and business owners.

On the personal side I am a serious photographer, a long-time Chicago resident (Albany Park), and I will travel to NYC for a favorite ballet.  I have a beautiful wife, five wonderful daughters and a fierce Maltipoo named Loki. We attend All Saints Orthodox Church in Chicago.

Protodeacon Mark BarnaProtodeacon Mark Barna. A Christian Ending – Death and Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition. Death is the great catastrophe of life. The purpose of other religions is to give comfort and solace in the face of this awesome and fearful mystery. Only Christianity reveals death for what it truly is, the last great enemy, not to be feared or simply accepted, but to be utterly defeated. A Christian Ending seeks a true Christian understanding of death as not only a catastrophe but as a great blessing from God.
The way that humans treat the remains of their family and friends reflects how they view life and death. We have a duty to provide each of our members the most loving, peaceful and holy ending we can provide. Until the invention of chemical embalming, only 160 years ago, Christian burial was an intimate, holy, family and community affair. Our present American industrial funeral tradition is neither necessary nor desirable and, for Orthodox Christians, cremation is not an option.
Protodeacon Mark discusses the spiritual and theological understanding, as well as the practical and legal realities of death and burial, including how to prepare a body for burial. He explains how it is perfectly legal for churches and families to recover the ancient funeral traditions of simplicity and love.

Protodeacon Mark and Matushka Elizabeth Barna live in Charleston, South Carolina where he has retired as Manager of Procurement and Administrative Services for the South Carolina Ports Authority.  Mat Elizabeth owns Atlantic Food Safety where she certifies restaurant and food service managers in food safety.  They serve at Holy Ascension Orthodox Church (OCA) in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

They are the authors of A Christian Ending, A Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition.  First published by Divine Ascent Press in 2011, the book is now in its third printing and a second edition.

Together for 40 years, most of their time has been spent raising children and caring for other people, including caring for schizophrenics in their home.  They also cared for three of their parents with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in their home for 6 years.

They have been preparing people for burial for 10 years. In that time, they have buried dozens of people including Archbishop DMITRI in Dallas, Texas.  They have prepared bodies in Charleston for burial in New York, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and Romania, often with no involvement of a professional funeral director. They consult with church groups nationwide and in England and Australia on the establishment of funeral ministries.

In 2016 the OCA requested that Protodeacon Mark return to Dallas as co-leader of the team which over-saw the exhumation of Archbishop DMITRI and then prepared his relics for re-internment at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas.


About Melinda Johnson

Melinda Johnson is an Orthodox Christian, wife, mama, writer, and the author of Letters to Saint Lydia (AFP 2010) and the Sam and Saucer books (AFP), among others. Melinda has a Master’s in English Literature because she loved taking literature classes so much she couldn’t stop doing it. When she is not seeing “heaven in a wildflower,” Melinda enjoys writing for children, walking and talking, and baking bread.

Ancient Faith Journeys


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