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Moderated Forums => Convert Issues => Topic started by: Shiny on September 12, 2012, 08:11:27 PM

Title: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Shiny on September 12, 2012, 08:11:27 PM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 12, 2012, 08:35:05 PM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

One reason I really want to convert is this.  My current parish, great people, loving, warm.  But they just don't life the spirituality I want to live.  I may be at the superficial point right now, but I think those in the Orthodox parish I visited are, at least on a certain level, living the spirituality I see.  This is not a knock on the current parish I have, they are wonderful people and if by God's grace I do live life eternal in the Kingdom, I will not be surprised one bit if they are there.  It is just a mismatch in terms of spirituality that I want to live, that I feel I need to live.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Tommelomsky on September 13, 2012, 08:25:19 AM
Would you advice things like volunteer activities and partaking in the church choir for example? At the moment i am just a catechumen (but thinking long term is not a bad thing right?).
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 13, 2012, 08:28:39 AM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: jmbejdl on September 13, 2012, 08:35:07 AM
Would you advice things like volunteer activities and partaking in the church choir for example? At the moment i am just a catechumen (but thinking long term is not a bad thing right?).

I would. Getting involved with the choir in our previous parish was one of the best things I ever did, even if I did do it more by slowly drifting towards them than by any sudden conscious decision to join. I'm pretty shy around new people, unfortunately, and Byzantine chant made it doubly intimidating but it's a brilliant way to get to know people and really become a part of the community. We unfortunately had to move and have recently gone to a new parish and I had to go through the whole thing again (I'm still painfully shy and doubt my ability to sing, and our new parish has a couple of extremely good chanters to make things harder) but as of last Sunday I was chanting the ison. It really does make a huge difference get be involved, in whatever way you can, even if like me, it takes you a couple of months or more to pluck up the courage to dive in.

James
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 13, 2012, 11:38:24 AM
It's a fine line, isn't it, between sort of "shopping" for the perfect parish (which doesn't exist) and finding a parish that "fits"?

I sort of lean towards the "bloom where you are planted" idea myself.

I would suggest joining the closest parish so that you can attend more services, and be more involved in the activities and ministries.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: jmbejdl on September 13, 2012, 11:50:07 AM
It's a fine line, isn't it, between sort of "shopping" for the perfect parish (which doesn't exist) and finding a parish that "fits"?

I sort of lean towards the "bloom where you are planted" idea myself.

I would suggest joining the closest parish so that you can attend more services, and be more involved in the activities and ministries.

I'd mostly agree with this and we've only ever moved parishes because we've had to move to a different area of the country. However, my wife's Romanian and I speak Romanian whereas neither of us have, for instance, a word of Greek, so whilst we could walk to a Greek parish in our town we don't because I'd rather we drove for 40 minutes to attend a parish where we can actually understand the liturgy.

James
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Tommelomsky on September 13, 2012, 11:50:28 AM
For my own part, i do not worry, as i got some ideas and plan to learn russian in given time (if..God wills it).
I attend at a russian orthodox parish (the only one i Oslo, Norway - orthodoxy is small scale here) and feel welcomed here.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 13, 2012, 11:51:25 AM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.

It's called being WELCOMING.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 13, 2012, 11:59:55 AM
I attend at a russian orthodox parish (the only one i Oslo, Norway - orthodoxy is small scale here) and feel welcomed here.

What about these two:

http://www.ortodoks.com/
http://www.vasilijeostroski.no/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1

?

It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.

It's called being WELCOMING.

And some people do not like that.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 13, 2012, 12:00:43 PM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.

It's called being WELCOMING.

And some people do not like that.

People like me. I hate it.

But we all appreciate it.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Nikolaostheservant on September 13, 2012, 12:07:37 PM
Just wana say to the "new" converts~look at it through others eyes also.
God bless you all but you sure do ask allot of questions and make a lot of suggestions and demands, sometimes.
Look at it through the old/cradle Orthodox eyes sometimes. it can get to be unbearable or at the least exhausting.
thy come to church to worship and sometimes are bombarded with "why" or 'why not". Its not as if they don't want to help/teach you, its that you are probably NOT the only convert asking a million questions. they never asked the questions you ask! they were told this is our way and how we doooz it and they follow and things slowly become clearer. they would never dream of asking the questions you ask, sometimes it comes off as challenging the church, borderline blasphemy....why do u do it like that, wouldn't it be better to do it like this?...its spirit squashing when u go out of your way to help someone and deal with all the questions and suggestions and then, they decide orthodoxy after all is not for them or that church is just to ethnic and closed off from foreigners. so what do they do, they just clam up or avoid you and let the priest deal with the newbees.

on the flip side my church being 80-90%Greek is the other way around they attack the new people in the church, during coffee hr. for me that's off putting I'm a VERY private person and when 11 people come and ask me all kinds of personal question's i just wana run away!

So its a fine line-how much to help and how much to ask and suggest. i think the worst is the suggestions for changes from the newbees! Do you think you are superior to everyone elase to the priest to God!  we think wait a Minuit: learn Orthodoxy first before you start making changes to it. Jeezz, especially considering we have been doing it like this for a few thousand years! its like someone new to Kung-fu telling the master, why do we do this form like this~wouldn't it be better to do it like this? Keep asking him that and he will probably SHOW you why...with an ass wipping!
Just trust in our Orthodoxy, and how we do it, you are not let astray.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: stavros_388 on September 13, 2012, 12:35:20 PM
My suggestion to new converts would be this: Once you convert in your heart and mind to Orthodoxy and are committed to a life in the Church, put aside all of the habitual questioning, analyzing, debating, seeking, arguing, comparing, contrasting, nit-picking, and other all forms of mental busy-ness and instead, from day to day, Liturgy to Liturgy, moment to moment, live Orthodoxy. I would surely be much better off myself had I taken this kind of advice more seriously. As Fr. Seraphim Rose advised new converts in His Life and Works (sorry, I don't have the exact page number handy), once one enters the Church, one must then move more deeply into Orthodoxy through faith and practice or one is in danger of thinking themselves right out of the Church! I can attest that this danger is a real one. New converts beware!
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: stavros_388 on September 13, 2012, 12:38:53 PM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

BTW, I think this is an excellent suggestion... one that I believe would serve me well to put into regular practice.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Tommelomsky on September 13, 2012, 12:49:54 PM
I attend at a russian orthodox parish (the only one i Oslo, Norway - orthodoxy is small scale here) and feel welcomed here.

What about these two:

http://www.ortodoks.com/
http://www.vasilijeostroski.no/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1

?

It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.

It's called being WELCOMING.

And some people do not like that.

I have found my home.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Nikolaostheservant on September 13, 2012, 12:53:31 PM
My suggestion to new converts would be this: Once you convert in your heart and mind to Orthodoxy and are committed to a life in the Church, put aside all of the habitual questioning, analyzing, debating, seeking, arguing, comparing, contrasting, nit-picking, and other all forms of mental busy-ness and instead, from day to day, Liturgy to Liturgy, moment to moment, live Orthodoxy. I would surely be much better off myself had I taken this kind of advice more seriously. As Fr. Seraphim Rose advised new converts in His Life and Works (sorry, I don't have the exact page number handy), once one enters the Church, one must then move more deeply into Orthodoxy through faith and practice or one is in danger of thinking themselves right out of the Church! I can attest that this danger is a real one. New converts beware!

Perfect:
"put aside all of the habitual questioning, analyzing, debating, seeking, arguing, comparing, contrasting, nit-picking, and other all forms of mental busy-ness and instead"

I at first did not know this site is vastly converts and was shocked by the questions and discussions on here!
Then i thought, ok thats the american analitical minde set. but you over due it.

Just Chillax! In buddhisim its called "monkey mind". stop questioning everything!
Our religion is abt.....FAITH, not logic.

Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Xenia on September 13, 2012, 01:01:20 PM
I could make a lot of suggestions to new converts.  Mostly,  I suggest we learn to listen more and talk less.  Not everyone wants to hear my conversion story, not everyone wants to know my ideas about "the future of Orthodoxy in America,"  not everyone wants to hear my plans to improve congregational singing,  etc.  Rather than expect to be elected to the parish council so I can "fix things,"  I should wash the dishes after coffee hour.  This will endear us to the people of our new parish and we will learn a lot in the process.  :angel:

Sometimes us converts need to be reminded that we need to conform to Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy does not need to conform to us.  The Church got along just fine for 2000 years before we made our brilliant discovery of her.

Of course,  we may discover that we do have some valuable things to contribute to our parish.  Don't force it in a noisy way,  is my suggestion.




Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 01:28:26 PM
It's a fine line, isn't it, between sort of "shopping" for the perfect parish (which doesn't exist) and finding a parish that "fits"?

I sort of lean towards the "bloom where you are planted" idea myself.

I would suggest joining the closest parish so that you can attend more services, and be more involved in the activities and ministries.

The closer Orthodox parishes to where we live are those ethnic parish types which is one of the things we are trying to get away from with our Eastern Catholic parish.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Cyrillic on September 17, 2012, 01:31:23 PM
It's a fine line, isn't it, between sort of "shopping" for the perfect parish (which doesn't exist) and finding a parish that "fits"?

I sort of lean towards the "bloom where you are planted" idea myself.

I would suggest joining the closest parish so that you can attend more services, and be more involved in the activities and ministries.

The closer Orthodox parishes to where we live are those ethnic parish types which is one of the things we are trying to get away from with our Eastern Catholic parish.

I wouldn't let ethnic parishes stop me. It would be a great opportunity to learn things from their culture as well.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 01:42:42 PM
I wouldn't let ethnic parishes stop me. It would be a great opportunity to learn things from their culture as well.

Me, personally, no.  But I have been trying to figure out what is the best scenario for my family to grow in the faith.  My greatest fear is for my kids to fall out of the faith.  If we are in an ethnic parish, we are already removed from that kind of affinity with everyone else.  My greatest frustration right now is that people go to our parish because of their ethnic identity, not because of Byzantine spirituality.  I go there not because of the ethnic culture, but because of Byzantine spirituality.  We go to the same church but for completely different reasons.  Even the catechesis program for children in our parish revolves around a "Ukrainian heritage school".  My kids are not going to attend that!  I offered to teach kids how to may prosphora, but no one took my offer.  They think it is more important for kids to learn how to make perrogy and paint easter eggs.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Shiny on September 17, 2012, 01:44:53 PM
It's a fine line, isn't it, between sort of "shopping" for the perfect parish (which doesn't exist) and finding a parish that "fits"?

I sort of lean towards the "bloom where you are planted" idea myself.

I would suggest joining the closest parish so that you can attend more services, and be more involved in the activities and ministries.

The closer Orthodox parishes to where we live are those ethnic parish types which is one of the things we are trying to get away from with our Eastern Catholic parish.

I wouldn't let ethnic parishes stop me. It would be a great opportunity to learn things from their culture as well.
But what does ethnicity have anything to do with the Orthodox faith?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 01:46:35 PM
But what does ethnicity have anything to do with the Orthodox faith?

Not the faith per se but the community.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 17, 2012, 01:48:21 PM
people go to our parish because of their ethnic identity, not because of Byzantine spirituality.

OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Cyrillic on September 17, 2012, 01:52:22 PM
people go to our parish because of their ethnic identity, not because of Byzantine spirituality.

OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?

Yes and no. Byzantine wasn't always synonymous with Greek, but at certain times could include Isaurians and Armenians among others.

I wouldn't let ethnic parishes stop me. It would be a great opportunity to learn things from their culture as well.

Me, personally, no.  But I have been trying to figure out what is the best scenario for my family to grow in the faith.  My greatest fear is for my kids to fall out of the faith.  If we are in an ethnic parish, we are already removed from that kind of affinity with everyone else.  My greatest frustration right now is that people go to our parish because of their ethnic identity, not because of Byzantine spirituality.  I go there not because of the ethnic culture, but because of Byzantine spirituality.  We go to the same church but for completely different reasons.  Even the catechesis program for children in our parish revolves around a "Ukrainian heritage school".  My kids are not going to attend that!  I offered to teach kids how to may prosphora, but no one took my offer.  They think it is more important for kids to learn how to make perrogy and paint easter eggs.

Quite understandable. I don't envy the position you're in.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 02:08:42 PM
OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?

Not really.  They are more or less the melting pot of the Roman Empire, if you want to call them that.  Kind of like what America is today.  What is really an American in terms of culture?  Even among Caucasians, there's a stark difference between one who lives in New York, vs. one who lives in LA, vs. one who lives in Texas.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 17, 2012, 02:12:32 PM
OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?

Not really.  They are more or less the melting pot of the Roman Empire, if you want to call them that.  Kind of like what America is today.  What is really an American in terms of culture?  Even among Caucasians, there's a stark difference between one who lives in New York, vs. one who lives in LA, vs. one who lives in Texas.

Well, our Church is not "Byzantine" (whatever tham means) It's open for all ethnicities.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 02:23:59 PM
Well, our Church is not "Byzantine" (whatever tham means) It's open for all ethnicities.

Good for you.  Even the OCA priest I speak to would admit this problem of ethnic Churches within Orthodoxy.  He bemoans the fact that he can walk into an ethnic Orthodox parish and be looked upon with suspicion not because they doubt he is an Orthodox priest, but because he is of a different ethnicity.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 17, 2012, 02:31:07 PM
Why is "Byzantine" ethnicity OK for you and "Ukrainian" is not?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 02:33:52 PM
Why is "Byzantine" ethnicity OK for you and "Ukrainian" is not?

Does anybody even live Byzantien culture today?  I am not against Ukrainian culture but I just do not think it will work for me and my family.  We don't go to Church to become culturally Ukrainian.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: mike on September 17, 2012, 02:36:32 PM
Does anybody even live Byzantien culture today?  I am not against Ukrainian culture but I just do not think it will work for me and my family.  We don't go to Church to become culturally Ukrainian.

That's not the answer to my question.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 02:38:11 PM
That's not the answer to my question.

If you already have an answer in mind then why ask me?

Sorry, I think I've already elaborated on my dilema.  What more do I need to say about it?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Cyrillic on September 17, 2012, 02:38:29 PM
Does anybody even live Byzantien culture today?  I am not against Ukrainian culture but I just do not think it will work for me and my family.  We don't go to Church to become culturally Ukrainian.

That's not the answer to my question.

You're reading too much into it.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Shiny on September 17, 2012, 02:40:48 PM
OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?

Not really.  They are more or less the melting pot of the Roman Empire, if you want to call them that.  Kind of like what America is today.  What is really an American in terms of culture?  Even among Caucasians, there's a stark difference between one who lives in New York, vs. one who lives in LA, vs. one who lives in Texas.
But one similarity we would all have is putting up a "Drive-thru Eucharist"
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 02:46:51 PM
But one similarity we would all have is putting up a "Drive-thru Eucharist"

Given how late some people come for Liturgy, we might as well  ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 17, 2012, 03:08:31 PM
My suggestion would be to try to stop being so dismissive of so-called "ethnic" parishes. While it is possible to find jerks anywhere, people in ethnic parishes have so much to teach us who are learning Orthodoxy. IMHO we need to cultivate a little humility, and be open to learning from them.

Personally, I am humbled by the shining faith and piety of the old yiayias from Greece (who btw hug me, feed me and tell me what pretty curly hair I have!)
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 03:27:38 PM
Well, what can I say.  That is my experience.  I will not say that every ethnic parish is that way, but I'd rather not float around from parish to parish but instead go to one where we could really grow spiritually.  I guess one thing that really disappoints me being Eastern Catholic is that I do want that authentic Byzantine spirituality, but being Catholic means people in the parish don't really make that distinction between the spirituality of a Roman Catholic and one from an Eastern Church.  To them the difference really is in the ethnicity and they only have a different Church service because of that ethnicity.  This is why I believe what I have been told that it is impossible to be Orthodox in the Catholic "communion".  Therefore there is no such thing as "Orthodox in communion with Rome"
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Shiny on September 17, 2012, 04:29:30 PM
My suggestion would be to try to stop being so dismissive of so-called "ethnic" parishes. While it is possible to find jerks anywhere, people in ethnic parishes have so much to teach us who are learning Orthodoxy. IMHO we need to cultivate a little humility, and be open to learning from them.

Personally, I am humbled by the shining faith and piety of the old yiayias from Greece (who btw hug me, feed me and tell me what pretty curly hair I have!)

Glad to see your experience was better than mine, and I know I've done alot of ethnic "bashing" as of late, but it would be more beneficial for the Church in the States, to have more of an "American" identity. The evangelism would be alot more successful so it wouldn't be tied down by Russian, Serbian, Greek cultures. There's nothing wrong with those cultures, but I'm sure it's an obstacle for many on conversion. You can say the OCA is there but a few of the parishes I've visited seemed to have rubbed some Russian influences on it, go figure.

I think opening up needs to go both ways though. My bad experience has shown that those who belong to what I consider ethnic clubs were not so willing to open up to outsiders such as myself.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: arnI on September 17, 2012, 04:52:57 PM
... wear comfortable shoes and attend often to participate in the worship offered while remembering you are but one celebrating with many ...
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 17, 2012, 04:54:41 PM
My suggestion would be to try to stop being so dismissive of so-called "ethnic" parishes. While it is possible to find jerks anywhere, people in ethnic parishes have so much to teach us who are learning Orthodoxy. IMHO we need to cultivate a little humility, and be open to learning from them.

Personally, I am humbled by the shining faith and piety of the old yiayias from Greece (who btw hug me, feed me and tell me what pretty curly hair I have!)

Glad to see your experience was better than mine, and I know I've done alot of ethnic "bashing" as of late, but it would be more beneficial for the Church in the States, to have more of an "American" identity. The evangelism would be alot more successful so it wouldn't be tied down by Russian, Serbian, Greek cultures. There's nothing wrong with those cultures, but I'm sure it's an obstacle for many on conversion. You can say the OCA is there but a few of the parishes I've visited seemed to have rubbed some Russian influences on it, go figure.

I think opening up needs to go both ways though. My bad experience has shown that those who belong to what I consider ethnic clubs were not so willing to open up to outsiders such as myself.

One can also argue that Sts. Cyril and Methodius didn't force the Slavs to become Greeks or even use the Greek language.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: OrthoNoob on September 17, 2012, 04:58:01 PM
people go to our parish because of their ethnic identity, not because of Byzantine spirituality.

OK. I got lost here. Isn't "Byzantine" an ethnicity?

Some use it to mean "Greek." But often, especially in the West, the term refers to anyone using the Rite of Constantinople and its associated spiritual tradition.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 18, 2012, 10:42:53 AM
I think opening up needs to go both ways though. My bad experience has shown that those who belong to what I consider ethnic clubs were not so willing to open up to outsiders such as myself.

Not to diss your experience, but when we go to so-called "ethnic" parishes, isn't it kind of like being a guest in someone's home, or at least the new in-law at the family reunion. ISTM, that we are the ones that should make the first effort, and not assume that we know everything about what is going on.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 18, 2012, 10:46:22 AM
I think opening up needs to go both ways though. My bad experience has shown that those who belong to what I consider ethnic clubs were not so willing to open up to outsiders such as myself.

Not to diss your experience, but when we go to so-called "ethnic" parishes, isn't it kind of like being a guest in someone's home, or at least the new in-law at the family reunion. ISTM, that we are the ones that should make the first effort, and not assume that we know everything about what is going on.

The guest should never make the first effort. That is the host's duty. Etiquette 101.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: Tommelomsky on September 18, 2012, 10:46:32 AM
I can only speak for myself yes, that i need to be less shy and try to get in touch with some of the russians yes. And i plan next year to attend russian classes, so i can speak with them in their language too.

Humblness is important and yes, i am indeed a guest in their house.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 18, 2012, 12:56:54 PM
Not to diss your experience, but when we go to so-called "ethnic" parishes, isn't it kind of like being a guest in someone's home, or at least the new in-law at the family reunion. ISTM, that we are the ones that should make the first effort, and not assume that we know everything about what is going on.

To me this sums up the problem.  If you are just a "guest in someone's house" in an ethnic parish, then it wouldn't work.  A parish community should be your greater family and thus you should be one of them, not just a guest in someone's house.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 18, 2012, 01:19:49 PM
Not to diss your experience, but when we go to so-called "ethnic" parishes, isn't it kind of like being a guest in someone's home, or at least the new in-law at the family reunion. ISTM, that we are the ones that should make the first effort, and not assume that we know everything about what is going on.

To me this sums up the problem.  If you are just a "guest in someone's house" in an ethnic parish, then it wouldn't work.  A parish community should be your greater family and thus you should be one of them, not just a guest in someone's house.

Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 18, 2012, 01:21:00 PM
Not to diss your experience, but when we go to so-called "ethnic" parishes, isn't it kind of like being a guest in someone's home, or at least the new in-law at the family reunion. ISTM, that we are the ones that should make the first effort, and not assume that we know everything about what is going on.

To me this sums up the problem.  If you are just a "guest in someone's house" in an ethnic parish, then it wouldn't work.  A parish community should be your greater family and thus you should be one of them, not just a guest in someone's house.


Aren't we talking about people who are new to the parish?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 18, 2012, 01:30:50 PM
Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.

I am shy.  So much so that sometimes I do not even ask for something from the server from the restaurant.  This is why belonging is important to me, if I do not feel that connection with everyone else, I cannot come up and be open to them.

And I feel so bad when everybody is with everybody and I am in one corner not talking to anyone.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 18, 2012, 01:32:10 PM
Aren't we talking about people who are new to the parish?

I am two years in my current parish and I am still pretty much a guest in gatherings.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 18, 2012, 01:32:59 PM
Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.

I am shy.  So much so that sometimes I do not even ask for something from the server from the restaurant.  This is why belonging is important to me, if I do not feel that connection with everyone else, I cannot come up and be open to them.

And I feel so bad when everybody is with everybody and I am in one corner not talking to anyone.

So if you are visiting a parish for the first time, and you are shy, should the congregation not try to speak to you first?
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 18, 2012, 01:34:54 PM
Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.

I am shy.  So much so that sometimes I do not even ask for something from the server from the restaurant.  This is why belonging is important to me, if I do not feel that connection with everyone else, I cannot come up and be open to them.

And I feel so bad when everybody is with everybody and I am in one corner not talking to anyone.

I am paralyzed by shyness myself, but if I see everybody with everybody and I am by myself not talking to anyone, I force myself to go over (preferably to an older person - I get along well with them), and say, "Would you mind if I sat by you?" and ask a couple of questions.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 18, 2012, 01:37:39 PM
Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.

I am shy.  So much so that sometimes I do not even ask for something from the server from the restaurant.  This is why belonging is important to me, if I do not feel that connection with everyone else, I cannot come up and be open to them.

And I feel so bad when everybody is with everybody and I am in one corner not talking to anyone.

So if you are visiting a parish for the first time, and you are shy, should the congregation not try to speak to you first?


Two things to consider:

Some people are actually shy also. It takes a lot for me to go up to a visitor at church.

Maybe they're not sure you're new. I've made that blunder also. When I did make myself talk to a stranger, it turned out that they were a member who had not attended in awhile. They got a little huffy with me.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 18, 2012, 01:43:00 PM
Never been an introvert I see.

So you feel no pitty for shy folke? Got it.

I am shy.  So much so that sometimes I do not even ask for something from the server from the restaurant.  This is why belonging is important to me, if I do not feel that connection with everyone else, I cannot come up and be open to them.

And I feel so bad when everybody is with everybody and I am in one corner not talking to anyone.

So if you are visiting a parish for the first time, and you are shy, should the congregation not try to speak to you first?


Two things to consider:

Some people are actually shy also. It takes a lot for me to go up to a visitor at church.

Maybe they're not sure you're new. I've made that blunder also. When I did make myself talk to a stranger, it turned out that they were a member who had not attended in awhile. They got a little huffy with me.

'Tis true.

I don't really struggle with this problem too much. More for other people.

My problem is, I don't like dealing with people in general sometimes, that's my problem. :(
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: katherineofdixie on September 18, 2012, 01:48:03 PM
My problem is, I don't like dealing with people in general sometimes, that's my problem. :(

I hear ya. I feel the same way a lot of the time!

While I am shy, I realized that if I didn't get up off my posterior anatomy and reach out to folks, I would be sitting in a corner for the rest of my life. It's actually pretty easy - you act interested and ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 18, 2012, 01:49:34 PM
So if you are visiting a parish for the first time, and you are shy, should the congregation not try to speak to you first?

They do in my case.  I think my issue is far beyond that first "hello".  Because like I said, I am two years into the parish and I have pretty much done everything to integrate myself into parish life.  Unfortunately a lot of parish life involves cultural stuff, something that alienates me.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 18, 2012, 01:52:20 PM
Unfortunately a lot of parish life involves cultural stuff, something that alienates me.

Tell me about it! :laugh:
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: choy on September 18, 2012, 01:54:33 PM
Unfortunately a lot of parish life involves cultural stuff, something that alienates me.

Tell me about it! :laugh:

Even in the OCA?  The OCA parish I visit is very ethnic-neutral.  Although the membership is very Caucasian, most have a diverse background (Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Germans, Canadians, etc)
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: celticfan1888 on September 19, 2012, 04:09:08 PM
Unfortunately a lot of parish life involves cultural stuff, something that alienates me.

Tell me about it! :laugh:

Even in the OCA?  The OCA parish I visit is very ethnic-neutral.  Although the membership is very Caucasian, most have a diverse background (Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Germans, Canadians, etc)

No, I mean every other parish outside of OCA.
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: HabteSelassie on September 19, 2012, 04:23:57 PM
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Just wana say to the "new" converts~look at it through others eyes also.
God bless you all but you sure do ask allot of questions and make a lot of suggestions and demands, sometimes.
Look at it through the old/cradle Orthodox eyes sometimes. it can get to be unbearable or at the least exhausting.
thy come to church to worship and sometimes are bombarded with "why" or 'why not".


I always felt like I had the opposite problem, people were always trying to teach me Orthodox and accommodate for me when all I wanted was to enjoy their company and make friends. I wasn't necessarily looking for a translator, if I needed English I wouldn't be attending an Ethiopian-speaking parish in the first place ;)

So I just become more visibly involved with the clergy and folks got the hint that I was in good hands in regards to my Church education and indoctrination, and we could get back to just meeting each other over coffee or lunch rather then forcing folks into giving impromptu catechism ;)

I consign with the Achronos..

The most important thing in a parish is to become part of the parish.  You don't have to become the most popular person there, but you should be meeting new people and making friends.  The parish is a family, it takes time, but relationships and social support networks are crucial in this spiritual life.  We experience all our ups and downs of life in the Church, we collectively celebrate our joyful accomplishments and we also mourn our mutual losses together.  Converts tend to suffer from being a bit disconnected from all the normal social activity of the Church, and a major part of how we as Orthodox Christians learn to express and live our Faith is by doing it together.  

I would add this, converts don't feel discouraged if it takes years, even if you were a "local" or even a direct family member of the parish it would still take several years to build to kinds of relationships within the parish to feel less like a visitor or outsider and more like a involved member.  New members are new members, converts or not, and new membership takes time to establish and develop.

That being said, I recommend all converts get out of their comfort zone, Orthodox is about pushing you closer towards God, and when we get closer to God we inherently have to get closer and closer to each other :)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
Title: Re: If I could only make one suggestion to new converts...
Post by: TristanCross on September 21, 2012, 03:57:29 PM
It would be get involved with the parishoners and things going on at the parish. My relationships with people at the parish helped me tremendously in the spiritual life.

And if you can't develop any relationships, find a different parish. I had to leave my Greek one behind because I felt too alienated. Not their fault at all but it wasn't helping me regularly attend liturgies. I just didn't gel well with everyone else since I'm not Greek and sorry to say but it was an ethnic club. I used to attend Bible studies there, Wednesday nights and I got tired of being stared down night after night and nobody wanting anything to do with me.

Oh well bad experience, it happens so if you're experience isn't a good one I would suggest going around to different parishes until you feel comfortable in one.

Unless you are introverts that hate socializing with the people they do not know and talk with them about unimportant things.

*high-five*