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Author Topic: Why did you convert?  (Read 12756 times) Average Rating: 0
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Nigula Qian Zishi
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« on: May 09, 2003, 07:27:30 PM »

Calling all converts, why did you convert to Orthodoxy? What specific reasons drew you to the true Faith? Let's share our conversion stories, perhaps they will help inspire others!
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2003, 07:47:12 PM »

As a cradle born Orthodox, I am very interested in why you would choose a religion that demands so much from us when all other sects of Christianity are easier.
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2003, 09:16:24 PM »

My conversion to Holy Orthodoxy was the culmination of a lifelong process that would be difficult to sum up, although I will try.

I had occasion a few years ago to travel to Russia. I was a Lutheran at the time. In Moscow I met an Orthodox priest named Father Aleksandr. It's hard to explain, but this man had a holiness about him that nearly shone with visible light. I could feel my blood pressure drop in his presence. I found myself wanting just to hang around him for the feeling of peace.

When I came back to the USA I decided to investigate the Orthodox Church to find out if Fr. Aleksandr was just an aberration.

God blessed me in sending me to a little storefront ACROD mission with a wonderful priest named Father Nicholas. He guided me, directed me to books, and loaned me a videotape series by Father David Anderson that answered many of my questions.

Things that I had wondered about for years suddenly became clear to me.

At first the Orthodox Church seemed so foreign - the nearly stifling smoke of the incense, the candles, the bearded men in robes.

One day at Divine Liturgy, however, I sat down in a pew because I was feeling a little tired. Suddenly I felt an incredible feeling of peace and well being. It was something I had never experienced before. God was there. I felt as if His hand was on my shoulder.

I know I must have had a big smile on my face as I looked around at everyone standing up and worshiping in that little storefront mission. I have never felt so good in my life. I decided then and there, "This is the place for me."

Make no mistake. I did not become Orthodox simply because I got a good feeling at Divine Liturgy; oh, no: there was much more to it than that. But that was certainly a factor.

I became convinced that the Holy Orthodox Church is the Church, the historical Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself.

Where else could I go?
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2003, 05:19:12 PM »

Wasn't a Christian of any sort until my late 20's.  Soon after I became involved in a nondenominational charismatic church for over 5 years.  After the teaching went "south" there, I began to question lots of things that never occurred to me before; such things as, "how did Jesus worship when He was on the earth?", "what type of church did the apostles start and whatever happened to it?", "how do we know that the Bible, as put together by human beings, is the accurate Word of God?", etc.

I started out reading about Orthodox Judaism, but couldn't convert because of course, Jesus IS divine!  Then one day I was listening to Dr. Laura on the radio (!) and I caught her saying to a caller, "I think everybody should be Orthodox 'something'."  I thought to myself, "Yeah, that'd be great if there was such a thing as Orthodox Christianity."  God on the internet and, Lo & Behold, there IS such of a thing!!  I started reading online and went from there.  Eventually contacted a local priest and began visiting a church.  

There have been LOTS of ups & downs over this past year-and-three-quarters, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Once you discover that Orthodoxy is the one holy, catholic, apostolic church, there's no way to deny the need to be part of it.
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2003, 06:35:16 PM »

My story, such as it is:

http://www.orthodoxconvert.com/content.php?type=story&story=1
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2003, 09:51:40 PM »

Moronikos -

I truly enjoyed your testimony and found it in many ways similar to mine.

I can really relate to your account of the Evangelical teaching that Constantine's legalization of Christianity led to an apostate Church, because that is also what I was taught and what I read from Evangelical sources.

I wonder, did you follow the discussion at   A Return to Primitive Christianity ?

The "Constantinian Apostasy" became an issue in that discussion.
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2003, 09:45:40 PM »

My Orthodox Brethern,

I expect more comments and why, how do you expect to lead this Trad Latin to a Orthodox life ? Nicholas put it out there, so I am listening.

James

(Disregard my above post) my mid-age latin eyes(which have that distinct slavic squint) missed the other thread.

james
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2003, 07:20:14 PM »

Hi. This is my first ever post. It's interesting to learn about everyone's different experiences. Here's mine: I was was raised Roman Catholic, and went to all Catholic schools. I was so devout when I was a little kid, my parents thought someday I would be a priest. But by my late teens you couldn't hardly even call it a part of my life anymore. I went to church and deliberately tuned out the service and daydreamed. Whenever I did actually choose to think about things, I found I had philosophical differences with the bureacratic nature of the church, and the idea of an infallible pope. When I went off to college, I was pretty much finished going to church.

I drifted along fine for a few years, but by my mid-20s I was experiencing a lot of turmoil in my life and started thinking that the kind of simple faith I had when I was a kid was something I wished I could get back to. I knew the Roman Catholic church wasn't for me, but all the protestant churches I tried going to I just couldn't relate to at all. I always seemed to find myself surrounded by people clapping hands and singing hokey lyrics off of giant karaoke monitors.

So I started doing a ton of reading to try to figure out what I believed and where I should be. I wanted to have an open mind, so I was educating myself on the history of Christianity as well as reading about other world religions. I was in the "Eastern Philosophy" section of Barnes & Noble one day when I picked up a book by an Orthodox monk called "Christ the Eternal Tao" about correlations between Taoism and Christianity. I knew nothing about the Orthodox Church, but the introduction to this book described EXACTLY how I felt, and everything in the book about Orthodoxy made me know right away that it was exactly what I had been looking for. I read a ton of books about the Orthodox church, found a great little parish, showed up one Sunday morning and never left. This past November, one year after first setting foot in that parish, I was Chrismated and received into the church. I've come to love those people there like family and I treasure my faith more than anything I've ever known.
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2003, 07:30:17 PM »

Excellent stories thus far! Welcome to the board Aaron!
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2003, 07:35:57 PM »



    I was SO touched to read your story and it jived with mine in many ways.  It was  the Byzantine Catholic Church and people (Carpatho-Rusyn)  that drew me to the Orthodox Faith.  I will never forget those influences!!!  

                                                    Peace,
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2003, 07:36:56 PM »

Quote
. . .but all the protestant churches I tried going to I just couldn't relate to at all. I always seemed to find myself surrounded by people clapping hands and singing hokey lyrics off of giant karaoke monitors.

Aaron -

Man, can I relate to what you described there!

For a first post, that was pretty great!  Grin


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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2003, 12:12:56 AM »

Moronikos -

I wonder, did you follow the discussion at   A Return to Primitive Christianity ?

The "Constantinian Apostasy" became an issue in that discussion.

Just now I read it...

It's unfortunate that people are so uneducated so as to believe the "Constantinian Apostasy" (CA), but this is America...at least where I'm at it is.  The "Christian" bestseller list is topped by the "Left Behind" series--folks who propagate the CA myth.  Raul Ries is with Calvary Chapel who also propagate some of the same lies.
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2003, 06:29:44 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

Welcome Aaron,

you need a beard!

John.
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2003, 06:31:33 AM »

Aargh!, attached the wrong picture Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2003, 04:49:23 PM »

Oh no! I didn't realize there was a hazing process on this board! I'll get to work on my facial hair. Thanks for the welcome, everyone.
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2003, 07:25:14 PM »

My story from when I was a catechumen (as well as some other convert stories) can be read here.
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2003, 03:54:05 PM »

This is my first post and I thought this question would be a good way to introduce myself.

I was raised as a Pentecostal and even pastored a Pentecostal church for a few years before I converted with my daughters a few years ago.

What drew me to Orthodoxy was first the theology. I read my way into Orthodoxy along with a fellow Pentecostal pastor friend. We would meet regularly to discuss our spiritual journeys and compare notes. I found myself longing for a solid theological foundation and finding where I was to be too shallow to sustain a lifetime of faith!

Frankly, I thought I was loosing my mind.

Fortunately I met some former Evangelicals who were on the same journey. They were part of the EOC that did not go into the Antiochian Archdicese in 1987, but they were still journeying toward the church. They helped me understand just what I was hungry for and gave me the books to read to help me make sense out of what I was thinking.

The final straw was my first Divine Litrugy. It was all in english and by the time the liturgy came to the Epiclesis, I was converted in my heart.

I never looked back. I spent a few years in the EOC and now our entire EOC church has been received in the OCA. It's good to be home.

One final note, my career has been spent in Christian media ministry, havbing worked for Dr. Charles Stanley at In Touch and Dr. Michael Youssef of Leading The Way. I now have the privledge of being the Media Director for Come Receive The Light, the first Orthodox Christian media ministry which now airs coast to coast in 11 cities in the US.

Thanks for listening.
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2003, 04:24:28 PM »

Quote
This is my first post and I thought this question would be a good way to introduce myself.

Welcome Evanorth !

Awesome story
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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2003, 04:42:03 PM »

Quote
This is my first post and I thought this question would be a good way to introduce myself.

Welcome Evanorth !

Awesome story


Welcome from me too, Evanorth!  Beautiful introduction of yourself--I'd like to meet you in person someday to ask you to be a speaker at my church--we could use some "shaking up in my parish!"   Grin

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« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2003, 05:52:51 PM »

Evanorth, your story is awesome.  I'm curious, does Dr. Stanley know about your conversion?  If so, what was his reaction?

I was Southern Baptist before I converted and I always had this feeling that I needed more.  I couldn't do this by myself.  I needed discipline and to be accountable to someone.  I needed hlep to actually try to live the Christian life.  Until I came to Orthodoxy, I would always go through long stretches where I would quit going to church.  I think it may have been at least partly out of frustration.  Also, it seems like there is very little agreement on what people are to believe.

I learned about Orthodoxy by becoming fascinated by anything Russian.  I read everything I could get my hands on or watched any television show or video on Russia that I could manage to find.  I even took a Russian class for awhile (I would love to start taking it again).  The scenes of Orthodox services sometimes shown in the videos/documentaries really started appealing to me.  I ordered several books about Orthodoxy from Amazon.com and devoured them.  I really wanted to attend an Orthodox church, but there was nothing here where I live.  Within 2 months, the OCA started a mission here, and I've been attending since the 2nd service after an article appeared in our local paper about the first service.  I was chrismated 8 months on Holy Saturday, 2001.  I'm glad that I missed the first service though, which was a liturgy.  I think God knew better than to throw that at me my first time out.  We usually have a liturgy once a month, but the priest couldn't get back up here for almost two months, so I had 7 typica services to get used to the prayers, icons, incense, etc. before my first liturgy.  By that time, I was already hooked, so that when I had absolutely no idea of what was going on in the liturgy, it made me want to learn.  I can't honestly say that this would have been my reaction if I had faced that my first time out.  

I think that having dogmas really helps me a lot.  It isn't a smorgasbord here quite like it is in the Protestant denominations, and the sacraments and discipline, and being accountable are a huge help.   Before, I always felt helpless and frustrated that I couldn't seem to live like a Christian.  Yes, it is much tougher to be Orthodox, but I wouldn't trade it.  I know that I'm home now.   I still get frustrated sometimes, but at least I can talk to my priest and get his help on how to handle it and what I should do next on my journey.  I'm lucky also that my family has handled my decision to convert pretty well.  I know that this is sometimes not the case.  

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« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2003, 07:25:23 PM »

As I have said before, if anyone wants his/her full length conversion story hosted online, they may submit it to me; or if they don't want to be associated with OC.NET  Wink  moronikos hosts a site called orthodoxconvert.com

Many have posted their stories in threads here and that's fine, but to be clear if you want it posted in our texts section, please send it to me as a Microsoft Word or plaintext attachment, or Word Perfect if that's what you use.

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« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2003, 10:37:01 PM »

Evanorth -

Welcome!

I am a convert from Protestantism, too, and experienced practically the whole gamut of it. I was a Lutheran when I converted to Holy Orthodoxy.

My Dad's mother was Roman Catholic (so were his sisters), but my Mom's mother was Pentecostal (yes, I have an interesting family background!).

Anyway, I hope you will post here frequently.
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« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2003, 10:58:19 PM »

Quote
My Dad's mother was Roman Catholic (so were his sisters), but my Mom's mother was Pentecostal (yes, I have an interesting family background!).

I would have loved to have seen your holiday dinners  Shocked
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2003, 11:46:13 PM »

Quote
My Dad's mother was Roman Catholic (so were his sisters), but my Mom's mother was Pentecostal (yes, I have an interesting family background!).

I would have loved to have seen your holiday dinners  Shocked

Lol!  Grin

Shoot! I haven't told you about my grandfathers yet!
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« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2003, 12:01:29 AM »

Well, this may get long...but I'm a terse writer.

My journey to Orthodoxy actually started 12 years ago as a Roman Catholic seminarian.

To make an 18-month story short, if any of you have read Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men!, it accurately reflects the state of the 2 seminaries I was in (the book is only 150% true...).

Thus began the long winter of my discontent in the Roman Catholic Church.

In the 10 years after that, I drifted into and back out of the RCC.  My faith was in tatters, and I went months without any effort at prayer.

I fell away from RCism for several months until a (Protestant!) friend of mine challenged me directly and said, "You get back to church!".

I went back to an RC parish, but there was nothing there for me.

At that time, I was still hanging onto the idea that I couldn't break communion with Rome.  Enter the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Whatever the faults of the BCC, I will give them this - they "stanched the bleeding", for which I will always be in their debt.

I could go to church again.  I could begin to pray again.  I felt the anger begin to dissipate.

However, one cannot enter into the BCC and not learn anything of Orthodoxy.  So I read.

And I made the acquaintance of a certain Orthodox nun who is near-infamous in these here parts (for entirely good reasons!)  Cheesy

And I read.

And I talked to the nun some more.

And I read some more, deciding to get to the bottom of the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

And I began to pray with some desperation.

So I set some difficult criteria, such that "ties went to Catholicism."  Orthodoxy was going to have to prove itself to me.

So I established the following questions-as-criteria for the purposes of my deliberation:

(1)  Vatican II was irrelevant (i.e. Orthodoxy is not good only because Vatican II stunk up the joint)
(2)  Who is more consistent with the first seven Ecumenical Councils?
(3)  Who is today more consistent with the model of the Papacy that was held during the first seven Ecumenical Councils?
(4)  Which Church most resembles the New Testament Church?

I focused on the Councils since both Catholicism and Orthodoxy regard them as authoritative.

I found out some astounding things - like how even the RCs admit there wasn't a universal papal jurisdiction in the first few centuries of the Church - like how the Filioque was a misguided defense against Arianism and turned into a Frankish political weapon against Constantinople - like how the spiritualities of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are so radically different.

And I read

I wrestled with my soul
     and my emotions
          and my friends
               and my Roman Catholic upbringing
                    and with my feelings toward my BC parish

and I prayed even harder - and then it happened...

I could no longer go to confession.

One of the first things you see in a Catholic examination of conscience is "Do I doubt or deny an article of the Catholic faith?"

The answer was yes, and I didn't feel at all bad about it.

So, after a final prayer-check to make sure I wasn't on the primrose path to Hell, I decided to ask for admission to the Orthodox catechumenate.

I hope, with the Grace of God, to be baptized in September.
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2003, 01:07:45 AM »

ND Hoosier -

That was a very well-written and very moving account of your conversion.

I do have one question:

Do you really feel you need to be re-baptized?

I assume you were baptized as an infant in the RCC.

Does your local Orthodox Church not accept former RCs by chrismation?

(Let me qualify these questions by stating that, as a convert from Lutheranism, I sort of wish I had asked for Orthodox baptism.)
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« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2003, 02:27:49 AM »

Do you really feel you need to be re-baptized?

Linus,
Whether or not he feels that he needs to be rebaptized may be irrelevant -  it is usually up to the priest (and consequently what his Bishop says).
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« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2003, 09:30:01 AM »

ND Hoosier, Glory to Jesus Christ!

It's good to hear from you again after a "little" hiatus.  I was wondering what had happened to you.

If it's not being too inquisitive of me to ask and you are not offended by my question, could you tell us into which jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church you will be received by Holy Baptism?

Btw, I am familiar with the OCA Romanian church in Indianapolis.  I attended Divine Liturgy one Sunday there when my oldest daughter was attending Indiana University-Bloomington (from which she was graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree and her first Master's degree, I am only too proud to report!).  The priest and parishioners at the Romanian church were very welcoming to visitors, I thought, and a considerable amount of English was used in the Liturgy.

Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2003, 10:55:00 AM »

Glory forever!

Thank you, thank you...

Yeah, I've had my hands full lately.  

Jurisdiction is Bulgarian Patriarchate (Metropolitan Joseph).  As an aside, however, we use the ROCOR books, and we are Old Calendar.

I asked for baptism.  My priest replied that they almost never receive anyone by chrismation anyway.

Why do I feel the need?
(1) I don't want anyone questioning my conversion.
(2) It will help to cut completely any lingering attachment to Catholicism.
(3) I want to start over as a Christian.
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« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2003, 11:12:30 AM »

All good reasons, ND, and I wouldn't argue with any of them.  Metropolitan JOSEPH's Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church under the Bulgarian Patriarchate is a fine SCOBA jurisdiction--my ROCOR godson attends one of their new parishes in Maine (formerly CSB under the pseudo-Metropolitan Pangratios) when he brings his daughter back to the University of Maine at Orono on occasional weekends.

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« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2003, 11:33:11 AM »

Thanks for all the welcome notes. I confess, I am still early in the learning curve on how to work these boards. Since I am in my early forties, my daughters accuse me of taking much longer than I use to to learn the computer ropes!

Oh well, at least they love me!

To Linus, as a former Pentecostal, we got to "sample" every new fad that came through evangelicalism first, since it usually started with us! I frankly became exhausted with the ground shifting under my feet every few days. Orthodoxy has provided a home that is both stable and huge. Stable in the sense that our dogma is not up for review by every new convert that comes along, and huge in the sense that Orthodoxy provides a vision of Christ and His Church that encompasses the true dignity of being created in the image of God.

To Hypo-Ortho - Well, the one thing I think we Pentecostals in particular and Evengelicals in general did/do well is communicate to our culture. That makes sense since many of these evangelical movements are native. One of my deep desires is for Orthodoxy to find Her missionary voice in America without lossing Her timeless message. It can be done, but it's hard work. That's OK, though, so is theosis!

I'd love to meet you too. After all when I was pastoring, I use to preach Hell HOT, and Heaven SWEET! YEE HAW!  Smiley In fact, I remember telling my bishop that if he would let me cense the temple, I'd do it Pentecostal syle - Swinging the censer over my head like a lasso all through the church. He didn't think it was a good idea!  Cheesy

To Katherine - Yes, Dr. Stanley knew of my conversion, and he had no clue as to what to make of it. He asked me one time "So, you're not a Roman Catholic, are you?" When I assured him I was not, he seemed to calm down.

Dr. Stanley is a nice man, but as with many ministers in Evangelical media, he is of necessity, shallow. Deep teachings scare away the financial support, and many times these personality driven ministries become slaves to the perpetuation of their own organization. After 18 years in that world, I am thankful to be working with an Orthodox media ministry that has a heart for outreach and a commitment to solid teaching. Plus, the head of the ministry isn't the "star" of the show.

Thanks for all the kind words. I hope to visit here often.

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« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2003, 12:54:35 PM »

In response to a previous question in this thread...why would I embrace such a demanding religion?

I chose to convert because I recognized Orthodoxy to be the truth.  No more, no less.

I in no way come into Orthodoxy thinking "No problem - I can handle this!"  In fact, I have a fair amount of trepidation.  Fasting is very difficult even on my best days, and I'm not even attempting a complete fast yet.

I calm myself by reflecting that God calls all men to salvation, and that He wants me to embrace truth, and that His Grace will supply where I am lacking.

You think I stay awake for those vigils on the power of caffeine alone?  Grin

BTW, my parish is one of those born of CSB.  My favorite nun explained to me how they got suckered by Pangratios.  I did a lot of research before I joined the parish.  Believe me, after my RC seminary experience, if I had gotten one whiff of New-Ageism or any other form of nitwittery, I would have run for the hills and hooked up with the Serbs instead.
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« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2003, 01:31:03 PM »

Since, as I understand it, Orthodoxy understands conversion as a process and not an arrival (at least in this life), I hope it will not be out of place if I say a bit about my present journey of converting.  I'm not Orthodox yet, and must work this out with a loving and good wife who nonetheless is opposed to Orthodoxy (though there seems to be some openness of late!).

If you can stomach a lot of autobiography, a fuller version of what I say here can be found at:

http://www.geocities.com/chealy5/PEIntroduction.htm

Though please note that part V (Journey to Antioch) needs a lot of revision.  Not that the facts have changed so much as my understanding of them has.

Be that as it may:

I grew up in a non-denominational group ("brotherhood") of churches called the Stone-Campbell churches, one group of whom is the mostly liberal mainline denomination "Disciples of Christ."  My family and I, however, belonged to the more conservative branches who preferred to call themselves Restoration Movement churches.  They mostly saw themselves as a second Reformation movement, though some more radical elements claimed that after Constantine (and possibly after the death of St. John) the "real" Church survived only as a persecuted remnant and thus the NT Church really did need restored.  Of these two branches, one was the a capella churches of Christ.  The other branch, the one to which I belonged, were nearly as conservative, but used music in worship and were less opposed to "parachurch" organizations.  This final branch usually called themselves the "independent [as in non-denominational] Christian churches/churches of Christ."  Confused yet?  Trust me, the only ones who can keep this straight are RM'ers themselves.

So I grew up understanding that the most important thing Christians can do is work to restore the beliefs and practices of the New Testament Church (dum dum DUM dum: foreshadowing moment).  This could be done only by removing creeds, confessions of faith, human traditions and so forth from positions of prominence and get back to the simple written Word of God, especially the New Testament.

While training for ministry in one of the RM Bible colleges, I began to realize that RM'ers had jettisoned some 1700 years of Church history.  Yet Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church.  So I began a search for the historic Church.

In much truncated summary: I headed to Anglicanism (after looking seriously at Rome for several months, with some brief but unserious dips into Orthodoxy).  Almost as soon as I'd arrived, I wanted back out.  The heresy and immorality that had been mostly hidden to my view jumped out like a gory auto accident.  I held on long enough to get sent to seminary as an aspirant to holy orders.  But on Epiphany 2002 I opted out, and except for a visit to my home parish, have never been back to an Anglican church.

In the summer of 2000, shortly after starting seminary, I visited an Antiochian parish where I lived.  I went back after six months.  Severla months later I went back again.  And that continued until last summer when I decided this is where I need to be.  Since then I have been more regular in attendance at Divine Liturgy.

What attracted me to Orthodoxy?  My upbringing.  That is, in its orientation to "get back to the New Testament Church."  While Anglicanism gave me many great gifts, the Episcopal Church has largely served as a wake-up call and an warning impetus away from ECUSA and  toward Orthodoxy.

What keeps me coming back?  The fullness of Christian faith and living.  The glory of God and his saints.  The love and friendship of the parishioners.

Pray for me and my wife, Anna, that we and our coming child (due 6 Aug) may soon be one with the True Church of God.
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« Reply #33 on: June 20, 2003, 03:31:19 AM »

After 18 years in that world, I am thankful to be working with an Orthodox media ministry that has a heart for outreach and a commitment to solid teaching. Plus, the head of the ministry isn't the "star" of the show.

This is something that has made a big impression on me lately, the fact that most of these ministries are focused on one personality. As a Protestant I never noticed it, but after becoming Orthodox (getting onto the right path at least) it has begun to really stick out.

I know the Orthodox church has its flaws and problems, but the humility I find in her stands in such stark contrast to that which I remember in the Protestant church.

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« Reply #34 on: June 22, 2003, 08:56:49 AM »

Evanorth,

Dr Youssef's Church of the Holy Apostles describes itself as Anglican exactly once on its site, though there is next to nothing recognizably Anglican about it. (They're Christian and conservative but the most extreme low church I've ever seen.) I know he was ordained in Australia and that it is an ex-Episcopal church. What church does it belong to now?
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« Reply #35 on: June 22, 2003, 09:13:44 AM »

Serge,

He's his own denomination now. There is practically nothing left of his Anglican background, except a small part for the Lord's Supper now and again. The church building is Anglican in design, but that's about it.
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« Reply #36 on: June 22, 2003, 05:34:22 PM »

Thanks for solving that mystery for me, Evanorth. The only thing Anglican I can see about the Church of the Apostles' building is that it has a Gothic fa+ºade - can't even see any kind of altar or communion table inside.
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« Reply #37 on: June 22, 2003, 06:20:20 PM »

Saw that church in Atlanta. I was wondering if it was Catholic! Oh well. Maybe I can attend the "hour of power" sometime. Wink

Matt

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« Reply #38 on: June 22, 2003, 07:45:12 PM »

There is an altar in the church building, but the pulpit is in front of it. Dr. Youssef has been heavily influenced by the English Reformation and has a great deal more in common with the Calvinists than with any Anglican spirituality.

When he launched his Tv program, the service became much more "performance" oriented. Dr. Youssef hopes his media ministry will raise enough money stateside to continue the growth of the media ministry in the Middles East. He hopes to spread his message among the Arab nations.
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« Reply #39 on: June 22, 2003, 10:23:07 PM »

He sent out a mailing praising the conversion of 800 people after a talk of his in Cairo.  I sent him a letter blasting him saying, "you know they were probably mostly Copts, not Muslims, and you are sheep stealing."  Never replied.
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« Reply #40 on: June 23, 2003, 08:22:01 AM »

Yeah, I was there when he went to Cairo. There is a fairly large Presbyterian church in Cairo that hosts a large evangelical push each year, and that is his family's home church. He was invited to speak there last year and they video taped his messages and sent them to 800 Egyptian Protestant churches where they held the same kind of meetings.

It was right after Sept 11, and there was a real media push about the trip.

You must understand, Dr. Youssef wouldn't consider it "sheep stealing" since he has little respect for the Christian heritage of his home country.

It is interesting that many of his immediate family still goes to the Coptic Church for things like weddings and funerals, but they attend the Protestant church for Sunday morning worship. Sad.
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« Reply #41 on: June 23, 2003, 10:19:16 AM »

Wow, this gets even more interesting, Evanorth. Dr Youssef is an ex-Copt (born Copt)?!
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« Reply #42 on: June 23, 2003, 12:07:34 PM »

Actually, it was his mother and father who converted away from Coptic Christianity. Dr. Youssef left Egypt when he was 18 to avoid the draft in Nasser's army. He then immigrated to Australia, where he married and received his theological education from the Anglicans.
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« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2003, 12:58:16 PM »

Ah, now it makes sense. Thanks again, Evanorth. Reading Dr Youssef's site I think I took a reference to his 'becoming a Christian' to mean he'd converted from Islam; I see now it was Evangelical Protestantspeak for his 'accepting Christ', coming from a family of that background.
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« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2003, 09:50:33 PM »

Do you really feel you need to be re-baptized?

Linus,
Whether or not he feels that he needs to be rebaptized may be irrelevant -  it is usually up to the priest (and consequently what his Bishop says).  

True, but from what I have seen the priest and bishop will often go along with a request for baptism from the convert.

Perhaps I should have phrased my question along those lines and asked if baptism was the priest or bishop's idea or NDHoosier's.

Of course, ND answered the question a post or two later and said he requested it but that his priest (Bulgarian Patriarchate) said they almost never receive anyone by chrismation. Interesting . . .
« Last Edit: June 23, 2003, 09:53:38 PM by Linus7 » Logged

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« Reply #45 on: June 28, 2003, 01:03:56 AM »

I was raised in a churchless nuclear family and didn't really find out anything solid about Christianity of any stripe (pace the Young Life group at my high school and some religious relatives) until my first year of college. In the summer following same, I "asked the Lord into my heart" and the next school year was baptised Presbyterian (by triple immersion -- in a lake -- in Seattle -- on the first of March (1981)! Brrrrr!).

One of my college roommates was RC and gave me a rosary and a copy of "The Way of the Pilgrim" and taught me to say the Jesus Prayer. Thus was a seed planted.

I wandered through various "denominations" but never really found a home in any of them. I was married (for ten years) and divorced. My last stop on my journey before the jump to Constantinople was ECUSA.

What drew me to Orthodoxy was (not a complete list) -- (1) the Jesus prayer. (2) The historical claims of the OC. (3) An undestanding of salvation that didn't involve a schizophrenic God (you know what I mean -- a "god" who wants nothing more than to zorch us for our sins and yet at the same time sent sweet baby Jesus to die in our place).  (4) Wanting more praxis (iykwim) than I was getting or being led into anywhere in Protestantland.

I started really seriously investigating Orthodoxy in the year after my divorce -- what finally pushed (or pulled) me over the edge and made me decide "I can't be anything else but Orthodox" was a sentence in Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way which says "Only God could be the perfect Man."  When I read that, something inside me went "click" and I knew I would become Orthodox. (I'm weird, I know.)

I began the inquirer's process in the spring of 1996, was made a catecumen in the summer of 1996, and was received by chrismation into the OCA on Theophany Eve of 1997 (new style).

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2003, 12:09:22 PM »

You go, Guitar man!    Cool Grin

Seriously, Mousethief, very good story of your conversion.

Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #47 on: June 28, 2003, 05:09:12 PM »


Ok, this is my first post here, so we'll see if it actually works or not..LOL!

I was baptized in the catholic church when I was an infant, but never stepped foot inside a church for another 20 years until a friend of mine got married. (he was a protestant)

So I wasn't raised in any church. My mom is catholic but hadn't been to church since high school. My dad is 'protestant' but NEVER went ot church his entire life basically, because "the church is full of hypocrites"...of course his only expeirence with church people are southern baptists and nominal catholics so he's probably right...lol!

Growing up I knew NOTHING about the bible. I never even had one to read until I was like 19 years old. I knew about the "baby Jesus" at Christmas, and something about the Cross at Easter, but I had NO IDEA what these things meant to me.

Of course going through public school in the U.S. and "learning" from secular "scholars" like the Jesus Seminar types at one point I thought Jesus was just a good guy.

When I was about 21 or so I had a friend who was a Christian (the guy who got married) and he lived the life at least as best a protestant can I suppose. It had a big influence on me. So I got a bible began reading it...and started watching TBN. (I know I know..yikes..lol!)

I later "got saved"...maybe about 5 years ago. Then I "got saved" like 3000 more times...LOL! I siad that prayer EVERY time I would sin...(make that 30,000 times...:'g')

I went from charismatic/pentecostal beliefs, to almost officially becoming a baptist, but just before checking out the local baptist church, I was in a chatroom with an atheist (maybe just agnostic) who said something about the "coptic bible"...I then did a search on the net, and found all of this stuff out about something called the Orthodox Church. THinking it was just a Catholic Church for ethnic people, I began trying to disprove it. One doctrine at a time. I'd start with say Icons, or the Virgin Mary etc...the problem was after a week or two of studying I'd realize what I had thought the bible taught was all wrong, and the actual meaning of passages were COMPLETELY Orthodox. (for intance Mary said "all generations shall call me blessed" well I KNEW protestant don't do that, and think catholics go too far, yet Orthodoxy was "just right" so to speak.)

Next was the Eucharist, what sealed that for me was Paul saying people had DIED from eating and drinking unworthily. Pretty hard to do if its just bread and grape juice..LOL!

After about 5 months of online study, I contacted a local Orthodox priest. (Greek Orthodox) My first visit we talked (or should I say HE talked..LOL!) for like 4 hours....Smiley Ok I did my share of talking to...Wink
<p>
Anyways later that afternoon I attended my FIRST Orthodox service, a Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. The beauty of it was just awesome. I began attending services, and experiencing the WORSHIP of God. I had never worshipped the Lord before. It was truly amazing. I soon learned the responses of the people which made the worship that much more profund.

But the one that sealed the deal to use a secular term, was PASCHA!!! My first Resurrection service. I had NEVER felt the presence of God like I did that night. It left me literally speachless. I flet like I had seen the Risen Lord for the VERY first time. I could now understand how the saints would so willingly go to their death for the LIVING Lord Jesus. I never felt that as a protestant...it was simply ineffable.

But really, Pascha was the last aspect of my "conversion"...I was already converted in heart, soul and mind. I had logically accepted the teachings of Orthodoxy ever before stepping foot inside a Church. My first 5 months of study lead me to logically know Orthodoxy was True. But the Pascha, converted my spirit.

I was Chrismated into the Greek Orthodox Church one week later on May 4th of this year. My given name is Charles (everyone including my mom call me Chuck) but I took the name Thomas because I felt a connection to him as all I could say after pascha was "My Lord, and my God!"

Thats it...

oh one other thing...my first visit to an Orthodox Church 2 things struck me..first the priest (who is now my priest of course) just seemed so comforting. I could feel something different about his presence. A sense of holiness. Like I could feel the Aposotolic Sucession.

Two, I felt God present in the Church. I could feel for the first time He was truly and literally REAL. As a protestant so many things seemed like they were just not tangible. But in Orthodoxy it all seemed tangible if not materially then spiritually.

Anyways thats my long drawn out story...

In Christ, Thomas





« Last Edit: June 28, 2003, 05:16:29 PM by Chuck S. » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: June 28, 2003, 05:21:26 PM »

Thanks Chuck for the great conversion story!

Also, welcome to our forum!!

Can I ask where you found us?

Bobby
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« Reply #49 on: June 29, 2003, 04:40:22 PM »

I second Bobby, "Chuck" Thomas!  A great conversion story and a great reason for taking the name of the doubting Apostle, St. Thomas, when you were received into the Church on St. Thomas Sunday, the Second Sunday of Pascha!  Welcome home!

Hypo-Ortho

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« Reply #50 on: June 29, 2003, 08:27:38 PM »

Welcome, mousethief and Chuck!

Thanks for your conversion stories. They made me feel good when I read them. I needed that.
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« Reply #51 on: June 29, 2003, 11:31:05 PM »

Wow Hypo, you're Patriarch again, I didn't even notice.

And you have like 5 pectoral crosses.
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« Reply #52 on: June 30, 2003, 12:30:30 AM »

Yeah, Hypo, you need to lay off the pecs and work on your abs. Cheesy

Chuck/Thomas(which do you want to go by on here?) great story.  Welcome to the site...I hope you will find it edifying.  

Mousethief, good to see you're still around.  Everything going well with The Onion Dome?
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« Reply #53 on: June 30, 2003, 11:48:17 AM »

Wow Hypo, you're Patriarch again, I didn't even notice.

And you have like 5 pectoral crosses.

Bobby, it's no fun being a Patriarch since you lost my avatar! Angry

Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #54 on: June 30, 2003, 01:59:16 PM »

Hypo,

Did the avatar I made for you not work out?  If so, PM me, and I'll try again.
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« Reply #55 on: July 01, 2003, 01:54:50 PM »


Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. One of the first things that really struck my about Orthodox Christians when I was still a protestant the "family" atmosphere, even in online situations. It's encouraging to see it now that I am Orthodox too.

Bobby, I just did a search on Google for "Orthodox message boards" or "Orthodox forums" and came across this site. There actually are not a whole lot of forums out there for us Orthodox actually. (alot of mailing lists but I prefer actually "going" somewhere to post.

David, I really don't have a preference on which name I go by actually. Smiley Most of the greeks at my Church call me Thomas (especially the older ladies) so I suppose I should get used to answering by that name...:=) (one day someone was calling for "Thomas" and it took me like what seemed to be 2 minutes to realize they meant me...LOL!)

My priest kinda goes back and forth between Chuck and Thomas, and then the protestant converts usually call me Chuck. So Thomas or Chuck is perfectly fine...

I'll probably sign my posts as Thomas though...:=)


In Christ, Thomas




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« Reply #56 on: July 01, 2003, 01:56:34 PM »

Just be careful we don't call you Chomas. Smiley

Glad you find the board a welcoming place... feel free to start a discussion topic if you like, or reply to any of the others.  We have several hundred on the board.
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« Reply #57 on: July 01, 2003, 02:39:37 PM »

I know the boat your in with the name Thomas!  At home I am Derek about 90% of the time (oddly enough my parents will call me Nektarios every so often - I think they find it amusing!  Most of my non-Orthodox friends call me Derek.  But at Church and among Orthodox friends I am always Nektarios.  I am trying (but without much success) to get everyone (family excluded) to call me Nektarios as a preventitive measure to  schizophrenia...FWIW I much prefer Nektarios.
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« Reply #58 on: September 23, 2003, 01:49:42 PM »

I converted because I didn't really have a choice - it was the right thing to do.  I converted to Christianity in college, and knew of the Orthodox Church in terms of history but didn't know of any local churches in my area, and later, after being a Christian for awhile, I went to a wedding in an Orthodox church, realised it was the right thing to do, and was Chrismated as soon as I could.  

I never had a good reason, I just knew after attending a Liturgy that it was home.  Outlook, method of worship, and all of that just immediately synched, and anything else, I was willing to accept the Church's authority in.

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« Reply #59 on: October 03, 2003, 01:25:39 AM »

Greetings everyone - this is long...sorry about that!   :-

My conversion to Orthodoxy was actually extremely quick.  My wife is Lutheran and her family has a long tradition of Lutheran ministers including her father and brother but I was not drawn to it in any fashion at all.  I was not raised in a christian household and got to know many different protestant groups because I am a tenor and I sang my way through college in church choirs and concerts.

I was in Irvine, CA (outside Los Angeles) and I attended my first Divine Liturgy as part of a concert "gig".  At the time it was simply a "gig" to me, I had no idea how my life would change that morning.  I had quite a bit of exposure to Greek Orthodox chant via some singing I did in a group specializing in that material.  I found it profoudly beautiful and deeply moving on a level I had never experienced before.  That morning as I walked into St. Paul's G.O.C. for my "gig", I encountered a beautiful icon of the Theotokos clad in silver.  I was awestruck, I was immovable, I think I stopped breathing.  It was very dramatic.  When I entered the sanctuary, I immediately felt like I was on fire.  I was suddenly so filled with joy, laughter, acceptance, peace, sorrow, calm, and most strongly love and a sense of being exactly where I was suppossed to be for the first time in my life.  I stood for four and a half hours that morning (a bishop was visiting) and felt as if 20 minutes had passed.  When service was over I sat in the sanctuary alone and sobbed huge wet tears.  I was unable to comprehend what had just happened to me.  Eventually I found myself looking up at the Pantokrator in the dome and I wispered "I think I understand Lord, lead me where I am to be".  I sought out the priest and said to him "Father, I cannot even begin to understand what just happened to me but I know I need you to help me pray right now".
He asked me a couple of quick and to the point questions, shaking his head at each of my answers, "Have you ever prayed before?", "Have you read the Gospels?","is there a local Orthodox Church you can start going to?.  The only answer he was remotely pleased about was that there was a local Church I intended to start going to immediately when I returned home.  He talked with me about honest prayer and gave me several wonderful books to read on prayer and the Orthodox Church.

I returned to my home and told my wife and her family I was going to start attending the Orthodox Church and basically never looked back.  I quickly felt I had been led to the Truth of all Truths and now was the defining moment in my life.  Do I take that step across the threshold despite all my youthful years of making fun of the Church and Christians in general or do I admit that I was a complete and total fool and I needed to take up my many crosses and follow Christ as best I could right away?  I chose Light and Life and my life has not been the same since.  I was baptised and crismated on the day after Theophany in 2002.  I wrote a "remembrance" of my baptismal experience which I would like to share with you all but before I do I would like to say that my wife and her family and mine have been rocks of support for me during my coming home to the Orthodox Church.  They saw my transformation and unwavering faith and helped me to hold firm to that which I suddenly knew to be beyond price.  Here is my written remembrance of baptism:

Well it is the day after my baptism and I am still in a fog of unadulterated joy. I tried to prepare myself for baptism by reading the service and knowing what to do when but once the service started I was transported. It was a wonderful small group of friends and family and I was extremely blessed that 4 of my good friends who are also wonderful chanters not only showed up but robed and chanted the service (Alex, John Jr., Mark l and Ioannis), truly a great blessing. I have snippets of memories and impressions, the most powerful memory I have from early on is when Father James intoned LET ALL ADVERSE POWERS BE CRUSHED BENEATH THE SIGNING OF YOUR MOST PRECIOUS CROSS three times and made the sign of the cross in the baptismal water with his fingers. It was like standing next to a spiritual hand grenade three times. I have read and understood that words can contain power but I have never experienced it first hand like that. Right after that moment was when I began to realize the true depth and beauty of what was about to happen to me. I suddenly appreciated as never before how completely sinful and unworthy I was of partaking of this sacrament. I felt small and humbled and insignificant.
Then I was anointed and stepped into the baptismal waters. Once, twice, three times I was immersed in the holy waters of rebirth. I stood up and opened my eyes and maybe it was my imagination but EVERYTHING looked cleaner and clearer to me. It was as if a layer of grime had been wiped away revealing a gleaming world I had never seen. I started weeping then, slow and free without sobbing or sadness. I stepped out and was wrapped in a sheet and then received crismation. Somewhere between my chest and my feet I started to feel a deep sense of love and worth coming over me. I was enveloped in a feeling of absolute soothing calm and love. Once that was done I put on my normal clothes and was getting prepared for my first Eucharist. I was so lost in awe of the moment all I could do was keep repeating Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner over and over again. After the readings John and I were led to a spot right in front of the royal doors and I looked up and there was the chalice. As soon as I saw the cup, I started weeping again. I could not look at the cup without weeping more. Suddenly before I realized it I was being offered the most holy body and blood of our savior Jesus Christ. For a fleeting moment I felt as though there was no possible way I was worthy to receive this great and holy mystery. I received the Eucharist with the Jesus prayer running over and over in my mind and suddenly all was still. I swallowed and felt warmth, contentment and fulfillment spread out through my body; I had finally come home and found the very thing my soul had ached for all these many years.
All praise, honor, and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit for allowing me to partake of this great mystery and truly be able to call all of you brothers and sisters. As I am typing this I am on the verge of tears again. Never have I experienced such power and sense of love and belonging and "rightness".

John told me I would be walking in the clouds for many days afterwards and he is right. I am changed. I cannot really verbalize the way in which I am changed but I know in my heart I am changed. Also, all of my reading and discussing and thinking did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the complete and utter humbleness I now feel towards life and those around me. I think maybe I finally have some understanding of the completely and utterly amazing power and demonstration of obedience and love that Christ showed upon the cross and in his resurrection.

Thank you all for reading about my journey into Orthodoxy and if I can ever say a prayer for anyone in need or in thanksgiving, please let me know and I will add you to my list straightaway.

With deep love and joy in Christ
-Pavlos
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« Reply #60 on: October 03, 2003, 06:26:49 AM »

Pavlos,

Beautiful story!

Bobby
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« Reply #61 on: October 03, 2003, 09:51:27 AM »

Dear Pavlos,

That was an awesome story, and I think will encourage many; I know it has done that for me.  Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #62 on: October 03, 2003, 01:14:48 PM »

Pavlos,

Your conversion story brought some "mist" to my poor, old eyes, and I was momentarily transported back in time to my own reception into Christ's Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church with my immediate family from the Unia more than 25 years ago.  Thank you for a story well told!

Pavlos, may God grant you many, many happy years of peace, health and happiness in His One Holy Church!

Hypo-Ortho
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