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Author Topic: Why did you convert?  (Read 12391 times) Average Rating: 0
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mousethief
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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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Hypo-Ortho
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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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Chuck S.
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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

In Christ, Thomas
Robert
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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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Hypo-Ortho
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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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David
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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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Chuck S.
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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.

Gretchen
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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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Robert
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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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