What a GREAT thread...
there is such an emphasis on "not proselytizing" that I believe many in the ethnic based churches use this as a crutch to do nothing at all...I guarantee those that i grew up with here in this bastion of protestantism aren't going to see it as anything other than "those people"- because the culture will alienate them. It did me at first, only briefly, but I was so fed up I didn't care for very long. Is that what it's got to take? Making people die of thirst, and then only offer them some foreign culture? That isnt what Orthodoxy is supposed to be about.
Absolutely. What a wonderfully heartfelt post. I, as a convert, very much want to hear more Slavonic in our services in our OCA parish, since there are many Russian/Ukranian folks for whom English is a second language (specifically, I'd like to hear the parts that get repeated in English also done in Slavonic, as well as a separate epistle reading on Sundays, if possible). Also, my wife and I eagerly contribute to the pysanky at Pascha as well as the the piroghi and sour cream/poppy seed cakes at Christmas, but...those things are primarily extra-liturgical. Meaning, the Church COULD get along just fine without them...NOT saying we therefore MUST or even SHOULD get rid of them, but that, when more priority is placed on these linguistic or artistic aspects of a human culture than the God-breathed services of the Church Universal and our wholehearted participation in them, then we have a problem.
They don't care enough that we are losing members, as long as they keep the exclusive ethnic club going that’s all that matters.
I've met converts like this, as well. As BrotherAiden has put it (to paraphrase), we cling tenaciously to our ethnic trappings, and the last one to leave the church can just blow out the candles and lock up, 'cause we'll be done.
I had to listen to some AG protestant guy glowingly talk about the thousands of missionaries and millions they have converted overseas the other day. He talked about some of the social institutions and schools they have also set up in some of the countries they are working in. I actually didn't tell him I was Orthodox because I felt so embarrassed that our efforts pale in comparison to one protestant sect.
Um...you DO realize, though, that, if folks were being converted at the rate these denominations were claiming that THE ENTIRE WORLD would have been converted and "Spirit filled" some three or four times over? Having personally participated in foreign missions under charismatic organizations, I can tell you this--while they certainly do let folks know they're out there, that's about all the lasting impact they make. A Bolivian pastor I worked with for two consecutive summers told me during the second summer that, out of all the THOUSANDS of "decision cards" that folks filled out, about half of those had the wrong address and/or phone number on them, and of the remaining half, about half of THOSE were doors slammed in their face, and of the remaining quarter, MAYBE ABOUT FIFTY PEOPLE/FAMILIES agreed to "repeat visits," and out of that, ONLY ABOUT TEN PEOPLE could be said to be faithful members of their group of churches.
So when I hear about all the "souls being won in Africa or China" (my wife could tell you about how the latter's a crock of bull since she's been to China and has seen the apathy of "converts" there) I take it with a serious grain of salt. Or a block thereof. Whatever.
I think it is already happening now as the OCA and Antiochians move into Mexico and are starting to do missionary work there. I hear of more calls for Spanish translators for catechism and liturgical translations. The missions established south of the border will be Mexican in culture. I don't think anyone would dream of imposing English on the Mexicans.
Um, no we wouldn't.
Having done a little work with a Spanish-speaking mission here in Ft. Worth (which ended because the jurisdictions couldn't keep from disagreeing over who the mission was under--OCA Mexian hieromonk, Greek building, so of course this is an insurmountable problem that necessitates leaving potential converts without a parish
), I can tell you that Mexican Orthodoxy is QUITE Mexican.
America has become...a dark and lost country, despite it's Protestant start. While everyone is arguing about the EP, what will become of the US without ORthodoxy or with little bitty teeny weeny elderly ORthodox churches full of elderly Russian women (or Greek, etc)
I wonder just how bad it's going to have to get before folks just realize that we're already IN a mess canonically with this situation, so we may have to just have to cut our losses and the bishops improvise in order to fix this. Whether MP or EP, something needs to be figured out for the good of the faithful...however, thank God that something like this (i.e., administrative unity) is not CRUCIAL as long as we maintain eucharistic unity and the bond of love with each other--which IS happening at the grass-roots level, I'm happy to say.
Why are many parts of the Orthodox Church declining in numbers here except for the Antiochian Orthodox Church?...At some point the other jurisdictions may have to take a look at what the Antiochians are doing if they want to keep the doors to the Church open.
Mmm...careful. I know of several parishes who cling just as doggedly to Arabic as others to Greek, Russian, etc. The AOAA has declining "hole-in-the-walls," too...
Believe me...sometimes cooperation is difficult between hierarchs within the same jurisdiction. Having everyone under one hierarch is not the panacea to solve this problem.