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Offline SeanGR

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Introduction, and questions
« on: September 30, 2007, 11:42:54 AM »
Hello, my name is Sean.

I know next-to-nothing about Orthodox faith and practice. A friend of mine and his wife are in catechism right now and are converting to Orthodox from Anglican. I myself grew up Protestant in the Baptist tradition and am now involved in the Christian Reformed-sponsored campus ministry at my university. Although the Reformed Church typically usually uses liturgy, the ministry here does not. Beyond a few Mass services I've attended I've never had real exposure to a liturgical church before.

Anyway, I'm interested in learning more about what my Orthodox brothers and sisters believe and practice. I have contacted the leader of the Orthodox student group on my campus to see if I can get involved there, but haven't heard back yet. I read the Wikipedia article on Orthodox Christianity but I'm sure we all know how reliable (not!) Wikipedia can be, especially about religious issues.

Are there any good, reliable online resources, books, or other information I can look at to get a better idea what Orthodoxy is all about?

Thanks in advance,
Sean

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2007, 12:14:25 PM »
Dear Sean,

Welcome to the forum! This is a good, friendly place, you will find a lot of help and advice here.

Of the online resources, you might try this:

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/introduction/

or similar Web sites of the canonical Orthodox churches (OCA, Antiochian, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Serbian, etc.)

George
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Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2007, 01:29:24 PM »
Thank you for the link!

What is the OCA? I assume the Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, etc. churches are organized along ethnic/national lines but what about Antiochian? I think Antioch is in present-day Turkey so is it just another word for the Turkish Orthodox church?

Which is the largest Orthodox church in America?

Again, thanks in advance.

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2007, 02:04:58 PM »
Sean,

Antiochian Archdiocese Web site has this address:

http://www.antiochian.org/

It traces its roots to Antioch, and its first faithful in the USA were mostly Arabs from the Middle East, but today this Orthodox jurisdiction is multi-ethnic and includes many converts to Orthodoxy from among Americans of European descent.

OCA stands for "The Orthodox Church in America." Its Web address is this:

http://www.oca.org/

They trace their origin to an Orthodox mission in Kodiak, Alaska, founded in 1794 by Russian monks, but today they are very multi-ethnic. My probably most favorite modern Orthodox thinker, writer and lecturer, Fr. Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), did a lot to revive and re-organize this Orthodox jurisdiction in the 1970's. Two prominent OCA theologians and propagandists of Orthodoxy in the USA, Fr. John Tkachuk and Fr. Thomas Hopko, are Fr. Alexander's two sons-in-law.

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--G.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 02:05:59 PM by Heorhij »
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2007, 05:24:10 PM »
Welcome to the Convert Issue Forum!

Your question about the Antiochian Orthodox Church  needs some correct Information.  The Self Ruling Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America is under the Patriarch of Antioch who currently resides in Damascus Syria. It is self ruling on day- to-day issues  and nominates its own Bishops who are approved by the Patriarchal synod in Damascus.

Thomas
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« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 05:24:57 PM by Thomas »
Your brother in Christ ,
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Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2007, 05:08:45 PM »
I read some of "The Orthodox Faith" on the OCA website and intend to read all of it over time - it's a lot to take in all at once. I'd rather chew on it a little at a time.

The leader of the Orthodox student group here got back to me and invited me to their meetings. One of the students is in catechism so they are talking about that mostly since it is a small group (representative of the area - west Michigan is very heavily populated with Reformed folks). I'm looking forward to it. He even invited me to the Orthodox mission they go to on Sundays to see what a service is like. I'm excited about that too.

Thanks for the help everyone!

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2007, 05:40:56 PM »
Sean,

I am not familiar with the georgraphy of your state. How far is Jackson, MI from Grand Rapids, MI? There is an OCA church in Albion, MI - it looks (on the map) that this town is just a little bit west of Jackson:

http://orthodoxchurchalbion.org/

Best wishes,

George
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Offline Maksim

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2007, 07:02:23 PM »
Hi Sean,

Not sure exactly where in Michigan you are, but there is also a ROCOR parish (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) located in the Lake Odessa area.  According to their website, they have a vespers service most weekday nights, which may be useful if you have a busy schedule.  Their website is: http://stherman.net/

Another resource, as an alternative to Wikipedia, is http://orthodoxwiki.org   No source is completely unbiased, but they have articles about many of the different jurisdictions you'll be hearing about, as well as some more specific info than you will find on Wikipedia.

Offline Nyssa The Hobbit

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2007, 07:10:28 PM »
I especially recommend the OCA and GOARCH websites which have already been named.  They're my most relied-on resources.  Happy Hunting for Orthodox doctrine!  For those of us who love studying doctrine to some extent, this is like a fun little game, but with an eternally significant prize.  The more I learned, the more intrigued I got, until I could no longer stay away from the Orthodox Church.  I also recommend "The Orthodox Church" by Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  He's also written "The Orthodox Way," but I haven't read that one yet.


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Offline prodromas

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2007, 08:18:25 PM »
Yeah Nyssa is right the books by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware they are great convert books (mainly because they are written by a convert). I am reading The Orthodox Way and it is more about the purpose of Christianity and some explanations and is very inspiring where as his other book The Orthodox Church is more about the history and doctrines of the church but what I've heard about the books is that they are great.
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Offline John of the North

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2007, 01:34:04 PM »
"Becoming Orthodox" by Fr. Peter Gillquist. I just read it this week and it is so amazingly awesome!
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2007, 08:10:25 PM »
Thanks, I will look into those books, probably "Becoming Orthodox" first as it seems to be the story of an evangelical Christian (like me) coming to Orthodoxy.

Offline Trudy

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2007, 10:03:57 PM »
the story of an evangelical Christian (like me) coming to Orthodoxy.

If you want to read an outstanding book written by a former Evangelical Christian who is now Orthodox, read Matthe Gallitin's book "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells."  It is unbelievable!  When I read it, all I kept saying to myself was, "Well, yup." And stuff like that.

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Offline serb1389

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2007, 10:13:20 PM »
Welcome to the site!  ask as many questions as you want!  I look forward to your posts! 

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Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2007, 10:39:19 PM »
Well, I just got back from my first visit to the Orthodox Student Fellowship. They were going through the book Let Us Attend by Lawrence Farley and read the end of chapter 3 about the Litany and started chapter 4 on the Antiphons.

It was all very interesting but a little over my head. It really did spark my interest though. I'm excited to go back. The priest that facilitates the group recommended the book Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallitin which one of the group members is going to lend me next time, so I'm looking forward to that.

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2007, 10:53:09 PM »
Welcome to the forum Sean.

Any questions you have, please feel free to ask.  I know that a lot of this stuff can seem overwhelming at first and it is difficult to know where to start.  Many have recommended Bishop +KALLISTOS' The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way and both are extremely helpful, especially to novices.  They were quite helpful to me.  Something that is no less helpful and more readable is Fr. Coniaris' Introducing the Orthodox Church.  Coniaris is definitely not writing for the scholar so you might want to check that out. 

But again, all of us here are more than happy to answer your questions.  Of course, we are all sinners and some of us (like myself) are not quite as educated or as good at living the faith as others so please don't consider what we have to offer as the "end all be all". 

Glad you are here.
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Offline Rowan

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2007, 11:24:56 PM »
Hello, my name is Sean.

I know next-to-nothing about Orthodox faith and practice. A friend of mine and his wife are in catechism right now and are converting to Orthodox from Anglican. I myself grew up Protestant in the Baptist tradition and am now involved in the Christian Reformed-sponsored campus ministry at my university. Although the Reformed Church typically usually uses liturgy, the ministry here does not. Beyond a few Mass services I've attended I've never had real exposure to a liturgical church before.

Anyway, I'm interested in learning more about what my Orthodox brothers and sisters believe and practice. I have contacted the leader of the Orthodox student group on my campus to see if I can get involved there, but haven't heard back yet. I read the Wikipedia article on Orthodox Christianity but I'm sure we all know how reliable (not!) Wikipedia can be, especially about religious issues.

Are there any good, reliable online resources, books, or other information I can look at to get a better idea what Orthodoxy is all about?

Thanks in advance,
Sean

Sean,

I think I know you.

You went to our OCF meeting and I let you see my icon of the Theotokos, correct?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~Philippians 4:8; St Paul

Offline Ian Lazarus

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2007, 12:54:32 AM »
Welcome! 

"For I am With thee, withersoever thou goest"

Joshua 1:9

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2007, 01:27:18 PM »
Sean,

ONe thing I forgot to put in my post is that no matter what counsel we give you here, it will be of great(er) help for you and your journey to talk with a priest.  We are fortunate to have several priests and deacons here on this board.  But if one is available to you, by all means, go that route.
Hey, I don't hand out 9.5s to just anyone!  ;D

Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2007, 10:02:19 PM »
Sean,

I think I know you.

You went to our OCF meeting and I let you see my icon of the Theotokos, correct?
Oh hey! Great to see a familiar face around here!

Offline Rowan

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2007, 06:42:56 PM »
Oh hey! Great to see a familiar face around here!

Hey...we missed ya' this week :)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~Philippians 4:8; St Paul

Offline SeanGR

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2007, 10:19:20 PM »
Hey...we missed ya' this week :)
I was totally swamped with studying for midterms. I should be free for next time though.

Offline Sophia

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2007, 06:20:07 PM »
Thank you for the link!

What is the OCA? I assume the Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, etc. churches are organized along ethnic/national lines but what about Antiochian? I think Antioch is in present-day Turkey so is it just another word for the Turkish Orthodox church?

Which is the largest Orthodox church in America?

Again, thanks in advance.

To All My Brothers & Sisters in the Orthodox Faith:   May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Christ Jesus be with you!

 This particular point, the "ethnic" reference to the church (i.e.. Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc.) causes many, many people here in the USA, especially with a protestant background to have hesitation from worshing in the Orthodox faith. Most have never heard of the Orthodox Church and yes, they they think it's just another Roman Catholic parish.  Some think these particular names of orthodox churches, are just for that particular ethnicity.  Some have shared with me that they  didn't understand the language because the Divine Liturgy wasn't in English.

The United States is truly a melting pot of ethnicity's and races yet we still have an "American" culture that is unique to this country.  For example, my ancestors were from Mexico, France, & Spain. All my grandparents and my parents were born here in the USA but only my grandparents, who have all passed away, (since the youngest one was born in 1900) spoke fluent Spanish.  Sometimes we cook Mexican food, but we've never celebrated things like "Cinco de Mayo".  There are millions of other Americans like us, who weren't raised with the dominance of the traditions and languages of a "mother" country.

My question is how can the orthodox church be more relational to the people of American (USA) culture?  Please don't misunderstand or prejudge my intentions.  I'm not criticizing the orthodox churches or Her bishops and clergy.    I'm simply asking in the name of opening dialogue to see how others are addressing this issue?


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Sophia
Luk 9: And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.  John answered, Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.  But Jesus said to him, Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2007, 11:40:56 AM »
Sophia, welcome to the forum! --George
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Offline Ebor

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2007, 12:23:14 PM »
Welcome SeanGR and Sophia.  :)

Ebor
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2007, 08:54:19 AM »
Welcome to the Forum, Sophia!

As a non-ethnic Orthodox Christian, the question you posed once confused me,however as I began to  meet Orthodox Christians of various jurisdictions and traditions, I learned much.  Each  tradition in the Orthodox Church is rich and varied in practice and traditions. The United States prides itself at being the melting pot or stew pot depending on whom you talk with.  American Orthodoxy is still developing.  What I have learned is that American Orthodox people will eventually develop its own traditions and the question is more appropriately what will it look like?

1)It will  observe the fasts and Feasts of the Orthodox Church.
2) It will serve the services of the Church  (the hours, Divine Liturgy, akathists, etc)
3) It will adopt those ethnic traditions that have meaning to the American Orthodox and drop others that don't (I believe for example that caroling during Nativity will  remain in an American Orthodox Church  however things like "Starring" something I enjoy, the Pascha Lazarene singers, and Basil Kalenda singers on Januray 1st will probably not be adopted)
4) Festivals will probably continue as money makers for parishes but may change into more localized events for example a Parish named after St. John the Forerunner may not have a Medfest or a Greek Food Festival if the ethnic identification is gone but may hold , lets say, a St John's Honey Festival to make money for the parish and offer evangelical and fellowship opportunities)
5) It will be evangelical, more out reaching to non-orthodox, to bring them into the church.
6) It will have Orthodox Monasteries, sketes, anchorites, charities, camps, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions.

In the mean time, enjoy the cultural richness that ethnic Orthodoxy  has to offer.  Look at the spirituality of all jurisidictions and find which one of the deep spiritual diversity Orthodoxy offers to you to develop yourself and help you toward Theosis.

Once again WELCOME!
Thomas
« Last Edit: October 30, 2007, 09:48:57 AM by Thomas »
Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas

Offline Sophia

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2007, 06:31:07 PM »
Sophia, welcome to the forum! --George

Thank you, George!  Grace and Peace be with you!                                                                                                                           
Welcome SeanGR and Sophia.  :)

Ebor

  Bless you, Ebor!  Thank you!

Sophia
Luk 9: And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.  John answered, Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.  But Jesus said to him, Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.

Offline Sophia

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Re: Introduction, and questions
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2007, 06:33:42 PM »
Welcome to the Forum, Sophia!

As a non-ethnic Orthodox Christian, the question you posed once confused me,however as I began to  meet Orthodox Christians of various jurisdictions and traditions, I learned much.  Each  tradition in the Orthodox Church is rich and varied in practice and traditions. The United States prides itself at being the melting pot or stew pot depending on whom you talk with.  American Orthodoxy is still developing.  What I have learned is that American Orthodox people will eventually develop its own traditions and the question is more appropriately what will it look like?

1)It will  observe the fasts and Feasts of the Orthodox Church.
2) It will serve the services of the Church  (the hours, Divine Liturgy, akathists, etc)
3) It will adopt those ethnic traditions that have meaning to the American Orthodox and drop others that don't (I believe for example that caroling during Nativity will  remain in an American Orthodox Church  however things like "Starring" something I enjoy, the Pascha Lazarene singers, and Basil Kalenda singers on Januray 1st will probably not be adopted)
4) Festivals will probably continue as money makers for parishes but may change into more localized events for example a Parish named after St. John the Forerunner may not have a Medfest or a Greek Food Festival if the ethnic identification is gone but may hold , lets say, a St John's Honey Festival to make money for the parish and offer evangelical and fellowship opportunities)
5) It will be evangelical, more out reaching to non-orthodox, to bring them into the church.
6) It will have Orthodox Monasteries, sketes, anchorites, charities, camps, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions.

In the mean time, enjoy the cultural richness that ethnic Orthodoxy  has to offer.  Look at the spirituality of all jurisidctions and find which one of the deep spiritual diversity Orthodoxy offers to you to develop yourself and help you toward Theosis.

Once again WELCOME!
Thomas


Thomas:
Thank you for your thoughtful insights to my questions.  I look forward to learning and sharing with others at this website.  May the grace and peace of our Lord Christ Jesus be with you.

Sophia
Luk 9: And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.  John answered, Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.  But Jesus said to him, Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.