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Author Topic: Antiochian Orthodox converts  (Read 5556 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 24, 2007, 09:23:30 PM »

Why are so many American's who convert to Orthodoxy doing so mainly in to the Antiochian jurisdiction? Do people feel it is the most accepting of Americans or the least "ethnic"?
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2007, 10:19:39 PM »

My area has a few parishes of the different jurisdictions.  The Antiochian church was (and is) the easiest for me to get to; that was the sole reason behind my choice.  Smiley 

It was nice having the Liturgy in English, too, although that's less of an issue now that I have been Orthodox awhile and know the Liturgy well enough to know what's going on in whatever language.
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2007, 10:33:03 PM »

I think stereotypically the Antiochians are the most "convert-friendly" and they have done the most to reach out and do mission activity. The Evangelical Orthodox Church was received into that jurisdiction so I think that is a large part of it.
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2007, 12:26:13 AM »

I think stereotypically the Antiochians are the most "convert-friendly" and they have done the most to reach out and do mission activity. The Evangelical Orthodox Church was received into that jurisdiction so I think that is a large part of it.

Well, in my area there are quite a number of Orthodox churches. There are three Greek Orthodox, one Antiochian, four or five OCA plus an Albanian one under the OCA, a couple Ukrainian and one ROCOR. I have only been to a couple of them and each is unique in its own way...As for joining one...well, probably the ROCOR because they struggle the most financially and I feel that they need to stay open as a witness. Also, they are the most traditional with the Liturgy in Slavonic, Old Calender and no pews...I would be happy at any of them though, because I am blessed to have so many options. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2007, 12:27:23 AM »

I would also add that the Antiochian parish probably has the least amount of converts, but that is mainly due to the large number of cradle Orthodox (many from Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East)...
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2007, 12:33:59 AM »

I think that the Liturgy being in English is the main draw.  Although the ROCOR and the Greeks are starting to have more bilingual services or straight out English liturgies, I feel that Greeks and the ROCOR might start seeing some increases in their convert base.

Another point of concern that I often hear, especially with regards to the Greeks, is that they are labeled as very anti-anything not Greek.  I've heard tales of converts who brought a cheesecake to a coffee hour at a Greek church and were just sneered at because it wasn't Greek food.  I'm sure any number of us have heard similar stories with regards to the Greeks.  I, personally, have never encountered such hostility with the Greeks to non-Greek Orthodox or converts, but I think enough of those stories and stereotypes are out there to discourage attendance at Greek churches.  To be fair, I've also heard similar stories about Antiochian parishes where there are an Arab-speaking majority, but I've never heard them with the frequency as I have the Greeks. 

My comments are not to disparage Greeks or the GOA; I'm just reporting what I have heard.
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2007, 01:08:33 AM »

Another reason that the Antiochians seem to attract many converts is also due to our leadership. Met. PHILIP has always welcomed anyone to join us, regardless of their background. He desires to evangelize America. My own Bishop, Joseph, has this same viewpoint. He sees himself as a missionary sent from Damascus to bring Orthodoxy to America. He even was interviewed on Ancient Faith Radio in an effort to get the message out to those who are not Orthodox. Also, most (not all) middle easterners are very hospitable to people who come to visit their parishes. There is no philosophy about keeping the bloodline pure among Arab Christians. Most have no problem marrying someone outside their ethnic background and it has been this way for at three generations.
But things have really picked up steam in the last twenty years since the evangelicals joined the archdiocese. Ministries like Concilliar Press and Ancient Faith Radio are on the forefront of bringing the faith to the non-Orthodox.
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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2007, 01:28:49 AM »

I think that the Liturgy being in English is the main draw.  Although the ROCOR and the Greeks are starting to have more bilingual services or straight out English liturgies, I feel that Greeks and the ROCOR might start seeing some increases in their convert base.

Another point of concern that I often hear, especially with regards to the Greeks, is that they are labeled as very anti-anything not Greek.  I've heard tales of converts who brought a cheesecake to a coffee hour at a Greek church and were just sneered at because it wasn't Greek food.  I'm sure any number of us have heard similar stories with regards to the Greeks.  I, personally, have never encountered such hostility with the Greeks to non-Greek Orthodox or converts, but I think enough of those stories and stereotypes are out there to discourage attendance at Greek churches.  To be fair, I've also heard similar stories about Antiochian parishes where there are an Arab-speaking majority, but I've never heard them with the frequency as I have the Greeks. 

My comments are not to disparage Greeks or the GOA; I'm just reporting what I have heard.

Yeah, I hear the stories and cringe: there are some parts of the country (most notably in the Northeast) where it may be more normal than I'd like.  Meanwhile, in my Metropolis (Pittsburgh, covering most of PA, most of OH, and all of WV) fewer than 10% of the parishes are like that, and maybe only 20% do more than 40-50% Greek (the vast majority do more than 50% English).  I think my metropolis is more indicative of the GOA; but it's the NY and Chicago and Boston parishes that get all the press, not the Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Charlotte and west coast (and on and on) ones.
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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2007, 01:59:55 AM »

I think that the Liturgy being in English is the main draw.  Although the ROCOR and the Greeks are starting to have more bilingual services or straight out English liturgies, I feel that Greeks and the ROCOR might start seeing some increases in their convert base.
What about the OCA?
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2007, 02:09:15 AM »

What about the OCA?

The OCA parish I went to was very open to me as a guest. The majority were converts from varying backgrounds. Among those immigrants were individuals from Great Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Greece, the Middle East, Ethiopia, and elsewhere in Africa. The priest is cradle Orthodox and the parish has outreach and youth programs. The Liturgy is in English...
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« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2007, 02:33:18 AM »

I think that the Liturgy being in English is the main draw.  Although the ROCOR and the Greeks are starting to have more bilingual services or straight out English liturgies, I feel that Greeks and the ROCOR might start seeing some increases in their convert base.

Another point of concern that I often hear, especially with regards to the Greeks, is that they are labeled as very anti-anything not Greek.  I've heard tales of converts who brought a cheesecake to a coffee hour at a Greek church and were just sneered at because it wasn't Greek food.  I'm sure any number of us have heard similar stories with regards to the Greeks.  I, personally, have never encountered such hostility with the Greeks to non-Greek Orthodox or converts, but I think enough of those stories and stereotypes are out there to discourage attendance at Greek churches.  To be fair, I've also heard similar stories about Antiochian parishes where there are an Arab-speaking majority, but I've never heard them with the frequency as I have the Greeks. 

My comments are not to disparage Greeks or the GOA; I'm just reporting what I have heard.

I am of Greek Descent. Yes my people can be ethnocentric, however this is changing. I took a road trip up The east coast and ALL the GOC parishes in the south were mostly converts or NON-Greeks. What you are saying is more true in the North, but give it some time and they will be intergrated.

{Edit - I fixed your quote box - Cleveland, Global Moderator}
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« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2007, 02:35:17 AM »

Why are so many American's who convert to Orthodoxy doing so mainly in to the Antiochian jurisdiction? Do people feel it is the most accepting of Americans or the least "ethnic"?

I think one of the reasons why is because The Antiochian branch is the first branch that Peter built.
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« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2007, 02:57:52 AM »

Couple of reasons:

The use of English.  Alone among the Orthodox, the Arabs seemed hell bent on losing their language (this is changing: most on the forefront of Arabic education in this country (US) are Arabic speaking Christians).

Ethinicity: the fact that the majority of Arabs are muslims sort of makes you pause at equating blood with belief (though some do: a priest once told me that a sitt (grandma) from Syria was astonished to hear there were muslims in Syria).

Sympathy: the Arabs know first hand what its like to be an outsider looking in.  Case in point, the first bishop ordained in America, St. Rafail Hawawiny.  He was a first hand observer of how the Church of Antioch threw off the Phanariot yoke.

Opportunism: the Arabs know a good buy when they see it. Hence the incorporation of the Evangelical Orthodox and others.
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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2007, 03:02:41 AM »

We never set out to attend an Antiochian parish. We found it thru internet research. Our priest had a wonderful article on OCIC (orthodox christian information center). At that time we were looking into two different parishes in our area. One greek, the other our present antiochian. After reading the article we were extremely interested in attending one parish over the other. And then once we attended everyone was so wonderful, kind and helpful that we fell in love with the place. We haven't attended another parish since. Years ago we also attended a Greek Orthodox service. It was beautiful, and we thourghly enjoyed it. But for us it wasn't a fit culturally. We are american indian, and it seemed like the Greek culture was intertwined with everything. And we aren't, and never will be Greek. I want to LEARN Greek. But our culture as indians is important to us. And if we had to change that, we didn't want to attend. You buy the whole cow so to speak. And we could buy the cultural greek attribute of Orthodoxy in a Greek parish.


I hope that isn't offensive to any Greek parish members. If it is I apologize.
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2007, 04:30:17 AM »

Please Quinault there is should be no offense to the Greek church. I think Orthodoxy has the power to intergrate different culture and tradition to make a unique blend. Just like St. Nicholas of Japan who brought Holy Orthodoxy to Japan was joyed when he saw children making there own chants and using various Japanese cultural items in the services (like cherry blossoms instead of the roses on the Grave of Christ) so I think that whatever makes people comfortable.
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2007, 07:39:48 AM »

My area has a few parishes of the different jurisdictions.  The Antiochian church was (and is) the easiest for me to get to; that was the sole reason behind my choice.  Smiley 

It was nice having the Liturgy in English, too, although that's less of an issue now that I have been Orthodox awhile and know the Liturgy well enough to know what's going on in whatever language.

Hi, Matrona!   Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2007, 02:14:22 PM »

My Antiochian mission parish is mostly non-Arab convert, along with my priest. All English, except for one Arabic "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." They didn't do that when I first went though. I guess our Antiochian-ness was coming into question Smiley

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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2007, 04:23:14 PM »

Yeah, I hear the stories and cringe: there are some parts of the country (most notably in the Northeast) where it may be more normal than I'd like.  Meanwhile, in my Metropolis (Pittsburgh, covering most of PA, most of OH, and all of WV) fewer than 10% of the parishes are like that, and maybe only 20% do more than 40-50% Greek (the vast majority do more than 50% English).  I think my metropolis is more indicative of the GOA; but it's the NY and Chicago and Boston parishes that get all the press, not the Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Charlotte and west coast (and on and on) ones.

Gotta agree with you, Cleveland!  (Hi, by the way!)

I think that your metropolis and the Atlanta metropolis are the most progressive in this area.  Being in the Chicago metropolis right now, I've actually been suprised, though, I must say, at how many parishes are convert friendly.  Or, I guess I should say, English friendly.  I am learning that there is a difference.  I won't name any parishes in particular, but there are some that do a LOT of English, but are still super ethnic, in that, if you are a convert, they look at you like you're from another planet (unless, of course, you married a Greek.  Then they understand).  It saddens me that parishes are not more open to converts.  It's almost as though the "cradle" Greek Orthodox can't understand why someone would voluntarily convert to Orthodoxy.  Could it be because they don't have a real grasp of the jewel that is Orthodoxy?  Maybe they don't understand their own faith, are bored with it, or what have you, such that they can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily convert.  Sad... 

I have Sunday School students who had never heard of OCMC and had no idea that there were Orthodox Christians in countries OTHER than the US, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern European countries.  They were SHOCKED that people outside these countries would voluntarily convert!  When I asked them why they were so shocked, they responded that they just didn't realize that someone would WANT to be Orthodox!!!  Is this a commentary on the state of some Greek Orthodox parishes now? 
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2007, 05:11:29 PM »

Gotta agree with you, Cleveland!  (Hi, by the way!)

I think that your metropolis and the Atlanta metropolis are the most progressive in this area.  Being in the Chicago metropolis right now, I've actually been suprised, though, I must say, at how many parishes are convert friendly.  Or, I guess I should say, English friendly.  I am learning that there is a difference.  I won't name any parishes in particular, but there are some that do a LOT of English, but are still super ethnic, in that, if you are a convert, they look at you like you're from another planet (unless, of course, you married a Greek.  Then they understand).  It saddens me that parishes are not more open to converts.  It's almost as though the "cradle" Greek Orthodox can't understand why someone would voluntarily convert to Orthodoxy.  Could it be because they don't have a real grasp of the jewel that is Orthodoxy?  Maybe they don't understand their own faith, are bored with it, or what have you, such that they can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily convert.  Sad... 

I have Sunday School students who had never heard of OCMC and had no idea that there were Orthodox Christians in countries OTHER than the US, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern European countries.  They were SHOCKED that people outside these countries would voluntarily convert!  When I asked them why they were so shocked, they responded that they just didn't realize that someone would WANT to be Orthodox!!!  Is this a commentary on the state of some Greek Orthodox parishes now? 

Maybe for the food? Wink Seriously, though, it's sad that many of them (whether Greek, Serbian, Russian, etc.) see the Church as a sort of ethnic social club, rather than where God and man unite...
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2007, 05:45:41 PM »

Maybe for the food? Wink Seriously, though, it's sad that many of them (whether Greek, Serbian, Russian, etc.) see the Church as a sort of ethnic social club, rather than where God and man unite...

And this comment also holds true for many Catholic churches that are/were dominated by Poles, Italians, Irish, Spanish, etc.
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2007, 06:47:39 PM »

Gotta agree with you, Cleveland!  (Hi, by the way!)

I think that your metropolis and the Atlanta metropolis are the most progressive in this area.  Being in the Chicago metropolis right now, I've actually been suprised, though, I must say, at how many parishes are convert friendly.  Or, I guess I should say, English friendly.  I am learning that there is a difference.  I won't name any parishes in particular, but there are some that do a LOT of English, but are still super ethnic, in that, if you are a convert, they look at you like you're from another planet (unless, of course, you married a Greek.  Then they understand).  It saddens me that parishes are not more open to converts.  It's almost as though the "cradle" Greek Orthodox can't understand why someone would voluntarily convert to Orthodoxy.  Could it be because they don't have a real grasp of the jewel that is Orthodoxy?  Maybe they don't understand their own faith, are bored with it, or what have you, such that they can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily convert.  Sad... 

I have Sunday School students who had never heard of OCMC and had no idea that there were Orthodox Christians in countries OTHER than the US, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern European countries.  They were SHOCKED that people outside these countries would voluntarily convert!  When I asked them why they were so shocked, they responded that they just didn't realize that someone would WANT to be Orthodox!!!  Is this a commentary on the state of some Greek Orthodox parishes now? 

Once, I remember going to a St. George/Bright Monday service, Matins, DL, bishop and all at an unnamed Greek parish in Chicago.  Had to be 5 hours and nothing but Greek, until the priest (he knew me) told me "Christ is Risen!" in Arabic.  After the service, in line for coffee, I was speaking to two parishoners (my Greek was better then).  Once I said "dhen eimi ellen" I'm not Greek, the one asked me more about my background, the Arab Orthodox in Egypt, etc.  For the other, I instantly vaporized.  That pretty much epitomizes my experience with Greeks: either it makes no difference at all, or it makes all the difference in the world.

I was at a foot washing ceremony a few years back, at a Greek Church with a Greek bishop I won't name (but has a reputation as an ethnarch).  The church was full, and I can swear on my life that I was the only non-Greek there.  The parish, by the way, is not known as English friendly, at least I've never heard it so.  Anyway, during the service the bishop would switch from time to time to English, and would chant LOUD when the chanters and congregation would not switch to English also.  Afterward, the bishop (again, not known as a English lover) spoke to the congregation about these lovely services we have that no one knows about, and perhaps we hide because they are not in English and no one understands or sees them, so they can come to Orthodoxy, which is our mission, to bring Orthodoxy to the Americans.  He said the same in both Greek and English.  Odd.

At my old parish (OCA) I had the lovely experience that some parishoners told me that they started coming regular and the extra services too, and took it seriously after seeing me.  The asked themselves, they said, "if someone wants this and comes when they don't have to, maybe I'm taking something for granted."  At the same parish, there is a family that started coming and became active after grandma's funeral.  She was Orthodox, but married someone under Rome, and the children became lapsed Catholics.  When the funeral came, they were astounded, like they found something in her attic, they said.  They converted, and as I said, are among the most active.  Yes, these dry bones can live.
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« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2007, 09:10:56 PM »

Couple of reasons:

The use of English.  Alone among the Orthodox, the Arabs seemed hell bent on losing their language (this is changing: most on the forefront of Arabic education in this country (US) are Arabic speaking Christians).

Ethinicity: the fact that the majority of Arabs are muslims sort of makes you pause at equating blood with belief (though some do: a priest once told me that a sitt (grandma) from Syria was astonished to hear there were muslims in Syria).

Sympathy: the Arabs know first hand what its like to be an outsider looking in.  Case in point, the first bishop ordained in America, St. Rafail Hawawiny.  He was a first hand observer of how the Church of Antioch threw off the Phanariot yoke.

Opportunism: the Arabs know a good buy when they see it. Hence the incorporation of the Evangelical Orthodox and others.

You are so right about equating blood with belief. Arab Christians do not have a sense of nationalism tied to the faith that many of the other Orthodox Christians try to preserve in their jurisdictions.

But the Antiochians always had a sense of mission. St. Luke the Evangelist was the first in a long line of ancient missionaries who originated from the Antiochian see. So I would say the Antiochians have missionary work as a part of their tradition.

I understand what you are saying about Arab opportunism  Wink but the two groups work well together the way a hand fits into a glove. The combination of the ex-evangelicals and Arab American Antiochians has been mutually beneficial in a variety of spiritual ways. The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He sent them (EOC) to our bishops. When the Patriarch of Antioch heard their story he told Met. PHIL," Do whatever you can to help these people."
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« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2007, 09:44:36 PM »

Beat up on those Greeks yaaa  Cheesy

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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2007, 10:36:14 PM »

I think that the Liturgy being in English is the main draw.  Although the ROCOR and the Greeks are starting to have more bilingual services or straight out English liturgies, I feel that Greeks and the ROCOR might start seeing some increases in their convert base.

Another point of concern that I often hear, especially with regards to the Greeks, is that they are labeled as very anti-anything not Greek.  I've heard tales of converts who brought a cheesecake to a coffee hour at a Greek church and were just sneered at because it wasn't Greek food.  I'm sure any number of us have heard similar stories with regards to the Greeks.  I, personally, have never encountered such hostility with the Greeks to non-Greek Orthodox or converts, but I think enough of those stories and stereotypes are out there to discourage attendance at Greek churches.  To be fair, I've also heard similar stories about Antiochian parishes where there are an Arab-speaking majority, but I've never heard them with the frequency as I have the Greeks. 

My comments are not to disparage Greeks or the GOA; I'm just reporting what I have heard.

It would be interesting to get some actual statistics of the frequency of anti-non-your-jurisdiction's-ethnicity incidents....but we probably never will.  The frequency could just be the same in the GOA as all others, but they are just so large that the number of these incidents just give the jurisdiction in general a bad name.  I remember a visit I had to a GOA parish in the SF bay area.  On the Sunday before the nativity fast started (the Sunday before Thanksgiving), their Philoptochos society had a Thanksgiving lunch complete w/ Turkey, stuffing and all.  Very nice and welcoming.

A lot of these variations could be regional, as I'm some Antiochian parishes use much more Arabic than others, GOA more Greek, OCA more Slavonic, etc.  Maybe out west we're just much better than elsewhere with more English.  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2007, 11:22:14 PM »

I understand what you are saying about Arab opportunism  Wink but the two groups work well together the way a hand fits into a glove. The combination of the ex-evangelicals and Arab American Antiochians has been mutually beneficial in a variety of spiritual ways.

Tamara,

I always found it rather ironic of the EOC conversion how the established Arab culture was always very Democratic (politically speaking) compared to the rather right-wing Republican EOC former Protestants.  The Arab portion has great sympathy with their brethren both Christian and Muslim back in the Middle East due to the foreign policy of the past several American regimes.  I see this as a rather interesting schizophrenia in the AOA.  While some of the EOCers are becoming more centric, they are still mostly rather Republican.  I know - I just hung out with some of the founders in the Sac area this weekend.  They are hanging onto this EOC legacy rather strongly.  Care to comment?  PM me if you have anything specific you don't want to share.
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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2007, 11:26:08 PM »

Yeah, I hear the stories and cringe: there are some parts of the country (most notably in the Northeast) where it may be more normal than I'd like.  Meanwhile, in my Metropolis (Pittsburgh, covering most of PA, most of OH, and all of WV) fewer than 10% of the parishes are like that, and maybe only 20% do more than 40-50% Greek (the vast majority do more than 50% English).  I think my metropolis is more indicative of the GOA; but it's the NY and Chicago and Boston parishes that get all the press, not the Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Charlotte and west coast (and on and on) ones.

I've always had that impression of the Northeast....very clannish and the people don't mix with others as well.  While out west people can live in clannish areas (I'm not offended by "ghetto" if you insist), people of different backgrounds tend to mix with others better (frequently very deliberately too) and just agree to disagree if needed as well.
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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2007, 11:36:14 PM »

Tamara,

I always found it rather ironic of the EOC conversion how the established Arab culture was always very Democratic (politically speaking) compared to the rather right-wing Republican EOC former Protestants.  The Arab portion has great sympathy with their brethren both Christian and Muslim back in the Middle East due to the foreign policy of the past several American regimes.  I see this as a rather interesting schizophrenia in the AOA.  While some of the EOCers are becoming more centric, they are still mostly rather Republican.  I know - I just hung out with some of the founders in the Sac area this weekend.  They are hanging onto this EOC legacy rather strongly.  Care to comment?  PM me if you have anything specific you don't want to share.

Elisha,

Well, it is actually been my experience that most Arab Americans are Republicans. Maybe in past generations there were more democrats among them but their children and grandchildren are a different breed. Many are professionals and quite a few of them are wealthy. So they are more apt to vote Republican and to be quite conservative on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.). George Bush even had an Orthodox Arab American in his cabinet (Spencer Abraham was his energy secretary). As far as the middle east, the democrats have been more pro-zionist so that would be another reason for them to vote Republican. Although now I think there is little difference between the two parties on this issue.
I think when the whole Antiochian convention voted unanimously to leave the NCC it was obvious that there was real unity on these political issues.
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« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2007, 11:39:32 PM »

Tamara,

So are you saying I'm only hearing the rants of old cradles?  All I heard is:  Arab AO= Bush is Bad, EOC AO=Bush is Good...and this is in respect to US foreign policy, which has been relatively the same from Regan to Bush Jr.
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« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2007, 11:47:29 PM »

Tamara,

So are you saying I'm only hearing the rants of old cradles?  All I heard is:  Arab AO= Bush is Bad, EOC AO=Bush is Good...and this is in respect to US foreign policy, which has been relatively the same from Regan to Bush Jr.

Clinton was no friend of the Arabs. I remember one elderly Palestinian immigrant wailing about the Clinton middle-eastern foriegn policy and then asking me if I thought Hilary's maiden name was a Jewish name  Roll Eyes. My parents are democrats, not because of middle eastern policy, but because they were blue collar. Young Arab-Americans are republican because they are socially conservative wealthy professionals. I think most of them feel there is little either party will do to alleviate the suffering in the middle east. I am not a republican or democrat but I can see the writing on the wall as far as U.S. middle-eastern policy.
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« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2007, 12:36:51 AM »

Tamara,

I always found it rather ironic of the EOC conversion how the established Arab culture was always very Democratic (politically speaking) compared to the rather right-wing Republican EOC former Protestants.  The Arab portion has great sympathy with their brethren both Christian and Muslim back in the Middle East due to the foreign policy of the past several American regimes.  I see this as a rather interesting schizophrenia in the AOA.  While some of the EOCers are becoming more centric, they are still mostly rather Republican.  I know - I just hung out with some of the founders in the Sac area this weekend.  They are hanging onto this EOC legacy rather strongly.  Care to comment?  PM me if you have anything specific you don't want to share.

Actually, the Arab demographics are more Republican than many would care to admit.  I don't have the stats in front of me, but I've seen them several times as part of work, and the Republican Arabs are far from a minority.  The congressman here from Lincoln's old district, Arab Republican Ray LaHood.  The one who recalled the gov of CA, Arab Republican Daryl Isa.  Bush has had three Arab Republicans in the cabinet.  Remember the Sununu's?  Arab Republicans.  Now Arab George Mitchell may not like that, but oh well.

btw, I'm Arab.
and right wing.
And Republican (though Giuliani better not be counting on my vote).

It's not that the EOC is making the Arabs more Republican, its the party of gay marriage and abortion.
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« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2007, 12:51:23 AM »

Actually, the Arab demographics are more Republican than many would care to admit.  I don't have the stats in front of me, but I've seen them several times as part of work, and the Republican Arabs are far from a minority.  The congressman here from Lincoln's old district, Arab Republican Ray LaHood.  The one who recalled the gov of CA, Arab Republican Daryl Isa.  Bush has had three Arab Republicans in the cabinet.  Remember the Sununu's?  Arab Republicans.  Now Arab George Mitchell may not like that, but oh well.

btw, I'm Arab.
and right wing.
And Republican (though Giuliani better not be counting on my vote).

It's not that the EOC is making the Arabs more Republican, its the party of gay marriage and abortion.

Yes. I think you are typical of most Arab-Americans when in comes to political views and party. I once dated a Syrian-American gentleman who grew up in Santa Barbara. His dad was a dentist. They lived in a beautiful neighborhood overlooking the ocean. My friend and his three brothers were all studying to be dentists and doctors. His father would take the whole family for cruises in the Caribbean every year. Wow...was that guy conservative.  Cheesy
And Elisha, I dated this guy before any of the EOC folks had joined the archdiocese. Most of the Arab-American guys I dated were similar to this guy. Many of my Arab-American and Coptic Orthodox girlfriends also came from very wealthy families and were on their way to becoming professionals. They too were all politically and socially conservative.
I think God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent the EOC leaders to the Antiochians. He knew it would be the right fit.
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« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2007, 12:59:10 AM »


I have Sunday School students who had never heard of OCMC and had no idea that there were Orthodox Christians in countries OTHER than the US, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern European countries.  They were SHOCKED that people outside these countries would voluntarily convert!  When I asked them why they were so shocked, they responded that they just didn't realize that someone would WANT to be Orthodox!!!  Is this a commentary on the state of some Greek Orthodox parishes now? 
That attitude is not unique to Orthodoxy. I grew up Episcopalian, and my mom's family had been Episcopalian for as far back as anyone could remember.  It certainly was a largely cultural legacy, a status symbol, as the Episcopal Church used to have a reputation of being the church of the American upper-class.  Anyways, I remember one time a few years ago when I was still Episcopalian, and my mom was telling me about her day at work (She works in a book store).  She said "Today, this guy came in and bought all these books on the Episcopal Church." I said "Why?Huh" and my mom said, "He said that he used to be Evangelical, but now, he's decided to CONVERT to Episcopalian", and at that point we both just burst out laughing! The idea of anyone converting to our church was just that absurd.
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« Reply #32 on: November 26, 2007, 01:00:12 AM »

I think God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent the EOC leaders to the Antiochians. He knew it would be the right fit.

If that isn't proof that God has a sense of humor, then I don't know what is  Cheesy 
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« Reply #33 on: November 26, 2007, 01:05:03 AM »

Why are so many American's who convert to Orthodoxy doing so mainly in to the Antiochian jurisdiction? Do people feel it is the most accepting of Americans or the least "ethnic"?

This is seemingly your opinion.  Everything is ethnic.  Think about that. 
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« Reply #34 on: November 26, 2007, 01:11:54 AM »

Another reason that the Antiochians seem to attract many converts is also due to our leadership. Met. PHILIP has always welcomed anyone to join us, regardless of their background. He desires to evangelize America. My own Bishop, Joseph, has this same viewpoint. He sees himself as a missionary sent from Damascus to bring Orthodoxy to America. He even was interviewed on Ancient Faith Radio in an effort to get the message out to those who are not Orthodox. Also, most (not all) middle easterners are very hospitable to people who come to visit their parishes. There is no philosophy about keeping the bloodline pure among Arab Christians. Most have no problem marrying someone outside their ethnic background and it has been this way for at three generations.
But things have really picked up steam in the last twenty years since the evangelicals joined the archdiocese. Ministries like Concilliar Press and Ancient Faith Radio are on the forefront of bringing the faith to the non-Orthodox.

Kind of a narrow viewpoint.  I haven't ran into a bishop that didn't press evangelism and prays and has a legion of soldiers (the clergy and laity) to bring people into the True Faith. 
No one tests your genetics to let you become members in their parish.  Sure, maybe some are stand-offish towards newcomers, but in the long run that will come to bite them.
I think everyone reads into this stuff too much and frankly it gets old, this "well our jurisdiction is open to these people."  Every jurisdiction has converts that aren't the ethnic group in the church's charter.
AHH it's posts like these that just make me wonder.  Let's just go to church and not play, "my jurisdiction is better than yours."  Even the most "ethnic" jurisdictions have pan-orthodox missions. 
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« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2007, 01:16:52 AM »

It would be interesting to get some actual statistics of the frequency of anti-non-your-jurisdiction's-ethnicity incidents....but we probably never will.  The frequency could just be the same in the GOA as all others, but they are just so large that the number of these incidents just give the jurisdiction in general a bad name.  I remember a visit I had to a GOA parish in the SF bay area.  On the Sunday before the nativity fast started (the Sunday before Thanksgiving), their Philoptochos society had a Thanksgiving lunch complete w/ Turkey, stuffing and all.  Very nice and welcoming.

A lot of these variations could be regional, as I'm some Antiochian parishes use much more Arabic than others, GOA more Greek, OCA more Slavonic, etc.  Maybe out west we're just much better than elsewhere with more English.  Wink

I live in the Northeast.  English is used.  While "ornamental" slavonic maybe used, the majority of even once Slavonic only parishes now use English, or the vernacular of the majority of the parish.
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« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2007, 02:05:33 AM »

Kind of a narrow viewpoint.  I haven't ran into a bishop that didn't press evangelism and prays and has a legion of soldiers (the clergy and laity) to bring people into the True Faith. 
No one tests your genetics to let you become members in their parish.  Sure, maybe some are stand-offish towards newcomers, but in the long run that will come to bite them.
I think everyone reads into this stuff too much and frankly it gets old, this "well our jurisdiction is open to these people."  Every jurisdiction has converts that aren't the ethnic group in the church's charter.
AHH it's posts like these that just make me wonder.  Let's just go to church and not play, "my jurisdiction is better than yours."  Even the most "ethnic" jurisdictions have pan-orthodox missions. 

Some bishops are more outspoken about their openness than others. But I did have a friend from another jurisdiction whose hierarch did not want non-ethnics in the church. He discouraged converts by insisting that English usage be kept to a minimum in the services and promoting  X nationalism=Orthodoxy. Some are more open than others and that is a fact. My friend left the jurisdiction of his birth and ethnic heritage because he was tired of hearing,"keep the bloodlines pure!" He belongs to another more open jurisdiction.
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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2007, 02:23:32 AM »

If that isn't proof that God has a sense of humor, then I don't know what is  Cheesy 

Hey, we learn from one another...many of my ex-evangelical friends are quite sympathetic when they hear of bombings in Lebanon.
They have a completely different perspective because they now have Arab friends who have family who live over there.

And they in turn will hopefully teach us tight-fisted Arabs how to tithe...
What am I saying? You are right....God does have a great sense of humor.... Cheesy  Cheesy  Cheesy
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2007, 04:16:23 AM »

I live in the Northeast.  English is used.  While "ornamental" slavonic maybe used, the majority of even once Slavonic only parishes now use English, or the vernacular of the majority of the parish.

As I said, it is just the impression I've gotten.  This doesn't seem to dispel the more clannish impression I have of the Northeast.  Feel free to say otherwise.
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« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2007, 09:56:03 AM »

Good no one metined the Serbs. Username is right. There are converts in every parish. I think what Tamara was trying to say is that Met. Philip has been more aggressive concerning evangelism. Hey, what has he got to lose. In my ACROD parish there are some converts who are non Eastern European, there is even a Lebanese couple who are cradle Orthodox. Al Maseeh Kam to them at Pascha  Wink instead of Kristos Voskres.
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« Reply #40 on: December 05, 2007, 02:40:50 PM »

It would be interesting to get some actual statistics of the frequency of anti-non-your-jurisdiction's-ethnicity incidents....

It would also be interesting to get some actual statistics about conversion. For example, between 1982 and 1996, there were 23,823 converts received into the GOA by Holy Chrismation. I've never seen an official report from the Antiochian Archdiocese that details the number of conversions from the same time period. However, I can't imagine that it exceeds 23,000, since the most recent studies show that the Antiochians have only 41,840 full members and an estimated 83,700 adherents. Suppose it's possible, though. I think we've had this conversation before.

Having been a reasonably active member of both the Antiochian and Greek Archdioceses, I can't say for sure that either jurisdiction has more or less converts. My hunch is there are actually more in the GOA. However, I do think that the Antiochian Archdiocese as a whole FEELS more convert-populated, but that's mainly because those converts are part of a much smaller organization. In other words, the convert percentage is higher (not necessarily the actual numbers) and that has an obvious influence on institutional character.
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« Reply #41 on: December 05, 2007, 04:22:49 PM »

Question, does it really matter?  I mean, when I wake up in the morning does it really mean anything if one jurisdiction has more converts than another?  Canonical jurisdictions=true Orthodox churches, whether they serve stuffed grape leaves or pierogies, sing byzantine chant instead of slavic chanting styles, have 10 converts or 1.2 converts.  For instance, if you lived in a town near me, which is growing, there is 1 Orthodox church.  It's not like you can go church shopping to see which one fits your personal needs, as if you were making a new car purchase (how many converts, do they use oil oil in their candles, are their icons correct, ... all the nitpicking).
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« Reply #42 on: December 05, 2007, 04:32:46 PM »

Question, does it really matter?

Suppose it depends what you're asking about. However, I do think actual numbers, as well as a solid survey, would be valuable in finding out real trends in conversion, especially if we, as a Church, want to really expand outreach.

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« Reply #43 on: December 05, 2007, 04:35:58 PM »

Question, does it really matter?  I mean, when I wake up in the morning does it really mean anything if one jurisdiction has more converts than another?  Canonical jurisdictions=true Orthodox churches, whether they serve stuffed grape leaves or pierogies, sing byzantine chant instead of slavic chanting styles, have 10 converts or 1.2 converts.  For instance, if you lived in a town near me, which is growing, there is 1 Orthodox church.  It's not like you can go church shopping to see which one fits your personal needs, as if you were making a new car purchase (how many converts, do they use oil oil in their candles, are their icons correct, ... all the nitpicking).

However, in some cases, people do have two or three options and do go church shopping, as it were.  It calls to mind the problem that C.S. Lewis addressed in The Screwtape Letters, where he argued that you should attend the nearest parish rather than whichever one you like most.  The underlying problem there is that when you being picking and choosing from among parishes, you being turning the parish from a gathering of the faithful in a particular place to a gathering of the faithful of particular preferences.  The mindset of looking for the "Russian church" or the "Greek church" or the "convert church" rather than the "neighborhood church" is a problem.  I recognize that there do exist circumstances where attending one parish rather than another is a matter of pastoral concern rather than preference.  That is not universally the case, however, and in those cases, we need to end the practice.
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« Reply #44 on: December 05, 2007, 04:40:28 PM »

V-man, I can't agree with you more but this is an American phenomenea. I know Orthodox that attend a church based on whether its Greek or Russian or Convert. My catholic neighbors travel well out of our neighborhood to attend other Catholic churches when we all live less than 1/4 mile from the local one and the protestants . . don't get me started.
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« Reply #45 on: December 05, 2007, 04:43:47 PM »

V-man, I can't agree with you more but this is an American phenomenea. I know Orthodox that attend a church based on whether its Greek or Russian or Convert. My catholic neighbors travel well out of our neighborhood to attend other Catholic churches when we all live less than 1/4 mile from the local one and the protestants . . don't get me started.

Given that Lewis observed it, the phenomenon is apparently English, as well.  I wonder if perhaps it's just some sort of Western thing and we don't have enough Orthodox in Western Europe to really notice it as much.  What's at work is still the same, though, namely a view in which the church is based on preference rather than community.
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« Reply #46 on: December 05, 2007, 04:58:34 PM »

Frankly, I think its a Protestant thing. When I was kid we Orthodox and our Catholic friends and parents often remarked about how often the Protestants change churches and with such ease.

I attend an old school mainly cradle parish. Many parishoners or their families have attended the parish for almost 70 years.  70 years is an eternity in modern America.
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« Reply #47 on: December 05, 2007, 05:06:45 PM »

However, in some cases, people do have two or three options and do go church shopping, as it were.  It calls to mind the problem that C.S. Lewis addressed in The Screwtape Letters, where he argued that you should attend the nearest parish rather than whichever one you like most.  The underlying problem there is that when you being picking and choosing from among parishes, you being turning the parish from a gathering of the faithful in a particular place to a gathering of the faithful of particular preferences.  The mindset of looking for the "Russian church" or the "Greek church" or the "convert church" rather than the "neighborhood church" is a problem.  I recognize that there do exist circumstances where attending one parish rather than another is a matter of pastoral concern rather than preference.  That is not universally the case, however, and in those cases, we need to end the practice. 

I don't know if the decision to pick and chose is the problem, or if it is another part of the mindset.  Fr. John Behr has made the observation that there were ethnic parishes in Rome before the 4th century (this has been pointed out elsewhere on OC.net... I'll try to find the reference).  This entailed people choosing a parish based on the nation of origin, not geographic proximity.  Yet this was not a problem for the early Church (or, at least, not that we know of).

So the question would be better put "why is it such a problem for us?"
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« Reply #48 on: December 05, 2007, 05:16:47 PM »

You think I have nothing better to do but blog with you all today.

Good point Cleve!  Wink
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« Reply #49 on: December 05, 2007, 05:53:25 PM »

For me, the Antiochian parish was a good place to transition to Orthodoxy.  They were friendly and welcoming, and I doubt that I would have become Orthodox without them.  However, my final home was the ROCOR, and I have only looked back once.  After I had the door slammed in my face in a time of need due to someone's hurt feelings about me leaving, I've never looked back again.
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« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2007, 06:18:05 PM »

An Antiochian parish was also a good transition for me returning to Orthodoxy but now I have moved to a more traditional Slavic parish
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« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2007, 06:51:55 PM »

One thing also that is unsettling is this scenario.  There is a large mission in city A.  They sing the Liturgy in English and do the Our Father in a few language, sing the Thrice Holy Hymn in a Byzantine Chant, etc.. mix it up, a Russian melody for something else..  It is a culturally diverse parish, but they always sing the propers in the tonal system of the diocese.  Now another jurisdiction is opening up shop not even 1/2 mile away.  Why?  This isn't a "Based on a true story," this is a real situation. 
For kicks, it doesn't have to do with any internal parish fighting.  It has to do with a ethnic group in the mission that want it to be a slice of "back home," so they're going to build a new church down the road.

Another example is in a western state I observed this.  A small mission split in two, because people didn't want to drive 15 minutes to church.  These are not poor people.  Come to where I live, I don't even get pizza delivered to my house  Grin  But here they split a small mission of about 60 people into two factions.
Now there are two full time priests serving 30 people each in different locations, only about 15 minutes apart.  Priests aren't exactly easy to come by, and having two priests tied up in two missions because people wouldn't drive 15 minutes, that's not fair to the parishes that actually need a priest.
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« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2007, 07:26:15 PM »

No, I've posted this before. In my neighborhood a mission has opened and there are four EO and one OO parish within 5 miles. It's not about driving in this case. It's about not wanting to worship in an "ethnic" parish.
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