I grew up in the GOA, and despite that, later in my life I had a mild spiritual awakening. I read books of all different sorts, not too many, but enough. It seeming important to me at the time to take a serious look at different religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and even the Bahai faith. I became convinced that Christianity was the true faith, and a relationship with the God of these other pagan faiths did not equate even without a Christian comparison.
My attention seemed to shift to my immediate surroundings over a period of time. I suddenly became aware that the GOA was much more a society of worshippers of Greek culture than of Christ, even though, strangly enough, organs and pews are not Greek.
This compelled me to join the OCA where I was eventually “married” and had my first child “baptized” (of course the hyphens are not to offend anyone). This OCA church was much more “orthodox” than the GOA, and I became aware of the differences in practice.
Over a period of years at the OCA, myself and my family became comfortable, but my studying never ceased. Deep inside I felt the yearning to draw closer to Christ, but somehow I felt something preventing me from this endeavor. I am not sure why, but have since concluded that it was a combination of what I now realize was still a very spiritually dry atmosphere, and I still did not understand the other Christian faiths very well. It’s almost like I was getting ready to really “buy in” to Orthodoxy but still didn’t understand why Orthodoxy was superior to say, papalism.
Well, I spent some very serious time and money in books reading. I was immediately drawn further toward Orthodoxy and the only challenger was papalism. Papalism wasn’t a really serious challenge from a theological sense at all, I found it very dry and legalistic. The seriousness came from their historic claims and it took considerable research putting their claims in context, which showed them to not only be a theological sham, but also a historical sham.
During this process, when I became not only convinced that Orthodoxy was the only true Christian faith, but also very shocked that so few saw what I saw, I began to stumble on statements and deeds of what I thought were Orthodox bishops. They obviously did not share my glorious discovery.
So just when my search should have been over it wasn’t. I became immediately troubled by the fact that Orthodoxy was being sold out and that I was following, commemorating, and sharing the cup of Christ with Judas. I was immediately drawn to the “Old Calendarists” who I knew I truly shared the same faith, but their visible disunity kept me away. Then I came across several books written by Alexander Kalomiros. “Against False Union” really cleared things up for me and I knew I was on the right track. Then I read his second work “The Touchstone”. This second book helped me understand TRUE Orthodox ecclesiology and I had no further issues.
There were several “Old Calendar” Churches in my area, and after some research I attended a service, just me and my son; my wife was ill that day which worked out great because I knew it would be very difficult getting her to go. When all the elements of the service became apparent, my jaw almost literally hit the floor. I was shocked, amazed, and felt completely inadequate.
I’m sorry this story has gone on so long.
Needless to say, I convinced my wife, who is naturally gifted with a Christian behavior and life (truly amazing) to attend a Vespers service. She was impressed, albeit not as much as me, but still had reservations.
It took some time, and even though she became much more comfortable with our new Church, recognized the difference in shear majesty, and became much closer to the people there, I finally did hear her say she a few years ago she was happy to be there from a theological point of view.
And since our journey to the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, our real journey was finally and truly underway. Oh how my heart has rejoiced!
Sorry for the length and sloppy writing (I’m pressed for time and sacrificed grammar for length).