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Author Topic: Orthodox worship in Kenya incorporates Kenyan culture  (Read 15483 times) Average Rating: 0
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EkhristosAnesti
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« on: June 13, 2007, 04:13:29 PM »

Every now and then I do a random youtube.com search; sometimes I find gold, other (most) times I find nonsense. Today I found gold:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=2qwDTVs98b0

I love it how the priest (who seems Egyptian) joins in and encourages them.

The Coptic Orthodox mission in Kenya has been blessed with much success. My friend's sister is permanently based there so I get the opportunity to hear about some of the positive results firsthand. May it continue to succeed and bring Kenyans to the embrace of the Church.
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2007, 10:50:24 AM »

Cool!  What part of the liturgy are they doing?  Do you recognize the hymn they are singing? 
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2007, 12:00:11 PM »

What a beautiful and joyfully reverent Liturgy.  Does anyone have an opinion (sorry what am I saying, everyone on the OC Net has an opinion!) as to why this same kind of service in America would produce criticism and negativity?  Is it the cultural context of the service in an African nation?

I have not had any experience with any parishes in this country that have more African-American converts from Evangelicalism, etc. that are more used to a praise and worship style of church service.  Do they modify the style of chant or hymn style?  I ask because I am friends with some African-American converts (and other former protestants) who often feel uncomfortable with abandoning a more free expression of faith.  For instance, when was the last time you heard anyone say "Amen" during a sermon, when in all honesty, a good loud amen is exactly what everyone might be feeling but too reserved to let it out (including myself).

Now don't jump my case for making any kind of suggestion that we change Liturgy or adopt all kinds of concessions to make Liturgy "more fun", "more culturally relevant", "more whatever" like all the other hodgepodge of American denominations.   Just curiousity on my part as to why this Kenyan Liturgy seems entirely appropriate for them and might seem contrived if it were brought to America.  And how do we incorporate cultural preferences in the American church? 

Tina
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 12:16:22 PM »

A year ago or more, I did the same random search and got this (from the same screen name):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAqsE334akY

I wish they can give us a full recording of this jubilant song.

Pray for a couple of my friends who are there right now serving the Kenyan Orthodox faithful.
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 03:45:34 PM »

Thank you!  This is great.  Can you give me more information about the OO missions on the African continent?  Are there any histories online?
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 11:45:36 PM »

"Just curiousity on my part as to why this Kenyan Liturgy seems entirely appropriate for them and might seem contrived if it were brought to America.  And how do we incorporate cultural preferences in the American church?"
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They have a very difficult situation to sort out here in this crazy country that has no real culture.

The problem with allowing African-AMERICANS to "do their own thing" is that they have been detached and separated from their native culture for centuries (God have mercy on their poor souls).  I personally don't see a problem with them doing the services in a truly AFRICAN style... because the African people have ROOTS that they are still fully in touch with.  Look at the mainstream music of African-AMERICANS (or any type of contemporary music), it has been completely swallowed up by the secular world.  Once again, this is just my opinion, but it seems that it would be proper for any Orthodox African-American who wishes to do things in a more "African" style to be required to strictly follow some specific form of the African Liturgy.  America is too groundless, godless, and secular to be relied upon as a foundation to base the style of the All-Holy Liturgy.

Just my thoughts   Wink
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2007, 01:57:33 AM »

Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Soul, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Country/Folk all incorporate African musical elements due to the continental African rhythms, scales and melodic motifs preserved by slaves.  Yet as individual styles in their own right, they are distinct, originated in the Americas and are clearly cultural forms.  To say the contemporary music is swallowed up by the secular world is a bit redundant, how can secular music be swallowed by itself?  Regardless, there's actually quite a lot of beautiful, honest, positive and conscientious music if you look for it.  And music is only one of many cultural forms and expressions.  Its hard to define American culture truly, but its not because theres no real culture in the Americas, its the opposite -  its a constant explosion of culture.
Thanks and blessings
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2007, 02:19:07 AM »

Thank you!  This is great.  Can you give me more information about the OO missions on the African continent?  Are there any histories online?

Here is the official website of the Bishopric of African Affairs as directed by H.G. Antonious Markos: http://www.copticafrica.org/index.htm

The above site has two online books regarding the activities of the Orthodox in Africa, available for download in pdf format.

The News and Current Events section also seems to indicate that the OO and EO in Africa are working in co-operation in their ministries. See specifically, Orthodox Fellowship Meeting: http://www.copticafrica.org/newsorthomeet.htm, and St. Sergius of Radonezh's Feast at Russian Orthodox: http://www.copticafrica.org/newsserg.htm

H.G. Antonious Markos also authored a book a while ago, which may be more pertinent to the subject of your inquiry, titled The Story of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa, which may be purchased here: https://www.orthodoxbookstore.org/product.details.aspx?ProductID=327

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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2007, 11:43:13 AM »

Thanks EkhristosAnesti (AlithosAnesti).  This is the first time I've learned about the cooperation and unified mission of the OO and EO in Africa.  A plain testimony to the simple unity and love in Christ.
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2007, 12:24:12 PM »

"A plain testimony to the simple unity and love in Christ."

Amen!  Cheesy
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2007, 12:25:28 PM »

"Its hard to define American culture truly, but its not because there is no real culture in the Americas, its the opposite -  its a constant explosion of culture.
Thanks and blessings."
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Perhaps this "explosion of culture" is exactly the problem.  When you have so many things all mixing together at once it ends up being more chaotic than structured.  Also, you must keep the time-factor in mind: is culture really “culture” when it is merely a new trend that comes along and is gone tomorrow (or at best: drastically changes in style)? 

I believe it is worth mentioning: long before I found Orthodoxy, my favorite Christian music was African-American spirituals that were recorded in the early 1940s-50s.  It was true, honest, genuine “black spiritual” music that had been sung by slaves for centuries.  (Recently, after listening to so much Orthodox music from Africa, I am astounded at how similar it is to the old slave songs in America… it would make sense: they came from Africa!)

However, I had no interest in listening to any African-American music recorded after the 1960s because it wasn’t based on their traditional “black spirituals.”  It was new pop-music, and it lacked the sincerity and genuineness of their traditional songs.  All the newer music focuses too much “on the flesh”… it stimulates the body much more than the spirit.  “Having a good time” seems to be more of the focus than “entering into deep worship.”

I still enjoy those old recordings, and I realize how similar the general music structure is to that of Orthodox chant.  But the question is:
Currently, how many African-Americans are truly still in tune with their American “spirituals” (which came from Africa)?  I believe it is safe to say less than 1%.  Therefore, if we leave it “open” to African-Americans to make their own version of the Liturgy, how many will actually use African-American spirituals as their foundation?  Instead, I believe we would have a lot of versions that begin the Liturgy by saying: “gitcha gitcha gitcha praise-on!” 
(Lord have mercy)

You have to understand: I was raised an American Protestant.  I am all-too-familiar with that reality.  Black Protestants are no different than any other Protestants… they want to do THEIR OWN THING… however they feel like doing it.  This kind of attitude is completely contrary to Orthodox spirituality.  America is the land of “individualism” like no other.  I doubt that ANY culture in the world is more individualistic. 

“To say the contemporary music is swallowed up by the secular world is a bit redundant, how can secular music be swallowed by itself?”

I was referring to contemporary “Christian” music.  It has followed after secular trends for so long that no one can even tell the difference between “religious” music and “pop” music.

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough.  It just seems to me that Orthodox African-Americans should stick to their traditional African heritage when it comes to the Liturgy.  But then again, what do I know?   Wink

God bless
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2007, 01:41:35 PM »

Is there any similarity to Ethiopian Orthodox worship here? I am not permitted to access youtube where I work and do not have internet at home. Also is this partof the ministry of Charles Omuroka?
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2007, 01:42:37 PM »

I just remembered a YouTube video I saw a few months ago...
it is a Protestant service that seems to be similar in style to the Kenyan Liturgy.

However, if you watch them one after the other, the difference in the very essence of them becomes apparent (at least to me).

Protestant
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAeY8G6QlFk

Orthodox
http://youtube.com/watch?v=2qwDTVs98b0


I'm not thrilled when I think about the kind of "Liturgy" the above-mentioned Protestants would come up with...
however, I agree that the Kenyan video is pure "gold."
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2007, 08:27:26 PM »

That's so awesome. To see all those different Churches working together, too...
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2007, 12:27:46 AM »

"That's so awesome. To see all those different Churches working together"

Amen  Cheesy

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Despite all the unhealthy ecumenism going on between groups that really do NOT believe the same things (i.e. Orthodox and Latins/Protestants), it is so beautiful when two true members of the Body of Christ come together to recognize the unity that has always existed between them.

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« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2007, 02:36:33 PM »

Watched the "Orthodox" video and did see what appeared to be an authentic iconostas in the background, but the dancing clergyman did not seem to be wearing anything resembling Orthodox vestments, looked like a western style mitre on his head.  Was this actually some "anglicanized" type of church?
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2007, 02:48:42 PM »

Umm..no. He is wearing traditional Coptic Orthodox liturgical vestments for the priesthood (except he is not wearing a stole for some reason). He looks like any typical Coptic Orthodox priest would during a Divine Liturgy in any Coptic Orthodox parish (again, except without the stole).
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2007, 03:05:44 PM »

Here's a group photo of Coptic Orthodox clergy from various regions in Sout-East Asia--that's typically how they look (though again I stress, during celebration of the Divine Liturgy--or any other "priestly" duty--they would/should be wearing, in addition, a stole):

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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2007, 04:54:16 PM »

The miter is for married priests.  You can see teh monks in that picture wearing their cowls, and the bishops wearing a third type.

Coptic vestments are really in disarray now... There are 5 liturgical colours for different seasons, but most priests just choose randomly or only wear one or two (I was at one Liturgy with 5 priests and each was wearing a different colour...).  Also, the priest should always wear a stole for any priestly function (including confession).  But H.H. Pope Shenouda does not wear a stole, and so many priests do not so as not to outdo him.  Even those priests who do wear stoles usually don't for confession, and often won't if there's a bishop coming they don't want to upstage. 

It really adds to the sense of disorder in the church, especially when you look at the readers and chanters who are all randomly dressed as chanters, readers, subdeacons, or deacons, rarely with any knowledge of the difference and usually in random colours (and not even matching tunics and stoles)... I wish we would respect it more and have some order... but hey, of all the problems you can have in a church being a bit casual about vestments isn't really so bad.
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« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2007, 12:05:17 PM »

EkhristosAnest, when was that picture taken? I know several of the clergy in that photo including my own humble confession father who would just have to be standing in the shadow of another priest.

Jonathan, could you please say more about Coptic vestment colours as I had no idea about this except for during Passion Week.

All, on dial-up so only watched a little but seemed to remind me somewhat of how the Ethiopians incorperate their culture (with the ladies wailing for example). Does anyone know whether the Kenyans also the use the Liturgy of St. Basil or another one?
I've wondered exactly how we could/should include culture in Australia considering we're such a mix  Huh Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing some Indigenous culture included but firstly we would need more Indigenous people in The Church. (I only know of two right now.)
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« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2007, 02:43:28 PM »

Quote
Jonathan, could you please say more about Coptic vestment colours as I had no idea about this except for during Passion Week.

I'm honestly not sure of the exact rules since it's so disused, but...

Gold is worn on the feasts of our Lord.  My priest also wears gold on all Sundays, (and so do I) since each Sunday is a 'little Easter'.

Red is warn during annual time.  (Red may also be worn instead of Gold on Sundays of Great Lent, not sure, I stick to gold since my priest does, but on weekdays he wears red so I do.  My priest even wears gold on Saturdays, which are non-fasting days like Sundays, but I've never asked him about that...).

So as you see I'm not sure of the exact rule between gold and red, but I know that there is one, I just don't know the details Smiley

Blue is worn on Great Friday (note: it is not worn on Holy Thursday), and at funerals.

White or silver (really hard to see the embroidery against the white tonia, but I've seen it done) during the Holy 50.  Again, I'm not sure if the gold on Sundays rule superceeds this, in which case it would only apply to weekdays.

I've heard that green should be warn on Palm Sunday, but I don't believe that.  A source I trust more has said that green is worn during the month of Koiahk (or alternatly for all of advent).  Again, not sure if gold on sundays superceeds this, making it only applicable to weekdays.

In all cased the tonia is white, and these colours apply to the embroidery on the tonia, and to the stole or badrashain.

I personally only have a gold tonia, a red tonia, and a red tonia, each with a stole/badrashain to match... Don't have the other two.


Other random bits: a chanter should wear only a tonia, no stole/badrashain.  A reader wears a tonia and a badrashain with both ends at front and crossed at the back.  A subdeacon and a deacon wear the stole over one shoulder, and are distinguished by which shoulder (can never remember which is which).  Contrast this to the current practice of randomly choosing which one looks pretty...

Also, a 'deacon's' tonia (by which I mean chanters and readers as well of course) should have a cross on the front and should be blank on the back (mine have crosses on the back like everyone's, since it's hard to find somewhere to buy them that actually makes these distinctions).  A deacon should not have an icon on the front, but a cross.  A priest has a cross on the back as well as the front (I think it's ok for them to have an icon instead of a cross on the front, but not sure).
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« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2007, 05:46:34 PM »

Jonathan

Your post was very interesting. NO exact answers; but still very informative.

Thanks...

I wear the Coptic tonia and the basrashain during liturgy in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

I had my arch bishop approve my using it because I happened to like the white tonia made by the Coptic tradition. The Ethiopian Church uses the white long shirt or "tonia" and belt for the deacons only; but they are very simplistic but nice.

In the Ethiopian tradition an arch deacon wears a very elaborate robe and crown during the liturgy. Deacons (above sub-deacon) which wear the long white shirt and gird belt (basrashain) also wears a crown during the liturgy. The arch deacon may opt to wear either the elaborate robe or the the long shirt with the gird belt except on high feasts where he must where the elaborate robe.

Thanks for the info.

Deacon Amde Tsion


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« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2007, 12:31:42 AM »

I'd love to see pictures of Ethiopian Litugical vestments.
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« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2007, 04:23:45 PM »

I'd love to see pictures of Ethiopian Litugical vestments.

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« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2007, 09:29:28 PM »

Cool.

Are those deacons?

And, I was wondering, do the umbrellas serve any other purpose than the obvious (keeping out the sun)?
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« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2007, 04:06:04 PM »

Cool.

Are those deacons?

And, I was wondering, do the umbrellas serve any other purpose than the obvious (keeping out the sun)?

The deacons as in most orthodox (and I beleive RC) are carrying the "Masqel" (Cross).

In Ethiopia the "high" deaoons (we say "leke" diyakone) carry the "Masqel" (Cross). Deacons at this level are one step below priest and thus also administer the blood during communion. I believe that in the west this would refer to "father" deacon and or "arch" deacon.

The Umbrella (we say "Kondil") have absolutely nothing to do with blocking the sun or anything like that. The "Kondil" (umbrella) is a consecrated vessel of the church and can only be handled by ordained clergyman and is not a common secular device. It represents the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Trinity (The Tri-union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit....Three is one). It is similar to the "qhoopah" used in Judaic practice. Only the "Kondil" is a Christian practice in all its nature and can be moved around like the "tabernacle"  and the Ark of the early Hebrews.

I hope this helped.

God Bless;

Your Servant
Deacon Amde Tsion
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« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2008, 06:42:52 PM »

I heard in church today that among the violence that is happening in Kenya now, a Coptic church has been burned down.  Has anyone else heard anything about that?  Is the Coptic community over there in any danger?  Are they being specifically targeted for any reason?
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EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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Pope St Kyrillos VI


« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2008, 01:31:55 AM »

Hi Salpy,

I can't say much for what's happening in Kenya right now. My friend's sister (who I mentioned earlier in this thread) just arrived to Australia last night, and I should hope to see her soon; when I do, I will try and get a firsthand account of the difficulties Christians are facing in Kenya. It's disheartening given that it was only recently that a Copt working for the church over there commented on the Coptic Mission website:

Quote
[Kenya] is in total and complete turmoil but we can see that there is hope. The King of peace has been faithful through this crisis and allowed us to enjoy His peace.  We celebrated His glorious birth at Christmas with great joy. The church was full and eight people were baptized that day. Afterwards, we shared a delightful Agape meal together and rejoiced over Christmas, remembering the coming of our King of peace.
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No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
Tags: music Oriental Orthodox Music Orthodox Music Kenya Africa African Orthodoxy Coptic Orthodox Church missions 
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