Author Topic: Deciding which church to attend?  (Read 5676 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Deciding which church to attend?
« on: January 23, 2008, 12:01:49 PM »
Well, I have two churches that I could attend, the OCA, which is 40 minutes from my house.  And Greek OC, about 5 minutes from my house.

I am trying to figure out which one will be of more beneficial for me in the long run.

I like OCA because I speak english.  However, will going to greek speaking church hinder my learning in anyway? I would like to learn greek because I would like to go to Mt Athos and visit the monks there.


I guess my question is would going to a greek church hinder my learning? Or should I go to the OCA which speaks english, the only problem with that is it is 40 minutes away?

Or should I go to the OCA at first and learn then and after I've learned join the greek one?



Offline Αριστοκλής

  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 10,026
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2008, 12:07:01 PM »
Visit both, and more than one time. 40 minutes is not insurmountable. 5 minutes is tempting. Are you certain the Greek parish is Greek only?
"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

Offline GreekChef

  • Prez
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 884
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2008, 12:08:33 PM »
Well, I have two churches that I could attend, the OCA, which is 40 minutes from my house.  And Greek OC, about 5 minutes from my house.

I am trying to figure out which one will be of more beneficial for me in the long run.

I like OCA because I speak english.  However, will going to greek speaking church hinder my learning in anyway? I would like to learn greek because I would like to go to Mt Athos and visit the monks there.


I guess my question is would going to a greek church hinder my learning? Or should I go to the OCA which speaks english, the only problem with that is it is 40 minutes away?

Or should I go to the OCA at first and learn then and after I've learned join the greek one?




This is a good question and a difficult issue.  The first thing I would do, personally, is visit both churches.  The Greek parish may not do all Greek, or may do some combination of Greek/English, etc.

I would say that, more important than the language, is the community and the programs.  Does one have a stronger catechumen's program, Sunday School program, youth program, etc... whatever programs you are interested in?  Talk to the priests- are you more comfortable with one than another?  It's important to feel comfortable in the parish you attend.  I don't think the jurisdiction is as important.  Of course, if one parish has weaker programs, can you get involved to help improve them?  These are the types of things to think about, IMHO.  What is important to you in choosing a parish?  You can always attend Greek classes at the Greek church, whether you go there every week or not.  I would focus on some more important aspects.  Figure out what is important to you and what is essential in your experience of God and your journey to Him- this is the most important part.  

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Matthew 18:5

Offline John of the North

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,533
  • Christ is Risen!
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2008, 12:10:55 PM »
I attend a church where the service is split between English and a language that I did not speak a word of....but I am now learning. I would say it depends on the two priests and the language balance at the Greek parish.

Personally, I feel that the language barrier is overhyped in Orthodoxy. I feel that the language barrier helps to understand the service more as you are likely to turn to a book in the pew and get a feel for the text of the service. Conversely, I can see how if you bury yourself in a book, you might lose aspects of the service.

I would say in the end try both. Especially if they both have Vespers in addition to the Liturgy.....spilt the two services and alternate every week until something fits.

I am lucky as I had a choice of 18 churches in my city. I am not at the church I attended when I first started going to services.
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2008, 12:31:34 PM »
Visit both, and more than one time. 40 minutes is not insurmountable. 5 minutes is tempting. Are you certain the Greek parish is Greek only?

i haven't been to the greek one yet.  I just e-mailed the priest there to arrange a meeting with him. But I will ask him such questions.

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2008, 12:33:04 PM »
This is a good question and a difficult issue.  The first thing I would do, personally, is visit both churches.  The Greek parish may not do all Greek, or may do some combination of Greek/English, etc.

I would say that, more important than the language, is the community and the programs.  Does one have a stronger catechumen's program, Sunday School program, youth program, etc... whatever programs you are interested in?  Talk to the priests- are you more comfortable with one than another?  It's important to feel comfortable in the parish you attend.  I don't think the jurisdiction is as important.  Of course, if one parish has weaker programs, can you get involved to help improve them?  These are the types of things to think about, IMHO.  What is important to you in choosing a parish?  You can always attend Greek classes at the Greek church, whether you go there every week or not.  I would focus on some more important aspects.  Figure out what is important to you and what is essential in your experience of God and your journey to Him- this is the most important part.  



The most important thing to me is attaining a true spiritual connection with God, the best and quickest way to God.

Offline Veniamin

  • Fire for Effect!
  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 3,372
  • St. Barbara, patroness of the Field Artillery
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2008, 03:14:48 PM »
Unless there is something about a particular parish that would hinder your spiritual life outright, always go to the one closest to home.  The local parish is supposed to be the gathering of the faithful in a particular place, not a gathering of those who like that particular style of the Liturgy, or those who like that particular church building, or those who like those particular programs available.  At heart, picking your parish based on those factors is no different than picking a parish because it doesn't have too many poor people, or old people, or children, or Greeks, or Russians, or converts, or cradles. 
Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl. ~Frederick the Great

Offline GreekChef

  • Prez
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 884
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2008, 03:32:31 PM »
Unless there is something about a particular parish that would hinder your spiritual life outright, always go to the one closest to home.  The local parish is supposed to be the gathering of the faithful in a particular place, not a gathering of those who like that particular style of the Liturgy, or those who like that particular church building, or those who like those particular programs available.  At heart, picking your parish based on those factors is no different than picking a parish because it doesn't have too many poor people, or old people, or children, or Greeks, or Russians, or converts, or cradles. 

Respectfully, I think it's more important to be comfortable in the parish you attend than to attend the one closest to home.  If you don't feel that you can comfortably worship there, and that is going to keep you from communing with God, then by all means, go somewhere else.  Though I am Greek and attend a Greek parish, I am totally sympathetic to converts who don't speak Greek and, worse, don't feel comfortable in the parish.  When my sister and I were young, we were ostracized by other kids because we didn't speak Greek (and this happened in two parishes and one dance troupe).  I wouldn't voluntarily subject myself to that, as it would hinder my spiritual life.

As well, as a person with certain talents and gifts that are unique to those of someone else, I would rather be in a parish where I feel I can contribute.  If the parish 10 minutes away from me has a Byzantine choir and an English choir and two chanters, and the one 20 minutes away has no choir and no chanter and is in need, then as a trained chanter, I'm going to go to the parish that needs a chanter, where I feel I can contribute using the gifts God gave me.  This is what I meant when I said look at their programs and see where you can help. 

I'm not advocating parish hopping or jurisdiction hopping.  I abhor both practices and think that they are results of nothing but pride.  But I do believe in carefully choosing where to commit oneself based on which parish you believe will help you in your journey to God.  The Church is there as an aid and a help to us in our journey to God.  But not everyone has the same needs, aside from the obvious (Holy Communion and the rest of the sacraments).  Go to the parish where you are comfortable and that helps you in your journey toward God, not hinders it.  It's like choosing a spiritual father.  You don't just choose the first priest you meet.  You choose the one that you feel comfortable confessing to, who can help you in your journey.  You don't choose the one who doesn't speak the same language, both literally and metaphorically, if you know what I mean. 
Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Matthew 18:5

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2008, 11:31:43 AM »
Cool, things for your input.  I just found out there that there are six different Orthodox Churches within driving distance, 40 minutes or less.  Greek being the closest, Russian (2), OCA (2), Ukrainian, Serbian, and Antiochian (2) and another Greek one.  So that is a total of 10 churches all together, six different ones.

I am having meeting with the Greek priest within the next couple of weeks.

Offline Αριστοκλής

  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 10,026
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2008, 11:33:27 AM »
Great! Visit them all.
"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

Offline SouthSerb99

  • Archbishop of Shlivo, Patriarch of All Vodkas & Defender Against All Overstepping!
  • Site Supporter
  • Archon
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,800
  • Now Internet Forum Friendly
    • Save Kosovo
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2008, 11:34:25 PM »
Cool, things for your input.  I just found out there that there are six different Orthodox Churches within driving distance, 40 minutes or less.  Greek being the closest, Russian (2), OCA (2), Ukrainian, Serbian, and Antiochian (2) and another Greek one.  So that is a total of 10 churches all together, six different ones.

Oh, well that is an entirely different story... pick the Serbian one!  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 11:34:59 PM by SouthSerb99 »
"Wherever you go, there you are."
 Guy from my office

Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid
Hungry? Click Here

Offline serb1389

  • Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!
  • Global Moderator
  • Merarches
  • ******
  • Posts: 8,683
  • Michał Kalina's biggest fan
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2008, 11:57:29 PM »
The most important thing to me is attaining a true spiritual connection with God, the best and quickest way to God.

Well if you want that, martyrdom is pretty quick.   ;) ;D ;D

Sorry, couldn't pass it up.  Enjoy! 
I got nothing.
I forgot the maps
March 27th and May 30th 2010 were my Ordination dates, please forgive everything before that

Offline GiC

  • Resident Atheist
  • Site Supporter
  • Merarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,490
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2008, 12:41:49 AM »
Well if you want that, martyrdom is pretty quick.   ;) ;D ;D

Sorry, couldn't pass it up.  Enjoy! 

Have you been reading the Koran? ;)

Sorry, couldn't help myself. ;D
"The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -- Patrick Henry

Offline Papist

  • Patriarch of Pontification
  • Toumarches
  • ************
  • Posts: 13,379
  • An Ideal to Strive Towards
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2008, 05:21:20 PM »
Well, I have two churches that I could attend, the OCA, which is 40 minutes from my house.  And Greek OC, about 5 minutes from my house.

I am trying to figure out which one will be of more beneficial for me in the long run.

I like OCA because I speak english.  However, will going to greek speaking church hinder my learning in anyway? I would like to learn greek because I would like to go to Mt Athos and visit the monks there.


I guess my question is would going to a greek church hinder my learning? Or should I go to the OCA which speaks english, the only problem with that is it is 40 minutes away?

Or should I go to the OCA at first and learn then and after I've learned join the greek one?



Its been my experience in New Mexico that the OCA Church is much less "ethnic" than the GOC.
My posts no longer forum here.

Offline Αριστοκλής

  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 10,026
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2008, 05:26:19 PM »
^ Does your experience include all six parishes between the two jurisdictions?
"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

Offline John of the North

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 3,533
  • Christ is Risen!
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2008, 05:28:12 PM »
Oh, well that is an entirely different story... pick the Serbian one!  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

Don't be so misleading.....the Ukrainian one is obviously the best one on the list!*

*Obvoiusly this ethnicity-laced comment is in no way an official endorsement or slam on any other parish......though I have it on good authority that calls to heaven are free from Kyiv...
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline Tzimis

  • Site Supporter
  • Archon
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,434
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2008, 07:34:40 PM »
Don't be so misleading.....the Ukrainian one is obviously the best one on the list!*

*Obvoiusly this ethnicity-laced comment is in no way an official endorsement or slam on any other parish......though I have it on good authority that calls to heaven are free from Kyiv...

Go to the Greek One.  ;) We can use your money. Cough,,, cough,,, Plus you can roll out of bed and show up late. :laugh: And Might I add. We have Greek festivals.  ;D
Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2008, 08:41:49 PM »
Go to the Greek One.  ;) We can use your money. Cough,,, cough,,, Plus you can roll out of bed and show up late. :laugh: And Might I add. We have Greek festivals.  ;D

You guys are funny.  Got to love comedy.

Offline SouthSerb99

  • Archbishop of Shlivo, Patriarch of All Vodkas & Defender Against All Overstepping!
  • Site Supporter
  • Archon
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,800
  • Now Internet Forum Friendly
    • Save Kosovo
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2008, 09:24:55 AM »
We have Greek festivals.  ;D

Hard to argue with that... but we have Cevapi.  :angel:
"Wherever you go, there you are."
 Guy from my office

Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid
Hungry? Click Here

Offline Salpy

  • Section Moderator
  • Toumarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 13,795
  • Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide pray for us!
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2008, 09:25:08 PM »
Which one has the best Church Lady food?  That's important too.   :)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2008, 09:25:58 PM by Salpy »

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2008, 02:54:22 PM »
Well I went to the Greek Orthodox Church today.  I was quite pleased with what I seen.  Although in comparion, the believers of the OCA were a bit more welcoming. 

In conclusion I think I will be attending the Greek Church, and if the Lord wills, get baptized there.  I will talk to the priest this coming Friday and I will ask him about the process.

Even though OCA was more welcoming, I didn't come to church to make friends per se, I come to church to get closer to God. And the Greek church is closer to where I live.  It will save me on gas and wear and tear on my car, not to include my time.

But I would like to thank all of you for your input.

May God bless you all.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 02:54:56 PM by Irenaeus07 »

Offline jlerms

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 826
  • O sweet Jesus, cleanse my soul.
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2008, 04:42:15 PM »
Wonderful  news Irenaeus!!  Glory be to God!

 :)Juliana

Offline drewmeister2

  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 415
  • Christmas at St Markella's Cathedral, Astoria, NY
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2008, 05:37:12 PM »

Even though OCA was more welcoming, I didn't come to church to make friends per se, I come to church to get closer to God.


Just a word of advice: when I was in the process of converting, I believed that whether there was a good community or not was irrelevant, and that the only truly important thing was Orthodoxy.  I later found out how important having a strong community really is.  I am not saying that you believe community is entirely unimportant, or that the GOA community is that unwelcoming, at the same time, make sure you still have somewhat of a supportive community at the GOA parish :).  You may find that it is worth it to drive the extra distance, because in my experience (what little I have), bad communities can cause people to leave Orthodoxy or at least cause them to not take Orthodoxy so seriously.   
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 05:41:57 PM by drewmeister2 »
Orthodoxia i Thanatos

IC    XC      ...and in ONE HOLY CATHOLIC
    +                   and APOSTOLIC CHURCH...
NI    KA

www.hotca.org | www.YouTube.com/GreekOrthodoxTV

Offline serb1389

  • Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!
  • Global Moderator
  • Merarches
  • ******
  • Posts: 8,683
  • Michał Kalina's biggest fan
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2008, 07:17:39 PM »
Just a word of advice: when I was in the process of converting, I believed that whether there was a good community or not was irrelevant, and that the only truly important thing was Orthodoxy.  I later found out how important having a strong community really is.  I am not saying that you believe community is entirely unimportant, or that the GOA community is that unwelcoming, at the same time, make sure you still have somewhat of a supportive community at the GOA parish :).  You may find that it is worth it to drive the extra distance, because in my experience (what little I have), bad communities can cause people to leave Orthodoxy or at least cause them to not take Orthodoxy so seriously.   

The only thing I would add to this is that you should definitely create friendships at the church.  People who you can connect to and help you with church things.  It would be even better if the people were knowledeable in their faith, but beggars can't be choosers.   ;) ;D
I got nothing.
I forgot the maps
March 27th and May 30th 2010 were my Ordination dates, please forgive everything before that

Offline Fr. George

  • formerly "Cleveland"
  • Administrator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *******
  • Posts: 20,239
  • May the Lord bless you and keep you always!
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2008, 07:44:51 PM »
The only thing I would add to this is that you should definitely create friendships at the church.  People who you can connect to and help you with church things.  It would be even better if the people were knowledeable in their faith, but beggars can't be choosers.   ;) ;D

It should be noted that we are involved in a communal faith, in which no one is truly alone... Even a desert hermit has a spiritual father, someone to give them communion, and the people that they pray for.  While we may not be looking for golfing buddies at the parish, we should be able to find people who are willing to travel with us on our journey in faith, to help us with our struggles and to celebrate our joys.
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline Irenaeus07

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 204
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2008, 03:17:16 PM »
Just a word of advice: when I was in the process of converting, I believed that whether there was a good community or not was irrelevant, and that the only truly important thing was Orthodoxy.  I later found out how important having a strong community really is.  I am not saying that you believe community is entirely unimportant, or that the GOA community is that unwelcoming, at the same time, make sure you still have somewhat of a supportive community at the GOA parish :).  You may find that it is worth it to drive the extra distance, because in my experience (what little I have), bad communities can cause people to leave Orthodoxy or at least cause them to not take Orthodoxy so seriously.   

You are right.  Having a strong community is important, and it does effect your spiritual growth, the people you are around you.  One of things I believe we should desire to around those who uplift us, not bring us down.  At the same I believe, sometimes, we are given the burden of being the one who has to uplift others, just as Christ was given the burden of dying for our sins. This burden is not easy, for Christ said one the Cross, My God, My God why have you For Saken me.  And when you are given this burden, that is exactly how you will feel. 

In the book Mountain of Silence, Father Maximos, "I believe that all of us will experience such a state of spiritual despair sooner or later, but always in accordance to our capacities and strengths.  May God provide that we may pass through such a trail only once.  I don't think it is humanly possible to withstand it twice.  But from what my elders told me, all of us will have to go through this trial, through this state of utter exhaustion and despair, before our union with God."

So I will pray about it, as to which church I will attend. Thanks.

And May God Bless.


Offline Entscheidungsproblem

  • Formerly Friul & Nebelpfade
  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,495
    • Amsterdam Declaration 2002
Re: Deciding which church to attend?
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2008, 05:36:18 PM »
So I will pray about it, as to which church I will attend. Thanks.

*cough*  ROCA or SOC  *cough*  :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

God willing, you will find a parish that truly allows you to grow spiritually and, of course, one in which you will help the current parishoners grow too.   :)
As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future.
-- Sir Julian Sorell Huxley FRS