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Author Topic: Starting an Orthodox church - a "how to"?  (Read 3368 times) Average Rating: 0
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Eugenio
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« on: June 04, 2007, 11:21:25 PM »

Has anyone here ever participated in starting up a new Orthodox church?

If so, how successfull were the efforts of you and your fellow believers? What worked?

Then again, do you have any cautionary tales to tell?
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2007, 11:39:12 PM »

Has anyone here ever participated in starting up a new Orthodox church?

If so, how successfull were the efforts of you and your fellow believers? What worked?

Then again, do you have any cautionary tales to tell?
I'm currently in the process of doing that myself.

It's a long process. I don't have any advice yet, other than word of mouth is the first way to attract people, and I have not had much luck with advertising yet, although I am trying varied methods.

We do typica (reader's service) and as we grow, we are considering sacerdotal options.

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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2007, 11:54:15 PM »

Oh, this is about starting a new parish...and I was going to volunteer to be Pariarch. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2007, 02:23:27 PM »

LMAO!  Wow...just wow. 

What Anastasios said is good.  Why do you need a new parish though? 

Is there not another option in your region? 
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2007, 04:33:17 PM »

I noticed from your profile that you are in Iowa. There are a number of missions and churches already in Iowa and I know that there is at least one new getting ready to be started.

There has been some good advice already given but the first and most important step to starting a mission is to get the blessing of the Bishop to do so. You can't just start up a new church because you want to, you must have the support of the whole Church.
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2007, 05:01:36 PM »

Serb asked: "Why do you need a new parish though?  Is there not another option in your region?"

Not in Ames, Iowa; the home of Iowa State University. There is no Orthodox church in this city of 50,000; although the university has several students from Russia and Ukraine.

Arimathea wrote: "There are a number of missions and churches already in Iowa and I know that there is at least one new getting ready to be started."

Really? Where? Tell them to come to Ames!

Arimathea continues: "There has been some good advice already given but the first and most important step to starting a mission is to get the blessing of the Bishop to do so. You can't just start up a new church because you want to, you must have the support of the whole Church."

Which church? The Greek Church, the Antiochian Church and the OCA all have churches (or at least missions) in several Iowa communities; none have established anything in Ames, though.
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2007, 05:57:30 PM »

More details (for those who are interested):

The closest church to Ames is the Greek church, 50 miles to our south. However, when the end of the semester approaches and your school projects pile up, it's quite difficult to find the time to attend church in another county. And those who have ever witnessed an Iowa winter know that travel is never a certainty between November and April.

The Greek Church has been very helpful in supporting an OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) chapter that we have at Iowa State. But I think we Orthodox would attract more attention here in Ames if we had an actual building that we could point to and say, "there is our church."
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2007, 06:34:15 PM »

The Greek Church has been very helpful in supporting an OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) chapter that we have at Iowa State. But I think we Orthodox would attract more attention here in Ames if we had an actual building that we could point to and say, "there is our church."

If you've got an OCF, don't you have a chaplain to discuss this with?
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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2007, 08:35:44 PM »

Eugenio,
Do any of the members sing in choirs/chant?  If so, are they interested in doing readers services?  You could do some in whatever building you meet.  Have the singers learn music and have some reader's services.
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2007, 09:44:30 PM »

Not sure if you know about this or not...
Quote
The ISU OCF meets at 7:00 p.m. each Wednesday in the chapel of St. John's Episcopal Church, 2338 Lincoln Way, to conduct a brief, (30-minute) typika prayer service. (As there is presently no Orthodox Church in Ames, Iowa, nor any Orthodox clergy who live within this city). Coordinator for the weekly Typika prayer service is Georgi Batinov.
This is from http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/isu-ocf/

If you are already apart of this effort then it sounds like you have a good beginning. If you want to know how to grow this effort then I would say lots of prayer. The hardest part of getting a mission going is to get it going. Talk to people, invite people people to join you and don't just look to students because students move on. Engage people in the local area in discussion. Develop a relationship with the parishes close to you because there may be people in your area who find themselves in the same situation with the long drive.
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2007, 12:21:59 AM »

Yep, that's our group!  Grin
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2007, 02:01:40 PM »

Eugenio,
Do any of the members sing in choirs/chant?  If so, are they interested in doing readers services?  You could do some in whatever building you meet.  Have the singers learn music and have some reader's services.

Eugenio,

Since you don't have a priest, I suppose that you don't have a jurisidiction affiliation.  But since you are in Central/Western Iowa, His Grace, +Bishop BASIL, has this area as part of his jurisdiction.  I would suggest you contact him and see what he would recommend for you and your fellow OCFers.  For everyone else, I'm recommending +Bishop BASIL only because I know him since I am Antiochian and I'm not trying to belittle anyone else's bishops or jurisdictions or what have you.  However, I'm not sure of the propriety of going right to a bishop.  I would hold off on contacting him directly.  Let others on this thread give comments as to whether this would be an appropriate course of action.

But I second Elisha's suggestion of doing reader's services.  If you need a template, I'm sure my priest wouldn't mind if I borrowed one of our Readers Vespers books and sent it to you.  Let me know by PM.  A lot of music you can also download from the internet.  For example, you can get the eight resurrectional troparia for Vespers, Matins and Liturgy for Sundays as well as for certain feasts from this site:  http://www.theologian.org/chant/index_pdf.html

Let me know otherwise.
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2007, 04:07:42 PM »

[ . . . ] but the first and most important step to starting a mission is to get the blessing of the Bishop to do so. You can't just start up a new church because you want to, you must have the support of the whole Church.


Interesting. 

One of my pet issues is trying to understand why the Evangelicals and Pentecostals are enormously successful at attracting members from other, mainline branches of Christianity. 

I suspect that part of the reason is this point --needing permission from a bishop in order to start a new church.  The Evangelicals and Pentecostals don't have a formal hierarchy that gives structure to, and rules, and (in a sense) defines the Church.  Instead, the local parish is the Church.  Therefore, starting a church is much easier for them.  Among the Evangelicals and Pentecostals, whoever feels inspired to start a church --and has the resources-- can do so: immediately.

I don't know about Ames, Iowa (where this Orthodox parish is being started), but I have read that much of Latin America --especially Brazil-- is converting to the Evangelicals and Pentecostals; and of course, most of them were once (at least nominally) Catholic.  The same is true in the U.S.  Is there a similar dynamic going on with Orthodoxy,  in the U.S. or elsewhere, of losing members to Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism?  And, if so, is this partially because starting a church is much easier in those denominations? 

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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2007, 04:54:35 PM »

I found Protestants, well those who converted from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism that I knew, were attracted with the notions of sola fide and sola scriptura.  They said it was 'easier to live' as a Protestant Christian rather than a Roman Catholic Christian.
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2007, 06:14:43 PM »

I found Protestants, well those who converted from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism that I knew, were attracted with the notions of sola fide and sola scriptura.  They said it was 'easier to live' as a Protestant Christian rather than a Roman Catholic Christian.

Sure is a lot easier to 'pick up your Cross and follow Him' if you create your own cross of balsa wood, and trim it down even further to not really be much of a bother, eh?
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2007, 07:52:52 PM »

Sure is a lot easier to 'pick up your Cross and follow Him' if you create your own cross of balsa wood, and trim it down even further to not really be much of a bother, eh?

I always liked the little ones made out of palms we got on palm sunday...fits in your pocket nicely Wink
« Last Edit: June 06, 2007, 07:54:03 PM by greekischristian » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2007, 01:15:31 AM »

Jonas wrote: "I don't know about Ames, Iowa (where this Orthodox parish is being started)".

Please let me clarify something here. No Orthodox parish is being started here, as of now. Please do not mistake the midnight ravings of a sleep-deprived insomniac as any authoritative news!  Shocked

My question was posed as someone speaking hypothetically. Having clarified that, I must say it was posed by someone hoping that another could speak about his/her own personal experiences at doing this. Anyone here been there or done that?

Nevertheless, Jonas brought up a point worth considering: How hard is it to start an Orthodox church? Does the fact that we have multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. make it that much harder to start local churches?

I dare say that even if Jonas is right, I have still seen Orthodox churches form in the most counter-intuitive of places. The best example of this that I can think of is in Springfield, Mo. - the very buckle of the Bible belt!
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2007, 03:13:16 AM »

Nevertheless, Jonas brought up a point worth considering: How hard is it to start an Orthodox church? Does the fact that we have multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. make it that much harder to start local churches?
Personally I think this is one of the biggest reason we need one jurisdiction here in America, to make evangelism easier. Hypothetically let's say there is a group in the middle of Iowa who wanted to start a new parish. Which Bishop do they go to? Is it Job or Iakovos or Christopher in Chicago or Basil in Wichita or Mark in Toledo? This is a hard question to ask in smaller towns where it takes cooperation between all the Orthodox in town regardless of ethnic ties. Most towns of 50,000 can't support a separate church for the Greeks, the Arabs, the Romanians and the Converts.

The sad reality is that there are turf wars going on through out the country because of the overlapping jurisdictions. The healthiest missions are the ones who are welcoming to people and respectful of different traditions. If you want a parish you have to remember that it is for the Glory of God and not the glory of me or my ethnic identity.
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2008, 12:45:37 AM »

^ Has any progress been made establishing a mission in Ames?
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2008, 09:13:14 AM »

[ . . . ] but the first and most important step to starting a mission is to get the blessing of the Bishop to do so. You can't just start up a new church because you want to, you must have the support of the whole Church.


Interesting. 

One of my pet issues is trying to understand why the Evangelicals and Pentecostals are enormously successful at attracting members from other, mainline branches of Christianity. 

I suspect that part of the reason is this point --needing permission from a bishop in order to start a new church.  The Evangelicals and Pentecostals don't have a formal hierarchy that gives structure to, and rules, and (in a sense) defines the Church.  Instead, the local parish is the Church.  Therefore, starting a church is much easier for them.  Among the Evangelicals and Pentecostals, whoever feels inspired to start a church --and has the resources-- can do so: immediately.

I don't know about Ames, Iowa (where this Orthodox parish is being started), but I have read that much of Latin America --especially Brazil-- is converting to the Evangelicals and Pentecostals; and of course, most of them were once (at least nominally) Catholic.  The same is true in the U.S.  Is there a similar dynamic going on with Orthodoxy,  in the U.S. or elsewhere, of losing members to Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism?  And, if so, is this partially because starting a church is much easier in those denominations? 




Having permission is not a bad thing. Saint Ignatious(I could of spelled his name wrong). But from what I can recall from one of his letters .....ah man....I forgot what he said in detail....but we are suppose to have their blessing/permission. I don't see anything wrong with it.


The Assembly of God is the Pentecostal group you are talking about. They have about 17 million members in Brazil. Also, not every protestant group is the same. And it looks real ugly when they do missions. For you will have dozens of different protestant mission groups trying to evangelize the same people......and that gets pretty ugly.


There is alot of chaos when you don't have order. And the varius protestants don't all teach the same thing. And in modern times, the newer protestant groups are teaching more and more strange stuff. So in the future,.....whatever unity protestantism has now will vanish 100 years from now.......into total anarchy.


Also, not all protestant missions are free from "authority". I have a number of protestant friends who are starting ministries or new churches with the permission of their mother churches/denominations.

I knew someone who came from a Southern Baptist Seminary/Bible college from Kentucky. He was sent here(Pittsburgh) to help a pastor start a new Southern Baptist Church.

I have a Prespyterian friend from the PCA who had permission to help start a ministry/new church in one of the bad areas of Montgomery Alabama. He quit his good job, and sold his lovely 6 digit figure home to live with the urban poor. Their goal is to turn it into a new church within the denomination of the PCA.

Another friend of mine who is also PCA was sent to the college I went to in Tuskegee Alabama. He was sent by the Church that founded the PCA (Prespyterian Church of America). He pretty much converted most of my friends to become conservative Prespyterians...or Reformed Baptists.

Also I am good friends withe alot of people who use to be in the ECUSA over here in Pittsburgh. There is an Episcopal church in Uptown that was started by a group who use to live in Ambridge, Pa. they went to the Episcopal Seminary in that town and then they sold there homes and moved to Oakland Pa in groups, infact, they all pretty much live on one street. But the Authority over them bought a church building for them in Uptown. So some protestant groups do have authority figures that they must obey when starting missions.

Oh yeah, I can't forget about one Baptist groups that split from another Baptist church in East Liberty. They moved to East Gate(formerly East Hills shopping center) near Verona and Wilkensburgh. But after some years of trying to be on their own, they decided to yeild to another protestant denomination.

A similar situation happened to an Episcopal church in Serwickly, Pa. When it split, some of them moved to grove farm. and they eventually submited to the Episcopal Archbishop of Uganda.

SO being free lancy in Protestantism isn't always free from "authority" figures, and even when it is, some eventualy seek authority in order to survive.




oh and one last thing. In American Protestantism.......how many members you have today is no qurantee that you will have those members tomorrow. When the preacher dies, people tend to go elsewhere. They will run to the next great personality figure.







JNORM888
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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2008, 09:17:56 AM »

I dare say that even if Jonas is right, I have still seen Orthodox churches form in the most counter-intuitive of places. The best example of this that I can think of is in Springfield, Mo. - the very buckle of the Bible belt!
Indeed, and we have about a hundred hillbillies praying every week--despite being a town of overwhelmingly Western European descent. For many of us, we are not only the first in our family to be Orthodox, we're the first in our entire lineage.
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2008, 09:26:24 AM »

Jonas wrote: "I don't know about Ames, Iowa (where this Orthodox parish is being started)".

Please let me clarify something here. No Orthodox parish is being started here, as of now. Please do not mistake the midnight ravings of a sleep-deprived insomniac as any authoritative news!  Shocked

My question was posed as someone speaking hypothetically. Having clarified that, I must say it was posed by someone hoping that another could speak about his/her own personal experiences at doing this. Anyone here been there or done that?

Nevertheless, Jonas brought up a point worth considering: How hard is it to start an Orthodox church? Does the fact that we have multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. make it that much harder to start local churches?

I dare say that even if Jonas is right, I have still seen Orthodox churches form in the most counter-intuitive of places. The best example of this that I can think of is in Springfield, Mo. - the very buckle of the Bible belt!


I don't think it's hard. I know of two who are in missions right now. As long as you have the permission to do it then I don't see a problem with it. The hard thing is going to get it to grow into a full blown Parish.






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