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Author Topic: My plans going to Orthodox Church (need advice)  (Read 1764 times) Average Rating: 0
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new illumined
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« on: December 06, 2008, 12:24:42 AM »

 Greetings everyone,

I live a long way from an Orthodox church and I wanted to attend during the Holiday season. I will be staying one night in Las Vegas to attend a parish there(the closest to my home). I've never been to any church in my entire life, except for walking in on a catholic mass for a short time. I was raised a pagan Jehovah's witness. My days that I can attend are Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as my work schedule does not permit me to go on the weekend at this time. Are there services during the week? Which ones would be best for me? Also Christmas eve falls on a Wednesday this year and I have that off as well as Christmas and the following day. Should I wait until then? Are there special services during the Christmas week?

If anybody has additional advice please feel free to comment. I do plan on trying to become a catachumen. I am not sure what that means yet. And I want to talk to the priest about this. If there is anybody in that area of Las Vegas I would also like to meet them.

Beyond this I will just use the phone book and call to get more information.

God bless,

NI
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Salpy
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2008, 02:36:07 AM »

There are a couple of Oriental Orthodox congregations there, but I am assuming you are looking into the Eastern Orthodox Church.  You may want to look at this website to locate the EO churches there:

http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/

Looking at that website myself, I found the following:

http://www.lasvegasorthodox.com/

http://www.lasvegasorthodox.com/schedule-services.html

You may want to call the church and see about special weekday services.

If I understand the map correctly, I think there are also Greek and Romanian parishes there, but they didn't seem to have websites. 
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2008, 02:40:44 AM »

http://www.lasvegasorthodox.com/webcalendar/month.php

I think the above is their calendar for this month.  It seems they do have some services on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2008, 03:05:18 AM »

I wouldn't wait until Christmastime to visit, unless you're really nervous, then you might just want to visit the priest to help introduce yourself. Orthodox communities are said to be usually small, and they love new faces! It's good that they're small because it's easier to be family with them. Much encouragement to you! Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2008, 09:08:13 AM »

Greetings everyone,

I live a long way from an Orthodox church and I wanted to attend during the Holiday season. I will be staying one night in Las Vegas to attend a parish there(the closest to my home). I've never been to any church in my entire life, except for walking in on a catholic mass for a short time. I was raised a pagan Jehovah's witness. My days that I can attend are Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as my work schedule does not permit me to go on the weekend at this time. Are there services during the week? Which ones would be best for me? Also Christmas eve falls on a Wednesday this year and I have that off as well as Christmas and the following day. Should I wait until then? Are there special services during the Christmas week?

If anybody has additional advice please feel free to comment. I do plan on trying to become a catachumen. I am not sure what that means yet. And I want to talk to the priest about this. If there is anybody in that area of Las Vegas I would also like to meet them.

Beyond this I will just use the phone book and call to get more information.

God bless,

NI

If you are not a "plunger," first, I would get a copy of the Divine Liturgy and the Offices for Christmas and familiarize yourself with them, so you are not totally clueless and bewildered.  Coming from a JW background (I"ve been told the services are just Bible, or rather Watch Tower, studies) it would be very different.  Because unlike JW, it's Biblical.

If your short exposure to a mass didn't freak you out, then I would just go and try to absorb your first time.  You can read up on what happened later.

In any case, don't worry if you don't get everything: you won't.  Over two decades later, I'm still learning things I missed.  I almost didn't take the plunge, because with the Protestant mindset I thought that I have to know everything and assent to it before becoming Orthodox.  It wasn't until I realized that trying to "get" all of Orthodoxy is like trying to drink the ocean that I realized (actually, it was pointed out to me) that I trusted that the Orthodox Church was true that I went for chrismation.

Coming from a JW background I would also read the Book of Revelation, paying close attention to the liturgical elements in it (incense, alars, etc.).  The Divine Liturgy is based on this Heavenly Prototype, as Hebrews tells us.

Now, to some practical matters: as you mentioned that you are far from an Orthodox Church (where exactly, if I may ask?  I gather from you going to Las Vegas that you are in Nevada somewhere.  Since I drove from San Francisco to Carson City to Las Vegas to AZ to Salt Lake City, and didn't see much of anything, no offense, in the way of settlement for quite a ways from Las Vegas, maybe another state might have a Church even closer, espeically if you are up around Carson City), you may realize some of the practical difficulties we have.  Week day services is one: the rubrics and canons call for them but either they are put on the weekend or are sparsely attended because of the practical problems of getting around with the congregation traveling great distances.  Another problem we might get, is because some Churches are the only times that ethnic group gets together, the services and coffee hour might not be in English, which can be a practical difficulty.  To make matters worse, this is worse in the high holy seasons, like Christmastide.  Try not to be put off if this is the case.

Although I'm Eastern Orthdox, I wouldn't write off the Western Rite Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox, though both have other practical problems.

Being a catecheumen means you are engaged to Christ's Church, but no consumation in Holy Communion until you say "I do" at your baptism.
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2008, 11:46:22 AM »

Here's a map of Nevada from that Orthodoxy in America site:

http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/lr_v10/locator.php

It seems there are a couple of other parts of Nevada that have churches.  Maybe one will be closer?
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2008, 11:51:30 AM »

Wow!  When I click onto the link I pasted, it just gives a map of the entire U.S.  I specifically copied and pasted a map of Nevada I had brought up.  Oh well. 

To the right of the U.S. map, there is a search box.  Just type "Nevada" into it and you'll get the map that I saw.
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2008, 12:42:12 PM »

Greetings new illumined,

Some parishes do have weekday Liturgies, it just depends on the parish priest, how big the parish is, and if there are any feasts etc...

I also lived a LONG way away from an Orthodox Church when i first attended, and all I can suggest is, it might be a good idea to call the priest ahead of time and set up a meeting with him BEFORE the service. This works especially well if there is a Vespers service in the evening and assuming the priest is free. But you certainly don't have to do that at all, and most people just walk right in off the street, no biggie. don't worry about doing anything weird, or wrong, (obviously don't go up for Communion though if it's a Liturgy), other than that, unless you backflip your way into the Church, or dance, no one will think you're weird. Smiley

I think Christmas falls on a Thursday, and most parishes will have a Christmas Eve service in the evening (Vespers), and Liturgy Thursday morning, so it would be good to be able to attend both if you can, but again, not necessary. The day after Christmas (I think) is St. Stephen's feast day, and most parishes have Liturgy for that too, so you might get 3 good days right in a row. In the big cathedrals or parishes with very fervent priests, the week prior to Christmas can be full of services, but usually this isn't the norm.  Besides over doing right away might not be good....anyways, just go and enjoy yourself, be a sponge and absorb what you can, and don't worry about forgetting something, because you will whether you worry or not.

You could also try different jurisdiction as well, as they all do slightly different things. (remember Oriental Orthodox and a few Eastern Orthodox are on the old Calendar so won't celebrate Nativity until January 7th)....But the OCA, GOA and Antiochians are all New Calendar...(as well as others too) Just a bit of info to keep in mind.

Hopefully it will be a great experience for you.

Peace . . . .
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2008, 10:05:33 PM »

Wow, I really appreciate all your comments and links.

That's some good advice Northern Pines.
I have always listened to podcasts on Ancient faith radio and my OCN and this has helped me grasp a lot of the structure and theology of Orthodoxy. I also have the Orthodox Study Bible.
I also know there is different ethnic groups that may have certain traditions.
I am confused about one thing. I am interested in becoming Eastern Orthodox.
Is Oriental Orthodox a part of this group. Sometimes with these different groups I get confused. What about Coptic and Ethiopian?
I know I want to be Eastern Orthodox whether that be OCA or Romanian, Serbian, ect, I don't think really matters to me.
And I am not sure about this Old calender New calender stuff yet and How that is all involved.
So some actually celebrate Christmas in January Huh

Thanks again

NI
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« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2008, 10:12:57 PM »

I live in St George Utah. It's down in the corner right next to Mesquite Nevada.

NI
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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2008, 10:22:23 PM »

I am confused about one thing. I am interested in becoming Eastern Orthodox.
Is Oriental Orthodox a part of this group. Sometimes with these different groups I get confused. What about Coptic and Ethiopian?
I know I want to be Eastern Orthodox whether that be OCA or Romanian, Serbian, ect, I don't think really matters to me.


The Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Syriac and Indian Churches are Oriental Orthodox.  We and the Eastern Orthodox parted ways around the fifth century over a council called Chalcedon.  Relations are warmer now between the OO's and EO's than they used to be, and some are hoping for an eventual reunion.  We are not, however, officially in communion with each other.  Therefore, if you want to be with the EO Church, you should probably look to the website I linked above to look for a church to attend.
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2008, 10:30:30 PM »

I've been to St. Paul's in LV - nice parish.  The priest there, Fr. Eric Tosi is very nice.  A mid-week service might be better, as you it would be easier to meet the priest and explain your situation.  With the many people of the normal Sunday Liturgy it might be harder to get his attention.
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2008, 12:27:00 AM »

I hope that you make it to a parish soon.  It would be good to contact as priest before going, as others have said.  That way he could formally induct you into the catechumenate (if that's what you're seeking).  After taking care of that, you could try to work out some kind of formal instruction with him, even if it was as infrequent as once a month.

My prayers are with you, and please continue to chase after the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2008, 01:20:00 AM »

I live in St George Utah. It's down in the corner right next to Mesquite Nevada.

While SLC is a few hours away from you, there are plenty of Orthodox Churches there as well.  In some Churches, former Mormons converted to Orthodoxy and may provide more "common ground" than a Church in LV.[/quote]
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2008, 01:22:39 AM »

I live in St George Utah. It's down in the corner right next to Mesquite Nevada.

NI

I was just in your neck of the woods in August.  Quite stunning.

When we were in Salt Lake City, in the Mormon church museum my son said "baba, they use the same words but they don't mean the same things." police

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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2008, 01:47:56 PM »


And I am not sure about this Old calender New calender stuff yet and How that is all involved.
So some actually celebrate Christmas in January Huh

Thanks again

NI

No, we don't celebrate Christmas in January.  January 7th just happens to be the secular calender date and the date on the Revised Julian Calender ( the calender used in most OCA parishes and all GOA parishes).  On the Julian Calender the day is December 25th.  So while the secular calender and the Revised Julian Calender say January 7 the Julian Calender (aka the old calender) says December 25th.  Not a hard concept but one that most people including those that celebrate according to the Julian Calender don't grasp.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2008, 04:48:20 PM »


And I am not sure about this Old calender New calender stuff yet and How that is all involved.
So some actually celebrate Christmas in January Huh

Thanks again

NI

No, we don't celebrate Christmas in January.  January 7th just happens to be the secular calender date and the date on the Revised Julian Calender ( the calender used in most OCA parishes and all GOA parishes).  On the Julian Calender the day is December 25th.  So while the secular calender and the Revised Julian Calender say January 7 the Julian Calender (aka the old calender) says December 25th.  Not a hard concept but one that most people including those that celebrate according to the Julian Calender don't grasp.

Many years I go (no, I'm not saying how many) in 1st grade they told us how George Washington was born on February 11, but his birthday is February 22, which made no sense to me.  Only after being Orthodox for years, and thining back, did it dawn on me what my 1st grade teacher was refering to: England switched from Julian to Gregorian during Washington's lifetime, and eleven days was the difference (now 13, 14 next century).
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2008, 09:12:56 PM »

Yes, I understand the differences between the Julian and the Gregorian Calendar now. They have date variations because the Julian calender was not accurate and had drifted out of the seasons over time. When the adjustment came, the dates that had previously been set were altered to compensate.

I sat down and made my own calendar up one year as a hobby. It worked from the atomic clock that keeps timepieces accurately adjusted around the world. And it also had all dates and days remain the same throughout the year. It was interesting and took me a couple of weeks to come up with it. Most of the set dates would not change by more than a few days. Although Christmas tended to be a different date. It was an experiment and probably would have difficulty being widely accepted. Even today there are different calender systems around the world as the Gregorian calender is not universally accepted.

Update:

My work said that I can have the weekend of the 21-22 of December off. So now that is my date to go. The priest at St Paul's Church in LV has contacted me and I have been writing him for some advice.

If everything is good and I can find my place in the Eastern Orthodox faith, then I won't hesitate to move. But I have to take this a little at a time.



NI
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