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Author Topic: My first time visit to an Orthodox church  (Read 3063 times) Average Rating: 0
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new illumined
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« on: December 23, 2008, 10:30:12 PM »

 Hi everyone,

I wanted briefly relate my first experience to an Eastern Orthodox church as I found it quite a good experience.

I went and attended the Divine Liturgy at St. Paul's Orthodox church in Las Vegas NV. I must say I enjoyed it greatly and want to return.

When I came in the church there was people buying candles and other things from what appeared to be a book/icon counter. There was program handouts in different languages next to the door. Some were in different languages. The church is OCA jurisdiction so most of the stuff was in English.

I went into the nave (I think you call it) and saw that it was really beautiful. I arrived about 10 minutes early. When the services started people seemed to be moving about a lot. It was quite refreshing to see that there was a lot of activity. As a former JW we just sat and did nothing until the prayer and song.
I stood for the whole service. Yes my legs and back got a bit tired but I think I had a much richer experience by standing.

The people of the church was completely different than I had expected. I thought I was in another country at times. There was Ukrainian people that I noticed and people from Africa but I can't remember the area or country. All styles of clothes were present. The African women wore pure white and robes and reminded me of pictures of the Islamic or ancient type dress. Many of these women removed their sandals before entering the nave. And many often did full prostrations. I was stunned in a good way by what I say. About a third of the women wore a head covering. This really impressed me as them being showing humility in face of our westernized culture here. I liked it but not in a degrading way to them. Them men wore all style of clothes from suit and tie to semi casual styles. I really enjoyed the diversity with clothing, and I thought there was respect at all levels.

What an awesome experience to see happen. I really like the way the parish made a compromise for a few rows of chairs on the sides for people that needed them. But the main area was most open. One could really use the body to worship. I felt like doing a full prostration but didn't really understand what was going on so I mainly watched and did Orthodox cross signs and slight bows.

I could not follow the Liturgy that well because it seemed hard to hear from the back, whoever was chanting. But if I pondered deeply what was going on I imagined myself in heaven worshiping with angels. It really did remind me of the book of Revelation.

I also thought it awesome that there was a lot of participation with the children. Of all age groups.

No one ever once tried to talk to me and if I didn't ask someone before almost everyone left I probably could  have walked out without saying a word. That was OK for me the first time. I don't like the love bomb feel. I am not sure this is the case all the time.

I approached the priests wife and asked to speak to the priest. I later went into some kind of cafeteria to fellowship and after he was finished with everyone's questions he sat down and I introduced myself. We talked briefly and he gave me some books to read. I thought he was a kind person but busy at the same time.

I told him my dilemma and that is I live 1,5 hrs away from the parish. Not exactly an easy drive. And also that at some point I will have to announce my pursuit into the Orthodox church to some family members. Those JW's can be really harsh about these things. I could be forever disowned by my family.

I told the priest I have no idea what is going on in my nous. I just think God is telling me to go here. The beauty and enormity of that just caused me to well up inside and I got a bit teary eyes for a moment.

I think he communicated to me in a way to just take things slow. I agree with that. But I sure do love what I saw.

What a blessing I have received. After 8 months of being on my own and seeking Orthodoxy in private and then culminating with the Divine Liturgy, I can truthfully say I will never return to being a JW. This is the true faith.

For now I will miss the experience until next time. Thank you everyone for your support on this forum.

NI
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2008, 10:46:39 PM »

I was just thinking about you literally just before came on the board and saw your post.  I am glad things went very well.  Some of us have less than ideal first experiences  Shocked but came home anyway. angel

Thanks for the update.  And prayers for your situation with your family.
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2008, 10:55:03 PM »

I'm glad your experience was good.   Smiley

You might want to get a small liturgy book to help you through the next liturgy.  St. Paul's is OCA, right?  Maybe someone here who knows more about this can recommend a good liturgy book for that Church, with a link to where you can get it.
 
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 11:14:09 PM »

Glad that you had a nice first experience.  Those Africans in the white robes were probably Eritrean's - a country that was part of Ethiopia until about 20 years or so ago.  It is the part of former Ethiopia that borders the Red Sea.  Yes, the parish hall at St. Paul's does have a rather "cafeteria" feel to it - much less impressive of a building then their church. 
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VirSpeluncaeOrthodoxae
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 11:21:58 PM »

Antioch has a great little red prayer book with the St. John Chrysostom DL in it. But every OCA church I've been to had a guide as well. I see at least 5 Orthodox parishes there in Vegas.
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2008, 11:46:10 PM »

NI, I'm glad you had a positive experience at an Orthodox Church.  Rather than referring to Revelations for Liturgical comparison (for the Orthodox do not read anything from Revelations due to its easily misunderstood Apocalyptic perspective  Wink ), think about Prince Vladimir of the Rus when he compared the Divine Liturgy at Haghia Sophia (in today's Istanbul, Turkey) to Heaven itself before his people converted to Orthodoxy in 988.

Some of the Eritreans are OO and are allowed to worship in EO Churches due to Economy because they don't have their own Churches.

I hope you have an opportunity to return ASAP.  Merry Christmas!   Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2008, 12:10:51 AM »

Some of the Eritreans are OO and are allowed to worship in EO Churches due to Economy because they don't have their own Churches.

Really?  I've never really seen it that way.  Ethiopians in my area seem to have their own churches, but the Eritreans don't go.  While the Eritreans may have gone to an OO church if one seemed local, they haven't and have in many instances become defacto EO.  They have been in those churches for a generation, having children baptized and grow up in the church.  My priest even Chrismated some older ones in the past two years, explaining to them why (as in the Christological differences).
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« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2008, 12:15:31 AM »

]I've merged the two threads with identical OP's together.  I'm going to assume that the double-thread start was a technical malfunction, rather than a deliberate attempt to start identical threads in the same section.

- Cleveland, Global Moderator
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« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2008, 12:29:47 AM »

Congratulations! I'm so happy your first DL was a positive experience!

Might I suggest you pick up a copy of a service book?

http://www.svspress.com/product_info.php?products_id=3213
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2008, 01:12:00 AM »

I have been thinking about you and wondering how this went.  I am so encouraged that you had such a positive first experience.  Not that Orthodoxy should always "impress", but I have been to a church or two that probably wouldn't have made we want to convert or anything like that.  Anyway, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, that Christ will guide you into his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

Through the prayers of the Theotokos, save us O Saviour!
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« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2008, 02:02:28 AM »

Some of the Eritreans are OO and are allowed to worship in EO Churches due to Economy because they don't have their own Churches.

Really?  I've never really seen it that way.  Ethiopians in my area seem to have their own churches, but the Eritreans don't go. 

There was a Civil War between the two countries resulting in the independence of Eritrea.  Both Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches are OO Churches both in native countries and in US.  Because the Patriarch of Alexandria (EO) has no Churches in the US, Ethiopians/Eritreans have been received into EO Churches (e.g. GOA) if they have no other OO Church nearby for worship.

While the Eritreans may have gone to an OO church if one seemed local, they haven't and have in many instances become defacto EO.  They have been in those churches for a generation, having children baptized and grow up in the church.  My priest even Chrismated some older ones in the past two years, explaining to them why (as in the Christological differences).

There is no dispute over your observations.   Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2008, 04:57:44 AM »

Quote
I thought I was in another country at times.


Non-Orthodox visitors to the church I attend go even further: "I thought I was in another century at times".  Cheesy Cheesy

So glad to hear of your wonderful experience.
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2008, 05:04:36 AM »

Note to moderaters.

There was an error when I tried to post so for some reason the system posted my comments twice.

I loved the experience. The only thing I would change is that I think people needed to be a bit more friendly after the service. I was new. They maybe should have engaged me a bit more.
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« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2008, 05:07:31 AM »

I noticed that the Eritieans didn't partake of the Eucharast. It made me wonder. Maybe they are not in comunion or something. Huh
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« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2008, 05:11:53 AM »

I also wondered why the majority of the people partook of the blessed bread and wine verses the Holy sacraments. The line was double in length. Huh
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« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2008, 05:28:37 AM »

There was a Civil War between the two countries resulting in the independence of Eritrea.  Both Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches are OO Churches both in native countries and in US.  Because the Patriarch of Alexandria (EO) has no Churches in the US, Ethiopians/Eritreans have been received into EO Churches (e.g. GOA) if they have no other OO Church nearby for worship.

Uhhh, yes I know this - I alluded to it already.
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« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2008, 05:31:33 AM »

I noticed that the Eritieans didn't partake of the Eucharast. It made me wonder. Maybe they are not in comunion or something. Huh
Yes, probably correct and more in line with what SolEX said.  Those at my parish though do receive communion.

I also wondered why the majority of the people partook of the blessed bread and wine verses the Holy sacraments. The line was double in length. Huh

Because those that did not partake must not have felt properly prepared (i.e. fasting, pre-Communion prayers and Confession).
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« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2008, 10:06:23 AM »

We have several Eritrean members of our parish.  Our priest has baptised their children and eventually the parents were recieved into the church and now commune.  They do commune as regularly as the other members of our parish but when speaking with them I discoveredthis was a cultural act of piety that was done only after rather severe fasting in their culture, their children commune every Sunday.

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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2008, 12:59:55 PM »

There was a Civil War between the two countries resulting in the independence of Eritrea.  Both Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches are OO Churches both in native countries and in US.  Because the Patriarch of Alexandria (EO) has no Churches in the US, Ethiopians/Eritreans have been received into EO Churches (e.g. GOA) if they have no other OO Church nearby for worship.

Uhhh, yes I know this - I alluded to it already.

I thought you did and I took the chance anyway.  My apologies for preaching to the choir on that one.   Smiley  Merry Christmas!
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« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2008, 01:33:47 PM »

Congratulations!!!




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« Reply #20 on: December 25, 2008, 12:35:54 PM »

Thank you everyone


Merry Christmas to all
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« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2008, 02:37:18 PM »

There was a Civil War between the two countries resulting in the independence of Eritrea.  Both Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches are OO Churches both in native countries and in US.  Because the Patriarch of Alexandria (EO) has no Churches in the US, Ethiopians/Eritreans have been received into EO Churches (e.g. GOA) if they have no other OO Church nearby for worship.

Uhhh, yes I know this - I alluded to it already.

I thought you did and I took the chance anyway.  My apologies for preaching to the choir on that one.   Smiley  Merry Christmas!

No problem.  Merry Christmas too.  Smiley
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