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Author Topic: Frustrations in exploring the OOC  (Read 1937 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: August 10, 2009, 11:48:54 PM »

So, I am in the inquiring stage right now of potentially joining the OOC. I've been going to an Oriental liturgy almost every Sunday in the past 2-3 months. So far I have been to a Coptic church and and Armenian church. This Sunday I am celebrating the Feast of the Assumption with a Malankara Syriac Orthodox church. Eventually I'm planning on checking out a nearby Ethiopian church as well.

Yet I'm finding myself not really having a place in any of these churches. All of the OOC's in my area are highly ethnic, and even though some are friendly, they seem nonetheless not all that interested in accommodating their way of doing church for the sake of non-ethnic inquirers. It's great that this has happened in some area, for instance the British Orthodox Church. But it doesn't seem at all present in the U.S. The closest thing I have found is the Mission Society of Saint Gregoriose (http://www.angelfire.com/ms3/mission/), but they only have 4 congregations associated with them: 2 in WA, one in WI, and another in NY; nothing anywhere near where I live.

I find it very tough when liturgy is about 90% in a language I don't understand. Perhaps 50% would be tolerable, but only knowing what's going on 10% of the time is close to not knowing what's going on at all. I feel "caught between a rock and a hard place", because I know where I'm coming from, the OCA, is culturally and liturgically almost exactly what I need, but I feel that I cannot subscribe to the Seven Councils; yet while the OOC is very much what I agree with in faith, I feel culturally and liturgically there is no place for me there.

I'm mostly seeking to vent a little here. But advice would also be greatly appreciated.
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Salpy
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2009, 12:26:26 AM »

I don't know what advice to give, but I know you are not the first to experience this.  If I remember correctly, we had another poster a while back who expressed the same frustration over the ethnic nature of OO Churches and the lack of English liturgies.

Here in Los Angeles there are Coptic parishes with English liturgies.  Perhaps that will catch on up where you are.  One can only hope.

I think part (but not all) of the problem is that most OO populations are composed of pretty recent immigrants.  I once heard my priest explain the situation to someone.  He pointed out that immigrants Monday through Friday (and often Saturday) have to struggle with English and with a new culture.  It's stressful and difficult.  He said it was important that when they come to church to worship on Sundays that they be able to feel more at home and not have to deal with the new language and different culture that they are learning on the other days.  They need to feel at home and familiar in their worship, and forcing the church to Americanize would undermine that and alienate people.

Of course converts need the opposite.  They feel uncomfortable in a church that is completely embedded in a foreign culture and uses a language they don't understand.  I have no doubt that the OO Church would have more converts if we had English liturgies.

That is why the Coptic Church where I am is so great.  They have both English and Coptic/Arabic liturgies.  Not only do the English liturgies make attendance easier for potential converts, but I think the Coptic young people who are born here like them also.

I don't know what advice to give you.  I would like to tell you again to forget about Chalcedon and just go back to the OCA, which is a great Church.  However, I know that won't work, as you've really taken this issue seriously and have developed strong opinions on the subject. 

Perhaps you can give it more time to see if the foreign language liturgies "grow on you."   Smiley  Do you have a good liturgy book?  That can go a long way to helping you understand, and after a while you'll probably learn some of the phrases, hymns, etc.  As it is, you don't want to make a "quick conversion."  That can result in regret.  Take your time and pray about it.  Explore the different OO parishes around you, but don't completely cut yourself off from the OCA.  Just take your time.  Pray about it.   Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2009, 12:33:26 AM »

I understand your frustration and discouragement.

My family and I were baptised into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church a year ago. I am white and my wife is Black. We do not understand Ge'ez or Amharic, so we feel much like you when we are at Church. And yet I envy you, because our Church is 7 hours away from where we live. I wish that we could go to Church every week, even every day. I would love to learn the language and become more familiar with the Liturgy and the culture. But being so far away, it is hard to learn and grow like we would like to.

My personal feeling is that I should learn the language and customs of my ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Faith. If I am really seeking God, then I should be willing to work to understand the rich traditons of the Church. And the word "Liturgy" literally means "work." The Book of Liturgy has an English translation which helps me keep up with the prayers and the Anaphoras, so I am not completely lost during the worship.

But I guess I would encourage you to seek the Church where you feel the strongest presence of God, and then commit to studying and learning that Faith. Some people might tell you to seek out the Church where you feel most comfortable, but I wouldn't agree with that. Faith is not about comfort, but about the peace and strength that Christ alone can provide. Obviously I would not advise you to commit to a Church where you feel ostracized and unwelcomed. But don't allow the difficulty of language and the differences of culture to deter you from the true Orthodox Faith.

My Ethiopian Christian brothers and sisters have made me feel like part of their family, which I now am. So although I don't understand the language, I always feel the Holy Spirit through the sounds, scents, sights, and other sensory perceptions that come to me when I'm at the Church. Of course I am biased in promoting my Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Faith. But you are definitely being divinely led to pursue the pre-Chalcedonian Church.

I am sure that brothers Amde Birhan, Hiywot, HaileAmanuel, Ekhristos, and Salpy can answer many of your questions regarding the OO Faith and tradition.

I look forward to keeping apprised of your journey. Don't hesitate to ask if there is anything I can assist you with.

Peace to you!

Selam,

Gebre Menfes Kidus    
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 12:54:26 AM »


I think part (but not all) of the problem is that most OO populations are composed of pretty recent immigrants.  I once heard my priest explain the situation to someone.  He pointed out that immigrants Monday through Friday (and often Saturday) have to struggle with English and with a new culture.  It's stressful and difficult.  He said it was important that when they come to church to worship on Sundays that they be able to feel more at home and not have to deal with the new language and different culture that they are learning on the other days.  They need to feel at home and familiar in their worship, and forcing the church to Americanize would undermine that and alienate people.

Oh, thanks for the explanation. That definitely gives room for greater sympathy for these churches.

I'm not really hoping to Americanize ethnic churches. I think it's great that the EOC in America have both Americanized churches and ethnic churches. I just wonder if perhaps there is not enough effort being put out to non-immigrants.


I don't know what advice to give you.  I would like to tell you again to forget about Chalcedon and just go back to the OCA, which is a great Church.

That is a thought I entertain from time to time. I just don't see how I could do it...


As it is, you don't want to make a "quick conversion."  That can result in regret.  Take your time and pray about it.  Explore the different OO parishes around you, but don't completely cut yourself off from the OCA.  Just take your time.  Pray about it.   Smiley

I hope that I am approaching this journey more cautiously than the last time. I definitely think that I unfortunately underwent a "quick conversion" into the EOC, and I already regret that.

I'm just about distributing my church going in that way. I have Sacramentally cut myself off from the OCA. I haven't taken Communion anywhere for ~6 months now. But I am still communicating with my priest and attending some OCA liturgies. I still do definitely have a strong admiration for the OCA.

I have had a couple of thoughts this evening. For one I'm wondering if perhaps it would be worth contacting the head of the Mission Society of Saint Gregorios and trying to come to a pastoral arrangement with them? I was also wondering if perhaps it would be worth writing to SCOOCH about this?
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 01:33:51 AM »


I have had a couple of thoughts this evening. For one I'm wondering if perhaps it would be worth contacting the head of the Mission Society of Saint Gregorios and trying to come to a pastoral arrangement with them? I was also wondering if perhaps it would be worth writing to SCOOCH about this?

Does SCOOCH have an address?   Shocked  Just kidding.   Grin

No wait.  Do they really have an address?   Grin
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 01:38:30 AM »

For whatever my two cents are worth, I say stay in the Orthodox Church in America.

I know I shouldn't open this bag up, but what about Eastern Orthodoxy have you rejected?
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 01:57:01 AM »

I know I shouldn't open this bag up, but what about Eastern Orthodoxy have you rejected?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21421.msg323261.html#lastPost
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2009, 04:09:16 AM »

"I know I shouldn't open this bag up, but what about Eastern Orthodoxy have you rejected?"

Mostly centering around the Council of Chalcedon. I don't accept the Chalcedonian Creed, because it made us of "in two natures", without explaining what it meant by this or indicating how it was different from its popular usage in Nestorian circles. I reject the Tome of Leo because it said that in Christ, the Word performs things divine, whereas "the flesh" performs things human. I reject Chalcedon lastly because they re-instituted Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa without requiring of them to rescind their Nestorian writings, and thus officially tolerated and Communed Nestorians. Any suggestion that the subjective experience of will or action is in the two natures rather than that of the hypostasis of the Incarnate Word I also reject, something which I see a number of EO suggest.

Aside from Christology, I have no other problems with the EO Tradition. I see absolutely no problem with EO Theology or Triadology; something I could not likewise say about the RC Tradition.

*is wondering if perhaps this conversation should be moved*
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2009, 04:10:57 AM »

"Does SCOOCH have an address? Just kidding.

No wait.  Do they really have an address?
"

I have no idea. I wish I did.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2009, 04:30:53 AM »

I would certainly write to the Mission Society of St Gregorios.

But I also wonder if you have spoken to the local Coptic priest to see if he would consider a weekday once a month liturgy in mostly English, not only for yourself but for other potential enquirers - it could be advertised - and also for those of their young folk who are not fluent in Coptic or Arabic.

Which state are you in? I am involved with many Copts who are committed to evangelism, and they may have ideas and contacts for English language ministry.

Email me if you want. I'm just back from holiday and trying to sort out several weeks of stuff but I'll certainly ask all my contacts what they suggest.

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2009, 04:51:58 AM »

deusveritasest, if I were you, I would choose the Coptic Church, and print these English texts of the Liturgies in A5 size, so that I would be able to follow the liturgical action (weekly searching for readings and hymns also would be necessary). I would also take advantage of watching this video recording of the Coptic Orthodox Liturgy in English.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2009, 05:05:31 AM by Michał » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2009, 06:20:05 AM »

Deusveritasest

If you like, you can also download the English translation of the Liturgy of the Armenian Church from here (a PDF file) _
http://www.armenianchurchlibrary.com/files/The_Divine_Liturgy-English.pdf

You can learn about all the parts of the Liturgy of the Armenian Church also from this virtual classroom-

http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/badarak/index.php

There you'll find also the hymns of the Liturgy both typed in musical notation (if you are able to read the musical notes, you can print them, so you can sing with others) and also in audio files.

You'll find, generally in that website of St Nersess Seminary, much helpful stuff, if you ever need it.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2009, 06:27:39 AM by vasnTearn » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2009, 07:49:19 AM »

Deusveritasest

If you like, you can also download the English translation of the Liturgy of the Armenian Church from here (a PDF file) _
http://www.armenianchurchlibrary.com/files/The_Divine_Liturgy-English.pdf

You can learn about all the parts of the Liturgy of the Armenian Church also from this virtual classroom-

http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/badarak/index.php

There you'll find also the hymns of the Liturgy both typed in musical notation (if you are able to read the musical notes, you can print them, so you can sing with others) and also in audio files.

You'll find, generally in that website of St Nersess Seminary, much helpful stuff, if you ever need it.


Is it true that Armenian parishes are still not allowed to celebrate the Liturgy in English? (I was told that by someone who entered the church there and then moved to a Coptic parish that is all English, just wondering if that's accurate/still the case)
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2009, 12:10:00 PM »

Hmm, it is a tough issue when facing ethnic problems. It seems a lot of converts face this in the EO and I guess the OO as well. The EO Church is getting better it seems conquering ethnic quarrels but it still has problems as I imagine the OO does to with many of it's members probably worry a lot about keeping their culture over the Church which is wrong. Nothing wrong with preserving culture but when that stands above preserving the True Faith then that is phylitism which is heresy. I cannot really give you advice about what to do but I would just say, pick the one where you feel most comfortable in by finding the one where you can understand the services. Just pray to God that you will be able to find a parish that suits your needs best.
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 01:35:09 AM »


Is it true that Armenian parishes are still not allowed to celebrate the Liturgy in English? (I was told that by someone who entered the church there and then moved to a Coptic parish that is all English, just wondering if that's accurate/still the case)

Armenian liturgies are always in Armenian.  We don't have English liturgies.  Most churches have liturgy books, though, which translate the service.  The church I go to even has a power point screen.   Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2009, 02:26:47 AM »


Is it true that Armenian parishes are still not allowed to celebrate the Liturgy in English? (I was told that by someone who entered the church there and then moved to a Coptic parish that is all English, just wondering if that's accurate/still the case)

Armenian liturgies are always in Armenian.  We don't have English liturgies.  Most churches have liturgy books, though, which translate the service.  The church I go to even has a power point screen.   Smiley

Much appreciated to your Diocese. But Ill admit I listen to those High Octave of the priest and gives me chills at the Trisagion. And I cant help but say Sweeet! under my lips.
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2009, 07:50:45 AM »

deusveritasest,

If you need some help with the Mission Society, do kindly PM me.  I would suggest attending a church as close to your residence as possible so that you can try and attend as many services as possible and thus adjust to the worship and liturgical tradition of whichever jurisdiction you choose.

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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2009, 11:40:14 PM »

Greetings to my Father(s), brothers and sisters,

I'm usually late with the threads (not only my clothing) and posts, because I'm a little slow.  I just wanted to give my opinion and point of view on this subject—a very important one.

I can't claim to be a theologian and won't go into the realm of one, but when I analyzed the controversy of Chalcedon, it seems like a dispute over jurisdictional authorities, mixed with politics and linguistical differences (at first sight). 

To me, the theology is the same, because Chalcedon was revisted several years later (after 451 AD) and there were corrections made to the statements that seemed ambiguous and phrases added that did not seem to support the Declaration of Faith of the 1st Council of Ephesus. Therefore, the Declaration of Chalcedon (Revised) agrees with our beloved Father and Saint Cyril I of Alexandria and his formula.  If there was a bad-taste or an ill sentiment toward the Chalcedonian Council of 451 AD, because of crypto-Nestorianism, it was corrected some years later.  Many of our Orthodox fathers today, both Eastern and Oriental may beg to differ. 

Unfortunately, some to a lot of animosity has trickled down from the the initial dispute, without the knowledge or rememberance of the revisions and some early, post-Chalcedonian agreements between the Churches, leaving 'anathemas' all over the place between both.  For example, there was a time when the Churches presently known as Oriental Orthodox Churches were attributed as the Lesser-Eastern Orthodox Churches.  For example, the term Oriental Orthodox Churches was officially accepted in the mid-1960's during a meeting with (the) said group of Churches. On the other hand, many Oriental Orthodox members referred to Eastern Orthodox Churches as melkites and as we may also know, the Melkite Churches today are proud to exist as who they are...

I believe that misinformation continues until now, because we Oriental Orthodox are still dubbed as monophysites by some and in turn, we consider the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Melkites—dyophysites. We need to pray and to study with love, especially as Orthodox Christians, because we are supposed to be proclaiming the 'true glory' and original teaching of the Christian Church.  It is terrible to hear about or to witness the lack of teaching to catechumens, or to witness them being taught a form of fanaticism.

In conclusion, I suggest that you chose an Orthodox Church that you are comfortable within (as several of the members mentioned) and an Orthodox Church that practically teaches Christ undivided, with the hope for unity (especially amongst Orthodox Churches).  As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, there will always be challenges, for the mere fact that you desire to be Christian! Along with this, there are challenges that you will face as you suffer with Christ, whether in the Divine Liturgy, the Community or at home. 

Your struggle with the ethnic congregants and feeling alienated is one shared by many. Not to downplay your hardships, but it is not new, rather ancient.  Eventually, you will be one of those Christians that contributed to evangelizing to potential Orthodox converts through your persistence and gracious desire to worship in the Orthodox Church. 

I apologize for rambling and please pray for me...

In Christ,

haileamanuel
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