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Mickey
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« on: December 02, 2009, 11:12:31 AM »

My wife and I belong to an OCA church. The parish is very aged and struggling to stay afloat.  There are virtually no children that attend on a regular basis. Here is my question: My 3 1/2 year old daughter has no peers at this Church. She would be the sole student at Sunday school.  There is no youth ministry or any programs for youth.  There is an Antiochian parish nearby that is thriving with many young families and dozens of children of all ages with many youth programs and activities. We are close with our priest and he would be very upset if we left. 

Being Orthodox for only 2 1/2 years, I am wondering if this is a valid reason to attend another Church?
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2009, 11:24:03 AM »

I would say it is a very valid reason. By having other peers that are Orthodox, it will support her during her growth in the Church, and help her see the church as something relevant rather than an old faith being practiced by a bunch of "old" people nowhere near her age. While she may not contemplate these things at the age of 3, they will be a factor when she is older.
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2009, 12:06:23 PM »

I think that that is a very valid reason.  The faith is still the faith no matter which Orthodox Church you go to (hopefully), but the church is not just about worshipping the One God in faith in truth (though that should be our MAIN reason) but also to interconnect with our fellow Orthodox Christians.  Our children need peers in the faith as much as we adults do, to help with struggles and also so that they are connected.

Talk to your priest at the OCA church first; hopefully he will understand and not try to dissuade you.  I'm hoping that you weren't just going to just stop going there without any kind of fare-thee-well.
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2009, 12:17:31 PM »

I'm hoping that you weren't just going to just stop going there without any kind of fare-thee-well.
Of course not. But I know that he will do everything possible to dissuade me. You see, I am one of the very few able bodied men here. I have become extremely active in everything from the choir (which will lose their only tenor) to many labor intensive tasks.  It is going to be a difficult talk.
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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2009, 12:33:43 PM »

Does it have to be an all-or-nothing situation? Especially since your child is only 3-1/2. I would agree with Handmaiden of God that as she gets older, having a peer group will get more and more important, but in my own experience as a father I think it will be at least a couple of years before it becomes particularly significant.

In any case, if both parishes are close couldn't you split time between them, adjusting the percentage as your daughter ages (or the needs of the parish, or your own needs, etc)? I doubt the Antiochian parish would have any objection to your daughter participating in their youth activities even if you are still primarily a parishoner at the OCA parish.
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2009, 12:41:10 PM »

My wife and I belong to an OCA church. The parish is very aged and struggling to stay afloat.  There are virtually no children that attend on a regular basis. Here is my question: My 3 1/2 year old daughter has no peers at this Church. She would be the sole student at Sunday school.  There is no youth ministry or any programs for youth.  There is an Antiochian parish nearby that is thriving with many young families and dozens of children of all ages with many youth programs and activities. We are close with our priest and he would be very upset if we left. 

Being Orthodox for only 2 1/2 years, I am wondering if this is a valid reason to attend another Church?

Yes.

But what you could do is attend your old parish during the summer, when there is no Sunday school.
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2009, 12:45:45 PM »


I agree with the above post.  What if you did 3 Sunday's at one parish and even 1 at your old parish. 

I do believe it is important for children to have Orthodox peers to relate with.  My sister and I were the only Orthodox kids in elementary and middle school.  In high school their was one Coptic Orthodox girl in my class.  She and I bonded immediately! 

It's good for kids to know there are others "like" them and they are not the only ones who celebrate Pascha (and in my case Christmas) on different days than most others.

Besides, I have found that the friends and life you make in church is what stays with you.  I have forgotten most of my school friends.  We've all moved apart and lost contact with each other.  However, the friends I made growing up in church, and the memories from our church school are still with me.  I am blessed to still attend the same church, and still see those "kids" I grew up with, coming with their own kids to church.  This is what has remained solid in my life.

So, yes, I think it would be good to make sure your daughter grows up in an Orthodox community filled with kids and activities appropriate for her.

However, as was said, she's still young, and you have time. 

You might even check with the Antiochian church for courses/activities offered beyond Sunday school.  I know that my 2 local Antiochian parishes are also very active and have many, many children.  They always are offering evening activities, classes and summer schools.

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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2009, 01:02:47 PM »

This is all very good advice. It is something to chew on. My current parish is on the old calendar, and I must say that, personally, I am partial to the old calendar. Splitting time between two parishes could be feasible.
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2009, 02:38:28 PM »

I agree that splitting your time would be a good idea, especially since you seem to be very close with your current priest.  That's in invaluable relationship.  Hopefully more families with younger children will start coming to your parish as well.  I know my current parish had very few young people in it until just a couple of years ago and we've now had quite the baby boom.  In any case, best wishes to you and your family. 
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« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2009, 03:04:43 PM »

I would advise against splitting up time between the parishes.  I'm not suggesting you would, but it's very easy to get into disputes about "well, we do such-and-such this way over at x church." 
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« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2009, 03:39:30 PM »

I would advise against splitting up time between the parishes.  I'm not suggesting you would, but it's very easy to get into disputes about "well, we do such-and-such this way over at x church." 
Yes. That has also crossed my mind. I am thinking that it would be better to stay with one parish and dedicate what little time I have to that parish. My child's growth in the Holy Orthodox faith is my top priority. It looks like I may be coming to the Antiochian Church.
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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2009, 05:42:16 PM »

Instead of leaving, have you thought of starting an Evangelism committee at your parish?
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2009, 06:29:43 PM »

It might be worth looking into having pan-Orthodox activities between the two (or more, if your area has several churches). That way everyone can mingle without having to choose a new parish. 
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2009, 06:38:28 PM »

Take o nthe Wisdom of Solomon. Go to the AOC parish and get involved- for your daugherr. I am sure your OCA priest will understand. And also, go back and help put from time to time at the OCA parish. I am an active member of a vibrant AOC parish, but visit a nearby ACROD parish, populated by many seniors, from time to time to help out there, usually not on Sunday. It works!
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2009, 06:52:37 PM »

Sounds like the relationship with your priest and your dedication to your current parish is priceless. I have a little girl the same age and we attend a parish that is very similar to what you have described your parish as, and I feel that she will learn more about her faith in the piety and sacrifice of the few members at our parish then at any large parish Sunday school. Perhaps you and our wife could teach lessons to your daughter using the OCA curriculm here: http://dce.oca.org/ . God willing, when she gets older she can join the other parish for whatever big events they hold for children and young people.

Try not to split time between two parishes it becomes very difficult and it will be compounded because the parishes are on two different calendars. BTW, the calendar issue is a huge deal for me and it would prevent me from moving.

I pray for you and your current parish.
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« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2009, 09:56:41 AM »

Sounds like the relationship with your priest and your dedication to your current parish is priceless. I have a little girl the same age and we attend a parish that is very similar to what you have described your parish as, and I feel that she will learn more about her faith in the piety and sacrifice of the few members at our parish then at any large parish Sunday school. Perhaps you and our wife could teach lessons to your daughter using the OCA curriculm here: http://dce.oca.org/ . God willing, when she gets older she can join the other parish for whatever big events they hold for children and young people.

Try not to split time between two parishes it becomes very difficult and it will be compounded because the parishes are on two different calendars. BTW, the calendar issue is a huge deal for me and it would prevent me from moving.

I pray for you and your current parish.
Thank you for your prayers. I continue to waffle back and forth. My current parish is very old and has many problems. From what my priest tells me, it has been very dysfunctional for decades. Having said that, he is the best spiritual father and confessor I have ever had. This issue is tearing my soul apart.   And yes, the calendar issue is huge for me---but not so much for my wife.
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« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2009, 11:19:56 AM »

I am single so have little wisdom here; could you arrainge to have your child attend Sunday school in the Antiochian parish perhaps once a month  or so to fill his/her needs to be with other Orthodox children?
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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2009, 01:00:50 PM »

I am single so have little wisdom here; could you arrainge to have your child attend Sunday school in the Antiochian parish perhaps once a month  or so to fill his/her needs to be with other Orthodox children?
She is craving interaction with other children. And I think it is vitally important, even at this age, that she have ample interaction with other Orthodox children. Knowing my daughter, if she would get a taste of this one time, she would want to go every week.
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« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2009, 03:34:32 PM »

I am single so have little wisdom here; could you arrainge to have your child attend Sunday school in the Antiochian parish perhaps once a month  or so to fill his/her needs to be with other Orthodox children?
She is craving interaction with other children. And I think it is vitally important, even at this age, that she have ample interaction with other Orthodox children. Knowing my daughter, if she would get a taste of this one time, she would want to go every week.
What about you and your wife switching off say once a month taking your daughter and attending the Antiochian liturgy and have your little daughter attend the Sunday school or child care programs there. This way you maintain your commitment to your parish, never stop attending (although one spouse will be away once a month with your child) and perhaps get around your dilemma. Hope I am being of some help, God bless & gotta run.
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« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2009, 07:01:02 PM »

If you discussed the situation with your priest and your family I'm sure he would understand and I'll bet you guys could work up a compromise that would benefit everyone.
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« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2009, 11:21:54 AM »

Thank you for your input ortho_cat and recent convert.  I have been giving this much discernment all week (actually for about one year now).  I attended a Bible study at the Antiocian Church this week.  The priest is very humble and brilliant!  The Church has an emphasis on teaching the children at every level.  There is also an active missions ministry.  I will be attending vespers there on Saturday.  I will talk to my current priest on Sunday. I cannot see a compromise at this time.  I am a person that must be rooted at one parish and then dedicate myself to that parish. I will also not split the family up--not even once per month.  We must always be together as a family. It will be very difficult to tell this to my current priest, but I feel there is no other choice.  And although I will terribly miss being on the Julian Calendar, I cannot allow it to influence how I make decisions for the welfare of my child.

God bless.
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« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 05:25:12 PM »

Wait a minute, you didn't say anything about the OCA church being Old Calendar (or maybe you did).  That, I think, should also be taken into account.
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« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2009, 06:43:24 PM »

What is switching between Julian and Old Calendar such a big deal? Excuse my ignorance.
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« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2009, 06:48:45 PM »

Actually, I meant to put a winking icon next to my post, indicating jest, but it didn't show up.

Ortho_cat, there are plenty of discussions on this board debating the old calendar/new calendar "controversy."  I don't want to start a new one here as that is not really the OP's intent.  Again, I was just trying to be a wise-butt.  Grin
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« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2009, 07:04:39 PM »

Ok I see. For me it doesn't make one bit of difference really.
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« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2009, 10:10:18 AM »

Peronally, I prefer the old calendar primarily because of the Feast of the Nativity.  When all the tinsel and commercialism of Dec 25th has passed, there are 13 days to prepare for the true meaning of the Feast without any distractions.  But it is not enough of a reason for us to limit ourselves of options that may be most beneficial for our child.

Having said that, we visited the Antiochian Church for Liturgy and it was a wonderful experience. Our daughter was filled with more joy than I have ever seen her at Church. I think we have found a new home.
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« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2009, 10:50:13 AM »

I am new around here, but would like to add my 2 cents. 

First, as with all hard decisions pray and quietly listen to all suggestions, although I think you already have, but keep it up.

My advice, is to do what is best for your daughter.  Personally, I believe your daughter will learn the most about the Orthodox faith by the way you and your wife live it, how you participate in the Orthodox community (your parish), and how you do this also at home.

One thing that needs to be looked at is how she sees your parish.  Look at it through eyes.  Will what she sees be a community that looks like it is just trying to preserve something, or a community that is living something?

May the grace of the Holy Spirit help you in you decision.  Also, attending two parishes  is not a bad thing, but your family will not get to participate fully in both.
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« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2009, 11:25:23 AM »

Peronally, I prefer the old calendar primarily because of the Feast of the Nativity.  When all the tinsel and commercialism of Dec 25th has passed, there are 13 days to prepare for the true meaning of the Feast without any distractions.  But it is not enough of a reason for us to limit ourselves of options that may be most beneficial for our child.

Having said that, we visited the Antiochian Church for Liturgy and it was a wonderful experience. Our daughter was filled with more joy than I have ever seen her at Church. I think we have found a new home.

My family goes to a new calendar parish and we get around the commercialization of Christmas by exchanging gifts on St. Nicholas Day instead.  Our kids still get to open packages and then we have 19 days to focus on the Nativity.  So far it's worked out very well, but then our kids are two and 2 months. Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2009, 11:53:56 AM »

We faced a similar decision several years ago, unfortunately, the priest of our old parish got very angry when I said we would be attending the other parish for Sunday school.

It had been out intention to continue to attend our old parish on those days when our children weren't in Sunday school but he insisted that we had to choose one or the other.

Our children are very happy at our new parish home where they can share their faith with children their own age. They've made many very good friends there.
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« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2009, 01:49:41 PM »

I am new around here, but would like to add my 2 cents. 

First, as with all hard decisions pray and quietly listen to all suggestions, although I think you already have, but keep it up.

My advice, is to do what is best for your daughter.  Personally, I believe your daughter will learn the most about the Orthodox faith by the way you and your wife live it, how you participate in the Orthodox community (your parish), and how you do this also at home.

One thing that needs to be looked at is how she sees your parish.  Look at it through eyes.  Will what she sees be a community that looks like it is just trying to preserve something, or a community that is living something?

May the grace of the Holy Spirit help you in you decision.  Also, attending two parishes  is not a bad thing, but your family will not get to participate fully in both.

You are very wise. You hit the nail on the head. The OCA parish is a dying community, and the AO Church is thriving with children and zeal and love (this is my early impression). You are also correct about home life. Prayers and Orthodox study materials are par for the course at home.  Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2009, 01:50:50 PM »

My family goes to a new calendar parish and we get around the commercialization of Christmas by exchanging gifts on St. Nicholas Day instead.  Our kids still get to open packages and then we have 19 days to focus on the Nativity.  So far it's worked out very well, but then our kids are two and 2 months. Smiley
Yes, we also do the St Nicholas thing. We will adapt.  Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2009, 01:52:19 PM »

We faced a similar decision several years ago, unfortunately, the priest of our old parish got very angry when I said we would be attending the other parish for Sunday school.
Sadly, our (former) pastor was not pleased.  Sad
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