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Author Topic: Paying for Orthodox Baptism?  (Read 12147 times) Average Rating: 0
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theotokos
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« Reply #45 on: January 16, 2010, 08:05:56 PM »

Maybe he meant churches that were expensive to build.
I hope... Smiley
Haha, of course I meant rich temples! Wink

Explain it in more detail please, what do you mean by rich temples, rich of what?
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« Reply #46 on: January 17, 2010, 03:04:31 AM »


...recently, the Russian Government made a 100 million dollars public donation to the Moscow Patriarchate, as their "christmas payment".

This is a double-edged sword and one the Church has been quite ambivalent about.  While the State has returned thousands of churches to the Russian Church for worship the State has retained ownership.   The State has been repairing them and bringing them up to a wonderful standard.  The State has been doing this all over the country and it has not cost the Church a rouble.  It has been compensation for the decades of Socialist destruction.

Now the State is beginning to hand over the title deeds of all these churches to the Church.   The immense burden of restoring and maintaining them will now fall on the shoulders of the Church itself.   The $100 million Christmas present was the State's contribution towards the costs it is now unloading on the Church.

Quote
And that's not all, they receive millions of euros from organizations such as UNESCO, to keep the churches and places considered "patrimony of humanity"
 

Thank you for pointing this out.  It proves that an immense amount of money IS needed to keep churches well maintained and working.  It justifies churches expecting and receiving donations for weddings and funerals.

-oOo-

This news article below confirms what I am saying that until now the Church has been using the restored churches "free of charge."

Russia may return churches seized in 1917

MOSCOW, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The Russian government wants to return property seized from the Orthodox church more than 90 years ago, an official says.

While a bill being written by the Economics Ministry would apply to all religious property, the Russian Orthodox Church, the country's dominant religion for centuries, is expected to be the major beneficiary, RIA Novosti reported.

The ministry has been working on the legislation since 2000. But Andrei Sebentsov, secretary of the commission on religious organizations, said a meeting Wednesday made considerable progress on the bill.

"We agreed to remove all weak points in it by February," he said.

Religious groups now use facilities owned by the government free of charge. The Economics Ministry sees their return to the church as a cost-saving measure.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, about 100 of the 16,000 Orthodox churches and cathedrals seized after the 1917 revolution have been returned. About 4,000 mosques and 70 synagogues would also be returned.

The bill would not apply to St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow and other facilities listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.



« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 03:06:05 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #47 on: January 17, 2010, 07:04:31 PM »

This topic is what disturbed me the most about my early Orthodox experiences, and is one of the things that caused me to leave the particular SCOBA church where I entered Orthodoxy.  My father was a Lutheran pastor, and we spent much of the time that he was in the seminary, and at his first parish, very poor.  But God saw to it that we lacked none of the necessities of life.  My father would accept no donations for weddings, baptisms and the like.  If the people gave him money, he would either put it in the General Fund, or give it to someone worse off than we were.  He WOULD accept monetary gifts from people OUTSIDE of fulfilling the duties of his office (such as Christmas gifts and the like).  When I entered into Orthodoxy, the first thing that struck me as odd was that offerings were taken up during the Liturgy.  This did not seem right, and disrupted the flow of the service.  Later, I was told that I had to pay for my Chrismation certificates if I wanted them (something NEVER done with baptisms in the Lutheran Churches that I attended, LCMS or WELS). 

The final straw came with the paying of dues to belong to the parish.  To me, this relegated the Church to nothing more than a club.  I have always been taught to support my Church and its leaders, but I have also been taught that it should come from the heart.  This is religion and not commerce (although I have come to find out that there is really not a lot of difference anymore).  It was refreshing when I attended another parish in a non-SCOBA Church and saw their indifference to money.  An alms box and candles were in the Narthex, and one put in them what one was compelled by the Spirit to give.  No offering was taken during the Liturgy, and one of the monks seemed scandalized when I told him that it was a practice in my former Church.  What really blew me away was when I asked the priest where I should send my offerings (since I lived quite far away from this parish), he asked me "Is there nothing in your home town that needs your attention?"  Since I could not attend this parish often, he encouraged me to find something in my home town to support!  This is not a rich parish by any means, but I saw in it the example that I had always been taught in my youth.

The practice of paying for Sacraments is disgusting to me.  So is the practice of a parish not taking care of its Priest, if it is able to do so.  The poorer parishes in my Church expect their pastors to have employment outside of the Church to supplement their pay (as Paul supplemented his pay as a tent maker).  But I have yet to hear anyone from my Church tell me - priest, monk, or layman, that additional money was expected for blessings and Sacraments.  And when an additional donation is made, I have been told to place it in the alms box in the front of the Church, where it will be used for what is most necessary.

As I have gotten older, my wife and I have decided to start attending some of the local parishes again, particularly since the relationship between my Church and SCOBA has thawed, somewhat.  I will support those Churches financially because my heart compels me to do so.  However, I will NOT join them as a member.  Hell will freeze before I pay dues to belong to a Church. 
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« Reply #48 on: January 18, 2010, 12:32:57 AM »

When I entered into Orthodoxy, the first thing that struck me as odd was that offerings were taken up during the Liturgy.  This did not seem right, and disrupted the flow of the service.

I see you are in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  Our custom is to take the plate round the church during one of the Ektenias after the Gospel.

Quote
The final straw came with the paying of dues to belong to the parish.  To me, this relegated the Church to nothing more than a club.

In the Russian Church Abroad you must pay your annual dues to have the right to speak at Parish Meetings and to vote.  If you do not pay you may normally attend but may not vote.  Annual dues are set very low - in our parishes (New Zealand) at $20 per household and $10 for unwaged.  In Australia parishes ask for $70 a family.  Compare that with the $800 per person per annum with the synagogue next door to me!

Quote
  I have always been taught to support my Church and its leaders, but I have also been taught that it should come from the heart.
   

If you read the article by the ROCA priest Fr Alexander Lebedeff you will see that the level of compensation paid to ROCA priests is, frankly, abysmal.

https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A2=ind0006A&L=ORTHODOX&P=R8636

"....The fact is that with very few exceptions the clergy of the Church Abroad
receive a salary that is so far below the poverty line, that all of these
clergymen and their families would be easily eligible for welfare...."


Quote
An alms box and candles were in the Narthex, and one put in them what one was compelled by the Spirit to give.

Candles MUST be paid for.  Why?  Because they, in a sense, continue the Old Testament way of making a whole burnt offering.  Would you, as a Hebrew, have expected to walk into the temple and pick up a dove for free and take it into the temple to be sacrificed?

Quote
  No offering was taken duringthe Liturgy, and one of the monks seemed scandalized when I told him that it was a practice in my former Church.

Must be a convert who has never experienced parish life?

Quote
But I have yet to hear anyone from my Church tell me - priest, monk, or layman, that additional money was expected for blessings and Sacraments.
 
You are in a ROCA parish?  Most unusual.  Talk to some people on the Parish Council about this.  To my knowledege all parishes expect a donation when the church is used for such as weddings and funerals and what Chrisitian worth his salt would not want to give the priest a few dollars when he comes round to bless the house?  Theophany tomorrow by the way.

Quote
to do so.  However, I will NOT join them as a member.  Hell will freeze before I pay dues to belong to a Church. 

So you are not a full member of your ROCA parish but a visitor who may not participate in AGMs and such like?
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ialmisry
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« Reply #49 on: January 18, 2010, 01:25:35 AM »

This topic is what disturbed me the most about my early Orthodox experiences, and is one of the things that caused me to leave the particular SCOBA church where I entered Orthodoxy.  My father was a Lutheran pastor, and we spent much of the time that he was in the seminary, and at his first parish, very poor.  But God saw to it that we lacked none of the necessities of life.  My father would accept no donations for weddings, baptisms and the like.  If the people gave him money, he would either put it in the General Fund, or give it to someone worse off than we were.  He WOULD accept monetary gifts from people OUTSIDE of fulfilling the duties of his office (such as Christmas gifts and the like).  When I entered into Orthodoxy, the first thing that struck me as odd was that offerings were taken up during the Liturgy.  This did not seem right, and disrupted the flow of the service.  Later, I was told that I had to pay for my Chrismation certificates if I wanted them (something NEVER done with baptisms in the Lutheran Churches that I attended, LCMS or WELS). 

The final straw came with the paying of dues to belong to the parish.  To me, this relegated the Church to nothing more than a club.  I have always been taught to support my Church and its leaders, but I have also been taught that it should come from the heart.  This is religion and not commerce (although I have come to find out that there is really not a lot of difference anymore).  It was refreshing when I attended another parish in a non-SCOBA Church and saw their indifference to money.  An alms box and candles were in the Narthex, and one put in them what one was compelled by the Spirit to give.  No offering was taken during the Liturgy, and one of the monks seemed scandalized when I told him that it was a practice in my former Church.  What really blew me away was when I asked the priest where I should send my offerings (since I lived quite far away from this parish), he asked me "Is there nothing in your home town that needs your attention?"  Since I could not attend this parish often, he encouraged me to find something in my home town to support!  This is not a rich parish by any means, but I saw in it the example that I had always been taught in my youth.

The practice of paying for Sacraments is disgusting to me.  So is the practice of a parish not taking care of its Priest, if it is able to do so.  The poorer parishes in my Church expect their pastors to have employment outside of the Church to supplement their pay (as Paul supplemented his pay as a tent maker).  But I have yet to hear anyone from my Church tell me - priest, monk, or layman, that additional money was expected for blessings and Sacraments.  And when an additional donation is made, I have been told to place it in the alms box in the front of the Church, where it will be used for what is most necessary.

As I have gotten older, my wife and I have decided to start attending some of the local parishes again, particularly since the relationship between my Church and SCOBA has thawed, somewhat.  I will support those Churches financially because my heart compels me to do so.  However, I will NOT join them as a member.  Hell will freeze before I pay dues to belong to a Church. 
To see why dues etc. are set up, one need only look in Chicago at the Vatican's parishes in the city and in the suburbs. One gets the impression that the Archdiocese is loosing members, but such is not the case.  What does happen is the younger families go out to the suburbs to parishes there, and then come back to the "home parish" only for baptisms, weddings and funerals.  You can't run a Church on the attendence from baptisms, weddings and funerals only, and hence why the parishes wither.  A counter example is St. Mary of the Angels:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Mary_of_the_Angels_in_Chicago
It was slated for demonlition, but the parish protested and asked for a year to prove they could raise funds etc. to repair and upkeep the church, which they did.  Now, after considerable outreach and expansion and change of neighborhood (gentrification), the church is on fine footing.

It might seem unseemy, but someone has to pay the bills.

No one should be charged for the Holy Mysteries, much less be deprived of them based on pay, but it is nice to have some guidelines on what to contribute to the Church. Some people want to, but have no idea.

When I had some icons and my cross blessed at St. George's in Constantinople, IIRC the priest asked for a donation.  Then he gave it back because he thought I didn't know how much Turkish money was worth (I gave him 10x what he was expecting: given that my finances were OK and the Patriarch's are not, I counted it a splurge). He took it only after much insistence from me (he had spent a great deal of time getting prayers and the office for the specific type of icon I brought).
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« Reply #50 on: January 18, 2010, 02:31:15 AM »

Would you, as a Hebrew, have expected to walk into the temple and pick up a dove for free and take it into the temple to be sacrificed?

Do you seriously want to bring the money changers into this?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 02:32:01 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #51 on: January 18, 2010, 02:43:57 AM »

Would you, as a Hebrew, have expected to walk into the temple and pick up a dove for free and take it into the temple to be sacrificed?

Do you seriously want to bring the money changers into this?

Instead of exchanging your dollar note for a candle to burn, I suppose you could burn the note where people place candles.  Probably better if it is a candle box with sand though (usually the case in Serbian churches.)   Alternatively you could burn the money outside the church?   The point is the principle that something must be offered and sacrified.  Money or a candle.   I imagine the kids will start to watch for your arrival at church!    laugh
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 02:44:36 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #52 on: January 18, 2010, 03:18:29 AM »

The point is the principle that something must be offered and sacrificed.

Like our lives?
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« Reply #53 on: January 18, 2010, 03:23:38 AM »

The point is the principle that something must be offered and sacrificed.

Like our lives?

Would not recommend immolating yourself in the parish churchyard.  Leave that to Thai Buddhists!  Stay with candle immolation.


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints

« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 03:33:13 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #54 on: January 18, 2010, 03:27:09 AM »

Do you seriously want to bring the money changers into this?

Yeah, well there are some discrepancies between the stories, but based on Mark's version, I think Jesus was just having a bad day when the money changers incident happened. Just look at what he did to that poor tree, it wasn't even the season for figs and he got all angry about it. (Mk. 11:12-21) Even a God-man has bad days from time to time.
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« Reply #55 on: January 18, 2010, 07:52:48 AM »

Irish Hermit - I won't answer your response point by point because I don't have time this morning before work, but these few points should address all of the points you made.

1. I have always given an offering in any Church that I attend.  Perhaps what I give from my heart exceeds what is expected, hence the reason that I have not had the parish goon squad visit me at night :-)

2. I try give enough in my weekly offerings that I do not feel the need to pay more for each individual action.  I don't have a problem with donating to the Priest, I don't like to be told to.  The former, to me, is religion, the latter is commerce, and I don't deal in selling religion.

3. The ROCOR parish where I attend does NOT take up offering during the Liturgy.

4. I have absolutely NO desire to get involved in parish politics, and do not attend parish meetings and the like.  I go to Church to pray.  I got burnt out on the "parish life" growing up as a pastor's son, and found it to be the biggest source of negative vibes when I became Orthodox.

5. Of course I pay for the candles.  I put in the box what I think my prayers are worth to me.  However, if you want to mark your candle at $0.50, I guess that is what I'll give you (at this point it becomes commerce to me).  If you have them sitting there, I think a minimum of $20.00 for what I take is appropriate for my salary and for what I am asking.  I have often had to bring my own because I will not burn paraffin as an offering to God.  Yes, I still put money in the candle box when I do (btw - SCOBA Churches and rare.  Even the one that had paraffin candles has converted to bee's wax).

6. If the above makes me a "guest" of the Orthodox Church, so be it.  I have enough to answer for on the last day, one more thing will not make that much difference.

I hope this addresses some of your points.  If not, we can discuss them further this evening when I get home.
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« Reply #56 on: January 18, 2010, 08:14:24 AM »

Irish Hermit - I won't answer your response point by point because I don't have time this morning before work, but these few points should address all of the points you made.

1. I have always given an offering in any Church that I attend.  Perhaps what I give from my heart exceeds what is expected, hence the reason that I have not had the parish goon squad visit me at night :-)

2. I try give enough in my weekly offerings that I do not feel the need to pay more for each individual action.  I don't have a problem with donating to the Priest, I don't like to be told to.  The former, to me, is religion, the latter is commerce, and I don't deal in selling religion.

3. The ROCOR parish where I attend does NOT take up offering during the Liturgy.

4. I have absolutely NO desire to get involved in parish politics, and do not attend parish meetings and the like.  I go to Church to pray.  I got burnt out on the "parish life" growing up as a pastor's son, and found it to be the biggest source of negative vibes when I became Orthodox.

5. Of course I pay for the candles.  I put in the box what I think my prayers are worth to me.  However, if you want to mark your candle at $0.50, I guess that is what I'll give you (at this point it becomes commerce to me).  If you have them sitting there, I think a minimum of $20.00 for what I take is appropriate for my salary and for what I am asking.  I have often had to bring my own because I will not burn paraffin as an offering to God.  Yes, I still put money in the candle box when I do (btw - SCOBA Churches and rare.  Even the one that had paraffin candles has converted to bee's wax).

6. If the above makes me a "guest" of the Orthodox Church, so be it.  I have enough to answer for on the last day, one more thing will not make that much difference.

I hope this addresses some of your points.  If not, we can discuss them further this evening when I get home.

I can sympathize with your desire to be untrammeled by money in your relationship with your parish but what you seem to be doing is saying, I'll do it my way and no other way.  You are paying no attention to what the Orthodox have done traditionally and for many centuries.   There is also a feeling that the ordinary parishioner who conforms with the practices of his brotherrs and sisters in the parish smells a little less 'spiritual.'  It also smells like an attack on the priests and bishops and your fellow parishioners since they allow prices to be marked for candles, prosfirki, etc. and you call that "commerce."  I am just not sure what to make of your way of thinking.

The Normal Parish By-Laws of the Russian Church Abroad apply universally across the globe and here is what they say about parish dues and the criteria for parish membership....

PART III
(Parishioners and Parish Members.)


11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/regulations/parishlaws.html


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints

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« Reply #57 on: January 18, 2010, 08:17:01 AM »

Not really aimed at you, but just to throw some thoughts out:
Irish Hermit - I won't answer your response point by point because I don't have time this morning before work, but these few points should address all of the points you made.

1. I have always given an offering in any Church that I attend.  Perhaps what I give from my heart exceeds what is expected, hence the reason that I have not had the parish goon squad visit me at night :-)

2. I try give enough in my weekly offerings that I do not feel the need to pay more for each individual action.  I don't have a problem with donating to the Priest, I don't like to be told to.  The former, to me, is religion, the latter is commerce, and I don't deal in selling religion.

3. The ROCOR parish where I attend does NOT take up offering during the Liturgy.

4. I have absolutely NO desire to get involved in parish politics, and do not attend parish meetings and the like.  I go to Church to pray.  I got burnt out on the "parish life" growing up as a pastor's son, and found it to be the biggest source of negative vibes when I became Orthodox.

My parish is rather boring, as there is neither parish politics nor gossiping.  Yet the parish meetings are still held (and the priest insists on attendance) because things like repairing the roof, paying for renovation of the basement, etc. not to mention the priorities of missions to donate to, have to be attended to.  they don't work themselves out of their own accord.  It is not unreasonable that those voting on the parish finances have a financial stake in the matters.  Our parish pays dues, but doesn't assess them, so we are odd there.  



Quote
5. Of course I pay for the candles.  I put in the box what I think my prayers are worth to me.  However, if you want to mark your candle at $0.50, I guess that is what I'll give you (at this point it becomes commerce to me). 

Well so be it: I myself have no idea what a candle would cost me if I went to the store to buy it.  So I like to know at least what amount is at cost for the Church for a candle, so I can match it and then some, besides what other offering I have.


Quote
If you have them sitting there, I think a minimum of $20.00 for what I take is appropriate for my salary and for what I am asking.  I have often had to bring my own because I will not burn paraffin as an offering to God.  Yes, I still put money in the candle box when I do (btw - SCOBA Churches and rare.  Even the one that had paraffin candles has converted to bee's wax).

6. If the above makes me a "guest" of the Orthodox Church, so be it.  I have enough to answer for on the last day, one more thing will not make that much difference.

Thinking about the Last Things are fine, but we have to worry in the meantime for the Church's upkeep.


Quote
I hope this addresses some of your points.  If not, we can discuss them further this evening when I get home.
I won't be able to: got to spend more time on other things, less time here.
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« Reply #58 on: January 18, 2010, 11:34:01 AM »


(1) I can sympathize with your desire to be untrammeled by money in your relationship with your parish but what you seem to be doing is saying, I'll do it my way and no other way.  (2) You are paying no attention to what the Orthodox have done traditionally and for many centuries.   (3) There is also a feeling that the ordinary parishioner who conforms with the practices of his brotherrs and sisters in the parish smells a little less 'spiritual.'  (4) It also smells like an attack on the priests and bishops and your fellow parishioners since they allow prices to be marked for candles, prosfirki, etc. and you call that "commerce."  (5) I am just not sure what to make of your way of thinking.


Taking a break at work.  Thank you for your answer (and ialmisry, too). 

(1) Not quite true.  A late Serbian Priest told me that this was acceptable.  As with all of my decisions in life, I consider this one "for now", even though this has been my path for most of the last 15 years.  Who knows, tomorrow I may be shown a completely different path.

(2) In my experience, most Orthodox don't seem to pay attention to what the Orthodox have done for centuries.  I guess that if I had to pick and choose among traditions, I would choose some different ones than charging money to belong to the Body of Christ.

(3) Quite the contrary.  I don't worry about other people's sprituallity, nor do I justify or condemn an act based on how many people do it.  There are many kinds of "spirituality", and I am not the judge of which is best.  I follow my concience and assume that others follow theirs.  I keep in mind the parable of the workers in the field, and those who were paid the same for one hour of work as those who worked all day.  They each got what they agreed to.  I see "spirituality" the same way.  God has put a certain burden on my heart, and I must obey that burden to the extent that I am able.  How he has bound others is not my concern, nor is how they are rewarded.  If asked, I will explain my position.  But I usually do not walk up to a person of a given parish and start the conversation with matters of which I disagree.

(4) Attack?  Not really.  I see it more as a fact, and a practice of which I disagree.  I am in no particular mood to go through the Church with a whip, or nail documents to the door.  If selling candles and such is not commerce, what is it?  I define as one's gift to God through giving to His Church to be offerings, since the are "offered" by the giver from his heart.  When a price tag is put on it and demanded, it is no longer an offering, but commerce.

(5) You can certainly be forgiven for that, since I myself am not always sure what to make of my line of thinking.  I am not cradle Orthodox, but rather a repenting heretic.  Perhaps, as you say, I am just a guest of the Church, which is one reason that I do not embrace a particular parish as I perhaps should.  It was rather traumatic for me to find that I had been lied to for 30 some odd years of my life, and by those whom I trusted most.  What is more, to find that they really did not intend to lie, but had themselves been decieved, also affected my line of thinking.  I don't intend to let that happen again.  Given the history of the Church, and the fact that most heresies have come from the clergy, I am not prepared to go against my concience simply because a group of people have been doing it, even if those people are priests and bishops.  I have spent most of my life studying the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Lives of the Saints.  I have done this with the prayer that God show me the Truth, and I believe that He has answered my prayer by bringing me to the Orthodox Church.  What has been distressing, to a point, are the number of "Orthodox Churches" and the wide variety of what they teach (beyond the core beliefs).  So, I tend to be a bit cautious before I swallow something hook, line and sinker.  On the other hand, I do listen, and your comments and teaching are not wasted on me, as your words will be carefully considered and dwelled upon.  I do not doubt that God speaks to me through His Word, the Church and the Clergy.  I do doubt my abilty to always understand what He is saying, so I am, by nature, cautious.

Ialmisry - I do not disagree with your position in whole.  What confuses me is that for my entire time in the Lutheran Church (including multiple parishes since we moved around a lot when I was younger), we had no dues and charged nothing for sacraments.  Yet, we seemed to manage to take care of our clergy and have the Church's needs attended to.  And this was true even in poor areas.  To what would you attribute this?  For my part, and based on my experience only, I have found that people give more generously when they are taught to give than when they are compelled to give.  Perhaps I am wrong in this - but it is difficult for me to reject my experiences in this matter.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this matter, as it really does bother me a great deal.
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« Reply #59 on: January 18, 2010, 11:58:30 AM »

Ialmisry - I do not disagree with your position in whole.  What confuses me is that for my entire time in the Lutheran Church (including multiple parishes since we moved around a lot when I was younger), we had no dues and charged nothing for sacraments.  Yet, we seemed to manage to take care of our clergy and have the Church's needs attended to.  And this was true even in poor areas.  To what would you attribute this?  For my part, and based on my experience only, I have found that people give more generously when they are taught to give than when they are compelled to give.  Perhaps I am wrong in this - but it is difficult for me to reject my experiences in this matter.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this matter, as it really does bother me a great deal.

I too come from a Lutheran background in the US. A couple of things different between them and us: the Lutherans were more established way back when in comparison to the Orthodox.  The Church of Sweden had some support for some time in the East, and the first speaker of the US House of Representatives, Frederick Muhlenberg, was otherwise involved with the other Founding Fathers, while also involved in getting the Lutheran church of America organized. In contrast, the Orthodox have never become part of the "Establishment" (the Orthodox who do tend to go Episcopalian to fit in.  Look at Spyro Agnew).  The Lutherans also got eased into not depending on State support: the Orthodox had to go cold turkey. Then there is the issue of cost: take your typical Lutheran communion service, which takes place only periodically, how much does it really cost for services etc?  When I went, the vestments were all plain black and white. The Orthodox ones are a bit more. No candles, a minimum of decoration.  The biggest budget item (and a worthy one) among the Lutherans was Sunday School materials.  And I do recall a collection plate.

I agree that a higher priority should be on teaching to give. There are many who will spend thousands for the reception hall, but give nothing for the use of the Church.
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« Reply #60 on: January 18, 2010, 02:28:43 PM »

I guess that if I had to pick and choose among traditions, I would choose some different ones than charging money to belong to the Body of Christ.

That is incorrect and I am sure you know it.  Nobody is charged to belong to the Body of Christ, no more than your donations on a Sunday is buying you Holy Communion.

Again, you are expressing a (probably unwitting) contempt for the bishops of your Church who drew up the Norrmal Parish By-Laws and laid down that parish members must pay their annual dues.   Speak to your bishop about your idea that he is charging you money to belong to the Body of Christ,  I am sure he has a different view and will try to set you straight.

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The Normal Parish By-Laws of the Russian Church Abroad apply universally across the globe and here is what they say about parish dues and the criteria for parish membership....

PART III
(Parishioners and Parish Members.)

11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/regulations/parishlaws.html


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See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints




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« Reply #61 on: January 18, 2010, 03:13:57 PM »

I had actually been baptized for a few years until I even heard of paying membership dues in order to belong to a parish! I had no concept of the idea and no one told me such a thing existed. I consider myself unable to pay such dues as I have no job and no income presently. I can barely afford to buy even one candle when I go to church, because I have to spend over 5 dollars just on the round trip to church. Then there is an offering, then there is a meal that must be paid for after the service and then there is money to put down if you participate in a moleben and also for the lists of names during the liturgy. I know it costs money to operate the church, but if you have no income this type of spending can be very draining indeed.

Another thing that bothers me is the obvious fact of favouritism which results when there are wealthy parish patrons and then poor people like me who can't even afford membership. With human nature the way it is, it's very easy for priests to be more attentive to the rich people than to the poor.
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« Reply #62 on: January 18, 2010, 03:29:02 PM »

Quote
Another thing that bothers me is the obvious fact of favouritism which results when there are wealthy parish patrons and then poor people like me who can't even afford membership. With human nature the way it is, it's very easy for priests to be more attentive to the rich people than to the poor.

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« Reply #63 on: January 18, 2010, 03:30:08 PM »

I know it costs money to operate the church, but if you have no income this type of spending can be very draining indeed.


Everybody's financial situation is different of course,  Down here we ask $10 a year from an unwaged person for their parish dues.  That works out to 19c per week which ought to be possible for everybody.  Do you know what your own parish would ask?
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« Reply #64 on: January 18, 2010, 03:41:21 PM »

Quote
Do you know what your own parish would ask?


Father, the $10 per year sounds very reasonable. I wasn't aware of such an option. The monthly dues aren't very much at my parish, last I checked, but still too much for me. I'll have to see if the option you mention exists. We have a very huge parish school and I think the parish generates a fair bit of income from that venture (though I could be wrong).

Yes, Asteriktos, that verse from James often goes through my mind, and it is a very, very real problem unfortunately. Cry
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« Reply #65 on: January 18, 2010, 03:45:40 PM »

Father, the $10 per year sounds very reasonable. I wasn't aware of such an option. The monthly dues aren't very much at my parish, last I checked, but still too much for me. I'll have to see if the option you mention exists. We have a very huge parish school and I think the parish generates a fair bit of income from that venture (though I could be wrong).


If you pay your parish dues you ought to receive an annual statement of accounts at the time of the AGM.   That ought to sbow details of income from the school.
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« Reply #66 on: January 18, 2010, 03:47:33 PM »

What does AGM stand for?
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« Reply #67 on: January 18, 2010, 03:54:50 PM »

What does AGM stand for?


Annual General Meeting.  Sorry, I don't know what term you use in the States?
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« Reply #68 on: January 18, 2010, 03:59:20 PM »

Thanks! I guess everything is said in Russian at my parish (for the most part) and so I wouldn't even know what it's called in English!
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« Reply #69 on: January 18, 2010, 04:07:32 PM »

Thanks! I guess everything is said in Russian at my parish (for the most part) and so I wouldn't even know what it's called in English!

You could always just ask when the AGM is??
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« Reply #70 on: January 18, 2010, 04:51:11 PM »

I have actually attended one parish council meeting, if that's what you're talking about, but it was very depressing in many ways and so I have stayed away since then.
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« Reply #71 on: January 18, 2010, 08:41:00 PM »

Question  Grin Some sebian churches have bingo night , how about other Orthodox Churches, do you do this also to raise Money curious...
Isn't it considered Gambling ....
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« Reply #72 on: January 19, 2010, 12:59:23 PM »

I guess that if I had to pick and choose among traditions, I would choose some different ones than charging money to belong to the Body of Christ.

That is incorrect and I am sure you know it.  Nobody is charged to belong to the Body of Christ, no more than your donations on a Sunday is buying you Holy Communion.

Again, you are expressing a (probably unwitting) contempt for the bishops of your Church who drew up the Norrmal Parish By-Laws and laid down that parish members must pay their annual dues.   Speak to your bishop about your idea that he is charging you money to belong to the Body of Christ,  I am sure he has a different view and will try to set you straight.

-oOo-

The Normal Parish By-Laws of the Russian Church Abroad apply universally across the globe and here is what they say about parish dues and the criteria for parish membership....

PART III
(Parishioners and Parish Members.)

11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/regulations/parishlaws.html


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints






The more and more that I think of this, and ponder on it, the more I wonder if there is a misunderstanding of terms.  I have NO contempt for my (or any other) Bishops.  On the other hand, I cannot see how compulsory membership dues is NOT charging for membership.  It is one thing to do, as we did in the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church, and tell the people what it costs per year to run the parish and perform all budgeted mission work, and then tell them what that comes to per each member family (informing them, but leaving to their concience as to what they offer), and yet quite another to tell a person "you have to pay $300 per year to belong to this Church".  In the first case, it allows each family to examine their giving and reflect.  For those that already give far above the base, there is no adjustment required.  However, if I am told by my priest that it costs $300 per year to keep the parish afloat, and I am giving less than this, it is a good time to examine my habits and see if my heart is in the right place.  The second case cannot be seen as anything other than purchasing Church membership, at least in any form of English which I am familiar (admitting that English is not my first language).  Without expressing any comtempt for the Bishops who wrote the Bylaws, as I am quite sure that English was not their first language either, I wonder if they really understood what the English word "pay" means - to give money in return for goods or services rendered. 
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« Reply #73 on: January 19, 2010, 01:14:07 PM »

Ialmisry - I do not disagree with your position in whole.  What confuses me is that for my entire time in the Lutheran Church (including multiple parishes since we moved around a lot when I was younger), we had no dues and charged nothing for sacraments.  Yet, we seemed to manage to take care of our clergy and have the Church's needs attended to.  And this was true even in poor areas.  To what would you attribute this?  For my part, and based on my experience only, I have found that people give more generously when they are taught to give than when they are compelled to give.  Perhaps I am wrong in this - but it is difficult for me to reject my experiences in this matter.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this matter, as it really does bother me a great deal.

I too come from a Lutheran background in the US. A couple of things different between them and us: the Lutherans were more established way back when in comparison to the Orthodox.  The Church of Sweden had some support for some time in the East, and the first speaker of the US House of Representatives, Frederick Muhlenberg, was otherwise involved with the other Founding Fathers, while also involved in getting the Lutheran church of America organized. In contrast, the Orthodox have never become part of the "Establishment" (the Orthodox who do tend to go Episcopalian to fit in.  Look at Spyro Agnew).  The Lutherans also got eased into not depending on State support: the Orthodox had to go cold turkey. Then there is the issue of cost: take your typical Lutheran communion service, which takes place only periodically, how much does it really cost for services etc?  When I went, the vestments were all plain black and white. The Orthodox ones are a bit more. No candles, a minimum of decoration.  The biggest budget item (and a worthy one) among the Lutherans was Sunday School materials.  And I do recall a collection plate.

I agree that a higher priority should be on teaching to give. There are many who will spend thousands for the reception hall, but give nothing for the use of the Church.

Very good points.  FWIW - LCMS and WELS churches usually have a communion service every week.  The smaller congregations that have only one service per week commune every other week.  Since wafers and individual cups (when used) are purchased, and since all members normally commune (no confession or vigil), the costs of the average Lutheran service are comperable to the Orthodox.  Offering is a big part of the service, and the service books include a place in the service for collection.  As you state, Sunday School (and Bible Study) items are a huge budget item.  Also, pastor salary minimums are set by the Synod, and a congregation may not be allowed to have its own pastor if they cannot pay him.  I spent a good deal of time Preaching and Teaching as a layman, since the Chairman of the Elders was pretty much in charge when the pastor was not there.  A layman could not give communion, however.  Missions are another large budget item in even the smaller congregations, with the norm being about 10% of the overall budget going toward missions.  A good deal of our expenses were somewhat more discretionary since we spent a lot less on ornamentation.  Vestments were usually donated to the pastor by the Ladies (that is how my father got a lot of his), and there were no Icons and the like.  The only candles were on either side of the altar and a week long candle that was always lit (both budgeted items).  Even as it was, the last WELS Church that I attended was able to operate on a $120,000 per year budget with only around 100 full time members.  There were no dues, and the members covered a broad spectrum of people, mostly working class or middle professionals. 
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« Reply #74 on: January 19, 2010, 07:17:52 PM »

Being a paid-up member of an Orthodox parish allows one to vote at AGMs and the like, but, in no way, prevents you from attending services, receiving Holy Communion, or any other benefit or mystery/sacrament as an Orthodox Christian. In my long life, I have never been a paid-up member of any parish, Slavic or Greek, and I have never been denied anything of Orthodox worship and devotion.
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« Reply #75 on: January 19, 2010, 07:37:59 PM »

In my long life, I have never been a paid-up member of any parish, Slavic or Greek,

Why did you not pay your parish dues?   What benefits do you see from not committing to a parish and not becoming a parishioner who may participate in its governance and parochial decisions on a wide variety of important issues?   This is a "professional" question on my part.   Smiley   I'd really like to understand.
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« Reply #76 on: January 19, 2010, 07:42:47 PM »

Why did you not pay your parish dues?   What benefits do you see from not committing to a parish and not becoming a parishioner who may participate in its governance and parochial decisions on a wide variety of important issues?   This is a "professional" question on my part.   Smiley   I'd really like to understand.

I recently moved parishes and I just saw the membership application the other day. I don't necessarily think the amount is too much, but for my current finances...its alot of money.
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« Reply #77 on: January 19, 2010, 07:51:07 PM »

The Normal Parish By-Laws of the Russian Church Abroad apply universally across the globe and here is what they say about parish dues and the criteria for parish membership....

PART III
(Parishioners and Parish Members.)

11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/regulations/parishlaws.html


The more and more that I think of this, and ponder on it, the more I wonder if there is a misunderstanding of terms.  .......... Without expressing any comtempt for the Bishops who wrote the Bylaws, as I am quite sure that English was not their first language either, I wonder if they really understood what the English word "pay" means - to give money in return for goods or services rendered.  

Here is the Russian version.  

РАЗДЕЛ 3-ий. (Прихожане и члены прихода.)

№ 11. Членами прихода могут быть все лица Православного вероисповедания обоего пола, достигшие 21-летнего возраста, платящие установленные членские взносы, исповедающиеся и причащающиеся Св. Таин не менее одного раза в год и ревнующие о нравственном и материальном благополучии прихода.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/documents/normparishbylaws.html
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« Reply #78 on: January 19, 2010, 07:52:45 PM »

I guess that if I had to pick and choose among traditions, I would choose some different ones than charging money to belong to the Body of Christ.

That is incorrect and I am sure you know it.  Nobody is charged to belong to the Body of Christ, no more than your donations on a Sunday is buying you Holy Communion.

Again, you are expressing a (probably unwitting) contempt for the bishops of your Church who drew up the Norrmal Parish By-Laws and laid down that parish members must pay their annual dues.   Speak to your bishop about your idea that he is charging you money to belong to the Body of Christ,  I am sure he has a different view and will try to set you straight.

-oOo-

The Normal Parish By-Laws of the Russian Church Abroad apply universally across the globe and here is what they say about parish dues and the criteria for parish membership....

PART III
(Parishioners and Parish Members.)

11. All Orthodox Christians of both sexes, regardless of their nationality, who have reached the age of 21 years, who pay the established membership dues, who make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, and who tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish may become parish members.

http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/regulations/parishlaws.html


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints



The more and more that I think of this, and ponder on it, the more I wonder if there is a misunderstanding of terms.  I have NO contempt for my (or any other) Bishops.  On the other hand, I cannot see how compulsory membership dues is NOT charging for membership.  It is one thing to do, as we did in the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church, and tell the people what it costs per year to run the parish and perform all budgeted mission work, and then tell them what that comes to per each member family (informing them, but leaving to their concience as to what they offer), and yet quite another to tell a person "you have to pay $300 per year to belong to this Church".  In the first case, it allows each family to examine their giving and reflect.  For those that already give far above the base, there is no adjustment required.  However, if I am told by my priest that it costs $300 per year to keep the parish afloat, and I am giving less than this, it is a good time to examine my habits and see if my heart is in the right place.

I've expounded on this in the $1,000,000 Stewardship Question Thread.  Feel free to read through what's been posted there and if anything agrees or disagrees with your views, we can discuss them in that thread since what you bring up is different than paying money for Sacraments or giving gifts to Priests above and beyond their salary.

The second case cannot be seen as anything other than purchasing Church membership, at least in any form of English which I am familiar (admitting that English is not my first language).  Without expressing any comtempt for the Bishops who wrote the Bylaws, as I am quite sure that English was not their first language either, I wonder if they really understood what the English word "pay" means - to give money in return for goods or services rendered. 

The early Orthodox Christian immigrants, who were mostly functionally illiterate in both their native language and English, understood paying union dues from coal mining, car manufacturing, et al.  Perhaps the idea of Church dues is an extension of union dues especially if written by Bishops who were not any more literate than their flock.  However, a Priest should never demand upfront payment for a Sacrament nor should a Church post a "menu" listing for Sacraments; however, that is not to say that corruption did exist (and remains) in some Churches.  In Greek, we call such gifts λαδομα (e.g. greasing / oiling).
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« Reply #79 on: January 19, 2010, 07:57:39 PM »

Why did you not pay your parish dues?   What benefits do you see from not committing to a parish and not becoming a parishioner who may participate in its governance and parochial decisions on a wide variety of important issues?   This is a "professional" question on my part.   Smiley   I'd really like to understand.

I recently moved parishes and I just saw the membership application the other day. I don't necessarily think the amount is too much, but for my current finances...its alot of money.

Parishes usually offer two options for parish dues.

1.  The full amount for those who in settled circumstances and working - in our parish this is $20 per annum
      (in Australia this is $70 per annum per household)

2.  A lesser amount for people in difficult circumstances or not working - in our case $10 per year.
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« Reply #80 on: January 19, 2010, 08:03:31 PM »

Of course, if people all followed Punch's way, the parish priest would be in the glorious position of having no Parish Council and no Parish Meetings and he would be free to make all parish decisions on his own.  Hmmm... this is a positive side to non-due paying I had not seen before..... laugh


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See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints

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Father H
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« Reply #81 on: January 19, 2010, 10:41:12 PM »

A few points:

1.  Compulsory (prerequisite) amounts for sacraments are not permitted in the Orthodox Church.  The Mysteries are free
2.  Requested offerings of thanksgiving are frequently and legitimately requested in the Orthodox Church.
3.  There is a difference between "fees" and thanksgiving offerings
4.  As for tithing, the Ukrainian Orthodox Word a few months back had an article about tithing in early Rus.   To say that tithing is not Orthodox and is the invention of former protestants is simply untrue
5.  We are all obligated to support the Church and to pay the priest and his family an adequate amount, for the "laborer is worthy of his wages," as we recently heard in the Gospel reading for the holy 70 Apostles. 
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« Reply #82 on: January 19, 2010, 10:49:29 PM »

Of course, if people all followed Punch's way, the parish priest would be in the glorious position of having no Parish Council and no Parish Meetings and he would be free to make all parish decisions on his own.  Hmmm... this is a positive side to non-due paying I had not seen before..... laugh


Today (19 January) is the commemoration of St. Fillan of Strathfilan
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints



Having read your posts with interest for quite some time, I knew that we would eventually come to agreement.  While I understand that this may not be practical in our modern society, you would find no objection from me.  Also, I thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter.
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Rosehip
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« Reply #83 on: January 19, 2010, 10:49:46 PM »



Quote
4.  As for tithing, the Ukrainian Orthodox Word a few months back had an article about tithing in early Rus.   To say that tithing is not Orthodox and is the invention of former protestants is simply untrue
 


Indeed, Father, I was puzzled about people saying that tithing has no place in Orthodoxy, for I well remember exploring the foundations of a church built in Kyiv by Prince Vladimir, named the "Desyatina Church" (Church built on Tithes), located on Desyatina Street.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 10:51:07 PM by Rosehip » Logged

+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +
Punch
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« Reply #84 on: January 19, 2010, 11:09:36 PM »


I've expounded on this in the $1,000,000 Stewardship Question Thread.  Feel free to read through what's been posted there and if anything agrees or disagrees with your views, we can discuss them in that thread since what you bring up is different than paying money for Sacraments or giving gifts to Priests above and beyond their salary.

The early Orthodox Christian immigrants, who were mostly functionally illiterate in both their native language and English, understood paying union dues from coal mining, car manufacturing, et al.  Perhaps the idea of Church dues is an extension of union dues especially if written by Bishops who were not any more literate than their flock.  However, a Priest should never demand upfront payment for a Sacrament nor should a Church post a "menu" listing for Sacraments; however, that is not to say that corruption did exist (and remains) in some Churches.  In Greek, we call such gifts λαδομα (e.g. greasing / oiling).

Thank you.  I found the thread quite interesting and uplifting, and your commentary on the language seems quite plausible.
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« Reply #85 on: January 19, 2010, 11:12:55 PM »

Why did you not pay your parish dues?   What benefits do you see from not committing to a parish and not becoming a parishioner who may participate in its governance and parochial decisions on a wide variety of important issues?   This is a "professional" question on my part.   Smiley   I'd really like to understand.

I recently moved parishes and I just saw the membership application the other day. I don't necessarily think the amount is too much, but for my current finances...its alot of money.

Parishes usually offer two options for parish dues.

1.  The full amount for those who in settled circumstances and working - in our parish this is $20 per annum
      (in Australia this is $70 per annum per household)

2.  A lesser amount for people in difficult circumstances or not working - in our case $10 per year.

I am starting to understand where you are coming from a bit more. 
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« Reply #86 on: January 19, 2010, 11:58:31 PM »


I've expounded on this in the $1,000,000 Stewardship Question Thread.  Feel free to read through what's been posted there and if anything agrees or disagrees with your views, we can discuss them in that thread since what you bring up is different than paying money for Sacraments or giving gifts to Priests above and beyond their salary.

The early Orthodox Christian immigrants, who were mostly functionally illiterate in both their native language and English, understood paying union dues from coal mining, car manufacturing, et al.  Perhaps the idea of Church dues is an extension of union dues especially if written by Bishops who were not any more literate than their flock.  However, a Priest should never demand upfront payment for a Sacrament nor should a Church post a "menu" listing for Sacraments; however, that is not to say that corruption did exist (and remains) in some Churches.  In Greek, we call such gifts λαδομα (e.g. greasing / oiling).

Thank you.  I found the thread quite interesting and uplifting, and your commentary on the language seems quite plausible.

You're welcome.   Smiley

I neglected to add fraternal organizations / benevolent societies to the original commentary which also charged (and continue to charge to this day) annual dues.   Embarrassed
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Holy Father Patrick, pray for us!


« Reply #87 on: January 20, 2010, 02:07:09 AM »

In my long life, I have never been a paid-up member of any parish, Slavic or Greek,

Why did you not pay your parish dues?   What benefits do you see from not committing to a parish and not becoming a parishioner who may participate in its governance and parochial decisions on a wide variety of important issues?   This is a "professional" question on my part.   Smiley   I'd really like to understand.

I have my reasons, Father, which are best expressed in a PM. Suffice to say that while I might not be a paid-up member, I do contribute positively to the life of the church in many ways.
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« Reply #88 on: January 20, 2010, 02:28:17 AM »

Of course, if people all followed Punch's way, the parish priest would be in the glorious position of having no Parish Council and no Parish Meetings and he would be free to make all parish decisions on his own.  Hmmm... this is a positive side to non-due paying I had not seen before..... laugh


Today (19 January) is the commemoration of St. Fillan of Strathfilan
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints



Having read your posts with interest for quite some time, I knew that we would eventually come to agreement.  While I understand that this may not be practical in our modern society, you would find no objection from me.  Also, I thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter.

Punch,

Thank you.  Next time I am in conversation with the Metropolitan I shall ask him if he has any objection to suggesting at the next Annual Parish Meeting if we float the idea of everybody ceasing to pay their annual dues.  This will do away with the Parish Council and further parish meetings - or if parish meetings do occur it will be at the option of the priest and he may over ride any suggestions.  The priest will enjoy sole control of the parish and its finances, etc.  You have opened my eyes to a possibility I had not contemplated, and it will certainly satisfy people in the parish who like you would rather die than pay parish dues.
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« Reply #89 on: January 20, 2010, 02:46:31 PM »

Of course, if people all followed Punch's way, the parish priest would be in the glorious position of having no Parish Council and no Parish Meetings and he would be free to make all parish decisions on his own.  Hmmm... this is a positive side to non-due paying I had not seen before..... laugh


Today (19 January) is the commemoration of St. Fillan of Strathfilan
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints



Having read your posts with interest for quite some time, I knew that we would eventually come to agreement.  While I understand that this may not be practical in our modern society, you would find no objection from me.  Also, I thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter.

Punch,

Thank you.  Next time I am in conversation with the Metropolitan I shall ask him if he has any objection to suggesting at the next Annual Parish Meeting if we float the idea of everybody ceasing to pay their annual dues.  This will do away with the Parish Council and further parish meetings - or if parish meetings do occur it will be at the option of the priest and he may over ride any suggestions.  The priest will enjoy sole control of the parish and its finances, etc.  You have opened my eyes to a possibility I had not contemplated, and it will certainly satisfy people in the parish who like you would rather die than pay parish dues.

Sounds good!  Let me know how that works.  In all humility, I would ask that you not let His Eminence know that the suggestion came from me, as I wish no glory for the matter in this world.  Smiley
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