Mass conversions much more reliable to last when the church had the secular authorities at their disposal to actually ensure that the union will last.
To tell you the truth I don't see any of the Greek or Serbian etc parishes around here dying any time soon. Besides they are larger and more people attend on a Sunday morning than all of the "thriving young parishes" you talk about.
These groups don't always stay, e.g. ECOF in France.
I think it just depends on how we act and how we treat them. If they come into the Church with fanfare, then are relatively ignored, then they will probably leave.
We can't just say "oh it's typical for large groups like this to fall away eventually". It isn't entirely on them, we really need to look at ourselves, how we act, and how we treat others.
Example, why are ethnic parishes dying? They are closed off to others, even if people do join their Church, they are either melded into the ethnocentrism, or they leave because of how exclusive the Church is. This is why so many new, younger and non-ethnic parishes are thriving. They don't just ignore a demographic because they are or aren't ethnic.
Especially after hearing from Fr. Chad Hatfield, I feel that the OCA is not looking to make the mistakes others have made in the past. I feel like we won't just ignore a group after they enter the Church. In fact, one could argue this is how the OCA is being treated at the moment, we are the new kids on the block, and are not looked upon as favorably by some. Yet I think this makes us stronger.
Hopefully these groups will stay, and I have faith that they will. Not because we are any better than other jurisdictions, but because hopefully we will be Christians to these people and not an exclusive cult.
This old debate between the "anti-ethnic" versus the "ethnic" adherents within our Church is tiresome. I truly believe that there is room in American Orthodoxy for both points of view.The use of the term ' ethnocentrism' is offensive to many of us from old line parishes. Yes, we respect the traditions of our founders with their chants, Paschal customs, wedding customs to some degree and food, but I can assure you that we are a Christ Centered house of worship. I can also assure you that if you "ethnically cleansed" my parish and made it culturally neutral, rather than see an explosion in growth, you would alienate those who have spent generations nurturing and growing the faith. Likewise, if I presumed to make your parish 'ethnic', be it Hellenistic, Ukrainian, Serb or whatever, such actions would probably chase away your congregation. The predecessors of those who now are the OCA, were not the 'new kids on the block' but were those hard-working and earnest pioneer priests and bishops who helped bring the Church to these shores, like Greeks, Syrians, Ukrainians, Serbs and all of us. True Orthodox unity in the US will only come from the flowering of diversity in the reflection of the unity and universality and true teachings of the Church - not by words or by force.
I don't think I was arguing against those parishes. I think it's simply a misunderstanding between us. We aren't against any ethnic/cultural diversity. Heck, our parish has a Greek Festival every year to draw people to the Church. We are Orthodox, and we should celebrate the cultures of our brothers & sisters.
Ethnocentrism only arises when someone excludes others from their group based on ethnicity. There is a big difference between a Church that is willing to have cultural diversity and one that isn't.
It isn't about whether a Church is Greek, American, Russian or culturally "neutral", it's about how that Parish receives outsiders and newcomers. Any church that remains exclusive because it wishes to retain it's ethnic identity is in the wrong. It's okay to celebrate your culture and your ethnicity, but it should not get in the way between you and the people that are different from you.
It isn't about being ethnically neutral, it's about including others into your Parish regardless of ethnicity. I'm not saying that if you perform Byzantine Chant in Greek that you should change if non-Greeks start coming. However, they should be allowed to come and feel welcome no matter their ethnicity.
Being Romanian myself, I sometimes find all-English /mostly convert/mostly white churches to be quite ethnic and off-putting to me. I've heard a few other Eastern European friends say the same.
Then those parishes are equally ethnocentric. As I said, we should not let a difference in ethnicity or culture get in the way of being brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no room for exclusivity within Christ's Church.
For instance, if I go to a Serbian Church (just for example, not making a point) then they should make me feel welcome, then if they came to my Church, then they should get the same treatment.
It isn't about us vs. them, but us and them. We are in this together. A liturgy celebrated in Greek or Slavonic is the same as one celebrated in English. The language and culture doesn't matter, it's the people that matter. I'm doing the same thing whether I attend a Greek or Russian Church or whether I attend an American Church. It's all the same.
In our Parish, we celebrate all services in English. But our Priest recognized that many of the Eastern European parishioners may not understand English that well, so he made arrangements to have Russian/Slavic liturgical books (and other books for the library) to be available. We have to be accommodating to others. That doesn't mean changing everything in our Church, but it just means we have to be mindful of others around us. It's not about the individual but the community.
I don't really understand what this conversation is about, because we are all agreeing on the same thing. There isn't really a disagreement.