I seem to have ruffled feathers and most likely said things that have been misconstrued making me look "presumptuous" and "unfair".
Please don't think you ruffled my feathers. You certainly didn't. No worries. But as you said, you expressed your opinion. I expressed mine as well. I was simply trying to point out that you were presuming (maybe I should have said "assuming," the connotation is somewhat different) that the people didn't care. I was just pointing out that maybe the problem was that they didn't know.
That was certainly never my intent, and I am still trying to figure out why we were so greatly mis-communicating.
I think it's for the same reasons it always happens on an internet forum. We can't hear tone of voice, can't see facial expressions, all we have are words on a page. We interpret them as we read them, and sometimes we read more into them than what's actually there.
I am sorry for those of you who have encountered an ethnicity or a nationality to be a wall or a blockage of some sort to your personal journey in growing in your faith.
I don't really think that's where we're coming from. Or, at least, it's not for me. I am ethnically Greek, my father is an immigrant, I grew up in the Greek community and am entrenched neck-deep in it now as the presbytera of a Greek parish and youth coordinator of a GOA metropolis. I'm certainly not intimidated or blocked by an ethnicity. Only by a language. And really, it's much less of an issue for me than it is for people who speak no Greek and haven't had the experiences I've been blessed to have. Most of the points I'm trying to make are more on their behalf than on my own. I'll live with the liturgical Greek. I have so far. And I'm learning more of it every day. I don't allow it to be an impediment to my spiritual life. But I'm trying to have compassion for those who are not Greek, don't speak either modern or liturgical Greek, and are struggling as a result. I'm thinking of my Sunday Schoolers, my campers, and my catechumens.
I completely understand your points of view. I have little nieces and nephews ... It's not the language, it's the age of maturity.
However, to ensure that they aren't completely lost...
I am aware of the language issue.
I actually find that they are sponges at a young age, willing to soak things up (like you say below about how you help your nieces and nephews). The last two times that I have gone to church with my five year old nephew, he's been totally enthralled by the liturgy. But the reason is because, like you engaging your nieces and nephews, I engaged him. I talked him through it both times, helped him to understand what was happening, and what he was supposed to be doing. He loved it. The only time he lost interest and got bored was during the Greek parts.
However, in my parish English is the issue... For these people English would be the barrier.
And this, I think, is where the miss-communication is happening. Your parish is made up of a majority ethnic Ukranians. So not only does it make sense to do the language in Ukranian, but the language itself IS the vernacular.
In a Greek parish, even the ones that are vast majority ethnic Greeks, the language of the liturgy is STILL not the vernacular. It's liturgical Greek. And most of the people don't understand it. They may catch some of it, and they may be able to figure it out if they sit down and read it at length, but hearing a hymn sung once without a text in front of them is much more difficult.
However, we seem to dismiss them as simply being ethnically nationalistic, and that kills me.
Why are their spiritual needs less important than the English speaker? Why would we chance losing the sheep we already have in our flock, in order to try and entice other sheep...
I don't think anyone has been saying that they're needs are less important. I know I certainly haven't, and looking back over the thread, I haven't been able to find any posts where anyone said these things.
However, I am not so naive that I think I can change the world, nor am I so assured of myself to even contemplate that I know what is best for other parishes and how to "fix" the language barrier, or to tell someone I know better than they do.
I do hope you're not implying that I have done these things. If so then you have, indeed, greatly misunderstood me. I tried to make it very clear that I was NOT going to assume I know what every parish or every person needs, or judge their spiritual experience.
All I can say is that the disciples of Christ did not alienate their flock... They were still concerned about those they already "saved"...
And again, nobody is suggesting alienating or abandoning the flock. I go with my husband to the cemetery to do trisagia for people's family members who have passed away all the time. And we are always sure to do the trisagion in whatever language the family is comfortable with. This is just one example. But there's a difference between that and services with the entire congregation where only 40% speak Greek (with virtually none speaking liturgical Greek), and 99% able to speak English. For OUR parish, it's more practical to do English. The problem is that it doesn't happen. We still do a lot of Greek. There's a disconnect. You have demonstrated that this is not the case in your parish. There is no disconnect and the liturgy is done in the vernacular. That is not the case in our parish, and in many of the Greek parishes I visit.
Gaining a newcomer is not a "win", if you lose an existing parishioner who feels the need to leave your parish for another.
I think I would say that a person coming home to Orthodoxy is always a win. But you are correct, losing a person is a HUGE (and unacceptable) loss.
Yes, by all means use English... Don't alienate the English user... don't forget about the non-English user... Don't throw them to the curb like yesterday's news. Don't diminish their worth in the Church. Don't belittle them for not speaking English well. Don't belittle them for coming to America to escape certain death and torture in their own homelands. It's easy to sit and judge others when you were born in the States and speak fluent English, and then can look down your nose at the lesser, foreign element gathered around you, like the unwashed masses.
Again, I think maybe you were reading more into the previous posts than was there. I don't think anyone was suggesting throwing out non-English speakers. And I certainly don't think anyone was judging or belittling them. My father is an immigrant who came here to escape horrific poverty and try to make a life for himself, as did my father-in-law the same. Neither of them spoke English when they arrived (my mother actually taught my father). I would never disrespect them or their experience. But both of them acknowledge that in our three respective parishes, we should be using English because of the make-up of the parishes. And yet, our three respective parishes still use a LOT of Greek.
Well, your ancestors came here from somewhere as well...
As I said, my father is an immigrant.
Things will change, and English WILL take over...and people will not have an issue, because they WILL have forgotten their native tongues. However, until that happens don't dismiss the generation that still is living and among us and does not speak the language.
Again, no dismissal here.
That's all I am saying on this subject. I hope I didn't sound pretentious, obnoxious or any other word that has been flung at me for trying to explain why my particular parish serves in both Ukrainian and English....
I don't recall "flinging" any words at you, or anyone else doing so. I am sorry that you seem to be so upset, though, by alternate opinions being expressed. It certainly was never my intent to offend you.
oh, and yes, the sign outside does say Ukrainian Orthodox. If anyone is too scared to come to the church because there's a nationality attached to it, than they aren't serious about finding Orthodoxy.
Okay this time I'm going to try to say it a different way to avoid miss-communicating. Here goes...
I don't feel that I would be able to make that assumption about anyone, not knowing their heart. I feel that it's perfectly possible that a person is quite serious about finding Orthodoxy and is having trouble doing so because of the ethnic barriers and language barriers. I think of one of my catechumens who I am teaching privately right now. I'm teaching her privately because she is shy and is terribly uncomfortable with the fact that she is a non-Greek in a Greek parish. She feels like an outsider. She freely admits that people have welcomed her with open arms, but she is still uncomfortable. Further, she has a very, very hard time in the liturgy because of the language. But when I asked her why she didn't attend an OCA parish up the road which would do services in all English, she said she is more comfortable in the Byzantine tradition because that's where she came to know Orthodoxy. Now, she's serious about finding Orthodoxy and has stuck around and is making it work, despite her feelings of discomfort and her misgivings. But if she left for all these reasons, I couldn't blame her. I feel personally that she would be blameless, and that it is us who would carry the responsibility. Because in that case, we would not have done our jobs.
They might be a bit uncomfortable, but, it shouldn't stop them.
No, it shouldn't. But it does. And I think we just differ in our opinions on whose responsibility that is. You see it as their responsibility for leaving. I don't agree (respectfully). I feel that we can't hold them up to the standards and faith of Orthodoxy and say they are abandoning it when they haven't even come to know it yet. And even if they are Orthodox and leave because of the language, I still feel that the responsibility lies with the parish, with the Church, with the priest and the people. Doesn't Christ tell us to go and get the one who leaves the flock? We're supposed to keep the sheep, as you said. If they leave because of a language barrier, then I feel that's on us.
IF that parish does not greet them warmly and try to take them into their flock, than it's a parish issue, a personnel issue, an attitude issue within that church. As I mentioned we have our non-Ukrainian speakers, and when Father sees they are in church or even when he notices "unknown" faces, the services immediately go from 25% to at least 50% English. It works for us.
I apologize to the people who seem to have been offended by my point of view... I find myself getting frustrating just trying to express my point of view, which seems to inadvertently clash with everyone's wiser and more correct views.
No offense was taken here. As I said, I just have an alternate point of view (I wouldn't say wiser or more correct, though. These are just opinions we're expressing). I am sorry that you are so frustrated.
The joy was with me, until I got on this forum yesterday...but this forum managed to rip that smile right off my face and the joy right out of my heart...
I have had exchanges on this forum where I have felt that way too. That's usually when I try to take a break or at least re-examine what happened (I'm not suggesting you take a break). If I feel I was fair and expressed my opinion in a loving, Christian manner, I usually am able to let it go. But sometimes it does stick with me. I am sorry if I caused you such distress.
People here are way wiser than I, way more experienced, more titled, way more "learned", way higher in society and knowledge concerning the Church and some days I don't even know why I bother trying to express my simple point of view....
This seems to be a shot at me, since I am the only one who expressed an alternate opinion to yours who has a "title" (so to speak- I don't believe it's a title, but that's a "whole 'nother" discussion), and I made specific mention of my education. I feel this is a misunderstanding. I was trying to make a point, not lord my "position" or education over your head. I was trying to make the point that even someone who has the blessing of a theological education, of speaking Greek, and of being knowledgeable enough about the liturgy to be able to teach about it can still be uncomfortable and feel that they cannot fully participate in the liturgy because of a language barrier.
I do not feel that I have a "title" or "position" or a "high rank in society" or any such thing. I sign my posts with "Presbytera" and in church circles I go by "Presbytera" because that is what my husband and what other Orthodox Christians expect of me. It's not something I particularly like on the forum because people expect more of me most of the time and I have to be conscious of scandalizing people. I have been shamed more than a few times for expressing an opinion that someone felt was scandalous for a presbytera. It is because it's what is expected of me. It is not because of some ego trip. I pray that those on the forum who know me well (and there are a bunch of them) would attest to that. If I have given you the opposite impression, then may God forgive me.
Please forgive me for having spoken out of turn and my own expressing my own "rant".
I love you all, I wish you all the best whether English speakers or otherwise! Please forgive me.
God forgives and I forgive. I hope you will forgive me for whatever offense I caused you, and that you will not hesitate in expressing your opinions on the forum. Yours are just as valid as anyone else's, whether they be priest, bishop, layperson, or whoever. You are entitled to your opinion and entitled to express it with confidence. The hard thing that I had to learn is that people will disagree with it.