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Author Topic: Faith Crisis Due to Language Issues  (Read 4244 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ioannes
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« on: October 17, 2010, 02:49:38 AM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert.  I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not. 

If it's true, I wonder what happens.  Convert burnout? 



I am a convert and I am experiencing trouble. Here is some of the problems, culture and language are the main things. Converts are expected to adapt to a culture completely foreign to them, and its nearly impossible. Many times we are kept out of the loop or are not really part of the clique so to speak. The language thing is absurd, but why the hell is it MUST to speak the native tongue of that particular Orthodox religion as opposed to the native tongue of the nation it is in? I have yet to understand this. My church uses three languages and I cannot keep up and I am a Deacon! It is confusing and turns people off, its absolutely rediculous that the clergy is too dense to make this simple observation!

There are so many hurdles for converts to begin with and the clergy seems to think it necessary to put up more road blocks. I do not feel as if I belong in my church. Many of the people have done great things for my family and I, but as a whole I do not feel comfortable there. I suggest things that we can do and nobody listens. Its basically a bunch of lazy ass people who go there because its their culture, not for salvation, with some very good pious people mixed in.

I can see why people leave, its frustrating and not very organized, we dont even have our own bishop to go to, our overseer is H.H. Pope Shenouda, good luck getting in contact with him. We are not capable of handling converts, despite the several suggestions I have made nobody seems to care, so you develop that "why the hell should I care" attitude, because nobody else seems to.

Thats just my take on it. Sometimes I just want to give up.
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2010, 01:25:50 PM »

Ionnes,

I am the catechumen director and a subdeacon  in my parish. I have learned that I am part of the solution, we established a class called Orthopraxis to help them with thier adjustment to the orthodox culture---as I am a Chaledon Orthodox Christian that means I teach Antiochian,  Slavic, and Greek traditions, explain variations in thir services and recommend readings and direct them to appropriate service translations. What many need is someone to go to if they are confused---sometimes the priest is too busy so it falls to me.

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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2010, 01:36:29 PM »

Ioannes, it's a pity you are not in the UK where there is the English-speaking convert-friendly BOC. I guess your energy would be very much appreciated there.
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2010, 02:38:00 PM »

Ioannes, it's a pity you are not in the UK where there is the English-speaking convert-friendly BOC. I guess your energy would be very much appreciated there.

To be honest, I cannot imagine that my energy would be appreciated anywhere lol. I am getting fed up with the things that go on, and it is nothing bad, but just unable to handle converts. When we get people interested they dont know what to do or say, I have offered to help them, as I am a convert but they dont seem to care, as if I can offer nothing. I have pleaded several times to pick a language, and at this point I dont even care what it is, preferrably english, but it is frustrating as a deacon to have to just stand there because I do not know arabic and cannot sing. So I am left out of the liturgy, AS A DEACON!

I feel if I leave that I will fall apart though. I know Orthodoxy is the truth, where would I go from there? Talking to some of these people is like talking to a brick wall. Today I did not participate in Liturgy and I did not even speak with the priest, I am upset at some things he said to me a week ago. I am not a saint or a genius, but I wish I was taken a bit more serious.
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2010, 03:06:50 PM »

Ioannes, it's a pity you are not in the UK where there is the English-speaking convert-friendly BOC. I guess your energy would be very much appreciated there.

To be honest, I cannot imagine that my energy would be appreciated anywhere lol. I am getting fed up with the things that go on, and it is nothing bad, but just unable to handle converts. When we get people interested they dont know what to do or say, I have offered to help them, as I am a convert but they dont seem to care, as if I can offer nothing. I have pleaded several times to pick a language, and at this point I dont even care what it is, preferrably english, but it is frustrating as a deacon to have to just stand there because I do not know arabic and cannot sing. So I am left out of the liturgy, AS A DEACON!

I feel if I leave that I will fall apart though. I know Orthodoxy is the truth, where would I go from there? Talking to some of these people is like talking to a brick wall. Today I did not participate in Liturgy and I did not even speak with the priest, I am upset at some things he said to me a week ago. I am not a saint or a genius, but I wish I was taken a bit more serious.

I'm confused. How did you get this far as a deacon without the frustration? Were those issues not ironed out before your ordination?

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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2010, 05:25:37 PM »

I am a convert and I am experiencing trouble. Here is some of the problems, culture and language are the main things. Converts are expected to adapt to a culture completely foreign to them, and its nearly impossible. Many times we are kept out of the loop or are not really part of the clique so to speak. The language thing is absurd, but why the hell is it MUST to speak the native tongue of that particular Orthodox religion as opposed to the native tongue of the nation it is in? I have yet to understand this. My church uses three languages and I cannot keep up and I am a Deacon!

Ioannes,

You need to realize that just as Arabic and Coptic are hard for you, English is hard for the new immigrants who attend your parish (I assume there are immigrants there.)  Just as Coptic culture is foreign to you, American culture is foreign to them.  You need to be understanding about this.  

It's a very difficult and alienating process to immigrate to the US.  Monday through Saturday, the newcomers to our country are dealing with American culture and English at the work place and society in general.  They struggle with it, get frustrated and tired trying to learn it, and I'll bet you that they deal with a certain amount of unkind treatment, if not outright discrimination, due to their not fitting into our culture.

Sundays are the only days when they can go to a place that is familiar to them: their Church from the Old Country.  After struggling with a foreign culture and language the other six days of the week, they should not have to struggle with a foreign culture and language when they come to Church to worship God.  They need to be able to relax and be able to pray freely in a language they understand, and in the context of a culture where they fit in.

Of course that creates a problem for not only the converts, but also the more Americanized second and third generation ethnic members of the Church.  It's a problem that most Orthodox parishes in the diaspora (OO and EO) are dealing with right now.  Quite frankly, I think the Coptic Church's attempt to deal with it by having the liturgy in three languages (English, Coptic and Arabic) is a reasonable accommodation.   Imagine how alienated you would feel if the liturgy were entirely in Coptic or Arabic.  That is how the newcomers would feel if it were entirely in English.  

You only have to struggle one day a week with a foreign language and culture, and even then it is not as much of a struggle as it would be if everything were entirely in Arabic or Coptic.  The others are struggling six days a week with a new culture and language.  Try thinking of it from their perspective.  It may help you understand the situation better.  
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2010, 06:16:43 PM »

Some of these issues seemed to be working themselves out. We were using predominantly english, then we got our priest, finally, and we started to backslide. I have been working really hard at trying to change a few things to better suit us for converts and people who are inquiring about the faith, but I have failed miserably. I am not one to give up, but I am tired.

As for understanding, what is there to understand? There is an arabic liturgy specifically for those people. They can have a liturgy completely in arabic, but not one completely in English? No, I will not understand. Why build a church here if your not prepared to handle converts. Why come here if you dont plan on learning English? I am NOT going to adapt to that culture, nor should I have to, I will NOT learn arabic. I LOVE Coptic but we should not use it so people can understand, thats it, end of discussion! I have TOO many hurdles as a convert why should I add more to the list because some immigrants need to understand a liturgy they should know inside and out regardless of what language its in.
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2010, 11:29:21 PM »

Ioannes,

You need to realize that just as Arabic and Coptic are hard for you, English is hard for the new immigrants who attend your parish (I assume there are immigrants there.)  Just as Coptic culture is foreign to you, American culture is foreign to them.  You need to be understanding about this.  

It's a very difficult and alienating process to immigrate to the US.  Monday through Saturday, the newcomers to our country are dealing with American culture and English at the work place and society in general.  They struggle with it, get frustrated and tired trying to learn it, and I'll bet you that they deal with a certain amount of unkind treatment, if not outright discrimination, due to their not fitting into our culture.

Sundays are the only days when they can go to a place that is familiar to them: their Church from the Old Country.  After struggling with a foreign culture and language the other six days of the week, they should not have to struggle with a foreign culture and language when they come to Church to worship God.  They need to be able to relax and be able to pray freely in a language they understand, and in the context of a culture where they fit in.

Of course that creates a problem for not only the converts, but also the more Americanized second and third generation ethnic members of the Church.  It's a problem that most Orthodox parishes in the diaspora (OO and EO) are dealing with right now.  Quite frankly, I think the Coptic Church's attempt to deal with it by having the liturgy in three languages (English, Coptic and Arabic) is a reasonable accommodation.   Imagine how alienated you would feel if the liturgy were entirely in Coptic or Arabic.  That is how the newcomers would feel if it were entirely in English.  

You only have to struggle one day a week with a foreign language and culture, and even then it is not as much of a struggle as it would be if everything were entirely in Arabic or Coptic.  The others are struggling six days a week with a new culture and language.  Try thinking of it from their perspective.  It may help you understand the situation better.  

What if the tables were turned. If you went to Egypt to work, would you expect them to supply a liturgy in English?
(playing devil's advocate)
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2010, 12:50:14 AM »

Azurestone, no. I lived in Ethiopia and never once did I expect anyone to make any concessions for me, when and if they did, I was very grateful. I do not understand the point of coming to this country to "evangelize" and not use the countries native tongue. Can someone point that out to me?

Because of this issue, and some others, I find myself in like some crisis or something. I dont even think anyone actually cares either, thats what makes me care even less about going to church.
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2010, 12:55:37 AM »

Azurestone, no. I lived in Ethiopia and never once did I expect anyone to make any concessions for me, when and if they did, I was very grateful. I do not understand the point of coming to this country to "evangelize" and not use the countries native tongue. Can someone point that out to me?

Because of this issue, and some others, I find myself in like some crisis or something. I dont even think anyone actually cares either, thats what makes me care even less about going to church.

I can't help you, I agree with you. I'm just trying to provide perspective for others.
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2010, 12:59:44 AM »

Yea, I am kinda lost when it comes to what I should do. Oh well, another convert lost.

ya know, I can kind of understand Tertullian when he criticized the Church before leaving it saying that it was a church of bishops. Nobody does anything and Tertullian, although extreme at times, was a man of action. So I can understand now, but why he went to montanism is a mystery to me.
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2010, 01:33:38 AM »

What if the tables were turned. If you went to Egypt to work, would you expect them to supply a liturgy in English?
(playing devil's advocate)

I and other Americans were not the ones who brought the Coptic liturgy to Egypt.   Smiley  If the Coptic liturgy were developed by Americans it would be entirely different.

If I am understanding Ioannes correctly, he is not just opposed to Coptic and Arabic language being used.  He's also objecting to the Coptic culture being the prevalent culture at his parish.  If I understand him correctly, he wants the Copts to replace Coptic culture with American culture.

I guess I need him to explain what he means by that, especially in light of his recent objections to what he called Protestant influences working their way into the Coptic Church:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,30535.msg482594.html#msg482594

American culture is in essence Protestant.  America was founded by Protestants, has for her entire history been made up mostly of Protestants (although that may be changing now,) and her culture has been widely shaped by Protestantism.  It's hard to separate American culture from Protestantism.  And yet Ioannes, who is understandably critical of Protestant influences seeping into the Coptic Church, seems to want her to abandon her Coptic culture and replace it with an American one.  

I don't get it.

I know second and third generation American Armenians who believe the Armenian Church here in the US should be Americanized.  That includes not only English liturgies, but also female priests.  In American culture, after all, roles are gender neutral.  The concept of a male-only priesthood is culturally very, very Un-American.  

Americanizing the Armenian Church would also include services that are exactly an hour long, in which the priest/priestess is facing the congregation; with less ritual and sacraments; and more attention during the services on the needs and talents of the congregation.  These are all things that are very necessary in making the Church American.  In American culture events should not last too long, so the liturgy should be cut.  American culture is extremely self-absorbed and anti-ritual, so more attention needs to be on the congregation, and ritual and sacraments should be kept to a minimum.

I'm not kidding.  I know people who want that.  Fortunately most of my fellow American Armenians do not feel this way, but I do see a growing trend.  There are plenty here who believe that since we are Americans now, we should Americanize the Church to make it relevant to American Armenians.  Otherwise, they argue, people will leave.  

Oh, and by the way, they also want bands with contemporary music, mixed in with the traditional hymns.  The Armenian hymns are so Old-Country.

Does any of this sound familiar?  This is how you Americanize a Church.  The above is all American culture.  Does it sound Protestant?  That's not a coincidence, since American culture is essentially Protestant.

So I guess I can't understand how someone can say he wants to rid the Coptic Church of Coptic culture and replace it with American culture, but then object to a Coptic Church in Los Angeles having a band playing Protestant type praise hymns.  That's how you Americanize a Church.  The parish in L.A. that he is talking about is probably trying to do exactly what he is advocating in this thread.  (By the way, I visited that parish many years ago, and they had a liturgy entirely in English.)

Now it could be that I am reading Ioannes wrong.  He probably means something entirely different than what I described when he said he wants the Coptic Church to be American and not Coptic.

I have to say, however, that I can't imagine any Church being Americanized without the changes I outlined above, and which are advocated by at least some people I know who want to Americanize the Armenian Church.  

I guess what I am saying is that you can't completely separate a Church from the culture it developed in for centuries.  Nor can you separate a culture from the Church that developed it.  Coptic culture was shaped and developed by the Coptic Orthodox faith.  Armenian culture was shaped and developed by the Armenian Orthodox faith.  American culture was shaped by the Protestant faith.  You can't completely separate a Church from the culture it was embedded in for centuries without in some way changing the Church.

You want a male-only priesthood, and a lengthy liturgy with ritual, sacraments and a celebrant who focuses on God and not you?  That's not American.  That's Armenian, Coptic, Russian and Greek.  You want ancient hymns instead of contemporary praise band music?  Well, the ancient hymns are not by any means American.

People need to make up their minds.  Converts need to realize that when they come into a Church that developed in a particular culture, they will have to pick up a certain amount of that culture.  It's not reasonable to ask a Church to completely change itself to suit your own particular tastes.  That would be Protestant.


Now the language is a more subtle issue, but Ioannes is not just talking about language;  he's talking about both language and culture.  At least that is how I am reading him.  Actually, I think he is on to something, in that language and culture can be very connected to each other.  A while back, there was an "English liturgy" movement among the American Armenians here.  Now I am not strictly speaking opposed to a liturgy in English.  However, I opposed the movement because most of the people I knew who supported it were also into the "reforms" I outlined above.  

Of course it is possible to have English liturgies without changing the Faith and culture of a Church.  However, it should be a slow process, partially to guard against the danger of changing the Faith along with the language.  For reasons I explained above, I get nervous when people say they want to Americanize the Church along with translating the liturgy into English.  

And I don't think we should just brush aside the needs of the recent immigrants who need to hear the liturgy in their own language.  Me traveling to Egypt is not the same thing.  It was the Copts who brought the Coptic Church here to the US; the Armenians who brought the Armenian Church here, etc.  It just seems downright rude to say to them:  "Well now that you brought your beautiful Church and liturgy here, we are going to change it to something you can't recognize, understand, or feel comfortable with.  It's ours now.  Good-bye."

Again, I am probably not understanding Ioannes correctly, and it is not my intention to attribute motives to him that are not there.  Perhaps if he explains himself a little more, that would help.  Perhaps he can tell us what he means when he talks about changing the culture.  I can't imagine him wanting the same things as the American Armenians I described above.  However, I feel I have to point that situation out as a very possible outcome to wanting to completely throw out the old and replace it with American culture.

Ioannes,
I hope you can understand where I am coming from.  I realize that I also have to make an effort to understand you.  Forgive me if I have misrepresented you.  I realize you probably want something different from what I described above.  Perhaps it would help if you explained more specifically the changes you would like to see at your parish.
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2010, 01:52:56 AM »

Americanizing the Armenian Church would also include services that are exactly an hour long, in which the priest/priestess is facing the congregation; with less ritual and sacraments; and more attention during the services on the needs and talents of the congregation.  These are all things that are very necessary in making the Church American.  In American culture events should not last too long, so the liturgy should be cut.  American culture is extremely self-absorbed and anti-ritual, so more attention needs to be on the congregation, and ritual and sacraments should be kept to a minimum.

I'm not kidding.  I know people who want that.  Fortunately most of my fellow American Armenians do not feel this way, but I do see a growing trend.  There are plenty here who believe that since we are Americans now, we should Americanize the Church to make it relevant to American Armenians.  Otherwise, they argue, people will leave. 

Oh, and by the way, they also want bands with contemporary music, mixed in with the traditional hymns.  The Armenian hymns are so Old-Country.

Does any of this sound familiar?  This is how you Americanize a Church.  The above is all American culture.  Does it sound Protestant?  That's not a coincidence, since American culture is essentially Protestant.

You generalize Protestants far to generally. What pops into mind when you think of Protestants may be Christian Rock and movie theater seats, but this does not at all portray "Protestants". Some do, don't get me wrong, but not all. Some are very liturgical, English hymns, and prayer.

I only point this out because it seemed to me that you think making things more American necessitates those qualities. And it doesn't. For example, English language hymns in a western musical chant fitting to the language and ear of the west is still "American". It doesn't have to be a carbon copy from the host country to be authentic and appropriate.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2010, 02:05:16 AM »

I'm only repeating what I hear from some of my fellow American Armenians who want to Americanize the Church.  
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2010, 02:18:51 AM »

Perhaps the ideal is what they have in Great Britain, with the British Orthodox Church.  The BOC has managed to keep the faith and tradition of the Coptic Church while developing an English liturgy and a Church in which non-Copts can feel comfortable.  Also, the BOC did not supplant the Coptic Church.  There is also a Coptic Church in Great Britain, with Coptic and Arabic liturgies, where ethnic Copts can feel comfortable and worship in their own language and culture.  The Copts and BOC managed to accommodate converts while at the same time serving the needs of the immigrants and preserving the traditions and language of the Mother Church. 
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2010, 07:44:00 AM »

Perhaps the ideal is what they have in Great Britain, with the British Orthodox Church.  The BOC has managed to keep the faith and tradition of the Coptic Church while developing an English liturgy and a Church in which non-Copts can feel comfortable.  Also, the BOC did not supplant the Coptic Church.  There is also a Coptic Church in Great Britain, with Coptic and Arabic liturgies, where ethnic Copts can feel comfortable and worship in their own language and culture.  The Copts and BOC managed to accommodate converts while at the same time serving the needs of the immigrants and preserving the traditions and language of the Mother Church. 


That does sound more ideal.
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2010, 09:26:55 AM »

Culture should not be involved in church, maybe to a certain extent as many things would be impossible to remove, thats fine. The main problem is the language. There is no possible way to evangelize in a nation that speaks english when using a language foreign to most americans. Its not fair to those seeking the true church. I feel that I am very good in adapting to each person and am able to speak with them on their level and in the manner in which they speak, yet I am constantly told that I need to do this or that so I dont push them away. How hypocritical is that? I am struggling just to stay in the church and they are telling me how to evangelize when they clearly havent the slightest clue what the convert needs and wants. It is maddening, utterly maddening.
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2010, 10:49:29 AM »

Culture should not be involved in church...

Fortunately or unfortunately, human culture doesn't work this way. Culture and religion are inextricable from one another.

This really reinforces my notion that American "culture" is essentially an anti-culture, one which absorbs everything distinct into a bland stew (melting pot anyone?). Also, this notion that church and culture can be separated buys into the very American notion that "church" is one thing, "state" is another thing, etc. The "church" becomes an aspect of some peoples' lives rather than a unifying factor in all lives. How did we get here?
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2010, 11:38:57 AM »

Culture should not be involved in church...

Fortunately or unfortunately, human culture doesn't work this way. Culture and religion are inextricable from one another.

This really reinforces my notion that American "culture" is essentially an anti-culture, one which absorbs everything distinct into a bland stew (melting pot anyone?). Also, this notion that church and culture can be separated buys into the very American notion that "church" is one thing, "state" is another thing, etc. The "church" becomes an aspect of some peoples' lives rather than a unifying factor in all lives. How did we get here?

True, culture and religion do interlink, but is that necessarily a good thing? I would submit that the Word of God does not support an affirmative answer. Indeed, Apostle Paul strongly maintained that "..there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him." (Romans 10:12)

And, from a Christian perspective, why is a particular culture better than any other? It is true that that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and thus every baby, no matter how ugly, is simply the apex of God's creation to the mother. How is that in any way objectively true?

Finally, your question regarding the separation of state and church, "How did we get here?," may be answered very simply. Folks used their God-given intellect to learn from history, which shows that past alliances between church and state have not produced the best results--either for the state or for the church. On the other hand, it would be logical to ask instead "why was the United States Supreme Court allowed to legislate from the bench to pervert the plain meaning of the First Amendment?"
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2010, 02:09:46 PM »

Culture should not be involved in church...

Fortunately or unfortunately, human culture doesn't work this way. Culture and religion are inextricable from one another.

This really reinforces my notion that American "culture" is essentially an anti-culture, one which absorbs everything distinct into a bland stew (melting pot anyone?). Also, this notion that church and culture can be separated buys into the very American notion that "church" is one thing, "state" is another thing, etc. The "church" becomes an aspect of some peoples' lives rather than a unifying factor in all lives. How did we get here?

Well I specifically stated its not so much the culture, certain aspect yes. I am speaking of the language so do not start going down a rabbit hole in your false perception of what I said, if indeed you are directing your comments towards me. If we converts can understand what is going on then who cares about culture, although many aspects of it can be difficult. I believe I stated previously that my wife is Ethiopian and I have no problem in their culture, in fact I lived there, so I am very familiar with this similar culture in the Coptic church. LANGUAGE!
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« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2010, 04:11:05 PM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert.  I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not. 

If it's true, I wonder what happens.  Convert burnout? 



I am a convert and I am experiencing trouble. Here is some of the problems, culture and language are the main things. Converts are expected to adapt to a culture completely foreign to them, and its nearly impossible. Many times we are kept out of the loop or are not really part of the clique so to speak. The language thing is absurd, but why the hell is it MUST to speak the native tongue of that particular Orthodox religion as opposed to the native tongue of the nation it is in? I have yet to understand this. My church uses three languages and I cannot keep up and I am a Deacon! It is confusing and turns people off, its absolutely rediculous that the clergy is too dense to make this simple observation!

There are so many hurdles for converts to begin with and the clergy seems to think it necessary to put up more road blocks. I do not feel as if I belong in my church. Many of the people have done great things for my family and I, but as a whole I do not feel comfortable there. I suggest things that we can do and nobody listens. Its basically a bunch of lazy ass people who go there because its their culture, not for salvation, with some very good pious people mixed in.

I can see why people leave, its frustrating and not very organized, we dont even have our own bishop to go to, our overseer is H.H. Pope Shenouda, good luck getting in contact with him. We are not capable of handling converts, despite the several suggestions I have made nobody seems to care, so you develop that "why the hell should I care" attitude, because nobody else seems to.

Thats just my take on it. Sometimes I just want to give up.

I very much sympathize with you.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am in the process of converting to OOy (because of rejecting Chalcedon as a heretical council).

When I was a Chalcedonian, I felt enough like the ethnocentricism and language issue was bothering me. Now I am exploring the Oriental churches and it turns out that it's about twice as bad. So, I had major issues with this when I was first starting out (several months to a year ago).

But I think that there is room for hope. I've been going primarily to two congregations, one Armenian, and one Coptic. I am right now spending more time at the latter. When I was going to the Armenian church, the people were sufficiently friendly and welcoming to outsiders, but they were really not that mission oriented, and had no intention of at all toning down the Armenianness of the service or atmosphere to cater to outsiders.

Some of the Copts are the same way. Individually they are more insular. However, they are significantly more mission minded. Particularly in the past month there have been really strong mission efforts developing with the church. Now the Priest is even talking about doing an all-English liturgy once a month, and perhaps eventually even more than that. It may or may not be helpful, but perhaps I could try to get this Priest to talk to your own?
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« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2010, 04:45:52 PM »

I appreciate the comment and support, and its nice to see someone openly reject Chalcedon for once. I think because our church is 7 or 8 years old it lacks alot of what it really needs. I have been trying like hell to start something but everyone is too busy and it drives me nuts. I love COy, but nobody is around, EVER, to help me spiritually. So I am at a standstill right now, I dont know what to do.
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« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2010, 09:17:15 PM »

But I think that there is room for hope. I've been going primarily to two congregations, one Armenian, and one Coptic. I am right now spending more time at the latter. When I was going to the Armenian church, the people were sufficiently friendly and welcoming to outsiders, but they were really not that mission oriented, and had no intention of at all toning down the Armenianness of the service or atmosphere to cater to outsiders.

I know you are very sincere, but I think some Armenians would be very offended by your comments in bold above.
We must never forget what the poor Armenians have suffered throughout their history including the Aremnian genicide by the Turks in the early 20th century.  The amazing thing about the Areminas is that you can find them almost all over the world.  They have maintained their faith and culture.  The two go together.  I am sure some Aremnians would ask you why on earth they should "cater to outsiders"?  They could do that at the risk of loosing their own people.  The Armenian Orthodox Church provides the sacraments, worship and comfort for generations of Aremnians who have suffered only because they wanted to remain Armenian.

You on the other hand can join the OCA or a western-rite Orthodox Church or the Antiochian Orthodox Church which uses English.
So please lets show the Armenians some respect for surviving and remaining faithful to their church.
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« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2010, 09:55:30 PM »

Thank you, Orest; you seem to understand the situation perfectly. 

I'm not at all offended by what Deusvertasest said.  I can understand the frustration of trying to get involved in an ethnic Church.  However, what everyone needs to understand is that the Armenian Church has been central to the survival of the Armenian people.  It's a major part of the Armenian identity and held the people together when everyone was scattered all over the world after the Genocide.

Of course there are downsides to an ethnic Church.  We all know what those downsides are since they are discussed extensively on this forum.  However, having the national identity tied to the Church has helped the Armenians survive as a Christian nation, through some of the fiercest persecution suffered by Christians in the twentieth century.

I think something similar can be said of the Coptic and other ethnic Orthodox Churches, which is why I would ask those dealing with the ethnicity issue to try to be a little understanding of the ethnic congregants and their needs.   

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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2010, 10:33:59 PM »

We must never forget what the poor Armenians have suffered throughout their history including the Aremnian genicide by the Turks in the early 20th century.

How does that justify being an essentially ethnic church which is not concerned with evangelizing those outside of their ethnic group?

They have maintained their faith and culture.  The two go together.

If the Armenians truly share the same faith with the Orthodox Copts, Syrians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Malayali, then obviously their culture cannot be so necessary to their faith as you are portraying it.

I am sure some Aremnians would ask you why on earth they should "cater to outsiders"?

And that would only reveal their own failings.

The Armenian Orthodox Church provides the sacraments, worship and comfort for generations of Aremnians who have suffered only because they wanted to remain Armenian.

I'm sure it could do that while reaching out to outsiders.

You on the other hand can join the OCA or a western-rite Orthodox Church or the Antiochian Orthodox Church which uses English.

No, I cannot. Those churches are not part of the Orthodox Church.

So please lets show the Armenians some respect for surviving and remaining faithful to their church.

I do, but that is not the issue at hand.
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« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2010, 10:38:55 PM »

However, what everyone needs to understand is that the Armenian Church has been central to the survival of the Armenian people.

I am not interested in doing away with the Armenian church, so I don't think you should be concerned. I'm just concerned with the mission of the Armenian church being beyond Armenians, a theme which a visiting Priest at Saint Vartan's in between the last rector and the current actually chose to preach on.

I think something similar can be said of the Coptic and other ethnic Orthodox Churches, which is why I would ask those dealing with the ethnicity issue to try to be a little understanding of the ethnic congregants and their needs.

I am being understanding. This is precisely why I am sympathetic to the Coptic church I was speaking of being moderate in its mission efforts instead of just charging forth at full speed with them. The Armenian church, OTOH, simply seemed totally uninterested in mission at all. And I think this is only worsened by an often heterodox ecumenism (I told the Coptic Priest about the serving an Anglican Communion and he was horrified).
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2010, 11:25:12 PM »

Ninety-five years ago the Armenians and their Church were almost wiped out.  I'm not saying that as an expression, or a hyperbole.  The existence of the people and, especially, the Church was nearly terminated.  You know the story:  In 1915, well over ninety percent of all Armenian priests on the planet were slaughtered; about fifty percent of the lay population was slaughtered and the rest sent homeless and penniless into diaspora. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, a few years later what was left of the Armenian homeland was taken over by the Soviet Union and put under an atheist dictatorship which further repressed the Church and kept it from rebuilding itself for more than seventy years.  During those seventy years there was a severe shortage of priests, not only in Armenia, but in the diaspora.  Typically, there would be one priest to serve the needs of literally several thousands of people.  The fact that the Armenian Church survives today is nothing short of a miracle. 

When Communism finally fell, the Armenian Church was faced with the monumental task of not only rebuilding itself after this devastation, but also re-evangelizing several million Armenians in Armenia and all over the world.

To give you an idea of what things were like, read the anecdote I give in reply number five here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16742.msg240896.html#msg240896

Things have gotten a little better in the past twenty years, but there are still a lot of Armenians whom the Church still needs to reach.  There are still a lot of Armenians who know next to nothing about the Faith and who are easily pulled into heretical sects.

In other words, the Armenian Church still has not finished the task of reaching out to and re-evangelizing its own people.  To ask it to start doing outreach to others is really not reasonable under the circumstances.  Let the Church first save its own sheep who have wandered off, before going after the sheep of another pasture (Non-Armenian Catholics, Protestants and EO's.)

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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2010, 11:40:31 PM »

They have maintained their faith and culture.  The two go together.

If the Armenians truly share the same faith with the Orthodox Copts, Syrians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Malayali, then obviously their culture cannot be so necessary to their faith as you are portraying it.

As odd as it sounds, connecting the Armenian Church with the Armenian culture and national identity has done much to preserve both the Church and the Armenian people.

Looking at reply two of the above linked thread shows one way in which linking the Church with the national identity helped preserve the Church during the days of Communism:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16742.msg240861.html#msg240861

It's hard to explain, but the national and ethnic identity of the Armenians are just very strongly connected to the Church.  That is why during times of persecution and slaughter by the Turks, any Armenian who saved his mortal life by converting to Islam would no longer be considered Armenian.  That is why there is no group today which identifies itself as "Muslim Armenian."  Such a group just can't exist.

Also, after the Genocide, when everyone was in diaspora, it was the Church that connected everyone and kept everyone together.  As devastated as the Church was, and as decimated as its priesthood was, the Church was the institution which held the nation together in diaspora.  You see an example of this in a post I made about how a cousin of mine found her sister through the Church after the Genocide:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5844.msg75439.html#msg75439
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2010, 12:01:03 AM »

I can say, boldly I might add, that as I convert I am tired of being an outsider. I am tired of making concession after concession for just for them to be comfortable in Church. I am tired of speaking and not being heard, not being taken seriously, and basically told that what I say is not true. Therefore Orthodoxy has lost another because the people cannot seem to get passed themselves and their culture, let alone their language. I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I am not asking for much.

I am done...completely.
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2010, 01:16:39 AM »

I guess I'm trying to understand why you are still attending the church you are attending.  It seems that there is more there that you dislike than like, and that it is making you unhappy.  I don't mean to be flippant, but it could be you need a different church.

Is there another church in your area that you can try?

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« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2010, 02:11:51 AM »

I guess I'm trying to understand why you are still attending the church you are attending.  It seems that there is more there that you dislike than like, and that it is making you unhappy.  I don't mean to be flippant, but it could be you need a different church.

Is there another church in your area that you can try?



I am not attending that church. There are no other OO in the area, I have to drive an hour or more and maybe I will do that eventually. Right now I am just not really in a good mood. I am angry and frustrated. The problem I encounter is that the same mentality seems to exist in all the Orthodox churches I have been to. They are good people and all, just not prepared for this culture and certainly not prepared to make concessions for it or even adopt a language everyone can understand. It is like I cannot get someone to care about this convert issue, let alone what I am going through now. I dont know, I dont think people raised Orthodox have the capacity to understand what converts face and therein lies the problem.
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« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2010, 02:21:51 AM »

Your profile says you are in Toledo.  Isn't there an Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Toledo?  They normally have English liturgies and are very convert friendly.  You might want to visit it and maybe just pray there, even if you can't commune there.

Now I'm not one to normally tell OO's to start attending EO churches, and I know you believe Chalcedon to be a false council.  However, visiting and praying at the Antiochain Cathedral can't hurt, at least for a while as you try to figure things out.

It's just a thought.  I understand your reasons for not attending the Coptic parish right now, but I don't think you should completely shut yourself off from going to any church.
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« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2010, 02:32:55 AM »

I can say, boldly I might add, that as I convert I am tired of being an outsider. I am tired of making concession after concession for just for them to be comfortable in Church. I am tired of speaking and not being heard, not being taken seriously, and basically told that what I say is not true. Therefore Orthodoxy has lost another because the people cannot seem to get passed themselves and their culture, let alone their language. I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I am not asking for much.

I am done...completely.

Please do not let pastoral inadequacies lead you away from the Church of Christ.
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« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2010, 04:56:40 AM »

I can say, boldly I might add, that as I convert I am tired of being an outsider. I am tired of making concession after concession for just for them to be comfortable in Church. I am tired of speaking and not being heard, not being taken seriously, and basically told that what I say is not true. Therefore Orthodoxy has lost another because the people cannot seem to get passed themselves and their culture, let alone their language. I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I am not asking for much.

I am done...completely.


Dear Ioannes,
I totally understand your situation, and I believe it's really hard to endure the pain that you are facing.
IMHO, The Coptic church is not into evangelizing and out reaching others. Maybe that wasn't the case back in the history, but considering that Evangelizing is forbidden in Egypt and is considered a punishable crime, this forced the church to adopt another approach which is as simple as being a witness to the Lord by actions and by being a good example of a true Christian. And this works in Egypt, yes Muslims do not convert in general, but they know that Christians are honest, they don't lie or swear, and they are generally peaceful.
So, when the church extended to the diaspora it inherited the same approach, but given the freedom in the west, this approach is moving slowly towards reaching out and evangelizing. It might be that your church has more older Copts than younger ones, but usually the young generation is more open minded and I think you can find a good place among them.
I just beg you: do not let go of your church, it's a war against the evil, and you have to fight it, do not give up, or otherwise you would give Satan a good opportunity to manipulate more issues in your faith.
I'll remember you in my prayers,
Be blessed,
George   
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« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2010, 05:05:25 AM »

Ioannes,

I wonder if you need perhaps to stop trying to save the world for God.

I mean that I also used to have great plans (and good/holy ones too I mean), but I had to learn that God did not work according to my schedule. I had to learn that God did not need my service, and could raise up any number of people who were more faithful than I, more holy than I, more understanding of God's will than I.

I have had to learn to be patient, and prayerful, and seek above all to become more Christian in myself. All of my great ideas have had to be laid at the feet of our Lord. I have had to accept that in my life I might not achieve anything at all of note or importance, and this has been a great liberation.

The harvest belongs to the Lord. It is He who will determine when it will be brought in, not I. It is He who will organise the workers in the fields, not I.

Yet, perhaps, He will use even me in some small way in doing His will. But it will be a small way, a hidden way, a humble way.

Let me counsel you to try a little less hard to do God's will for Him. Learn to wait and wait and persevere in prayer. Prayer changes things. It is not something we do to fill in time. Pray for your priest, pray for each member of your congregation by name, especially those you have problems with, pray that the Lord will open a way to reach the non-Orthodox around you and integrate them into His Church. Seek to become more holy and grace-filled yourself as a matter of the greatest importance and urgency.

I have had to wait many years to start to see a lasting harvest of souls. In the past 6 months I have baptised 3 adult catechumens, which has been a great joy for me. But I have had to abandon all of my own plans before God has begun to work out His own.

May the Lord bless you, you are always prayed for at the altar.

Father Peter
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« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2010, 05:21:32 AM »

Ioannes,

I wonder if you need perhaps to stop trying to save the world for God.

I mean that I also used to have great plans (and good/holy ones too I mean), but I had to learn that God did not work according to my schedule. I had to learn that God did not need my service, and could raise up any number of people who were more faithful than I, more holy than I, more understanding of God's will than I.

I have had to learn to be patient, and prayerful, and seek above all to become more Christian in myself. All of my great ideas have had to be laid at the feet of our Lord. I have had to accept that in my life I might not achieve anything at all of note or importance, and this has been a great liberation.

The harvest belongs to the Lord. It is He who will determine when it will be brought in, not I. It is He who will organise the workers in the fields, not I.

Yet, perhaps, He will use even me in some small way in doing His will. But it will be a small way, a hidden way, a humble way.

Let me counsel you to try a little less hard to do God's will for Him. Learn to wait and wait and persevere in prayer. Prayer changes things. It is not something we do to fill in time. Pray for your priest, pray for each member of your congregation by name, especially those you have problems with, pray that the Lord will open a way to reach the non-Orthodox around you and integrate them into His Church. Seek to become more holy and grace-filled yourself as a matter of the greatest importance and urgency.

I have had to wait many years to start to see a lasting harvest of souls. In the past 6 months I have baptised 3 adult catechumens, which has been a great joy for me. But I have had to abandon all of my own plans before God has begun to work out His own.

May the Lord bless you, you are always prayed for at the altar.

Father Peter


Father bless,

Thank you for that excellent wisdom. As I read it, I felt as if you were addressing it directly to me! Please remember me too at the altar.

Selam
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« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2010, 11:19:38 AM »

We must never forget what the poor Armenians have suffered throughout their history including the Aremnian genicide by the Turks in the early 20th century.

How does that justify being an essentially ethnic church which is not concerned with evangelizing those outside of their ethnic group?



You on the other hand can join the OCA or a western-rite Orthodox Church or the Antiochian Orthodox Church which uses English.

No, I cannot. Those churches are not part of the Orthodox Church.

[quote
[/quote]

There is nothing wrong with being an ethnic church.  This is where the Armenians work out their salavation.  You want to assimilate them and destroy what they have cherished and protected .  They take their church with them wherever they settle.  There is a difference between ethnicity & citizenship.  The Armenians lived in both Romania and Ukraine for centuries.  They preserved their church and built their own schools.  They did not assimilate to the host culture and church. This is the way the HOly Spirit has guided them.

Have you ever thought that maybe God is trying to tell you something and that maybe you should move on?  To the OCA or the Antiochian Church?
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2010, 12:01:58 PM »

Hi Ioannes,

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing.  I am an American who converted to Coptic Orthodoxy about 10 years ago and I have experienced some of the same difficulties and frustrations.

There have been many times over the years when I went home after a liturgy and would have to just sit down and catch my breath.  Then I would remember what originally led me to the Church, which was not people but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I find that as long as I focus on Him I seem to have an easier time with being an outsider in my own Church.

I also have noticed that God continually sends me one or two people in the Church that will reach out to me when I am the most down and give me hope, in my tremendous weakness, that things will get better.

Thank you to Fr Peter, I have been reading your words on various forums for the last few years and even communicated with you a couple of years ago.  I always find your posts filled with wisdom and very helpful for me.

Please pray for me in my many weaknesses,

Eric
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« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2010, 12:20:14 PM »

I guess I'm trying to understand why you are still attending the church you are attending.  It seems that there is more there that you dislike than like, and that it is making you unhappy.  I don't mean to be flippant, but it could be you need a different church.

Is there another church in your area that you can try?



I am not attending that church. There are no other OO in the area, I have to drive an hour or more and maybe I will do that eventually. Right now I am just not really in a good mood. I am angry and frustrated. The problem I encounter is that the same mentality seems to exist in all the Orthodox churches I have been to. They are good people and all, just not prepared for this culture and certainly not prepared to make concessions for it or even adopt a language everyone can understand. It is like I cannot get someone to care about this convert issue, let alone what I am going through now. I dont know, I dont think people raised Orthodox have the capacity to understand what converts face and therein lies the problem.

Ioannes, if you will permit me to be blunt, what you are experiencing is a temptation of Satan. How many times have you so far vented against other people, their actions and attitudes? I understand your frustrations as a convert myself, but might I suggest that the solution for you lies not in other people, but in yourself. If you turn to the inner life of your soul and cultivate your spiritual life, including fighting against this frustration with patience, I think that things will be better for you. You have a lot of things going on. Try to calm your soul and not give in to frustration.
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« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2010, 01:38:44 PM »

Fr. Peter, thank you for your kind a wise advice. I agree, I am weak in prayer and at times I do try and do too much. However it is really the small things that are upsetting me. I have been trying for a long while to get the church to use English only, to no avail. I think they may have done more English for about 6 months or so, then backslid. One of the main reasons for this push is that my dad left and decided not to be baptized Orthodox because he could not understand the liturgy, and in some small way I know that he felt left out, as I also did, because it was in arabic. So I think alot of animosity stems from this, and the fact that I let people walk all over me.

Also I want you to understand, as I am sure you know where I am coming from, that I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I had to find the books and sources to help better my faith. I honestly received no spiritual help from the people at church, which I desperately need and desire. I do not mean to sound judgmental but how am I supposed to feel? There are no kind of classes set up for converts or just people who want to strengthen their faith, I have to do it myself and I hate this. I hate it because I am scared I may misinterpret scripture or the early church fathers, so I refrain from reading scripture unless I have the proper interpretation. So its not just for the simple fact that I do too much, but there are other factors and people at fault as well. I have made my needs known to those in the clergy, and they have been ignored.
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« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2010, 02:29:44 PM »

Fr. Peter, thank you for your kind a wise advice. I agree, I am weak in prayer and at times I do try and do too much. However it is really the small things that are upsetting me. I have been trying for a long while to get the church to use English only, to no avail. I think they may have done more English for about 6 months or so, then backslid. One of the main reasons for this push is that my dad left and decided not to be baptized Orthodox because he could not understand the liturgy, and in some small way I know that he felt left out, as I also did, because it was in arabic. So I think alot of animosity stems from this, and the fact that I let people walk all over me.

Also I want you to understand, as I am sure you know where I am coming from, that I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I had to find the books and sources to help better my faith. I honestly received no spiritual help from the people at church, which I desperately need and desire. I do not mean to sound judgmental but how am I supposed to feel? There are no kind of classes set up for converts or just people who want to strengthen their faith, I have to do it myself and I hate this. I hate it because I am scared I may misinterpret scripture or the early church fathers, so I refrain from reading scripture unless I have the proper interpretation. So its not just for the simple fact that I do too much, but there are other factors and people at fault as well. I have made my needs known to those in the clergy, and they have been ignored.

Are there any OO monasteries in America? I ask because, for me at least, visiting a monastery has been a big help for spiritual life. Also, having correspondence with an experienced spiritual father is essential, whether the person is near or far away. But, I agree, even with correspondence and books, there is no substitute for frequent face-to-face spiritual converse and relationship. Also, for anyone to feel like he doesn't belong is a great burden, but for a clergyman to feel that, it is a heavy cross.

What can I say? The spiritual state of the world is bad and that of the churches is weak and influenced by worldliness. People come to faith, and sadly leave hungry. Such is the state of affairs today. I don't know what to say in response to this, except that we know Who is the purpose of our faith, and that, even if we may not have everything understood perfectly (who is perfect but Christ?), clinging to Him and His Church is essential, even the one thing needful, no matter our weakness or others' unhelpfulness.

The Holy Fathers in ancient times said frequently that the Christians at the end times will be very weak spiritually. They will not be miracle workers or great theologians. They will not be ascetics or people of great, deep prayer. But, in spite of these shortcomings, they will be greater than the saints of old times because they will cling to the faith in spite of many and great temptations. Remember the Lord said, "In your patience, ye will gain your souls" and "he who endures to the end shall be saved." The end we have to endure until is our death, which comes at the moment appointed by God, when we shall go to meet Him and give an account for our lives. We know, however, that our Judge is also our Savior, that He is biased towards us because He wills to save us. Maybe He has not given us much (faith, prayer, spiritual support, material sustenance), but He has given us enough for His purpose. To you, He has given a thirst for Him and spiritual life. You are blessed with this, to thirst for the Living God, even if your thirst cannot be quenched. It will never be quenched in this life, or even in the next. Give thanks for what God has given you. Give thanks at all times--there's so much, even though you recognize a need for more. God will supply the need in time. Keep struggling with patience. Fight against complaining and judging. Commend yourself and everyone else to God's will, for it is good.
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« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2010, 02:36:59 PM »

I sympathise with Ioannes here and I feel he has a valid point.

Ethnic churches have their reasons to remain ethnic but after a generation or two those reasons will be invalid when the new generations become part of the surrounding culture. The gospel must be spread.

Metropolitan Kallistos (then Timothy Ware) said that the strength of the Orthodox church lay in its ability to put the liturgy into the language of the country where it existed. That's patently untrue amongst the Chalcedonian churches in my country (England). My church incorporates a lot of English but some churches have the liturgy entirely in Greek or whatever. I must praise the Coptic church,however who have regular liturgies in English, seemingly inspired by some members of the congregation.

Lastly, the British Orthodox Church may be a good model but it is still miniscule. When it spreads it may be a model for others.
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« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2010, 03:10:25 PM »

I can say, boldly I might add, that as I convert I am tired of being an outsider. I am tired of making concession after concession for just for them to be comfortable in Church. I am tired of speaking and not being heard, not being taken seriously, and basically told that what I say is not true. Therefore Orthodoxy has lost another because the people cannot seem to get passed themselves and their culture, let alone their language. I was baptized and left to fend for myself. I am not asking for much.

I am done...completely.


Dear Ioannes,
I totally understand your situation, and I believe it's really hard to endure the pain that you are facing.
IMHO, The Coptic church is not into evangelizing and out reaching others. Maybe that wasn't the case back in the history, but considering that Evangelizing is forbidden in Egypt and is considered a punishable crime, this forced the church to adopt another approach which is as simple as being a witness to the Lord by actions and by being a good example of a true Christian. And this works in Egypt, yes Muslims do not convert in general, but they know that Christians are honest, they don't lie or swear, and they are generally peaceful.
So, when the church extended to the diaspora it inherited the same approach, but given the freedom in the west, this approach is moving slowly towards reaching out and evangelizing. It might be that your church has more older Copts than younger ones, but usually the young generation is more open minded and I think you can find a good place among them.
I just beg you: do not let go of your church, it's a war against the evil, and you have to fight it, do not give up, or otherwise you would give Satan a good opportunity to manipulate more issues in your faith.
I'll remember you in my prayers,
Be blessed,
George   

I honestly believe that the Coptic church in the diaspora is moving rather quickly back towards an evangelical mindset, particularly in North America. As a matter of fact, HH recently appointed His Grace Bishop Suriel as the administrator of missionary activities in North America. And, as I already mentioned, the local Coptic church is becoming rather serious about missionary efforts in the locality.
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« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2010, 03:14:19 PM »

Have you ever thought that maybe God is trying to tell you something and that maybe you should move on?  To the OCA or the Antiochian Church?

I already answered that question. The "Antiochian church" and the OCA are not part of the Orthodox Church and therefore they are not an option.
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« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2010, 03:16:30 PM »

There is nothing wrong with being an ethnic church.  This is where the Armenians work out their salavation.  You want to assimilate them and destroy what they have cherished and protected .  They take their church with them wherever they settle.  There is a difference between ethnicity & citizenship.  The Armenians lived in both Romania and Ukraine for centuries.  They preserved their church and built their own schools.  They did not assimilate to the host culture and church. This is the way the HOly Spirit has guided them.

I already said that I am not interested in totally de-Armenianizing the Armenian church. All I said was that I think they need to be willing to compromise enough to make non-Armenians comfortable to fulfill their Apostolic calling.
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