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Author Topic: Faith Crisis Due to Language Issues  (Read 4200 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #45 on: October 21, 2010, 03:20:05 PM »

Are there any OO monasteries in America?

I know only of one in Southern California:

http://www.stantonymonastery.org/
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« Reply #46 on: October 21, 2010, 04:01:00 PM »


I completely understand the whole "language" issue.

However, I also see the other side.

Using my own experience as an example - we have many new immigrants.  Mind you these people come to the Ukrainian Church because as mentioned above they are comfortable and know the language.

Converts are more than welcome.  English is peppered in between the Ukrainian.

However, these new immigrants are not only new to the U.S....they are new to Orthodoxy, as well.  Remember, during soviet Communism, God "did not exist"....and if you thought He did, you were exterminated.  Therefore, these people come with a craving to learn their ancestor's Faith!  They don't know the meanings behind the various services, nor why certain things are done. 

They DO know the customs.  Here's where you seem to be having an issue.  There should be no issue.  The customs are minute.  For example, besides the use of the Ukrainian language how would you know you were in a Ukrainian church?  Well, we have embroidered clothes draped over some icons.  Hmmm.....thinking....thinking....that's about it inside the church.  The service is the same.

Of course outside the services we serve varenyki (pierogies) and borshch, and we make pysanki (decorated eggs) for Pascha. 

But, that is beyond the Church and the services.

All converts are welcome!  They might actually enjoy our food and customs.

I for one, vote to embrace the American convert, and yet not alienate the ethnic individuals either.

Not only do they need ministering to, as well, it is their forefathers who escaped to this land where they could freely believe in God, pray to Him in their own tongue, etc.  ...and now while still alive that freedom is being yanked from them....and they are being told Ukrainian shouldn't be used...only English.

I see both sides...and yet, I pray for a compromise.  I would definitely miss the Ukrainian language in my church. 


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« Reply #47 on: October 21, 2010, 05:41:15 PM »

Liza
       I understand your point. What maybe they should do is either have liturgy on two separate days, one in Ukrainian, or whatever language the church is, and the other English. If not, then the immigrants can follow the English liturgy with a Ukrainian translation. This would actually help them integrate into OUR culture as well as help them learn English. EVERYONE needs to understand the Liturgy and I am assuming if an immigrant comes here he/she probably knows more English than americans do Ukrainian. Its not ethnic, it language.

The main thing that upsets me is that many churches do not have classes for Catechumens or those who have converted. The Ethiopian churches I have been to DO have them, even the smallest churches. Problem is they are too far to visit every week. I guess I will give it one last try, this time I will be unrelenting and vocal. I will forcefully make my case and will not take no for an answer.
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« Reply #48 on: October 21, 2010, 06:08:35 PM »

Are there any OO monasteries in America?

I know only of one in Southern California:

http://www.stantonymonastery.org/

I am aware of 2 other Coptic Orthodox Monasteries in the US.

St. Mary and St. Moses Abbey in Corpus Christi, TX:  http://abbey.suscopts.org/

St. Shenouda Monastery in Rochester, NY: http://stshenouda.rochcopts.org/

There is also the St. Mary Convent in Florida:  http://convent.suscopts.org/

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« Reply #49 on: October 22, 2010, 01:51:30 PM »

Are there any OO monasteries in America?

I know only of one in Southern California:

http://www.stantonymonastery.org/

I am aware of 2 other Coptic Orthodox Monasteries in the US.

St. Mary and St. Moses Abbey in Corpus Christi, TX:  http://abbey.suscopts.org/

St. Shenouda Monastery in Rochester, NY: http://stshenouda.rochcopts.org/

There is also the St. Mary Convent in Florida:  http://convent.suscopts.org/



Oh, cool. Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #50 on: October 24, 2010, 10:40:44 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.

I see a couple of problems in these two paragraphs.

First of all, let me say that I am a non-Egyptian convert to Coptic Orthodoxy, having been brought up in the Russian Church. But I became Coptic exactly because of the Coptic Culture, specifically the strong families, loyalty and dedication to the Church and the spirituality of the people. I don't understand Arabic (well, after seven years I understand some) but it doesn't bother me when it is spoken or used in the Liturgy.

First of all you say
Quote
I have been trying for a long while to get the church to use English only, to no avail.
Well that's not going to happen. The Coptic Church is officially bilingual. The Coptic language has a place of honor. Officially the Liturgy is offered in Coptic and the "language of understanding", that is the language spoken by the congregation. In actual practice that means that in the US the Liturgy is prayed in Coptic English and Arabic, the amount of Arabic being driven by the composition of the congregation. In my Church, and other Churches I've attended in the US the practice is for the Priest to vary the use of the different languages based on what he knows about the people there, and what will induce participation by the congregation. I have never been to an "all" English or "all" Arabic Liturgy, even though "all English" is advertised. Even at youth retreats, where English is the primary language, Coptic and some Arabic are used, especially in hymns. Because that's what the people expect and want.

And really, why should it be otherwise? Besides you, how many other people are willing to live without the hymns and prayers that have become part of their tradition over centuries? Perhaps your Priest, who without doubt is possessed of a much deeper knowledge of the needs of the community than you, has very good, pastoral reasons for "reverting". Did you ask him, or did you simply demand?

Likewise your statement
Quote
I was baptized and left to fend for myself.
contradicts everything I've seen. Even the smallest Churches have some sort of Sunday school, one or more Bible Studies and/or weekly meetings. Also there are often small groups who study together informally. You also have a Father of Confession who you should be visiting regularly, and who can help you with your spiritual development if you are open with him. I'm sure he can point you to the groups and meetings you need.

I also detect a feeling of cultural superiority in your comments. You want the Church to Americanize, to use English exclusively, to change it's music and general outlook. I emphatically disagree. From where I sit American culture (to the extent that exists in a non-commercial context) is the antithesis of Orthodox culture. I firmly believe America needs to become more Orthodox, not the other way around.

It sounds like the Church welcomed you with open arms. The ordained you, a newly baptized, as a Deacon. You said that many people did wonderful things for you. Yet you criticize them because they are not more like you? Perhaps you should prayerfully reflect on your relationship with God and the Church. Based on your comments you will be looking for a long time for an Orthodox Church that meets your expectations.

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« Reply #51 on: October 25, 2010, 01:03:46 AM »

Well that's not going to happen. The Coptic Church is officially bilingual. The Coptic language has a place of honor. Officially the Liturgy is offered in Coptic and the "language of understanding", that is the language spoken by the congregation. In actual practice that means that in the US the Liturgy is prayed in Coptic English and Arabic, the amount of Arabic being driven by the composition of the congregation. In my Church, and other Churches I've attended in the US the practice is for the Priest to vary the use of the different languages based on what he knows about the people there, and what will induce participation by the congregation. I have never been to an "all" English or "all" Arabic Liturgy, even though "all English" is advertised. Even at youth retreats, where English is the primary language, Coptic and some Arabic are used, especially in hymns. Because that's what the people expect and want.

And really, why should it be otherwise?

You are downright wrong about this. There already are numerous legitimately all-English congregations. Most of them are predominantly made up of converts. However, I go now to a Coptic church where the vast majority are Copts and they are seriously considering doing all-English (the Priest even said, I quote, "not one word of Coptic or Arabic") Liturgy at least not once a month, if not eventually more, for the purpose of drawing converts.

I also detect a feeling of cultural superiority in your comments. You want the Church to Americanize, to use English exclusively, to change it's music and general outlook. I emphatically disagree.

What you are saying is essentially ethno-phyletist. Language is the primary issue here. Adapting language, and even liturgical content, to serve the needs of the common populace is the Apostolic and Patristic witness. Your approach is simple innovation and Judaic regression. For the Orthodox Churches to be truly universal, they must have a willingness to serve the nation that they are amidst.
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« Reply #52 on: October 25, 2010, 01:31:57 AM »

Coptickev, I do not recall any point in my life where I was condescended to more than your previous statment. The fact that you doubt just about everything I say, especially when I complained that I was baptized and left to fend for myself, shows your ignorance and blind zeal. I said this to further demonstrate my point that the Coptic church, atleast from my perspective is unable to deal with converts. I have seen several americans come, seemingly interested, and never come back. I have seen people get baptized, and never come back, or even convert ti Islam.

What you and others dont seem to realize is that becoming Orthodox is a difficult task in itself, making it even harder by using several languages is unacceptable. YOU converted to Coptic Orthodoxy with a background in the Orthodox faith, I did not. The liturgy utterly baffles us converts. So while we are trying to figure out what is going on, they are busy switching languages. It gives us the feeling of not being welcomed, separated from the group. 1 Cor. 9:20 shows St. Paul's mentality in evangelism, to become a Jew, that I might gain the Jews, to them under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law. St. Paul did not say, when you evangelize make sure nobody understands you. So what YOU are saying contradicts the words of the great apostle St. Paul.  You go ahead an keep your stupid views which isolate converts and make them feel generally unwelcomed, and I will side with St. Paul on this one.
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« Reply #53 on: October 25, 2010, 01:38:09 AM »

You go ahead an keep your stupid views which isolate converts and make them feel generally unwelcomed, and I will side with St. Paul on this one.

Ioannes,

If you think his views lack validation, then address them factually.  Please don't use words like "stupid." 
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« Reply #54 on: October 25, 2010, 01:49:53 AM »

Chris,

I guess we have to look at the reason behind using whatever language we are using.  The main concern here is helping people understand the liturgy.  You mentioned English being used in parishes where the congregations are predominately English speaking converts.  That makes sense.  However, if the congregation is predominately Arabic speaking, an all English liturgy doesn't make sense if the purpose is to help the congregation understand the liturgy.  

I don't know the make-up of Ioannes' church in Toledo.  My guess is there is a mixture of English and Arabic speakers.  Or it could be that the majority there are most comfortable in Arabic and the one third of the liturgy that is in English is being offered to help out the minority who are native English speakers.  If either of those are the scenario, then an all English liturgy is going to leave a lot of people alienated and unable to understand.  


Ioannes,

What percentage of your parish has English as their primary language?  I'm assuming you are not the only one in your congregation who wants the liturgy to be entirely in English.  If it is a sizable number, have you thought about getting together as a group with the others and approaching your priest together?  Or perhaps the others who want the liturgy in English can approach him without you, since you feel the priest is not responsive to you.  Is that a possibility?  If there are enough people with a need for an all English liturgy with no Arabic or Coptic in it, perhaps the priest can do an all English liturgy once a month, or something.
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« Reply #55 on: October 25, 2010, 02:20:15 AM »

This is a complex issue, and I truly understand our brother Ionnes's frustration. I myself am torn. On the one hand, I would love to be able to understand the Liturgy, the homily, and all other aspects of the divine service. It would be great for me if the Liturgy was therefore in English. However, I also believe that when I entered into the Church it became incumbent upon me to adapt and conform to her rather than demanding that the Church conform to my comforts. I am moved and impressed when I see the great efforts  by my Church to teach American-born Ethiopian children their own cultural language. I think this is extremely important, and therefore I would not wish to advocate anything that would hinder these endeavors.

My personal opinion is that the homily should be given in English, but the rest of the Liturgy be conducted in Ge'ez and Amharic. Our Book of Liturgy has an English translation to help us follow along. Our Church is comprised of 99% ethnic Ethiopians, so I don't think the language of the Liturgy should be changed. However, where there are EOTC Churches which are not comprised mostly of ethnic Ethiopians, then I think it would be good to conduct the Liturgy in English.

I think the more urgent matter is to see the translation of our many books of Church Tradition into English and other languages. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians such as myself who do not know Ge'ez and Amharic are missing out on a wealth of holy wisdom and spiritual treasures because many of these books have never been translated.

That's my humble opinion on the matter, FWIW.


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« Reply #56 on: October 25, 2010, 03:00:49 AM »

You go ahead an keep your stupid views which isolate converts and make them feel generally unwelcomed, and I will side with St. Paul on this one.

Ioannes,

If you think his views lack validation, then address them factually.  Please don't use words like "stupid."  


I just quoted a verse from St. Paul that teaches us to to evangelize by becoming part of that culture, without of course tainting the heart of Orthodoxy. Therefore his view, which is not valid because it is contrary to scripture, is stupid. I did not say HE is stupid there is a difference. I am not exactly going to say "Hey your a genius for your views that dont make any sense and contradict scripture" Then that would make what I said stupid. If something is stupid, its stupid. If I insult the person by saying "your stupid" in a general sense, then yes your right.


Publicly arguing with the actions of a moderator is forbidden here.  I'm giving you a three day warning, during which you may want to take the time to calm down a bit and think of ways to more politely address those with whom you disagree.  If you have a problem with this warning, please feel free to appeal it to Fr. George.

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« Reply #57 on: October 25, 2010, 03:05:25 AM »

A language is a language. It is senseless to use languages that are dead, Ge'ez, Coptic, etc. This really should not be much of an issue and am still frustrated as to why it is. We should be more worried about preserving the faith as opposed to a language nobody uses. We should also refrain from saying the creed, or atleast the part of the creed that says "one holy catholic (UNIVERSAL) apostolic church." Simply because many of us do not believe in a universal church, one in which everyone can understand what is going on. But whatever, complaining about it here is going to do just as much as complaining to those in my church so I am officially done with this discussion as it brings more frustration than solution.
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« Reply #58 on: October 25, 2010, 03:11:21 AM »

A language is a language. It is senseless to use languages that are dead, Ge'ez, Coptic, etc. This really should not be much of an issue and am still frustrated as to why it is. We should be more worried about preserving the faith as opposed to a language nobody uses. We should also refrain from saying the creed, or atleast the part of the creed that says "one holy catholic (UNIVERSAL) apostolic church." Simply because many of us do not believe in a universal church, one in which everyone can understand what is going on. But whatever, complaining about it here is going to do just as much as complaining to those in my church so I am officially done with this discussion as it brings more frustration than solution.


I feel your frustration dear brother. Just keep expressing your concerns and work to see the changes you feel are necessary. That's all any of us can do. The Holy Spirit will guide us and preserve us, and He will use His willing and humble servants to further the Kingdom.


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« Reply #59 on: October 25, 2010, 01:40:46 PM »

Liza
       I understand your point. What maybe they should do is either have liturgy on two separate days, one in Ukrainian, or whatever language the church is, and the other English. If not, then the immigrants can follow the English liturgy with a Ukrainian translation. This would actually help them integrate into OUR culture as well as help them learn English.

A liturgy on 2 separate days?  That would never work out.  You don't seem to understand that people in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church want the liturgy in Ukrainian,  My family has been in Canada for over 100 years.  You seem to think that only recent imigrants want the liturgy in their ancestral language.
What do you mean by "OUR culture".  Speaking as a Canadian, multi-culturalism is an official policy of both our federal government and our provincial governments.  On the prairies there are government funded elementary Ukrainian-English bilingual schools.
I thought the USA gave up the idea that they could assimilate people.  People have the freedom to maintain their ancestral culture.
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« Reply #60 on: October 25, 2010, 02:03:55 PM »

The US and Canada may have a different experience, but here in the UK and increasingly throughout Europe it has been shown that multi-culturalism doesn't work.

The majority view in the UK is that if people want to come here then they must at least speak our language and enter into our culture to some extent. People would not take this to mean that other cultures should disappear, but that if you want to live in England then you should have some commitment to English society and culture.

There is a practical need for Church communities to support new immigrants because these folk also have pastoral needs, but the missionary imperative requires that Christians wherever they find themselves seek to share their Gospel in a manner which the host community can understand. This does not mean ceasing to be <ethnic> but it means finding a way to also be English, or whatever.

Whenever I visit another country I make sure I learn some of tha language so that I do not rely on others speaking my own. Whenever I have visitors from another country in my Church I make an effort to learn some of their language so that I can at least greet them and bless them in their own tongue.

England needs Orthodox people who are willing to share their faith in a manner which English people can understand and experience. To refuse to do so seems problematic to me, even while understanding the need for balance with pastoral concerns. Two liturgies seems a reasonable compromise.

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« Reply #61 on: October 25, 2010, 02:48:25 PM »

You are downright wrong about this. There already are numerous legitimately all-English congregations. Most of them are predominantly made up of converts.
Where?
However, I go now to a Coptic church where the vast majority are Copts and they are seriously considering doing all-English (the Priest even said, I quote, "not one word of Coptic or Arabic") Liturgy at least not once a month, if not eventually more, for the purpose of drawing converts.
I've heard that too. Many times. Doesn't last though, despite the good intentions of the Priests. Mostly because for those troubled by a bi-lingual Liturgy the real issue isn't language, it's adaptation to their expectations of religion. After disposing of the language issue, the converts still don't come. Why not? Well it's "too long", it's "too early" there's that fasting thing, "they don't sing my favorite hymns", and - my favorite - "it's sexist".

Let's be serious here. If the Liturgy is offered in two or three languages, the parts in each language vary from time to time and you have a text for those parts that aren't in your language, what's the problem? Finding treasure requires some labor on the part of the seeker.
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« Reply #62 on: October 25, 2010, 02:55:11 PM »

I don't see why any seeker should ordinarily have to learn another language to become Orthodox. This was not the Apostolic or Patristic model.

I know many people who have been discouraged by not being able to participate in worship but none who expect short services. Those who turn up late for liturgies are not normally converts.

It is unfair to link a desire to understand worship with a liberal agenda. This is not the case at all.
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« Reply #63 on: October 25, 2010, 04:31:53 PM »

Thank you Fr. Peter for pointing out CopticKev's ad hominim attack. I know the majority of what is being said, simply because I have been there long enough. A few of the prayers the priest prays, I do not know. I am complaining mostly on behalf of the converts, but there are many things I still do not understand about the liturgy, which pertains to having no teaching for converts about it.

I am shocked CopticKev that you would make such a rash generalization against converts as if we are some sort of non-human entity looking to destroy your church because we want to understand it in our language. You basically saying we are second class citizens in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and in a sense your right because I know that is how I feel for sure!

Orest let me point something out to you. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church did not adopt every single cultural thing from the Copts did the? Their worship service consists of sisturns, which are jewish, and drums, which are pagan. There are actually many jewish things about the EOTC. So your claim is ignorant and irrational to think that the Coptic church cant ATLEAST change the language to Enlgish and adapt a bit more to our culture or society in order to help converts feel a little more comfortable because right now it is an uphill race and I find that Copts are unbelievably stubborn. They would rather NOT evangelize and keep things the same as opposed to helping converts. This is not liberal in anyway, the Coptic church has done it before but now all of the sudden we are bad guys for wanting to be part of the church.

I tell you what if orest and coptickev are what copts are truly like, I honestly do not want to be part of this church anymore. Disgusting attitudes.
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« Reply #64 on: October 26, 2010, 12:47:09 AM »

Thank you Fr. Peter for pointing out CopticKev's ad hominim attack. I know the majority of what is being said, simply because I have been there long enough. A few of the prayers the priest prays, I do not know. I am complaining mostly on behalf of the converts, but there are many things I still do not understand about the liturgy, which pertains to having no teaching for converts about it.

I am shocked CopticKev that you would make such a rash generalization against converts as if we are some sort of non-human entity looking to destroy your church because we want to understand it in our language. You basically saying we are second class citizens in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and in a sense your right because I know that is how I feel for sure!

Orest let me point something out to you. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church did not adopt every single cultural thing from the Copts did the? Their worship service consists of sisturns, which are jewish, and drums, which are pagan. There are actually many jewish things about the EOTC. So your claim is ignorant and irrational to think that the Coptic church cant ATLEAST change the language to Enlgish and adapt a bit more to our culture or society in order to help converts feel a little more comfortable because right now it is an uphill race and I find that Copts are unbelievably stubborn. They would rather NOT evangelize and keep things the same as opposed to helping converts. This is not liberal in anyway, the Coptic church has done it before but now all of the sudden we are bad guys for wanting to be part of the church.

I tell you what if orest and coptickev are what copts are truly like, I honestly do not want to be part of this church anymore. Disgusting attitudes.
Orest isn't a Copt.
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« Reply #65 on: October 26, 2010, 02:05:44 AM »

Before I attempt to reply, Ioannes, could you tell us the make up of your church? I know it won't be exact but could you estimate how many are converts, first generation-born, immigrants, bi-lingual (Arabic + English), or only speak Arabic?

If I could use my church for an example:
I'm a first generation American born of immigrant Copts here in South Jersey. My Arabic isn't the best, but I can hold some conversations and understand large portions of the liturgy. Our liturgies utilize all three languages (4 if you count the Greek hymns). For the doxologies, depending on who's present during that service, we'll do half in Coptic, and half in the majority language typically (usually English on Sundays, Arabic during Wed/Fri when it's usually the elderly who go to those). The liturgical prayers are mostly said in either English or Arabic, however, a large portion of hymns are said in Coptic as it has never been sung in Arabic, not even in Egypt. These hymns are primarily the ones which precede, are in-between, and which follow after the Daily Readings. We always say the Creed in English on Sundays, say Our Father in English, and sing half the Communion hymns in English (exception wed/fri for all this), though depending on if there is a special occasion, we may add in special Arabic/Coptic hymns that the congregation knows well. Sometimes our priests will start praying in Coptic, but it becomes very easy to follow along overtime, and the melodies are just beautiful, nothing one could hear in Arabic or English.

Our congregation is only around 15 years old, and our actual church was built just 3 years ago, with a large portion of our families coming after this, so it's fair to say we are a young church. The majority of the elders in our church are from Egypt, the first generation American being between the ages of 1-30 typically. No real second generations yet. Thus we cannot be an English only church as would alienate half the church, essentially the founders of it. We do however hold all English liturgies one Saturday per month, which is primarily for the youth.

Language does not seem to be a large issue here as we utilize a PowerPoint system which has all three languages next to each other, so one may follow the service in their own language. Sometimes people will complain when the chanters (of which I'm a part of) start singing a hymn in a different language than we're accustomed (starting to put more Coptic in the liturgy) but after a few weeks they pick it up and all is fine for the most part. While I can't talk for everyone else, I'm comfortable with following the liturgy in all three languages. While I may not understand everything the priest may say, so long as I know the part he's in, I can either follow along in the liturgy book, recall from my mind, or look at the PPT screen.

I can understand your issue with this though Ioannes. It must be hard to be a convert when the liturgy switches to a different language. It's can be somewhat difficult for me and I can understand all three languages, but it does get better overtime, that I can promise, but it does take a long time. I cannot judge your situation though as I do not know the makeup of your church. If it's largely immigrant, then I can understand why it's done primarily in Arabic and Coptic, as this is what is comfortable for all of them. If it's otherwise, then I'd need more facts to say anything.

The one thing we have to consider about the Coptic church here and throughout the entire diaspora is that the majority of the people have come fleeing the persecution in Egypt. I do not have to go into detail about the persecution as I'm sure most people know about that, but that's a thing to consider, as the people have left their homes there to make new lives here for themselves and their children. The most important aspect of a Coptic family is the church, followed by their relatives, and these go hand in hand. You will find generations of families and extended families attending the same church, living in the same state, same city, even the same land really. The Copts came to America bringing their church and families with them as these were the only thing they had to rely on. They have slowly opened up, introduced English into the liturgies, and have begun active ministries in their areas. Slowly.

The church here is young and is still learning, is still gathering resources, is still preparing on how to do these things. It cannot be rushed. The East Coast has seen a ton of these ministries begin here, primarily by college and high school aged youth, as these are the only ones that speak the language, understand the culture, and can comfortably serve the diverse community around them. The churches in North Jersey have programs such as FTFT (First Timothy Four Twelve), JC4JC (Jesus Christ 4 Jersey City), etc. The Washington DC church has the Mission Life Center (http://www.missionlifecenter.org/) which carries out missions in Africa, New Orleans, Rochester NY, and numerous other places, as well as operating a medical clinic and a private elementary school to name a few at the least. My church's and the surrounding churches' youth in the Greater Philadelphia region began a JC4Philly program last Saturday which aims to serve the homeless in Center City Philadelphia at least every other weekend to start with food, clothes, bibles, and other essentials. It's a small start, but it's a start which I'm stressing. Most churches do not have programs like this yet, but it's getting there. The Southern Diocese is creating diocesan programs, as is the LA diocese.

Patience is really needed as really, this is completely different than Egypt. In Egypt, we could not actively preach as it is illegal under Sharia Law and those proselytizing are arrested or killed there. Overtime you could say preaching in the Coptic Church there came to an unofficial halt as it just wasn't possible publicly. Did the church provide services to the people? Of course it did, but it did so quietly and under the watchful eye of the government. Here there are so many opportunities, yet the church does not know how to properly use them yet. It's getting there though with all the aforementioned programs, but again I have to stress, it's new and different and it's really uncommon and uncomfortable to many. In Egypt, you dealt with primarily Egyptian Copts and Egyptian Muslims, with some Egyptian Catholics, Egyptian Greek-Orthodox, and Egyptian Protestants. Here, we have to deal with over 35,000 Christian denominations (as the Census recently estimated it), as well as nearly every religion known in the world including atheists. It's a culture shock. A huge one. What the church did there does not work necessarily here, and thus it's experimenting with new things. It's an experiment. It cannot rush into this. It cannot force all churches to use more English as families are still fleeing Egypt to here in large numbers, and they need the support. If the world has given up on them, the church will not. It has to attend to its Egyptian sons and daughters in distress. That does not mean it will ignore the English speaking sons and daughters. It will do its best to serve both, but it's not perfect. All we can do is pray for the church, pray for our clergy, and pray for our servants, so that the church can grow, prosper in all it does, and serve both the Egyptian and English-speaking sons and daughters.

I apologize for the excessively long post. Guess I just had a lot to say haha considering everything I've read about this on here and on tasbeha. I hope to hear a response from you Ioannes.
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« Reply #66 on: October 26, 2010, 09:51:12 AM »

David, It doesnt really matter. Not a single persons seems to understand the very basic concept of using ONE language. I am one of 2 converts that still attend church, there are a few that have left for other religions. I am not really going actually so I guess I dont count. I would go to an EO church but based on their actions here and the fact that they are heretics, I would never debase myself by stooping that low and going to one of their churches.

So who cares what I think, I am just some dumb american.
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« Reply #67 on: October 26, 2010, 10:27:10 AM »

If we don't humble ourselves, no amount of advice or accommodation will help us.
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« Reply #68 on: October 26, 2010, 10:33:36 AM »

If we don't humble ourselves, no amount of advice or accommodation will help us.

You know, I was thinking the same thing.

You won't do well, Ioannes, if you're being ruled by your passions.
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« Reply #69 on: October 26, 2010, 11:04:22 AM »

If we don't humble ourselves, no amount of advice or accommodation will help us.

You know, I was thinking the same thing.

You won't do well, Ioannes, if you're being ruled by your passions.

Sorry for having a passion for converts, for understanding the liturgy, for helping. I now am officially leaving the church. If there is no support on the simple issue of using english then it is obvious that I, and other converts, are not wanted in the COC. It is like talking to a brick wall and quite frankly I am tired of it.
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« Reply #70 on: October 26, 2010, 11:21:44 AM »

If we don't humble ourselves, no amount of advice or accommodation will help us.

You know, I was thinking the same thing.

You won't do well, Ioannes, if you're being ruled by your passions.

Sorry for having a passion for converts, for understanding the liturgy, for helping. I now am officially leaving the church. If there is no support on the simple issue of using english then it is obvious that I, and other converts, are not wanted in the COC. It is like talking to a brick wall and quite frankly I am tired of it.

OK, man. That's not what we're saying.

I understand your frustration and anger over this. I really do. But the more you dwell on this, the angrier you get. Just look at you last few pages of posts. It went from annoyed to leaving the church. REALLY? Why does the church preach that anger is a passion and passions lead you away from God? You got so angry, you literally are walking away.

Now, I'm not saying you're not right. Nor am I telling you to be quiet about this (the squeaky door gets the oil). I'm saying there is a better way to handle it, and when you allow yourself to get all spun up, you're not going to accomplish anything.

God bless.
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« Reply #71 on: October 26, 2010, 12:02:08 PM »

Ioannes do they not use English at all? Or is it just sporadic? You said you're one of a few converts. If that is the case, is it really fair to ask them to drop Arabic, the language in which the majority of church prays in, to use a language that only a few pray in? I wouldn't get frustrated and leave as this is just not worth it. Many years ago my church was primarily Arabic and Coptic, not much English. It took long to transition as my elder priest is an immigrant and his English is not the greatest, but it happpned overtime. It really helps to know the make up of your church. Is it all immigrants? Is your priest from Egypt and elderly? What do they all speak?
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« Reply #72 on: October 26, 2010, 12:12:13 PM »

Ioannes do they not use English at all? Or is it just sporadic? You said you're one of a few converts. If that is the case, is it really fair to ask them to drop Arabic, the language in which the majority of church prays in, to use a language that only a few pray in? I wouldn't get frustrated and leave as this is just not worth it. Many years ago my church was primarily Arabic and Coptic, not much English. It took long to transition as my elder priest is an immigrant and his English is not the greatest, but it happpned overtime. It really helps to know the make up of your church. Is it all immigrants? Is your priest from Egypt and elderly? What do they all speak?

What does it matter?
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« Reply #73 on: October 26, 2010, 01:14:16 PM »

Ioannes,

I think it does matter because if the priest is trying to care for the pastoral needs of a large immigrant community then he cannot be expected to change everything to deal with the pastoral needs of a small convert community. I say this as someone who is committed to the use of the English language in mission in the UK.

This does not mean that nothing could be expected, but that it is necessary (without fully knowing your circumstances) to expect only what is reasonable. It might (and I am not saying this would be possible), but it might be possible to organise a Saturday liturgy with English perhaps. I know here in the UK and elsewhere the 'Liturgy of the Word' has been used in English on some Saturdays as an evangelistic opportunity. If there was an English sermon as well which explained some aspect of the Faith then this might be an opportunity to gather more enquirers and firm up a group.

I would hope that if you can show that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem then this will allow your priest to feel better able to extend his ministry into an area he may not feel comfortable, or he may not feel there is enough support.

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« Reply #74 on: October 26, 2010, 02:05:15 PM »

Greetings,

I think I understand Ioannes' frustration.  I was baptized 10 years ago and I get credit for "sticking around." However, very few people in the Church that I speak with seem to care about the difficulties that a convert might face.  The convert who leaves is always blamed for not really caring about God and His Church.  While members of the congregation or priesthood that I have spoken with do not consider their actions or what they could have done differently to help this person in their walk towards Christ.

Sometimes, it feels like I am alone on an island and I have to fight for anything.  It seems like I am stuck proving myself over and over again.  The tip of the iceberg is the language issue.

And for those who say they have no problem following along in the book or the PowerPoint presentation no matter the language, I truly commend you.  While I follow along I find that a different experience from praying the Liturgy.  I once attended a convention where His Grace Bishop Angaelos led Vespers in English and I sat their with tears in my eyes.  I, of course, had been reading the book and following along as my Church usually did most things in Arabic with a little English here and there.  However, my experience hearing everything in a language where I did not have to think or keep track of where I am on the page was one of the most moving experiences I have had in the last 10 years.  I was able to feel the prayers and it was incredible.

I am not advocating English only and I agree that Arabic should be present to some extent for people who migrated to this country.  However, I generally feel like I am a second class citizen in the Church. 

I have a good relationship with my priest and many of the deacons in my Church.  However, when I raise my concerns I am for the most part ignored.  I often pray for us because it seems like, we as a Church, are failing to follow Jesus' command (Matthew 28:19).

As Fr Peter pointed out, learning a language was not the Biblical model for evangelizing, but it seems to be a requirement today.  I have lost count of the number of times that decisions are based on being "Coptic" rather than "Orthodox Christian."  I do not understand why people make it so hard and create all of these artificial man-made barriers to moving closer to Christ.

Unlike Ioannes, I am not considering even leaving the Church.  However, I have had those thoughts in the past, rising from similar frustrations as described above.

I just keep reminding myself that I am coming to try to grow closer to Christ and I do my best to focus on Him and not the people who profess to follow Him, but often act like I am an after thought.

I apologize for going on.

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone.

Eric

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« Reply #75 on: October 26, 2010, 02:35:39 PM »

We've got to build with the material we have.

We must have one thing clear: some locals want to get immersed in the immigrant cultures. Some immigrants would like to help build a local church. Both models of church are valid and useful.

So, those who would like to see a local Church have to get together and build. That is what the immigrants did. Many of them feel flabbergasted that a newcomer arrives at the institution they built with much sweat and toil and suggests they should change it. "Build your own" is probably the feeling behind it, and you know something? They are right. Not "build your own" as in create a new denomination, but if we know so well how a community should act or behave we should try to start one.

Maybe Ionnes you should study a way of planting an English-speaking community with the blessing of your priest and hierarchs. Not breaking up with anyone, not offending anyone, cultivating gratitude for the gift of faith they brought from lands so far, but put yourself in the fire line, risk as they risked, sacrifice as they sacrificed, to have a local community. Try to find some like-minded people, maybe even among the immigrants, form a prayer group, start looking for an area to build, plan financially how this new community will sustain itself, pay the priest and so forth.

Sometimes when God makes the place where we are unbearable it is because we didn't get His previous more subtle hints that He wants us to go on a journey, on a quest, elsewhere.
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« Reply #76 on: October 26, 2010, 02:41:51 PM »

Good suggestions Fabio.

Ioannes, is there the possibility of being blessed to lead a prayer group using the Agpeya on a regular basis? That would form a liturgical foundation for a group that was also connected to the local congregation. If the group was stable and of reaosnable numbers it might be possible to ask your priest to pray some of the evening prayers entirely in English on occasion.

My own congregation started with a few of us praying together regularly.

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« Reply #77 on: October 26, 2010, 07:53:36 PM »

Greetings,

I think I understand Ioannes' frustration.  I was baptized 10 years ago and I get credit for "sticking around." However, very few people in the Church that I speak with seem to care about the difficulties that a convert might face.  The convert who leaves is always blamed for not really caring about God and His Church.  While members of the congregation or priesthood that I have spoken with do not consider their actions or what they could have done differently to help this person in their walk towards Christ.

Sometimes, it feels like I am alone on an island and I have to fight for anything.  It seems like I am stuck proving myself over and over again.  The tip of the iceberg is the language issue.

And for those who say they have no problem following along in the book or the PowerPoint presentation no matter the language, I truly commend you.  While I follow along I find that a different experience from praying the Liturgy.  I once attended a convention where His Grace Bishop Angaelos led Vespers in English and I sat their with tears in my eyes.  I, of course, had been reading the book and following along as my Church usually did most things in Arabic with a little English here and there.  However, my experience hearing everything in a language where I did not have to think or keep track of where I am on the page was one of the most moving experiences I have had in the last 10 years.  I was able to feel the prayers and it was incredible.

I am not advocating English only and I agree that Arabic should be present to some extent for people who migrated to this country.  However, I generally feel like I am a second class citizen in the Church. 

I have a good relationship with my priest and many of the deacons in my Church.  However, when I raise my concerns I am for the most part ignored.  I often pray for us because it seems like, we as a Church, are failing to follow Jesus' command (Matthew 28:19).

As Fr Peter pointed out, learning a language was not the Biblical model for evangelizing, but it seems to be a requirement today.  I have lost count of the number of times that decisions are based on being "Coptic" rather than "Orthodox Christian."  I do not understand why people make it so hard and create all of these artificial man-made barriers to moving closer to Christ.

Unlike Ioannes, I am not considering even leaving the Church.  However, I have had those thoughts in the past, rising from similar frustrations as described above.

I just keep reminding myself that I am coming to try to grow closer to Christ and I do my best to focus on Him and not the people who profess to follow Him, but often act like I am an after thought.

I apologize for going on.

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone.

Eric




Very good and insightful comments. Your words express a sincere and legitimate concern while demonstrating a humble and Christian attitude. We can all learn from this. Thank you for sharing.


Selam
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« Reply #78 on: October 26, 2010, 08:35:07 PM »

Greetings,

I think I understand Ioannes' frustration.  I was baptized 10 years ago and I get credit for "sticking around." However, very few people in the Church that I speak with seem to care about the difficulties that a convert might face.  The convert who leaves is always blamed for not really caring about God and His Church.  While members of the congregation or priesthood that I have spoken with do not consider their actions or what they could have done differently to help this person in their walk towards Christ.

Sometimes, it feels like I am alone on an island and I have to fight for anything.  It seems like I am stuck proving myself over and over again.  The tip of the iceberg is the language issue.

And for those who say they have no problem following along in the book or the PowerPoint presentation no matter the language, I truly commend you.  While I follow along I find that a different experience from praying the Liturgy.  I once attended a convention where His Grace Bishop Angaelos led Vespers in English and I sat their with tears in my eyes.  I, of course, had been reading the book and following along as my Church usually did most things in Arabic with a little English here and there.  However, my experience hearing everything in a language where I did not have to think or keep track of where I am on the page was one of the most moving experiences I have had in the last 10 years.  I was able to feel the prayers and it was incredible.

I am not advocating English only and I agree that Arabic should be present to some extent for people who migrated to this country.  However, I generally feel like I am a second class citizen in the Church.  

I have a good relationship with my priest and many of the deacons in my Church.  However, when I raise my concerns I am for the most part ignored.  I often pray for us because it seems like, we as a Church, are failing to follow Jesus' command (Matthew 28:19).

As Fr Peter pointed out, learning a language was not the Biblical model for evangelizing, but it seems to be a requirement today.  I have lost count of the number of times that decisions are based on being "Coptic" rather than "Orthodox Christian."  I do not understand why people make it so hard and create all of these artificial man-made barriers to moving closer to Christ.

Unlike Ioannes, I am not considering even leaving the Church.  However, I have had those thoughts in the past, rising from similar frustrations as described above.

I just keep reminding myself that I am coming to try to grow closer to Christ and I do my best to focus on Him and not the people who profess to follow Him, but often act like I am an after thought.

I apologize for going on.

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone.

Eric



Dear Eric,

God bless you.

I am one of several priests now in the Diocese of Los Angeles who were either born here in the US or came at a very young age (I came when I was 6 months old) and do not speak Arabic. Sure, I can get by talking to someone who only speaks Arabic, but I do not pray any part of the liturgy in Arabic and I have refused to learn! So when I pray, it is mostly English with some Coptic, and this is the case for probably 6-7 other priests in our Diocese.

Be patient...the situation in America/Canada/Europe/Australia will change as more and more priests are ordained who were raised in non-Arabic speaking countries.  We still have to deal with the issue and reality of immigration so I suspect that at some point the Coptic church will establish all-English parishes in every area alongside parishes with immigrant or bilingual clergy.  I realize that this doesn't help someone who currently doesn't have that option but I think we need to have hope!

Believe me, as one who was born a Copt, I have felt that loneliness and still do at times even as a priest when I feel I am somehow not fully participating or accepted in some aspect of church life because of language or culture. However, for me the Coptic tradition and richness of our faith and rites are worth it.  

I very much like this quote and I hope it brings some consolation:

Quote
“Since abandonment is part of the life of the Lord, it is indispensable for us to pass through it, so that we may come to know every step of the Lord’s Way, and attain to perfect knowledge of His Person. If we do not go through abandonment, we cannot know Christ fully.” (Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou)

In Christ,
Fr. Kyrillos
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