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Author Topic: Converting to Orthodoxy in a Heterodox world...?  (Read 707 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timothy James
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« on: October 20, 2010, 06:45:13 AM »

There is so much I would like to share and give background, etc. but it's very late and I'm ready to rest on my journey for the night Smiley

Very brief background, I am 33 and married with 4 children of which the youngest is almost 10. At the age of 15 I began exploring Orthodoxy and put it on hold, as there was no local Orthodox influence aside from a high school teacher who introduced me to it - back in the days before internet and Ancient Faith Radio Tongue

December 2009 was the time for seeds to begin sprouting in my life. I feel like I've been a sponge for all things Orthodox for the past 10 months. There are about a dozen parishes "around", but none closer than a 60-75 minute drive. My family is supportive of my learning and explorations but not interested enough to join me, so actually going to a local DL weekly brings disharmony to my family.

As to not become isolated and completely separated from Godly people, we continue to go to our evangelical/non-denominational church in addition to my going to an Orthodox church every 2-3 weeks.

Here's where things get tricky. I presently serve in our church with the children's ministry. A couple times a month I help out. From time to time I assist-teach as well. Especially with kids I haven't had a problem presenting Biblical truth in such a way that I don't feel I'm betraying scriptural truth according to either tradition (though I acknowledge this does nothing to promote Orthodoxy). I feel that "slipping" anything Orthodox in would be wrong as it would only bring the wrong attention to Orthodoxy.

So my problem is this, having to seemingly straddle the fence - I'm sure not a new problem for those considering conversion, but this particular matter I didn't find a similar thread on. So after that "brief" background Tongue here is my question...

With no local expression of Orthodoxy, is it permissible for me to continue helping out in my local non-denominational church?

I am a "bridge builder"/peacemaker in all I do, so emotionally I've had no problem existing in both worlds and at least understanding all sides without feeling like a hypocrite. I know where I stand and my Orthodox practices in my personal life and faith have only made me better in all I do including my serving at our evangelical church. I do not partake of "communion" there either. In my own debating I've come up with the following list of pro's and con's and would like to hear the thoughts of others on this...

  + The church is very oriented to doing good and helping people not just singing in a circle about Jesus' blood
  + I get to actually do something good with people who love God and profess Christ
  + My family is around a Godly and loving environment
  + I feel called to serve and to have nowhere to serve would feel like death
  + Gives me practice at living Orthodoxy internally for people to SEE the results
  + Being challenged with non-Orthodox viewpoints sharpening and honing my faith and keeping me "on my toes"

  - The obvious: they're protestant / I'm ... not ... anymore.
  - Possibility of "living Orthodoxy" turning into hiding my Orthodox faith
  - Having to be careful to not be defensive if/when challenged on my Orthodox beliefs and presenting Orthodoxy in proper light

If a local parish existed, of course I would put my energy into helping there, but without one I feel my life would stagnate without helping somewhere... Sorry for making such a simple question so complicated  Undecided

Thank you all,

Tim
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 07:12:47 AM »

To me this sounds like a very delicate situation that requires pastoral care. The best advice I could offer is to establish a correspondance with your local priest at the parish you've been attending, inform him of your intentions and situation, and ask for his help and advice regarding the matter.

It is encouraging to hear that your family is accepting of your investigation into Orthodoxy. If only all of us inquirers/new converts could be so lucky... Wink
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 07:14:04 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
genesisone
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 08:15:11 AM »

To me this sounds like a very delicate situation that requires pastoral care. The best advice I could offer is to establish a correspondance with your local priest at the parish you've been attending, inform him of your intentions and situation, and ask for his help and advice regarding the matter.

It is encouraging to hear that your family is accepting of your investigation into Orthodoxy. If only all of us inquirers/new converts could be so lucky... Wink
My feelings exactly. This is excellent advice.

Tim, I've been there - didn't have the distance factor you do, nor the young children, but I did feel that I was straddling for quite a while, and it isn't any easier being the sole Orthodox Christian in my family.
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 08:34:09 AM »

My suggestion:

let your change of heart be known to as many as possible while keeping the same routine. Let people know. And, not in the non-denominational church, but in your circle of contacts, tell people you'd like to share your recent discoveries, that you think some of them might feel like you and that you'd like to form an Orthodox prayer group.

When asked, tell people that the helping and teaching you do in that church is not contrary to what you believe as an Orthodox, although you, personally, would like to have an Orthodox parish nearby.

This prayer group, hopefully, may grow to become a proto-parish and either one of you becomes a priest, or, once you are organized, you could request one. Talk to your priest, some of the Orthodox in your area might want to help with that by participating in this prayer group.

The prayer groups has to be founded on prayer but not be about it only. It's a community that you are forming. Bring in studies, music, socializing, readings, videos, etc, etc.

If you are open about what it is, you'll not be coopting anyone, just inviting people to share something that you think is good and worthy.
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Aindriú
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 09:28:57 AM »

I am a "bridge builder"/peacemaker in all I do, so emotionally I've had no problem existing in both worlds and at least understanding all sides without feeling like a hypocrite. I know where I stand and my Orthodox practices in my personal life and faith have only made me better in all I do including my serving at our evangelical church.

My suggestion:

... form an Orthodox prayer group.

This prayer group, hopefully, may grow to become a proto-parish and either one of you becomes a priest, or, once you are organized, you could request one. Talk to your priest, some of the Orthodox in your area might want to help with that by participating in this prayer group.

Bridge-builder, build! Grin
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 10:16:31 AM »

Have a look at these resources:

http://www.oca.org/PDF/Evangelization/2005-Evangelization-Hndbk.pdf

http://www.oca.org/DOdept.asp?SID=5&LID=5

http://www.oca.org/RHArticle.asp?SID=15&ArticleID=259
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 11:04:04 AM »

My suggestion:

let your change of heart be known to as many as possible while keeping the same routine. Let people know. And, not in the non-denominational church, but in your circle of contacts, tell people you'd like to share your recent discoveries, that you think some of them might feel like you and that you'd like to form an Orthodox prayer group.

When asked, tell people that the helping and teaching you do in that church is not contrary to what you believe as an Orthodox, although you, personally, would like to have an Orthodox parish nearby.

This prayer group, hopefully, may grow to become a proto-parish and either one of you becomes a priest, or, once you are organized, you could request one. Talk to your priest, some of the Orthodox in your area might want to help with that by participating in this prayer group.

The prayer groups has to be founded on prayer but not be about it only. It's a community that you are forming. Bring in studies, music, socializing, readings, videos, etc, etc.

If you are open about what it is, you'll not be coopting anyone, just inviting people to share something that you think is good and worthy.

First of all, talk to an Orthodox priest - and the pastor of the non-denom. He really should know about what is going on in your spiritual life, especially since you are involved in ministry.

Secondly, I really like the above advice. However be prepared for - shall we say? - less than enthusiastic responses to your Orthodox journey.

Personally, it was impossible to straddle the fence, but then I had the blessing of a local parish and a supportive and interested spouse (who actually preceded me into Orthodoxy by almost a year!). I too was very involved in ministry at my former church (and even was in the process for ordination). I tried going both places for a few weeks but it didn't work. Once I experienced the Divine Liturgy, other services just seemed..."un-worshipful" (if there is such a word!) and pretty soon it felt "false" and almost like cheating to attend both places. It was cheating my former church and my Orthodox parish. YMMV, of course.
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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

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Tags: heterodox  heterodoxy  conversion 
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