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Author Topic: The Greek Churches in America... Could someone provide answers/explanations?  (Read 959 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: December 05, 2010, 07:34:34 PM »

This post is not intended to offend, I'm just offering my observations that have worried me for a while, and I was hoping to get some answers from those in the Greek Archdiocese about this...
Also, PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this, I'm honestly trying to seek answers/responses.

I've been afraid lately that the Greek Churches seem to becoming more and more western.
There are pews in many if not most Greek Churches in the United States. I also have heard that they often see some hymns of the Church as opportunities for "entertainment" and have soloists "perform" them. I have also observed that the Greek Archdiocese refuses to support parishes under a certain size (i've heard 500 people) because they want them to be able to fully support themselves, etc... Yet it is my understanding that it shouldn't matter how big the parish is, as long as Orthodox Christians have one to go to. I've also seen photos of some Greek Churches that have been adopting icons that are very western in style. (from what I understand, even Russia is leaving those behind, favoring more traditional icons these days) Also based on the recent census data, I was shocked at the statistics for the Greek Parishes, not population-wise, but where they stand on issues such as abortion, priestesses, etc...
I've also heard rumors (which I know I shouldn't trust) that many Greek Orthodox Priests (in the U.S.) have taught very western doctrines and often misrepresent the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch (that is, attributing more to him than he is alloted). I've looked at a lot of architecture from the GOA, and while some of it does seem to be wonderful Byzantine Architecture, there is still a lot that is very modern, on both the inside and outside, and looks more like a modern Roman Catholic/Protestant Church. This is all in addition to some very liberal views towards Roman Catholicism that I've heard that some (even clergy) in the GOA espouse.
What worries me the most, is if (and thats a big if) these things are true, why isn't something being done about it?

I know that none are perfect, and all fall short of the glory of God, but I've been really concerned about the Greek Archdiocese, especially with (hopefully) jurisdictional unity on the horizon. I also am not saying these things are true, because a lot of this is hearsay and/or rumors, but it nevertheless concerns me.

These aren't really bad things, especially on their own, but when I look at it as a whole, it worries me.

Can someone provide an explanation for these things?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 07:38:51 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2010, 08:03:21 PM »

Hello Devin,

I’ll answer the questions based upon my own admittedly limited experience with GOARCH.

First of all “Western” doesn’t equal heretical.  There are indeed pews more often than not in Greek parishes.  Actually, I have never been in a Greek parish where there weren’t pews.  That being said, I have never been in a Greek parish where the people sat for the majority of the services or even a significant amount of it.  Typically they sit during one or two litanies and during the sermon.  The same is true in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and even in some ROCOR parishes I have been to.  Pews aren’t inherently evil.  If people want to sit, then they sit.  We shouldn’t judge them based upon what percentage of the service is spent standing.  I stand in church and half the time my mind is focused on other things and definitely not focused on God.  It doesn’t necessarily matter if our bodies are in an upright position, as long as our hearts are. 

And honestly, I have only been in one Greek parish where the Icons were “Western”.  However, every single Russian parish I have been in has had tons of Western icons. Some even have icons of the Holy Trinity (God the Father depicted) and the All-Seeing Eye. 

Regarding the beliefs of the average Greek, yes, they tend to be more liberal on some very fundamental points.  And again, with that said, I know of Russian priests and bishops who hold very liberal views concerning abortion and homosexuality.  There are always going to be those who dissent from the Church.  St. John Chrysostom dealt with a lot of the same issues.  Should we condemn him for the actions of those he was shepherd over?  Sometimes the culture prevails and the people won’t listen to anybody.  I don’t think that this is specific to the Greeks.  None of us are immune to it.

GOARCH’s stance on the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch is complicated.  Let’s just say, most of what I have read on the issue is far too simplistic and doesn’t do the position justice.  Of course I disagree with the position with which I assume you are referring to, but I don’t think it is a matter of heresy.  I am hopeful that the issue will be resolved successfully.

All the Orthodox Churches have started to take a more liberal stance towards the Roman church, relatively speaking.  It is problematic on many levels.  Again, we shouldn’t single out the Greeks.

I have many concerns regarding the EP, which I won’t discuss here, but I am confident that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and that the gates of hell will not prevail against her.  It is easy for the devil to delude us into believing that our concern is sincere, but more often than not, in my own spiritual life at least, pride is at the root of it all. We should focus on our spiritual lives instead of allowing the devil to sow seeds of discord amongst us.  I pray that the Lord calms your heart.  Perhaps the best thing we can do is to pray daily for the Greek Church and all the local Churches that they may be preserved from every assault of the enemy. 

John
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 08:15:05 PM by Ionnis » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2010, 10:45:13 PM »

The thought police aren't doing their job properly, methinks.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 11:06:04 PM by augustin717 » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 12:12:07 AM »

Here in Chicago one Greek New Calander business restaurant owner ,breaks out of storage a Gay Flag and flies it proudly,before and after the gay parade...Also one of the  Brothers told me that the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches are the same,
there isn't much difference between them he said...
I Argued with him when he told me that....This is the confusion that the new Calander Greek Churches are creating amongst there faithful, and why ill never support or attend them ,but will make a exception for there greekfest though..... Grin
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2010, 02:00:48 AM »

This post is not intended to offend, I'm just offering my observations that have worried me for a while, and I was hoping to get some answers from those in the Greek Archdiocese about this...
Also, PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this, I'm honestly trying to seek answers/responses.

I've been afraid lately that the Greek Churches seem to becoming more and more western.
There are pews in many if not most Greek Churches in the United States.
I'm afraid that this trend is affecting many EO churches.  For example, the Romanian church in St. Louis (under the OCA) has both pews and non-canonical icons.  It's a sad situation, truly.

I also have heard that they often see some hymns of the Church as opportunities for "entertainment" and have soloists "perform" them.
Have you simply heard this or actually observed this?  Ain't trying to be contentious, but we don't want to run on rumors.

I have also observed that the Greek Archdiocese refuses to support parishes under a certain size (i've heard 500 people) because they want them to be able to fully support themselves, etc... Yet it is my understanding that it shouldn't matter how big the parish is, as long as Orthodox Christians have one to go to.
This could simply be a symptom of our ailing economy.  Unlike in the 'Old Countries', parishes must rely on the parishoners.  If they're having trouble meeting their financial obligations, it's typical for the tithe to be cut back on.  This creates a burden for the diocese.  I'm sure they're doing all they can, but sometimes it might seem like it's not enough.  Again though, it's difficult to make a call just from hear-say.
 
I've also seen photos of some Greek Churches that have been adopting icons that are very western in style. (from what I understand, even Russia is leaving those behind, favoring more traditional icons these days).
I'll defer this issue to our resident iconography expert, LBK.  But I will say that this is an issue for many parishes, not just Greek.

Also based on the recent census data, I was shocked at the statistics for the Greek Parishes, not population-wise, but where they stand on issues such as abortion, priestesses, etc...
Could you share these statistics and their sources?

I've also heard rumors (which I know I shouldn't trust) that many Greek Orthodox Priests (in the U.S.) have taught very western doctrines and often misrepresent the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch (that is, attributing more to him than he is alloted). I've looked at a lot of architecture from the GOA, and while some of it does seem to be wonderful Byzantine Architecture, there is still a lot that is very modern, on both the inside and outside, and looks more like a modern Roman Catholic/Protestant Church. This is all in addition to some very liberal views towards Roman Catholicism that I've heard that some (even clergy) in the GOA espouse.
What worries me the most, is if (and thats a big if) these things are true, why isn't something being done about it?
The Church of Christ will never disappear, but it will be (as it always has been) attacked.  As for the exterior architecture, is there a doctrine/canon that exists which addresses this issue?  

These aren't really bad things, especially on their own, but when I look at it as a whole, it worries me.

Can someone provide an explanation for these things?

These are interesting questions, Devin, and one's that deserve an answer.  Unfortunately, I can't provide answers for you.  I can, however, say that worrying about these issues is a waste of your resources and time.  So what can be done?  Pray, brother.  Continue to pray for the clergy and the laity.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2010, 02:01:45 AM by GabrieltheCelt » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2010, 10:52:59 AM »

I've been afraid lately that the Greek Churches seem to becoming more and more western.

I would say the opposite is true for our parish. Our parish underwent a number of Byzantine renovations during recent decades.

I've also seen photos of some Greek Churches that have been adopting icons that are very western in style.
(Also based on the recent census data, I was shocked at the statistics for the Greek Parishes, not population-wise, but where they stand on issues such as abortion, priestesses, etc...

None of our Icons appear western in style.

Statistics supposedly representing the views of an entire Archdiocese are overly simplistic. Is there empirical data supporting these statistics?  How many different parishes were represented? What regions of the country? What regions of states? What percentage of "blue and red" states? (Dem and Rep). We could have an entire thread on another board about how to conduct a survey. And surveys must limit the answers to a set of responses, while many people would elaborate in person explaining their views.

I've also heard rumors (which I know I shouldn't trust) that many Greek Orthodox Priests (in the U.S.) have taught very western doctrines and often misrepresent the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch (that is, attributing more to him than he is alloted).

Our priest submits to the Bishop. Our priest's sermons are short and easy to digest and seem to follow a simple basic Orthodox concept most Sundays (e.g. Early Church Fathers). Controversial subjects are not approached directly.  So hard to judge that comment.

I've looked at a lot of architecture from the GOA, and while some of it does seem to be wonderful Byzantine Architecture, there is still a lot that is very modern, on both the inside and outside, and looks more like a modern Roman Catholic/Protestant Church.

Our parish is Byzantine through and through.

This is all in addition to some very liberal views towards Roman Catholicism that I've heard that some (even clergy) in the GOA espouse.

What worries me the most, is if (and thats a big if) these things are true, why isn't something being done about it?

I know that none are perfect, and all fall short of the glory of God, but I've been really concerned about the Greek Archdiocese, especially with (hopefully) jurisdictional unity on the horizon. I also am not saying these things are true, because a lot of this is hearsay and/or rumors, but it nevertheless concerns me.

Again, our priest submits to the Bishop.  Maybe there are a few renegade GOA priests that you are referring to?
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 11:47:48 AM »

I also have heard that they often see some hymns of the Church as opportunities for "entertainment" and have soloists "perform" them.

That's just a tradition in Byzantine chanting- sometimes you have a professional cantor lead. There's nothing particularly Western about it and it isn't necessarily for entertainment either. 

Everything else you mentioned I have encountered in other jurisdictions.
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 12:10:27 PM »

Here in Chicago one Greek New Calander business restaurant owner ,breaks out of storage a Gay Flag and flies it proudly,before and after the gay parade...Also one of the  Brothers told me that the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches are the same,
there isn't much difference between them he said...
I Argued with him when he told me that....This is the confusion that the new Calander Greek Churches are creating amongst there faithful, and why ill never support or attend them ,but will make a exception for there greekfest though..... Grin

While I certainly can't dispute the anecdotal experience cited by stashko, I take great offense to his generalizations and preconceptions about our Greek  brothers and sisters from GOARCH and for that matter, all New Calendar practitioners. Like anyone, I may have formed personal opinions about the practices or attitudes which I believed to be the case about some jurisdictions or some individuals based on anecdotal experiences or observations; however, I have found over the years that such biases and preconceptions are almost always wrong and lead me to a dark place where temptation can be ever-present and powerful. However, there always are exceptions to the rule......
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2010, 12:33:27 PM »

I am curious if the OP has any experience with OCA parishes and practices outside of the Diocese of the South or his home parish? Most OCA parishes in the old 'rust belt' have pews. Many Orthodox churches across the planet have iconography that is less traditional than you many be familiar with, including most of the OCA and many, if not most of the ROCOR and Patriarchal churches of late 19th through mid-20th century origin. That does not make them less Orthodox or less holy. I would point you to the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow following the collapse of the USSR as a recent example in Russia that does not conform to your 'norm.' Many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches of late 19th through mid-20th century construction in America followed that style, which was common across much of Orthodox Europe (including Greece) during that period.

And yes, your comments do offend many of us and display the type of attitude that some converts bring with them that creates the barriers and hostility that many of you claim to find within existing ethnically-founded parishes. All of you, myself included, generalize far too often and worry about external things which, in the end, are far less significant to the lives of most of the faithful than they may appear to be when following a blog post or internet thread. One of the beauties of Orthodoxy is the diverse display of regional practices across the world. While amongst us Orthodox, there is a general symilarity of practice, the differences identify and aid the peoples of a particular region or country.For centuries that diversity has been a principal point of departure for many from the universal sameness of the practices of the Church of Rome. ( I know that has broken down post-Vatican 2 but it was the case for nearly a millennium.) I am sorry if I seem harsh, please forgive me if any of my experiential generalizations or personal feelings may have offended any of you. S'bohom!

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« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2010, 01:11:04 PM »

Here in Chicago one Greek New Calander business restaurant owner ,breaks out of storage a Gay Flag and flies it proudly,before and after the gay parade...Also one of the  Brothers told me that the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches are the same,
there isn't much difference between them he said...
I Argued with him when he told me that....This is the confusion that the new Calander Greek Churches are creating amongst there faithful, and why ill never support or attend them ,but will make a exception for there greekfest though..... Grin

Yes, but, these are the opinions of two misguided brothers.  They hardly represent the entire Greek Church.

I have Ukrainians in my own church who don't quite think there's a difference and hop from one to the other, at will.  However, I would certainly say that they do not represent the Ukrainian Church in their opinions.

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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2010, 01:11:43 PM »

Here is the census data:
http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2010/10/krindatch-2010-orthodox-census-power-point/
http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/research/2010-USOrthodox-Census.pdf

67% of GOA members said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without attending Liturgy every Sunday.
56% said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without obeying the Priest.
56% also said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without observing fasting days, including Lent.
Out of all the Orthodox Churches in America, GOA has the 4th lowest attendance rate of it's members (only 23%)
52% of GOA Churches say they are trying to preserve their ethnic identity. With 42% of parishioners and 45% of clergy speaking Greek as their first language.

More general statistical data (not negative data):
The GOA has 476,900 members. But only 107,400 participate every Sunday. (this isn't just a GOA problem though)
The average size of a GOA parish is 908 people per parish. (comp. to 154 in OCA, 300 in AOCA and 564 in Serbian)

68% of American Orthodox think the teachings of the Church can be interpreted in a flexible manner.
Most American Orthodox also attend Church less often than other Christian faiths.

Also, I had assumed that more Greek Parishes had modern icons as I've seen photos of Greek parishes like St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Personally I don't see pews as a big issue unless there are other things present in a parish as well, such as frequent sitting (unless the parish is made up of infirm, nursing or elderly), lack of laity participation, feeling of a "concert"/performance, lack of prostrations (at appropriate times), all in addition to other problems a parish might have such as western icons, westernized teachings, liberal views, etc...

As for soloists, I'm definitely aware of the Byzantine style with a "soloist" (with others keeping the ison) but I'm talking about soloist like you might think of like what Divna or Eikona does, only instead of being on a CD (or the radio), it's actually done in Church.

Regarding views on the Ecumenical Patriarch, I have heard (and again, this is just hearsay) that some GOA believe him to be more of a
Pope figure, and while I don't think he sees himself in this manner, I still worry about this view spreading.

As for the architecture, I'm thinking of Churches such as St. Dionysius in Overland Park, KS; Annunciation in Kansas City, MO; St. Luke in Columbia, MO; Annunciation in Milwaukee, WI; Ascension in San Francisco, CA; etc...
As a disclaimer, I'm not saying those are bad Churches, as they are still blessed and consecrated houses of God and Orthodox places of worship. However, I am saying that Churches should be built in a traditional manner according to forms/layouts.
I have heard there are canons regarding Church architecture, but I haven't found any yet and am not sure where to look. I know the basics such as the narthex-nave-apse/sanctuary is probably required, and that other elements such as the dome, etc... are probably strongly encouraged. Even if you look at plans of Orthodox Churches in Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, etc... you will notice that they have obvious/distinct similarities, it's only in some countries (mainly the US) that this seems to not be the case. I would be really interested in finding actual canons/rules on Church architecture. I have little problem with a "contemporarily designed" Church with the form of the traditional (IE: not in the round or another weird arrangement) as long as it isn't "iconoclastic" (not in the Orthodox sense though) inside or out.

I also do not think the whole Church can fall away, but what I'm worried about is a schism between Churches. I'm also concerned because of the unity that is hopefully going to be coming in the next 5-10 years. While no one is perfect, I worry about these problems spreading into parishes that aren't a part of the GOA archdiocese (should unity occur).

As for icons, I know this is a problem in more than just the GOA (and probably a bigger problem in the OCA and other Russian-oriented jurisdictions), and I'm aware of most of the architecture in Russia. I am not denegrating it, but just saying that such iconography is not traditional, nor "canonical" (using that in a very loose sense). From what I've read, even Russia is turning away from such westernized iconography and is going back to a more traditional style in it's new churches and with it's new iconographers it's training..

While these things aren't in and of themselves bad, it is my understanding, just as with doctrine and our theology, that such things can cause other problems subtly. As an architecture student, I understand this about architecture as well. Even though westernized icons (that are blessed) aren't bad, and even though modern architecture isn't bad, it affects you more than you know. Once you create this environment, it begins to shape your worldview, your theology, your psychology, etc... This is what I'm worried about, if you have a parish with pews, western icons, liberal views, etc... Then chances are, even if you don't have unorthodox views, those things will slowly affect you or others.

Again, as I said before, many of this is just rumors and hearsay, and I appreciate everyone addressing these concerns!

As an aside, I will be living in Greece this Spring for 3 months and have been planning on attending many Orthodox Churches/services and especially looking at the architecture. (as Byzantine is probably my favorite)
While I would like to attend a service at a Greek Church here in the U.S. I would like to see those in Greece first, and then see what American Churches are like.

I know I need to get out more, but I've experienced 4 Orthodox parishes, 3 of those being OCA. 1 had pews, 2 had chairs in rows and my home parish has chairs along the walls. I hope to visit more in the future.

Again, thank you for all your replies!

(my intention is NOT to offend anyone, I apologize if I have, but these are concerns I've had, and all I've desired is to have them addressed/rebuffed)
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2010, 01:21:16 PM »

This post is not intended to offend, I'm just offering my observations that have worried me for a while, and I was hoping to get some answers from those in the Greek Archdiocese about this...
Also, PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this, I'm honestly trying to seek answers/responses.
...

...all of this is happening in all the jurisdictions, not just the Greek.

This is America and you will be hard pressed to find a large church without pews.  As for the style of the icons, many churches are just lucky to have icons of any sort.  Not everyone is a great artist....and yet they volunteered to draw/paint the icons for their churches.  Remember it's not just the painting style that makes the icon...it's the subject matter.

Not every parish can build the church building the way they dream it should be.  There are monetary restrictions, zoning restrictions, poor architects, etc.

All these concerns you have noted, really are of no concern.

What is important is that the faithful have a place to gather and pray. 

The fact that the Eucharist is present, that the people are present is what makes it a church.  All the extra is just that, extra.

I've seen churches with cardboard iconostasis and paper icons....and yet, God was there, too.


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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2010, 01:47:16 PM »

This post is not intended to offend, I'm just offering my observations that have worried me for a while, and I was hoping to get some answers from those in the Greek Archdiocese about this...
Also, PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this, I'm honestly trying to seek answers/responses.

Let's start with a few basics, shall we?  If you say, "not intended to offend," people generally don't believe you, because (IME) 99% of the time what follows is something that is purposefully polemical.  Adding, "my observations that have worried me for a while," only supports a possible perception that there is an air of judgment to the questions, which is then finished by adding, "PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this," indicating that you're quite aware that the questions are (a) insulting, (b) divisive, and (c) likely to lead to a fight.  There are better and worse ways to discuss things, even contentious topics; on this forum, you'll find plenty examples of both.

I've been afraid lately that the Greek Churches seem to becoming more and more western.

So instead of asking a question, you've provided a judgment masquerading as an observation, and immediately have thrown gasoline on the fire you didn't want to spread.  "Greek Churches?"  Are you including Fr. Anastasios' Greek Diocese, or only GOA?  What is more western, exactly?  I think a lot of non-Orthodox would have a hard time seeing anything "Western" in a Greek Church (hence, WRO).  While you attempt to further clarify below, by launching the grenade first, you've primed your readers for a contentious issue.

There are pews in many if not most Greek Churches in the United States.

And there are Old Country parishes of all stripes that are adding chairs to their sanctuaries.  There have been many pieces written here on OC.net about the development of pew additions to parishes; the "Cliffs Notes" version is that (a) Orthodox parishes in this country have been more parochial than anywhere else in the Orthodox world, which is why you get things added by laypeople that may not be "traditional," and (b) when people started building Churches here, they not only used their Old Country parishes as inspiration, but also many of the well-established Prot. and RC parishes that were already here.  Since many of the parishes were built at a time of less centralized authority, these things "slipped through the cracks."

I also have heard that they often see some hymns of the Church as opportunities for "entertainment" and have soloists "perform" them.

There are canons about how to sing hymns; turning worship into entertainment/performance isn't a new temptation.  It's a catechism failure that many choir members do indeed see the Liturgy as a "performance."

I have also observed that the Greek Archdiocese refuses to support parishes under a certain size (i've heard 500 people) because they want them to be able to fully support themselves, etc... Yet it is my understanding that it shouldn't matter how big the parish is, as long as Orthodox Christians have one to go to.

The Archdiocese doesn't support any parishes; the parishes support themselves.  There are related organisations (like the Archbishop IAKOVOS Leadership 100 Endowment) who support small parishes that can't afford a full-time priest, but otherwise all parishes, large and small, are to a certain degree, "on their own."  However, the Archdiocese does provide a number of things for small parishes that it does not offer to large ones, including second-hand liturgical items (for those who cannot afford to purchase new), and they do provide to all parishes (but especially Mission parishes) pamphlets, brochures, and the like talking about Orthodoxy, Church, stewardship, etc.

I've also seen photos of some Greek Churches that have been adopting icons that are very western in style. (from what I understand, even Russia is leaving those behind, favoring more traditional icons these days)

Western-style iconography has gone the way of the dodo in the GOA.  New parishes get traditional icons from traditional iconographers.  It's the older parishes that didn't - and that was largely due to a, "let's get the first iconographer or priest who can draw to do our icons," since they knew (a) they needed icons, and (b) it was harder (at the time) to get iconographers.  Quite frankly their desire to have icons is admirable (contradicting your Western assertion), even if most of us (myself included) find the Westernized icons to be aesthetically unappealing.

Also based on the recent census data, I was shocked at the statistics for the Greek Parishes, not population-wise, but where they stand on issues such as abortion, priestesses, etc...

People are people; you can't do a census of a parish.  It wasn't statistics for "Greek Parishes," but for "Greek Orthodox Christians."  Go ahead, be shocked; I am, too (sometimes).

I've also heard rumors (which I know I shouldn't trust) that many Greek Orthodox Priests (in the U.S.) have taught very western doctrines and often misrepresent the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch (that is, attributing more to him than he is alloted).

Goodness, gracious - if you were an artist you would need an enormous canvas to accommodate all these broad brush-strokes.

I've looked at a lot of architecture from the GOA, and while some of it does seem to be wonderful Byzantine Architecture, there is still a lot that is very modern, on both the inside and outside, and looks more like a modern Roman Catholic/Protestant Church.

Well, since we don't have a state Church, many of the parishes were designed by parishioners, bankrolled by parishioners, and therefore look the way they do.  However, as with the "Western" iconography, these kinds of parishes (space ships and the like) are more a product of a bygone era (60's-70's) than present reality.

This is all in addition to some very liberal views towards Roman Catholicism that I've heard that some (even clergy) in the GOA espouse.

LOL.  You obviously haven't been paying attention around here, have you?

What worries me the most, is if (and thats a big if) these things are true, why isn't something being done about it?

I know that none are perfect, and all fall short of the glory of God, but I've been really concerned about the Greek Archdiocese, especially with (hopefully) jurisdictional unity on the horizon. I also am not saying these things are true, because a lot of this is hearsay and/or rumors, but it nevertheless concerns me.

These aren't really bad things, especially on their own, but when I look at it as a whole, it worries me.

Not to be overly snarky, but why should anyone care if it "worries" you?

...

Do you understand my point about your opening statement now?  My last comment ("Not to be overly snarky...") is an example of how to poorly word something (an error you commit many times here).  I don't actually wish to dismiss your concerns - I think most of them are legitimate (to a very limited degree, that is), but the way I worded by question didn't exactly leave that impression.  Be cautious, then, when speaking about the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; we may dislike iconographic styles, architectural designs, pews, and the like - but these things have all been consecrated by a successor to the Apostles and are present for the Divine Liturgy - the bloodless sacrifice, Mystical Supper, and partaking of the Body and Blood of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2010, 01:54:08 PM »

Maybe if the Greeks used Dick and Jane English in their services all these problems would disappear.
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2010, 02:03:45 PM »

This post is not intended to offend, I'm just offering my observations that have worried me for a while, and I was hoping to get some answers from those in the Greek Archdiocese about this...
Also, PLEASE, do not get into a fight over this, I'm honestly trying to seek answers/responses.
...

...all of this is happening in all the jurisdictions, not just the Greek.

This is America and you will be hard pressed to find a large church without pews.  As for the style of the icons, many churches are just lucky to have icons of any sort.  Not everyone is a great artist....and yet they volunteered to draw/paint the icons for their churches.  Remember it's not just the painting style that makes the icon...it's the subject matter.

Not every parish can build the church building the way they dream it should be.  There are monetary restrictions, zoning restrictions, poor architects, etc.

All these concerns you have noted, really are of no concern.

What is important is that the faithful have a place to gather and pray. 

The fact that the Eucharist is present, that the people are present is what makes it a church.  All the extra is just that, extra.

I've seen churches with cardboard iconostasis and paper icons....and yet, God was there, too.

Yes, and I recognize that, but we cannot justify a "modern" building by not having enough money, as traditional Orthodox architecture can be built and you don't have to spend a lot to do it. A traditional Orthodox building doesn't have to be a massive brick and stone building with lots of domes. It can be like these humble Churches:
http://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/06ak_1134_old-russian-orthodox-church-1900_ninilchik.jpg
http://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/eklutna_russian_orthodox_church.jpg
http://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/st-basil-orthodox-church.jpg
http://www.mlahanas.de/Greece/Cities/Images/PanagiaGastouni.jpg
http://photos.travelblog.org/Photos/68732/306598/t/2649709-Byzantine-church-Santorini-0.jpg
http://imageseu.holiday-rentals.co.uk/vd2/files/HR/400x300/9c/1008698/413600_4.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_qpE5hNwi618/S1X-RjxV4mI/AAAAAAAADuc/EZX4gBAM8ao/s400/orthodox-church-built-by-the-russians-compressed1.jpg

This is a basic plan used in most traditional Orthodox Churches:
http://www.holycross.al.goarch.org/images/church_arch.jpg
http://www.zorbas.de/maniguide/scans/church1.jpg
You don't have to sacrifice that for money, and if the architect isn't eductated in proper Orthodox architecture, then the church needs to educate him instead of being satisfied with what he'd give you, as often, if you choose someone, especially a non-Orthodox architect, the results may not be good unless you educate him/her. (for example, it's a travesty that the Roman Catholic Church allowed Le Corbusier to design Churches)

Thank you for your reply Fr. George, and I would say that I do respect these Churches, but I do stand against doing further things like it. (such as further modern architecture, westernized iconography, etc...) I do venerate westernized icons, because they are blessed and are wonderful, but I do not support the creation of more icons like them. Same for the architecture, I'm not going to care too much about walking into a "modern" Orthodox Church, just so long as no more are built like it.
As for pews, they are something that can (and in my opinion, should be once the parish has the money) be removed and replaced with chairs, or they can even be set along the walls (though depending on the architecture, this would be difficult with pews).

I definitely understand the history, and I try to keep up with American Orthodox History (through the website), and have read the articles on pews, and the lack of a really well-defined organization early on. But most of that was 100 years ago, and my concern is whether or not we have moved on and tried to eliminate those errors.

Again, I'm sorry if I worded things improperly, and I"m sorry if I came off as trying to be offensive (or trying to hide being offensive), these are things that I wanted addressed because I am hoping they are wrong/inaccurate.
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2010, 02:18:31 PM »

Bitter surprises await you in Greece, given your ideas, mindset, expectations.
To me, it's just mildly amusing.
I gather you will want all churches to conform to your pre-conceived, immature and quite narrow ideas of what Orthodoxy is. If you last long enough in the OC you'll see one day, everything going fine, how silly all these "worries" were.
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« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2010, 03:00:05 PM »

Bitter surprises await you in Greece, given your ideas, mindset, expectations.
To me, it's just mildly amusing.
I gather you will want all churches to conform to your pre-conceived, immature and quite narrow ideas of what Orthodoxy is. If you last long enough in the OC you'll see one day, everything going fine, how silly all these "worries" were.
What "bitter surprises"?

I understand fully that over there they don't attend church often, (often they are empty, even though they are almost always open) I also understand that in the more urban areas, it's much less religious and less "pious".

I also understand that many problems are universal and even in majority-Orthodox countries, these problems still exist.

But in the realm of architecture, I would say 90-98% of Orthodox architecture in Greece is traditional.

Even if these problems are universal, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be talked about and that certainly doesn't mean they shouldn't be addressed.
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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2010, 03:05:28 PM »

Devin,

First: enjoy your trip to Greece.  From the accounts of family and friends, make sure (if you're looking for Orthodox life in the City) you visit Thessaloniki, which will provide a much different experience than the more secular (westernized, etc.) Athens.  

Second: one hurdle to the "humble churches" (which, again, is a judgment) is the size of the parish.  I'd love to see quaint little Churches planted here and there all around the US, but many of the parishes are 400+ families - what do we do, force them to split?  Maybe they can manage/fund/provide more evangelization, charity, and ministry as a larger parish.  Should we expect them to build two small buildings in two locations instead of one larger building in one location?  What happened to One Community, One Eucharist?  I wouldn't want to defame such magnificent structures as St. Sava's, Agia Sophia, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, by extolling small buildings as "humble."  True humility is submission to God's will - and in that case, even the largest and most magnificent structures are humble when God dwells therein (I'm specifically thinking of the visit of the Russians to Constantinople).  

IMO what severely hampers our ministry (in many ways) in this country are several interconnected things, including (but not limited to):
- Insufficient and incomplete religious education.
- Improper sense of / commitment to stewardship.
- Inability to focus on theosis as the goal of our lives.

If we were to combat these problems, then I believe you'd find an end to problems of design and aesthetics; but also, more importantly, you'd find an end to problems of slow growth, insufficient charity, and a poor job of fulfilling the Great Commission.
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« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2010, 03:18:37 PM »

Devin,

First: enjoy your trip to Greece.  From the accounts of family and friends, make sure (if you're looking for Orthodox life in the City) you visit Thessaloniki, which will provide a much different experience than the more secular (westernized, etc.) Athens.  

Second: one hurdle to the "humble churches" (which, again, is a judgment) is the size of the parish.  I'd love to see quaint little Churches planted here and there all around the US, but many of the parishes are 400+ families - what do we do, force them to split?  Maybe they can manage/fund/provide more evangelization, charity, and ministry as a larger parish.  Should we expect them to build two small buildings in two locations instead of one larger building in one location?  What happened to One Community, One Eucharist?  I wouldn't want to defame such magnificent structures as St. Sava's, Agia Sophia, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, by extolling small buildings as "humble."  True humility is submission to God's will - and in that case, even the largest and most magnificent structures are humble when God dwells therein (I'm specifically thinking of the visit of the Russians to Constantinople).  

IMO what severely hampers our ministry (in many ways) in this country are several interconnected things, including (but not limited to):
- Insufficient and incomplete religious education.
- Improper sense of / commitment to stewardship.
- Inability to focus on theosis as the goal of our lives.

If we were to combat these problems, then I believe you'd find an end to problems of design and aesthetics; but also, more importantly, you'd find an end to problems of slow growth, insufficient charity, and a poor job of fulfilling the Great Commission.

Yes, I definitely don't have a problem with larger churches, but they should probably be the exception rather than the norm. From what I've seen in my research of Orthodox Countries and architecture, it seems that for the most part, you would have multiple parishes in one city (of course, depending on it's size). Most churches I've seen, especially in areas of Greece, tend to be smaller, while there are some larger churches, I don't think most of the larger ones could fit more than 250-350 people. People in those communities could also walk to church. I've also heard that for some events, the surrounding parishes would gather at one church together.

I definitely agree that there are other, more important issues... But these also greatly affect/influence the other problems.

Also, thank you, I'm sure I will enjoy it in Greece. We will be travelling all over Greece, including Thessaloniki, S. Greece, N. Greece, Athens, Meteora, and we are even spending a week or so in Istanbul and Turkey. I hope to spend some significant time in Church.
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2010, 04:52:37 PM »

^ Well, the historical record bears out that large cities have large Churches; hence, the massive churches/cathedrals present in cities like Old Rome, Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Antioch, Ephesus, etc.  Yes, each of those cities had many, many other Churches - but you still wanted one place that could hold a significant percentage of the population on feast-days and other such holidays. 

As for your travels - enjoy!  While in Southern Greece (if you go to the Southern part of Peloponnisos, near Kalamata) enjoy the many, many beautiful and secluded beaches, the quaint village churches, etc. 
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