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Author Topic: Why were Methodists more evangelistic than the Orthodox?  (Read 1984 times) Average Rating: 0
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KevinOrr
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« on: February 08, 2011, 06:01:58 PM »

I just watched the following video about the rural roots of Methodism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BGLMk37Xs

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 06:06:54 PM »

First you must wonder if the mentality of the typical believer is even as evangelistic. If not, then the reason for the discrepancy in evangelistic success is obvious.
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 06:19:04 PM »

I just watched the following video about the rural roots of Methodism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BGLMk37Xs

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?

As far as I know, Methodists dont have to stand through a 2 hour Vigil Sat. and nearly as long Sunday for Liturgy. They don't have to fast Wed. and Friday and half of the rest of the year. They are not expected to say a rule of prayer each morning and evening with special prayers after that 2 hour standing Vigil Saturday Nights ( which pretty much puts the keebosh on dinner and a movie). And Christmas doesn't come round until January.

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

I think we have a tougher sell.
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 06:24:28 PM »

I just watched the following video about the rural roots of Methodism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BGLMk37Xs

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?
The primary obstacles include language and culture. Wesley spoke English, and was an Anglican priest.

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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 06:32:12 PM »

How is one to quantify evangelism to say that one group is more evangelistic than the other? I think the Orthodox Church is very, very evangelistic. It is the Church which Christ founded and follows the example of the Holy Apostles. There are Orthodox missionaries throughout the world and every Orthodox Christian has and often exercises an evangelistic responsibility. Orthodoxy's mission history has been more geared toward evangelism of non-Christian peoples, as opposed to bringing heterodox Christians into the Church. Protestants, particularly in America, have had a history of switching churches and confessions and conducting evangelism amongst other Christians--this in the days before most mainline Protestants had adopted the modern line of "I'm okay, you're okay." There were plenty of Methodist missionaries in Alaska luring Orthodox Native Alaskans into their communion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, the Pentecostals and Evangelicals have taken up where they left off. I could go into what Orthodoxy offers potential converts as opposed to what non-Orthodox groups do, but that might be more than you want to know.
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2011, 06:43:30 PM »

Shanghaiski, in my experience, lamentably, the average EO or OO has almost zero interest in attempting to convince non-Orthodox of the truth of our religion, or even makes any consideration that this ought to be a concern of theirs.
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2011, 06:51:55 PM »

Shanghaiski, in my experience, lamentably, the average EO or OO has almost zero interest in attempting to convince non-Orthodox of the truth of our religion, or even makes any consideration that this ought to be a concern of theirs.

I don't consider trying to convince non-Orthodox of the truth as the be all and end all of evangelism. Evangelism, to me, begins with living an Orthodox life, a life centered on the Gospel and love for Christ. Many live this life without even realizing it. And, as part of living this life, are shining examples of virtue even though they would only see themselves as the worst sinners. Their work is the showing of love, the offering of prayers, the support of the church community, fidelity and dependability. Their kind words and deeds are sermons and their good actions are confessions of faith. They may have not read any book on the faith, but their virtue qualifies them to instruct the learned. Words and arguments may fail due to inexperience, lack of a gift or blessing, or lack of discernment or discretion. Truth is not confined to words. Indeed, it is personal, relating to the Person of Christ, Who is Truth. It is those who know Christ who are able to effectively work with Him. Such evangelists are not found outside the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 06:52:47 PM »

I think it might have to do with our historically Protestant culture.
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2011, 06:55:17 PM »

I don't consider trying to convince non-Orthodox of the truth as the be all and end all of evangelism.

Nor do I. But I regard it as a very important component.
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 06:56:23 PM »

I just watched the following video about the rural roots of Methodism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BGLMk37Xs

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?

As far as I know, Methodists dont have to stand through a 2 hour Vigil Sat. and nearly as long Sunday for Liturgy. They don't have to fast Wed. and Friday and half of the rest of the year. They are not expected to say a rule of prayer each morning and evening with special prayers after that 2 hour standing Vigil Saturday Nights ( which pretty much puts the keebosh on dinner and a movie). And Christmas doesn't come round until January.

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

I think we have a tougher sell.
Most Orthodox don't feel they have to do any of these, at least not on a regular basis.
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2011, 07:31:47 PM »

Reality time here.

In 19th century America and into the twentieth as well, an even more white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant mind-set prevailed across the United States. From the so-called Know-Nothing Party adherents in th 1840's, through the Civil War, to the anti-Irish (and Catholic) riots and discriminatory hiring practices through the Klu Klux Klan to the draconian restrictions on immigration enacted in the 1920's during the heart of the 'Red Scare' and on into the present day's anti-immigrant mind-set, America's general culture has not always been not as accepting of foreigners who spoke a funny language, wore odd clothes and even worse, practiced a religion that no one had ever really heard of as our popular mythology would suggest.

The first Orthodox immigrants to these shores had other priorities on their plates than evangelism. They had to learn a new language, find and hold onto a job or jobs, band together with their fellow countrymen and co-religionists and acquire land, find a priest and build a church building, marry, raise a family in the Faith and in the traditions of their ancestors and most importantly, obtain precious citizenship.

Many faced ridicule and humiliation on a daily basis as they tried to live their lives. For those who were Greek Catholic, they found themselves surrounded by both the general Protestant establishment and a Roman Catholic Church that refused to acknowledge their right to exist and which tried to thwart them at every opportunity. For both Orthodox and Greek Catholics alike, many worked to the bone, sacrificed much to establish their beloved churches, only to see them taken away through schism, overseas revolutions and the very evangelism that you speak of by the Protestants as a final insult to their dignity.

Frankly, I have to say this. The very asking of this question in the manner in which the OP posed it points to the heart of the reasons why many of us who were born into Orthodoxy and are the children and grandchildren of those who planted the faith on this continent have a problem with the attitudes that many converts bring with them as they discover the beauty and saving grace of the Orthodox Faith.

Now that the Faith is planted and maturing, we all have to work together to move past these man-made divisions within our parish communities and across our jurisdictional lines. If we fail to do so in a charitable and loving manner, the next question posed in the future will be how did the Orthodox allow the Faith to die off in North America.
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 08:15:29 PM »

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?

Simple. When America was young, it was even more racist. In a culture where millions of western Roman Catholics were systematically excluded, a handful of olive-skinned, funny-sounding, Eastern European or Middle Eastern Orthodox didn't stand a chance. In fact, they were beat up, had their churches vandalized, etc.
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2011, 08:21:58 PM »

Methodist missionaries went out to the poor farmers and labourers, and preached the Gospel. The message was straightforward, passionate and immediately understandable to the common man. Even today, they are enthusiastic to share their faith and understanding of the Christian faith. I know where the Methodist churches are in my city. I only need walk 20 minutes in any direction and I'll get to one.

Do Orthodox do evangelism? None that I have seen!

Most people would probably be able to complete a Rubik's Cube far quicker than they'd be able to find any information about the local Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2011, 08:57:13 PM »

Initially Methodist followed The Methodist Rule" that held fast days twice a week, the eskewing of alcohol use, the spiritual awakening of a personal relationship with God and requesting a redirection of their lifestyle---all things pioneer America needed as they were abandoned by their mother churches  as they went west. As mentioned above there was a definite disconnect between pioneer americans and immigrant Americans.

Today, Methodists are leaving their churches and many are coming to Holy Orthodoxy {my own priest is a convert from Methodism} due to the Methodist's abandonment ofbtraditional orthodoxy Christian beliefs found in the Methodist Rule. The reading of both John and Charles Wesley show a love of the early Church Fathers. Now the seed of Orthodoxy   planted by those Orthodox Immigrants is bearing fruit with the grandchildren of those methodist pioneers.

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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2011, 09:21:29 PM »

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

What scandalous fashion trend occurred among the pickle boat immigrants circa 1900?
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2011, 09:40:02 PM »

I just watched the following video about the rural roots of Methodism in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BGLMk37Xs

It got me to thinking, why is this video about the success of the Methodists and not of the Orthodox? What I am curious about is...is there something inherent about Orthodoxy that created obstacles which prevented Orthodoxy from taking hold when America was young?

Aside from the problems other posters have brought up about discrimination and bias against "Eastern" cultures I think we also have to look at not one but two factors.

1) It would have been fairly impossible for Orthodoxy to take hold when America was young.  When America was young it was just fresh from being a British colony.  Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics were all there were (there was one Orthodox family in America at the time, and a Greek colony in the still Spanish dependency of Florida).  There was a problem of logistics involved, as well.  Immigrants from Orthodox countries first had to travel the entire length of Europe before they could even think of coming to America.

2) Orthodoxy did take hold in the Americas when America was young.  Unlike Methodism, which spread pretty much among already Christian (at least nominally) families Orthodoxy spread among the Native American cultures of Alaska.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 09:41:21 PM by FormerReformer » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 10:05:35 PM »

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

What scandalous fashion trend occurred among the pickle boat immigrants circa 1900?

Head covered, long skirt, long sleeves, no pants allowed or cleavage showing.

When I go to parish council meetings or see my Church sisters away from services, they are dressed normally. It's really funny how scandalized I am when i see them, all made up.  Huzzies.

I think evangelization varies from place to place. I have been in two parishes. Each are made up mostly of converts. How did that happen?
 
I dont think evangelization should be going out and knocking on doors or arguing people into something. I think as we go about our religious life people notice or come by and that is how we have been growing. We just do what we do and people notice and want something more than what they have.
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 10:15:03 PM »

As far as I know, Methodists dont have to stand through a 2 hour Vigil Sat. and nearly as long Sunday for Liturgy. They don't have to fast Wed. and Friday and half of the rest of the year. They are not expected to say a rule of prayer each morning and evening with special prayers after that 2 hour standing Vigil Saturday Nights ( which pretty much puts the keebosh on dinner and a movie). And Christmas doesn't come round until January.

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

I think we have a tougher sell.

The pitch sure seemed to work on you. Some people get excited about rigor and regimentation, as it feeds into their obsessive impulses. All that ritual and a strict dress codes sure can make you feel better than everyone else. Elitism is a marketing tactic of its own, and what's more exclusive than the One True Church? Join today!
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 10:49:57 PM »

As far as I know, Methodists dont have to stand through a 2 hour Vigil Sat. and nearly as long Sunday for Liturgy. They don't have to fast Wed. and Friday and half of the rest of the year. They are not expected to say a rule of prayer each morning and evening with special prayers after that 2 hour standing Vigil Saturday Nights ( which pretty much puts the keebosh on dinner and a movie). And Christmas doesn't come round until January.

Oh and if youre a Woman you need to dress like an immigrant who just got off the pickle boat from Eastern Europe pre 1900.

I think we have a tougher sell.

The pitch sure seemed to work on you. Some people get excited about rigor and regimentation, as it feeds into their obsessive impulses. All that ritual and a strict dress codes sure can make you feel better than everyone else. Elitism is a marketing tactic of its own, and what's more exclusive than the One True Church? Join today!

Indeed. The Few, The Tough , The Orthodox.   
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2011, 11:22:50 PM »

Got a lot more responses than I anticipated! Thank you for all the great comments. I especially like the perspective that Podkarpatska shared. Just imagine how different things would have been if Orthodoxy had taken hold in America rather than Protestantism.

Thomas, I would love to hear your priest's story. I am a United Methodist pastor who has been drawn toward Orthodoxy for many years. I've been having to live with some tension.

Could it be that after centuries of church and state being equally yoked (ex. if you are Greek, you are Orthodox), that the impulse to evangelize had atrophied? Only now it appears that evangelization is gaining steam among the Orthodox.

I never thought about how Orthodoxy would be more fruitful among non-Christian cultures, such as the Inuit in Alaska. Several have pointed out how evangelism among us Protestants often amounts to "sheep stealing."
Could the perception of Orthodoxy being "elitist" or too much of an "open secret" be real obstacles?
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« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2011, 12:19:01 AM »


Could it be that after centuries of church and state being equally yoked (ex. if you are Greek, you are Orthodox), that the impulse to evangelize had atrophied? Only now it appears that evangelization is gaining steam among the Orthodox

Actually, I think it's the exact opposite.  During periods of persecution outward evangelism drops (for example during the Roman persecution of the early first millennium, the Ottoman Empire, or the Communist regimes) and converts are won more through the testimony of martyrdom.  When the state and the Church work together (to some extent) evangelism and missionary activity pick up.  Examples of this would be the missionary activity of Sts Cyril and Methodius to the Slavs and the work of the Russians amongst the Aleuts and the Japanese and the current increase in missionary activity now that the traditionally Orthodox lands are freed from Communist oppression.  Keep in mind that during a large part of the 20th Century the only free Orthodox country was Greece (the Four remaining Sees of the Pentarchy being under Muslim oppression to a large degree), and while there certainly have been missionaries from there it's not a large enough country to supply enough missionaries for the entire world unless the entire population were to leave (in which case there would be no Greece!).
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2011, 10:59:47 AM »

FormerReform,
   Yes, of course. I was just thinking that if you're born Greek, you're Orthodox. If you're born Serbian, you're Orthodox, it just wouldn't make sense to be evangelizing. Everyone presumptively already would be in the faith. But, yes, I would imagine that coming out of countries where Orthodoxy is a repressed minority, that would also put a damper on evangelism. And,yes, because America was being settled primarily by English speakers from Great Britain, Orthodoxy would have a definite disadvantage.
    I'm still wondering, though, if there is something organizational, structural, or ecclessiological about Orthodoxy that causes obstacles to a more robust evangelization of any nation, not just America.
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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2011, 11:30:14 AM »

FormerReform,
   Yes, of course. I was just thinking that if you're born Greek, you're Orthodox. If you're born Serbian, you're Orthodox, it just wouldn't make sense to be evangelizing. Everyone presumptively already would be in the faith. But, yes, I would imagine that coming out of countries where Orthodoxy is a repressed minority, that would also put a damper on evangelism. And,yes, because America was being settled primarily by English speakers from Great Britain, Orthodoxy would have a definite disadvantage.
    I'm still wondering, though, if there is something organizational, structural, or ecclessiological about Orthodoxy that causes obstacles to a more robust evangelization of any nation, not just America.

What country has Methodism evangelized fully? Orthodoxy has evangelized Russia, Greece, the whole Middle East prior to Islam, the Balkan countries, and all the Western European countries for that matter prior to the schism. Today, the Church of Russia is on a program of re-evangelizing after communism. There have also been missions to Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia, and Orthodoxy is spreading fast in Africa and Latin America. I'm afraid I don't see a lag in Orthodox evangelism.
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« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2011, 11:52:41 AM »

Dear Reverend Orr,

It may be beneficial for you to talk to or read about former Protestant pastors (and others) who converted to Orthodoxy. May I recommend talking to:

Father Andrew Harrison at http://www.stlukeorthodox.com/html/parishinfo.cfm
Father Thomas Moore at http://holyapostles.org/wordpress/

The following books are also very informative:

Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith by Peter E. Gillquist
Thirsting For God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin
Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity by A. James Bernstein

In Christ, Kyrill
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2011, 01:54:08 PM »

What country has Methodism evangelized fully?

Um, Tonga?

Quote
Orthodoxy has evangelized Russia, Greece, the whole Middle East prior to Islam, the Balkan countries, and all the Western European countries for that matter prior to the schism.

Well, much of that (and forget claiming the whole of Western Europe, which belongs to the Bishop of Rome, thank you) is of the "as the king goes, so goes the nation" sort. I expect the Orthodox churches to reclaim much of the Slavic population, but as for Korea, the Catholics got there first but it was the Methodists and Presbyterians who really lit the fire; today a quarter of the South Korean population is Christian (and that's half of those professing any religion). Africa is, excepting the northwest, Catholic and Anglican territory, and likely to remain so.

Anyway, the reason the Methodists did so well in 19th and early 20th century America was simple: they had a system. And since it didn't involve clerics, it was easy to spread. The three great names of Montana evangelization were Daniel Tuttle for the Episcopalians, John de Smet for the Catholics, and William Wesley Van Orsdel for the Methodists; but the last was no pastor. "Brother Van", however, was everywhere, preaching to everybody, setting up congregations out of saloons and wherever else he could gather enough people together. In other words, they functioned like 20th century evangelicals, except they were an organized church.
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2011, 02:27:00 PM »

I think the Orthodox Church is very, very evangelistic.

Do tell...
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« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2011, 11:33:22 PM »

I think the Orthodox Church is very, very evangelistic.
Do tell...

I second the motion.  Most people in countries I've lived in have had, at best, a vague idea of what Orthodoxy is.  This doesn't speak to their evangelistic fervor.  Perhaps they were very, very evangelistic.

Dear Reverend Orr,
It may be beneficial for you to talk to or read about former Protestant pastors (and others) who converted to Orthodoxy. May I recommend talking to...

Semi-related, but I wanted to mention that I was directed to a recent sermon given by a mainstream American Presbyterian minister on... Theosis!  It was quite good actually, with various quotes from Fathers.  Who would've guessed?
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2011, 09:32:55 AM »

Semi-related, but I wanted to mention that I was directed to a recent sermon given by a mainstream American Presbyterian minister on... Theosis!  It was quite good actually, with various quotes from Fathers.  Who would've guessed?

This is a good sign, and I think one that demonstrates that many protestant pastors are becoming increasingly aware of the ancient faith and her traditions!
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« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2011, 09:42:22 AM »

Semi-related, but I wanted to mention that I was directed to a recent sermon given by a mainstream American Presbyterian minister on... Theosis!  It was quite good actually, with various quotes from Fathers.  Who would've guessed?

This is a good sign, and I think one that demonstrates that many protestant pastors are becoming increasingly aware of the ancient faith and her traditions!
Calvin is rolling in his grave.
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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2011, 11:31:01 AM »

Semi-related, but I wanted to mention that I was directed to a recent sermon given by a mainstream American Presbyterian minister on... Theosis!  It was quite good actually, with various quotes from Fathers.  Who would've guessed?

This is a good sign, and I think one that demonstrates that many protestant pastors are becoming increasingly aware of the ancient faith and her traditions!
Calvin is rolling in his grave.

Why?
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1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
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