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SeraphimShott
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« on: February 17, 2011, 05:43:30 PM »

Hello All and God Bless,

Recently a few families in the Church I attend have left. They wrote a nasty letter to the Bishop and they have also encouraged other families to leave. Have any of you experienced such a thing. Do you reach out to these families or just let them go? It all seems so crazy to me. The families that left are recent converts. It is sad to see them leave. At the same time I am frustrated as they have made many misleading comments about our Church and Priest. They have also began looking into starting a new Orthodox Church in the same area. It just seems so unChristian. Thank you for any help. Lord Have Mercy! Terry
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 06:04:25 PM »


Why are they leaving?

If they have been misled, can most certainly should try to explain to them that they have misunderstood something, or don't "know the whole story", etc.

If you cannot "keep" them....let them go, and don't worry about it.

Work on attracting new members, and let the ones who want to leave, leave.

The Church doesn't "force" anyone to stay.  Just pray for them, and for your parish.

...and if something is truly "broken" in your parish try to fix it, before others leave.



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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 06:46:15 PM »

I think it would be helpful to know why they left.

But, that said...people leave.  It would recommend trying to be a bridge-builder and definitely contact them.  I think a card is more appropriate since they're very upset and you don't want to start a angry gossip fest on the phone.  Just a note saying you're sorry they've left and that you hope and pray they find a loving parish-  etc. etc. Say something loving to show you care about them - don't try to convince them to stay.  Let the Holy Spirit work on that part.

It is really sad to see people leave AND burn bridges.  If they're going to be in the same area, then chances are, they're going to run into some of the people from your parish (including the priest) at pan-Orthodox functions.  They'll need to take responsibility for the way they left at some point in time, JMHO.



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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 07:02:07 PM »

Lord have mercy!
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 07:14:49 PM »

Ah, the American pioneering spirit in full-force...  Roll Eyes
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SeraphimShott
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 10:54:47 PM »

As far as the reason for the families leaving I believe that it has to do with pride. Also, the family is new to Orthodoxy and I think that they think that they are more Orthodox than the Priest and most members of the Church. I guess you could say they are leaving to find a more Orthodox Church.
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Shlomlokh
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 11:11:31 PM »

As far as the reason for the families leaving I believe that it has to do with pride. Also, the family is new to Orthodoxy and I think that they think that they are more Orthodox than the Priest and most members of the Church. I guess you could say they are leaving to find a more Orthodox Church.
We had this at our mission, sadly. The families did not like that our priest wanted people to confess on a regular basis and that he wanted people to attend Vigil the night before Liturgy to prepare them to receive Communion (as our Bishop has requested) if they were to receive the next day.

They accused him of being a cult leader and that he wasn't really Orthodox. They tried to destroy the mission by bringing as many people as they could with them. It was a terribly sad situation. If they had talked with our priest, he would have no doubt listened to their concerns and tried to work something out with them. Our bishop was terribly hurt by it, because he knows that they were slandering our priest and his family. The 2 families went to a Greek church where they don't have to confess but maybe once a year and don't have to go to Vigil services. So yeah, it was basically a "I'm more Orthodox than you!" situation. Sad Just horrible!

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 11:19:38 PM »

As far as the reason for the families leaving I believe that it has to do with pride. Also, the family is new to Orthodoxy and I think that they think that they are more Orthodox than the Priest and most members of the Church. I guess you could say they are leaving to find a more Orthodox Church.
We had this at our mission, sadly. The families did not like that our priest wanted people to confess on a regular basis and that he wanted people to attend Vigil the night before Liturgy to prepare them to receive Communion (as our Bishop has requested) if they were to receive the next day.

They accused him of being a cult leader and that he wasn't really Orthodox. They tried to destroy the mission by bringing as many people as they could with them. It was a terribly sad situation. If they had talked with our priest, he would have no doubt listened to their concerns and tried to work something out with them. Our bishop was terribly hurt by it, because he knows that they were slandering our priest and his family. The 2 families went to a Greek church where they don't have to confess but maybe once a year and don't have to go to Vigil services. So yeah, it was basically a "I'm more Orthodox than you!" situation. Sad Just horrible!

In Christ,
Andrew
Yours is the ideal situation, but I have a feeling that the families of the OP might be looking for a church with a real all-night vigil, not just the truncated Russian form. Wink
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Shlomlokh
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 11:49:10 PM »

As far as the reason for the families leaving I believe that it has to do with pride. Also, the family is new to Orthodoxy and I think that they think that they are more Orthodox than the Priest and most members of the Church. I guess you could say they are leaving to find a more Orthodox Church.
We had this at our mission, sadly. The families did not like that our priest wanted people to confess on a regular basis and that he wanted people to attend Vigil the night before Liturgy to prepare them to receive Communion (as our Bishop has requested) if they were to receive the next day.

They accused him of being a cult leader and that he wasn't really Orthodox. They tried to destroy the mission by bringing as many people as they could with them. It was a terribly sad situation. If they had talked with our priest, he would have no doubt listened to their concerns and tried to work something out with them. Our bishop was terribly hurt by it, because he knows that they were slandering our priest and his family. The 2 families went to a Greek church where they don't have to confess but maybe once a year and don't have to go to Vigil services. So yeah, it was basically a "I'm more Orthodox than you!" situation. Sad Just horrible!

In Christ,
Andrew
Yours is the ideal situation, but I have a feeling that the families of the OP might be looking for a church with a real all-night vigil, not just the truncated Russian form. Wink
It's possible, I suppose. But it's hard enough here in the States at least to get people to come to the "truncated Vigil." It's in situations like this where I understand your apprehension for converts.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2011, 12:09:03 AM »

this vigil we're speaking of is similar to great vespers, no?
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Shlomlokh
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2011, 12:49:09 AM »

this vigil we're speaking of is similar to great vespers, no?
In my situation at our mission it was Great Vespers + Matins version of the Vigil on Saturday nights.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2011, 01:16:42 AM »

As far as the reason for the families leaving I believe that it has to do with pride. Also, the family is new to Orthodoxy and I think that they think that they are more Orthodox than the Priest and most members of the Church. I guess you could say they are leaving to find a more Orthodox Church.
We had this at our mission, sadly. The families did not like that our priest wanted people to confess on a regular basis and that he wanted people to attend Vigil the night before Liturgy to prepare them to receive Communion (as our Bishop has requested) if they were to receive the next day.

They accused him of being a cult leader and that he wasn't really Orthodox. They tried to destroy the mission by bringing as many people as they could with them. It was a terribly sad situation. If they had talked with our priest, he would have no doubt listened to their concerns and tried to work something out with them. Our bishop was terribly hurt by it, because he knows that they were slandering our priest and his family. The 2 families went to a Greek church where they don't have to confess but maybe once a year and don't have to go to Vigil services. So yeah, it was basically a "I'm more Orthodox than you!" situation. Sad Just horrible!

In Christ,
Andrew
Yours is the ideal situation, but I have a feeling that the families of the OP might be looking for a church with a real all-night vigil, not just the truncated Russian form. Wink
It's possible, I suppose. But it's hard enough here in the States at least to get people to come to the "truncated Vigil." It's in situations like this where I understand your apprehension for converts.

In Christ,
Andrew
LOL. I've been to plenty of the Russian All Night Vigil where the only cradle is the priest and his wife. How many at yours, Augustin?
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2011, 01:21:49 AM »

Hello All and God Bless,

Recently a few families in the Church I attend have left. They wrote a nasty letter to the Bishop and they have also encouraged other families to leave. Have any of you experienced such a thing. Do you reach out to these families or just let them go? It all seems so crazy to me. The families that left are recent converts. It is sad to see them leave. At the same time I am frustrated as they have made many misleading comments about our Church and Priest. They have also began looking into starting a new Orthodox Church in the same area. It just seems so unChristian. Thank you for any help. Lord Have Mercy! Terry
Since they are going to another Orthodox Church, there isn't much to do or worry about. Yes, hurt feelings, but if it leads to two thriving Churches instead of one, so much the better.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2011, 10:21:44 AM »

It sounds like Shlomlockh's Bulgarian mission and SeraphimShott's Antiochian parish just need to make an even trade.  Wink

SeraphimShott, out of curiosity, do you know if this family is seeking refuge in another jurisdiction that is in communion with your own, or do you know if they intend to join one of the many self-proclaimed "True" or "Genuine" Orthodox groups that are not in communion with anyone else?

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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2011, 10:25:40 AM »

Having people leave a church is common in any denomination.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Writing nasty letters and encouraging disharmony is another matter completely.  I have left a couple of churches in my time.  I have always believed that I owed the leaders of the congregation an explanation as to why I was leaving.  I never was nasty about it because I always wanted to leave the possibility open that I was wrong.  Coming back is a lot easier if you have not made an a$$ of yourself on the way out.

Hello All and God Bless,

Recently a few families in the Church I attend have left. They wrote a nasty letter to the Bishop and they have also encouraged other families to leave. Have any of you experienced such a thing. Do you reach out to these families or just let them go? It all seems so crazy to me. The families that left are recent converts. It is sad to see them leave. At the same time I am frustrated as they have made many misleading comments about our Church and Priest. They have also began looking into starting a new Orthodox Church in the same area. It just seems so unChristian. Thank you for any help. Lord Have Mercy! Terry
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« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2011, 10:26:52 AM »

Do we know well enough why this family left their parish to be able to judge them (i.e., gossip) on an Internet discussion board?
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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2011, 10:59:08 AM »

I agree with Peter on this one. Without knowing all of the facts about specific situations it is inappropriate for us to speculate why people leave their church. It is also something that is somewhat unique to the US where if you want to leave a church there is usually another one pretty close to go to. Now that might not hold true in some rural areas, but in major and minor cities you can often have 5-100 Orthodox churches. In Chicago for example, we have 78 Orthodox churches of various denominations, often within minutes of each other. In downtown we have 2 churches which are basically a block from each other. One is an OCA parish with the diocese attached to it and the other is the Greek Cathedral where Met. Iakovos serves. In cases like these it is not uncommon to go "parish jumping".

As far as leaving a church, I've left 2 churches in my time so far, one was due to a disagreement of protocol related to singing responses and the other due to my assertion of financial improprieties which was basically ignored. Both of these are long stories which I will not go publicly into detail about. If you have burning questions, we can have a private discussion about it, but otherwise I would request no questions related to those topics.

-Nick
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SeraphimShott
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2011, 12:49:05 PM »

Do we know well enough why this family left their parish to be able to judge them (i.e., gossip) on an Internet discussion board?

I do agree that judging the families that left is not helpful. I do seek guidance on whether to reach out to these families or not. I appreciate everyone's input. At this point three families have left our parish. Basically one family has spearheaded the leaving and two families have joined them. I feel that I am not misleading when I say that they are leaving because or pride "not getting the changes they want" and because they don't feel the parish is "Orthodox" enough. The priest is not teaching any false doctrine, having an affair, stealing money, or anything like it. There are not any other Orthodox Churches within an hours drive. All three of the families are now going to OCA Church's. One family is going to an OCA Church an hour away and the other two are going to an OCA Church two hours aways. My question still remains have people experienced the pain of families leaving the Church and if so how they responded. I would be interested as well to hear from the people who have mentioned that they left a Church what if anything would you have liked for a layman such as myself to done when you left. Reach out to you or not. I did talk to a Priest (not my parish priest) last night and he gave me a lot of helpful input. I will add a quote he gave me that has helped me. Lord Have Mercy!

Flies and Bees - Advice from Elder Paisios

Father Paisios provides us with wise advice about negative thinking using an example of flies and bees.  As usual he is most insightful.
"I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.  A third category does not exist; people either belong to one of the other.  The first one resembles the fly.  The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt.  For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even know what a rose looks like.  I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and dirt."  there are some people who resemble the fly.  People belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.
The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on.  When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet.  Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: "I don't know.  I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar; it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil."  This is the second category of people who have a positive way of thinking, and see only the good side of things.  They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.
When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people, and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example.  Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with."

From Elder Paisios on the Holy Mountain by PriestMonk Christodoulos, p.43-44
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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2011, 01:42:20 PM »

Do we know well enough why this family left their parish to be able to judge them (i.e., gossip) on an Internet discussion board?

I do agree that judging the families that left is not helpful. I do seek guidance on whether to reach out to these families or not. I appreciate everyone's input. At this point three families have left our parish. Basically one family has spearheaded the leaving and two families have joined them. I feel that I am not misleading when I say that they are leaving because or pride "not getting the changes they want" and because they don't feel the parish is "Orthodox" enough. The priest is not teaching any false doctrine, having an affair, stealing money, or anything like it. There are not any other Orthodox Churches within an hours drive. All three of the families are now going to OCA Church's. One family is going to an OCA Church an hour away and the other two are going to an OCA Church two hours aways. My question still remains have people experienced the pain of families leaving the Church and if so how they responded. I would be interested as well to hear from the people who have mentioned that they left a Church what if anything would you have liked for a layman such as myself to done when you left. Reach out to you or not. I did talk to a Priest (not my parish priest) last night and he gave me a lot of helpful input. I will add a quote he gave me that has helped me. Lord Have Mercy!

Flies and Bees - Advice from Elder Paisios

Father Paisios provides us with wise advice about negative thinking using an example of flies and bees.  As usual he is most insightful.
"I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.  A third category does not exist; people either belong to one of the other.  The first one resembles the fly.  The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt.  For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even know what a rose looks like.  I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and dirt."  there are some people who resemble the fly.  People belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.
The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on.  When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet.  Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: "I don't know.  I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar; it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil."  This is the second category of people who have a positive way of thinking, and see only the good side of things.  They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.
When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people, and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example.  Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with."

From Elder Paisios on the Holy Mountain by PriestMonk Christodoulos, p.43-44
And what about you? In which of the two above categories do you see yourself, as a fly or as a bee?
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2011, 01:47:37 PM »

Perhaps some of us do not believe that there are only two categories.  I don't.  I am human, not an insect.  Christ came down to this earth to take what was dirty and defiled and raise it up to become clean and Holy.  As Christians, that is also our mission, starting with ourselves.  Because someone simply points out an error with the desire to understand how to correct it or deal with it does not automatically place them into some simplistic category.

Do we know well enough why this family left their parish to be able to judge them (i.e., gossip) on an Internet discussion board?

I do agree that judging the families that left is not helpful. I do seek guidance on whether to reach out to these families or not. I appreciate everyone's input. At this point three families have left our parish. Basically one family has spearheaded the leaving and two families have joined them. I feel that I am not misleading when I say that they are leaving because or pride "not getting the changes they want" and because they don't feel the parish is "Orthodox" enough. The priest is not teaching any false doctrine, having an affair, stealing money, or anything like it. There are not any other Orthodox Churches within an hours drive. All three of the families are now going to OCA Church's. One family is going to an OCA Church an hour away and the other two are going to an OCA Church two hours aways. My question still remains have people experienced the pain of families leaving the Church and if so how they responded. I would be interested as well to hear from the people who have mentioned that they left a Church what if anything would you have liked for a layman such as myself to done when you left. Reach out to you or not. I did talk to a Priest (not my parish priest) last night and he gave me a lot of helpful input. I will add a quote he gave me that has helped me. Lord Have Mercy!

Flies and Bees - Advice from Elder Paisios

Father Paisios provides us with wise advice about negative thinking using an example of flies and bees.  As usual he is most insightful.
"I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.  A third category does not exist; people either belong to one of the other.  The first one resembles the fly.  The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt.  For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even know what a rose looks like.  I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and dirt."  there are some people who resemble the fly.  People belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.
The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on.  When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet.  Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: "I don't know.  I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar; it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil."  This is the second category of people who have a positive way of thinking, and see only the good side of things.  They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.
When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people, and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example.  Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with."

From Elder Paisios on the Holy Mountain by PriestMonk Christodoulos, p.43-44
And what about you? In which of the two above categories do you see yourself, as a fly or as a bee?
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2011, 01:55:26 PM »

Hello All and God Bless,

Recently a few families in the Church I attend have left. They wrote a nasty letter to the Bishop and they have also encouraged other families to leave. Have any of you experienced such a thing. Do you reach out to these families or just let them go? It all seems so crazy to me. The families that left are recent converts. It is sad to see them leave. At the same time I am frustrated as they have made many misleading comments about our Church and Priest. They have also began looking into starting a new Orthodox Church in the same area. It just seems so unChristian. Thank you for any help. Lord Have Mercy! Terry

Could you please transcribe the written complaints contained in the letter to the Bishop, enlarge upon the comments that have been about your Church and Priest, and also state in detail the reasons that are being adduced to encourage other families to leave?
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2011, 03:44:00 PM »

This is my first post. I am learning that it easy to get off topic on a discussion board. In hindsight I should have worded things better. Basically I wanted to know your opinions on whether or not I should reach out to some dissatisfied families who have left the Church. I realize that the families that have left from their point of view feel they are doing the right thing. From my end I am saddened to see them leave and I am hurt and to some degree angry in how they left the Church. I am grateful for the people willing to take time to leave input on this topic. It was not my desire to gossip or slander the families that have left. It seems that my entry on the Bees and Flies did more to distract than to help as well. I think the Priest was trying to say that sometimes people get so focused on the negative things they see that they cannot see the positive things that are happening around them. It would have been better may be to have kept this to myself. As for myself sometimes I am like the fly and sometimes I am like the bee. With Gods Grace I hope to be more like the bee. I will take the advice of the entry that said to send a letter wishing the leaving families well. I am not planning on making more entries on this post as I feel like I now know what I need to do. Thank you all for your help!
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2011, 04:10:30 PM »

To stay on topic..my family and I left our charismatic Church of God after being there for approximately 4 years. We left because we have found the Truth in Orthodoxy. My experience has been overall a good one. What we found most appreciative were the people that have continued to love us, speak to us when we see them, or have reached out to us on social networks such as Facebook, etc. I think your idea to write them is very good, and commendable. Even better, is that if you were usually cordial with them...or spending time with them outside of the parish setting....to continue doing so. We have dear friends still attending the church we left, and they have not changed their actions or attitude with us since leaving. This has been the greatest experience I could have expected. However, there have been some unpleasantries in the situation...including finding that for several sermons following our departure, the pastor 1) asked for the church to pray for an "anonymous" couple that had left the church to follow after false doctrine, and 2)began a series about the evils of "praying to idols," worshipping Mary, and how the "Devil can get hold of the saints and lead them to destruction( read that to say, disagree with the pastor on doctrine or theology)". I will pray for your situation and parish brother...as well as the families that have left.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar
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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2011, 05:01:53 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
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« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2011, 07:53:18 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
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« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2011, 08:35:40 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.

What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?
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« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2011, 08:52:06 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

that man is flawed but we have shown a way to improve and gossip is not one of them
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« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2011, 09:36:20 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.

What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?

I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.

« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 09:41:30 PM by Second Chance » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2011, 04:30:58 AM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That at the same time that Orthodoxy is the religion that Christ founded, faithfully preserved and upheld through the centuries...well, parish life can sometimes be challenging or difficult because we're dealing with people who are not all perfect.

We must love other people, pray for other people and have patience for the failings of other people.  For it's own sake, yes; and also so that when we make a fool of ourselves, they'll be patient with us.

$0.02
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« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2011, 11:45:18 AM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.

What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?

I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.


Thanks, Second Chance, you saved me a lot of time as you expressed my feelings on the question. I remember many years ago that SCOBA, the standing conference of canonical Bishops, had a slogan for their 'Pan-Orthodox' activities. It was 'Unity in Diversity'. Sounds trite, but as I have learned over the years it speaks to the real truths that unite us - not the petty stuff. One person's petty stuff is another person's boulder. Go figure.
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« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2011, 01:16:09 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.

What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?

I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.



Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.
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« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2011, 01:20:45 PM »

So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?

That at the same time that Orthodoxy is the religion that Christ founded, faithfully preserved and upheld through the centuries...well, parish life can sometimes be challenging or difficult because we're dealing with people who are not all perfect.

We must love other people, pray for other people and have patience for the failings of other people.  For it's own sake, yes; and also so that when we make a fool of ourselves, they'll be patient with us.

$0.02

Very thoughtful post.  Thank you.
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« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2011, 01:21:38 PM »

Ah, the American pioneering spirit in full-force...  Roll Eyes

As it is said in the rooms of America's pioneering religion par excellence, AA:

All that is needed for a new meeting is two drunks, a coffee pot, and a resentment.
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