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Author Topic: Coordinating mission work  (Read 778 times) Average Rating: 0
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Agabus
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« on: April 13, 2011, 11:34:52 AM »

NOTE: This is a repost (with a slight addendum) from this thread, but on reflection I think it is a bit off-topic and would be better discussed here. Mods, I won't take offense if you close it down, not that my personal offense matters much.

One thing that has bothered me is the fact that the SCOBA jurisdictions don't seem to be coordinating mission efforts at all. For example, in my state there are now 13 parishes for the approximately 4.5 million people. All the parishes follow the lines of I-20 and I-10; I don't have a problem with that, per se, because that is where you can find the most people, and not all of those have full-time priests.

But one huge swath of the state (the part I live in) has no Orthodox presence, and anyone wishing to attend any Orthodox services must commute a minimum of 80 miles (and in some cases more if you want to hear a liturgy in English). I have been blessed to live in a situation where, though I don't have a lot of income, I have been able to address my bills for months in advance and we are able to dedicate the unfortunate amount of money it takes to go to services. Many people in my area, perhaps most, don't have that luxury.

My area is the state's last major metro to be unevangelized, but in the last couple of years missions have been opened in cities that already had an established -- though I would not say robust -- Orthodox presence, I can only guess because those particular jurisdictions didn't have a pesence there themselves.

I am OK with my situation. I love my parish. I have heard here more than anywhere else that Orthodox evangelism is different (for which I am glad), but how are people even supposed to seek out the Church if it has not in some way already come to them?

I am reminded of the words of St. Paul:

Rom 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.


But perhaps I am just a fool of a konvertsky and need to keep my konvert mouth shut.

« Last Edit: April 13, 2011, 11:36:24 AM by Agabus » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2011, 11:53:14 AM »

NOTE: This is a repost (with a slight addendum) from this thread, but on reflection I think it is a bit off-topic and would be better discussed here. Mods, I won't take offense if you close it down, not that my personal offense matters much.

One thing that has bothered me is the fact that the SCOBA jurisdictions don't seem to be coordinating mission efforts at all. For example, in my state there are now 13 parishes for the approximately 4.5 million people. All the parishes follow the lines of I-20 and I-10; I don't have a problem with that, per se, because that is where you can find the most people, and not all of those have full-time priests.

But one huge swath of the state (the part I live in) has no Orthodox presence, and anyone wishing to attend any Orthodox services must commute a minimum of 80 miles (and in some cases more if you want to hear a liturgy in English). I have been blessed to live in a situation where, though I don't have a lot of income, I have been able to address my bills for months in advance and we are able to dedicate the unfortunate amount of money it takes to go to services. Many people in my area, perhaps most, don't have that luxury.

My area is the state's last major metro to be unevangelized, but in the last couple of years missions have been opened in cities that already had an established -- though I would not say robust -- Orthodox presence, I can only guess because those particular jurisdictions didn't have a pesence there themselves.

I am OK with my situation. I love my parish. I have heard here more than anywhere else that Orthodox evangelism is different (for which I am glad), but how are people even supposed to seek out the Church if it has not in some way already come to them?

I am reminded of the words of St. Paul:

Rom 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.


But perhaps I am just a fool of a konvertsky and need to keep my konvert mouth shut.


IIRC supposedly in the Antioch Archdiocese doesn't found a parish within an hour or so of another Orthodox Church.  I recall something of that issue whenwe opened a new parish on the Southside, and not in Wheaton, which had an OCA parish.
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2011, 12:28:17 PM »

They have one, according to yahoo maps, 22 min away from the OCA church in Cincinnati and I've never been to the GOA church here, but know it's not too far from the OCA church.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2011, 06:30:23 PM »

IIRC supposedly in the Antioch Archdiocese doesn't found a parish within an hour or so of another Orthodox Church.  I recall something of that issue when we opened a new parish on the Southside, and not in Wheaton, which had an OCA parish.

Our Antiochian mission came out of an Antiochian church just 40 minutes away -- the next town "over".
« Last Edit: April 13, 2011, 06:31:31 PM by Thankful » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2011, 09:59:40 AM »

Although I'm certainly no expert, my understanding is that missions are developed or founded when a group of people get together in an area and petition their Bishop for permission. The details of the process vary, I believe, according to jurisdiction, but there are issues of financial viability, number of families etc. that are considered. At least, that has been my experience and observation on the establishment of missions. I have personal knowledge of at least three groups of people in two jurisdictions who meet regularly for Typika or readers services and have not been granted official mission status.
It may be possible that some Hierarch somewhere looks at a map and says, "let's put a mission there," but I think generally speaking, the Orthodox of an area get together and decide they want and would support a mission.
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2011, 02:28:51 AM »

Agabus, I share your frustration in this.

It seems to me that we have IOCC as an organization to sponsor missions to foreign countries. Perhaps we need an organization to foster new missions right here in the USA?
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Agabus
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2011, 09:30:33 AM »

Agabus, I share your frustration in this.

It seems to me that we have IOCC as an organization to sponsor missions to foreign countries. Perhaps we need an organization to foster new missions right here in the USA?
I suppose just as much we would need missionary clergy who are willing to work for next to nothing. There's not a lot of glory in serving as pastor to a congregation of 20, likely without a deacon.

Quote from: katherineofdixie
Although I'm certainly no expert, my understanding is that missions are developed or founded when a group of people get together in an area and petition their Bishop for permission.
If I was going to be staying in this area longer, I might try this approach (I know of another family and a single man who are Orthodox in the general metro; they also commute to church in different parts of the state.). As it is, however, my stay in this city will -- God willing -- end in December. Likewise, I'm only just newly illumined and it would somewhat hasty and spiritually dangerous to do so.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 09:31:40 AM by Agabus » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2011, 10:24:34 AM »

I suppose just as much we would need missionary clergy who are willing to work for next to nothing. There's not a lot of glory in serving as pastor to a congregation of 20, likely without a deacon.


There are many priests just like this - because I've personally met quite a few of them.
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Agabus
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011, 10:50:10 AM »

I suppose just as much we would need missionary clergy who are willing to work for next to nothing. There's not a lot of glory in serving as pastor to a congregation of 20, likely without a deacon.


There are many priests just like this - because I've personally met quite a few of them.
Let me rephrase: many more. My experience here in Louisiana is that (with the exception of the giant Greek church in New Orleans), the priests who are assigned to those parishes do have to live with the limited resources, and are very much committed to serving their flocks (and at least one of them serves two parishes an hour apart).

I didn't mean to sound as if I was casting aspersions on our clergy. Not at all. If it wasn't for the men who were willing to do just that, I wouldn't be able today to say I am an Orthodox Christian.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 10:50:43 AM by Agabus » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2011, 11:31:16 AM »

Nevertheless, Agabus, I think that you have hit upon a key problem with Orthodox in small rural areas who want to establish mission parishes: Where do they find priests?

In the lower 48 US states, we have 3-4 major seminaries. All are very expensive, and they take years to obtain an MDiv degree. They are located in either New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, all states with high costs of living expenses. There are no major seminaries in the lower 48 states outside of the East Coast. Since Orthodox Christianity does not allow priests to marry after ordination, many men are unwilling to consider the priesthood until after they are married, have kids, and then what? They are established in their careers and the prospect of seminary would represent a major disruption for their families. And assuming they go, graduate and are ordained...many will walk out with hefty student loan bills.

So few of these student loan-laden priests are going to want to taken on a small mission parish of 20 souls who cannot materially support them. And who could blame them? Why should they want to do this when there aren't exactly a plethora of priests available to serve large churches in urban areas?

The end result is that Orthodox churches are hobbled or handicapped, from a tactical/logistical standpoint, in starting mission churches when compared with Baptist/Pentacostal/Nondenominational churches were any guy with a Bible and a loud voice can start a church.

Now in Greece, as I understand, the situation is entirely different. There are priests with MDiv degrees, like in the US. These tend to live in large metropolitan areas. But in small rural areas, there is a different system, that of the village priest. If you live in, say, a remote fishing village, then the village priest is a part-time priest, and he holds an inherited position. He is a priest, like his father, grandfather, etc. He is a fisherman most of the day, because the money he receives from being a priest would never support his family. As for his priestly duties, he receives a small stipend from the Greek government. Additionally, he charges fairly substantial fees from his fellow villagers when they come to him for marriages and burials (and those villagers probably resent him deeply for this). Be that as it may, he is present every Sunday to officiate the Divine Liturgy and other services in a small village that would never have enough people to afford a priest otherwise.

Now I'm not saying this is a perfect system - it has its disadvantages like we have other disadvantages with the seminary system established in the US. But it seems to me that the Orthodox churches in the US could/should come up with some sort of "village priest" type model for small groups in out-of-the-way places who want to start churches. Perhaps, in such a system, men in the rural US with some theological learning and desire could be ordained on some sort of provisional basis. These men could obtain needed liturgical and theological training through some sort of distance education program, (coupled with frequent guidance from their local bishop or his representative, of course).

Creating a village priest system would not be a perfect solution, but it could be a way to get rural parishes up and running which would not otherwise be able to afford seminary-educated priests for years or decades. I'm guessing that part of the success of Gillquist's Evangelical Orthodox Church in the 1970s-80s was that no one could tell him not to ordain so many men on a rapid basis.
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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2011, 11:41:18 AM »

But the "village priest" system still doesn't address the issue of what priests and their families are supposed to do for an income, while serving the Church. Because poorer, more remote rural areas are also those areas where jobs that can actually sustain life are fewer and more far between.
People don't just move to major metropolitan areas for the night life - they move because that's where the jobs are, by and large.
Priests' salaries (indeed, clergy salaries in general), even in large GOARCH parishes, are laughable, considering the hours they put in, the dedication and commitment, the education etc.
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