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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« on: April 13, 2011, 06:27:21 PM »

I have been wondering for a while, what was it like for you, converts, to leave your old Church?  was it very difficult?  I'm a convert, but have no idea about this, as I didn't go to Church before becoming Orthodox. 

how was it to leave your old community?
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2011, 06:31:46 PM »

It hasn't always been easy. I still miss some of my friends.
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2011, 06:33:34 PM »

I'm sure it's depending how much you were involved. When I left the RCC, I don't think that anyone, with the exception of my family, knew. My priest would have no idea what my name was if I went up to him today. And I was an altar server for about 4 or 5 years, too!

We were fairly involved in our last church (non-denominational). In fact, we live in the youth pastor's house. (We're good friends, and we still talk about our faith, although I'm sure that he's personally confused about our desire to convert)

I had been having some problems with the pastor, so I don't think that he's very surprised. That made it easier for me to leave, since I was already having trouble listening to sermons. He had treated a friend of mine, who was a missionary for the church, very badly, and I felt very uncomfortable in the church. Plus, my views were changing.

It wasn't very difficult, honestly. If I still wanted to stay there, I would seriously re-consider whether I wanted to become Orthodox.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2011, 06:35:10 PM »

The church we attended was so huge that no one really noticed that we left, they figured we just changed campuses and service times. I saw someone a week ago that still thought we attended Mars Hill over three years after we left. I think there are about 5 locations with over 20 service times if I recall correctly.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2011, 06:37:24 PM »

I have been wondering for a while, what was it like for you, converts, to leave your old Church?  was it very difficult?  I'm a convert, but have no idea about this, as I didn't go to Church before becoming Orthodox. 

how was it to leave your old community?

When you are orthodox (or catholic) you are not part of A church, you are part of THE Church. I think it is a bit counter-productive to link yourself too much to one church (building or local community)...that's what protestants do. So go ahead and visit and pray from time to time in other orthodox churches, not just the one that is closest to your home or the one you usually go. But this is probably easier in countries where there is an orthodox church on any street, and not in the US...

Or you meant leaving your old (non-orthodox) church, and not just switching orthodox churches....
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2011, 08:11:22 PM »

More heart wrenching than hard.  We miss our friends and Pastor.  It was difficult disappointing other Lutherans we know and love.  But it was the right thing to do, and for the most part, people have been overwhelmingly supportive.  Not in a "we agree with your decision" sense, but in a "we understand and wish the best for you and will pray for you" sense.
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2011, 12:52:09 AM »

It was an odd experience. We had tried so many heterodox pathways previous to the last one and we fully expected this last church to be our "home". In humility I pray and wonder why some of the folks we "fellowshipped" with don't inquire about Orthodoxy. We maintain cordial acquaintance type relations with different ones but rarely visit folks we knew.
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2011, 02:00:08 AM »

I am still an inquirer to orthodoxy but hopefully the priest will allow me to become a catechumen a time in the future. My only fear is how to tell the priest in my village that i am leaving the lutheran church. I am about the only person in my village under 25 who is showing just a little interest in my faith. I am concerned that he might get sad and dissapointed about my decision. Any advice?
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2011, 09:40:31 AM »

I agree with David - it was heartwrenching to leave my old Lutheran church, not the least because it was my family, culture and faith combined. I was very active and involved in my church, and was on my way to seminary and ordination. My "friends" from church all dropped me like a hot rock, and it still twinges a bit. Being a convert to Orthodoxy is somewhat like being the new in-law at the family reunion: not only do you not know the names and relationships, you don't even get the jokes and you don't know the stories or the references.
But the Orthodox Church is the real deal, the Truth, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, established by Christ Himself, and I was unable to deny that Truth. I was a most reluctant convert, dragged kicking and screaming into the Church by irrestible Truth. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
So now "here I stand. I can do no other, God helping me."
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2011, 09:53:35 AM »

When I left the Mormon/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they held a Church Court and excommunicated me.

When my wife and I left we literally lost every friend that we knew in the town that we lived in and had to start anew to locate a church to fillour spiritual void, we had to find new friends, and new social activities. It was especially hard on my  lovely wife, who was at the time a stay at home mom---the church had all of her friends, all of her ladies activities and fellowship opportunities. For me it was a little less traumatic in that I had my job and friends from my job. About 1-2 months after we left, we were in a very bad auto wreck and my wife broke her collar bone and my brother-in-law was in ICU for about 3 months---our LDS/Mormon "Friends" would call up my wife and tell her that God was punishing us for our leaving the Mormon Church. Many of these calls were anonymous, the result of these calls was we began to search in earnest for the holy orthodox church and finally found it.
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2011, 10:00:00 AM »

I was not an active member of the Lutheran church. However, it was the only place outside the house where I had an opportunity to hear/speak my own language and meet others from the same cultural background.
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2011, 10:07:00 AM »

When I left the Mormon/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they held a Church Court and excommunicated me.

When my wife and I left we literally lost every friend that we knew in the town that we lived in and had to start anew to locate a church to fillour spiritual void, we had to find new friends, and new social activities. It was especially hard on my  lovely wife, who was at the time a stay at home mom---the church had all of her friends, all of her ladies activities and fellowship opportunities. For me it was a little less traumatic in that I had my job and friends from my job. About 1-2 months after we left, we were in a very bad auto wreck and my wife broke her collar bone and my brother-in-law was in ICU for about 3 months---our LDS/Mormon "Friends" would call up my wife and tell her that God was punishing us for our leaving the Mormon Church. Many of these calls were anonymous, the result of these calls was we began to search in earnest for the holy orthodox church and finally found it.
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2011, 11:12:48 AM »

I have been wondering for a while, what was it like for you, converts, to leave your old Church?  was it very difficult?  I'm a convert, but have no idea about this, as I didn't go to Church before becoming Orthodox. 

how was it to leave your old community?

I stopped attending the church I grew up in because it had become a mega-church from the about 120 people it started as when my parents first brought us. So I hadn't been regularly attending church for about 5 years when I found Orthodoxy. All my old friends were mad I left that church looking for a new one so when Orthodoxy came around I just decided to start going and didn't have any left to offend anyway.
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2011, 11:34:21 AM »

I had been going to a church that met on Sunday evenings so when I started attending Divine Liturgy it didn't interfere with the other church service.  It was probably about a month of that before I realized that I couldn't in good conscience take communion at the former church.  I knew it was over then.  Soon after that I told my closest friends there that I was probably going to leave.  I dropped in a few more times over the next couple of months and then just stopped.  My friends are still my friends.  There was no dirty break up here.
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2011, 11:43:25 PM »

It was very hard for me to leave my old denomination, and even harder for my wife.  I was raised a Lutheran.  My father (with me tagging along helping) helped build the LCMS church building in Mineral Wells, Texas, and his name is on the corner stone.  He gave up his career flying helicopters when he was in his 30’s, and we all moved to the ghetto in Springfield, Illinois were he went to the seminary.  I attended Lutheran schools throughout my Junior High School years.  I was married in the Lutheran Church by my father, and my unchurched wife converted to the Lutheran Church when we married.  My three children were baptized by my father, and two of the three were at least partially educated in Lutheran schools.  I was an elder in the WELS and studying to become a Lay Minister when I converted to the Orthodox Church.  I was excommunicated from the WELS, and we lost nearly every friend that we had, not to mention the tension that this caused in my family.

What came next was worse.  My family and I were Chrismated into the Antiochian Archdiocese.  The priest’s wife was our sponsor.  There were a bunch of us Chrismated at the same time, and I really liked the people in that parish.  However, I could not come to grips that nearly everything that I learned about Orthodoxy on my path to conversion was missing, and convenient excuses were offered as reasons for this.  I became so depressed that I began to study Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Taoism and other religions wondering if perhaps I made a mistake.  However, I could not give up Jesus Christ.  The calendar issue was settled for me by the Theotokos herself, and I was told in a dream that I would find my Salvation with the Russians (particularly interesting since there were no Russians within 500 miles that I knew of).   I don’t even remember how I came into contact with the ROCOR Church in St. Louis, but after months of speaking with the priest via telephone, and even a couple of conversations with then Bishop Hilarion and later the assistant to Archbishop Alypie, I was Baptized into the ROCOR by a priest who was himself the son of a Lutheran Theologian and of German heritage.  Needless to say, this did not go over very well with the Antiochians, and the pain started all over again.  In fact, things were so bad that during a time that I was very ill and was given permission by the Russians to return to the Antiochians since they were closer, I was told that I could not return unless I renounced my Baptism.  At this point, I went home and told God that I would prefer to choke to death (I would wake up at nights and could not breath and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong) than to renounce my Baptism, and I prepared to die.  About a week later, the wife of a Hindu friend of mine (the wife is a doctor) figured out what was wrong with me and I was healed.

It has been a long hard process, but I was able to eventually reconcile with the Antiochians (without renouncing my Baptism), and my wife attends there.  She always had friends there, and they have accepted her back as though she never left.  I attend a local Serbian Orthodox Church, and still battle with my internal demons.  I miss the ROCOR, but I like being able to attend services every week rather than only periodically.  I also miss the organization, music and culture of the Lutheran Church.  I probably will never fit in completely with the Eastern European ways of doing things, and I certainly will not fit in with the Middle Eastern culture.  Thankfully, I am older and not in the best of health.  That helps me keep my mind on my own salvation a bit better than when I was younger.  There are things about Orthodoxy that I wholeheartedly accept.  There are others that I just push the “I believe” button and ask God to help my unbelief.  It has not been easy, but the Scriptures tell us that the Kingdom of God is taken by force, and the comparison of our path to Salvation is often compared to war.  It has been, and continues to be.  One day it will end.   
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2011, 03:48:29 AM »

It was very hard for me to leave my old denomination, and even harder for my wife.  I was raised a Lutheran.  My father (with me tagging along helping) helped build the LCMS church building in Mineral Wells, Texas, and his name is on the corner stone.  He gave up his career flying helicopters when he was in his 30’s, and we all moved to the ghetto in Springfield, Illinois were he went to the seminary.  I attended Lutheran schools throughout my Junior High School years.  I was married in the Lutheran Church by my father, and my unchurched wife converted to the Lutheran Church when we married.  My three children were baptized by my father, and two of the three were at least partially educated in Lutheran schools.  I was an elder in the WELS and studying to become a Lay Minister when I converted to the Orthodox Church.  I was excommunicated from the WELS, and we lost nearly every friend that we had, not to mention the tension that this caused in my family.

What came next was worse.  My family and I were Chrismated into the Antiochian Archdiocese.  The priest’s wife was our sponsor.  There were a bunch of us Chrismated at the same time, and I really liked the people in that parish.  However, I could not come to grips that nearly everything that I learned about Orthodoxy on my path to conversion was missing, and convenient excuses were offered as reasons for this.  I became so depressed that I began to study Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Taoism and other religions wondering if perhaps I made a mistake.  However, I could not give up Jesus Christ.  The calendar issue was settled for me by the Theotokos herself, and I was told in a dream that I would find my Salvation with the Russians (particularly interesting since there were no Russians within 500 miles that I knew of).   I don’t even remember how I came into contact with the ROCOR Church in St. Louis, but after months of speaking with the priest via telephone, and even a couple of conversations with then Bishop Hilarion and later the assistant to Archbishop Alypie, I was Baptized into the ROCOR by a priest who was himself the son of a Lutheran Theologian and of German heritage.  Needless to say, this did not go over very well with the Antiochians, and the pain started all over again.  In fact, things were so bad that during a time that I was very ill and was given permission by the Russians to return to the Antiochians since they were closer, I was told that I could not return unless I renounced my Baptism.  At this point, I went home and told God that I would prefer to choke to death (I would wake up at nights and could not breath and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong) than to renounce my Baptism, and I prepared to die.  About a week later, the wife of a Hindu friend of mine (the wife is a doctor) figured out what was wrong with me and I was healed.

It has been a long hard process, but I was able to eventually reconcile with the Antiochians (without renouncing my Baptism), and my wife attends there.  She always had friends there, and they have accepted her back as though she never left.  I attend a local Serbian Orthodox Church, and still battle with my internal demons.  I miss the ROCOR, but I like being able to attend services every week rather than only periodically.  I also miss the organization, music and culture of the Lutheran Church.  I probably will never fit in completely with the Eastern European ways of doing things, and I certainly will not fit in with the Middle Eastern culture.  Thankfully, I am older and not in the best of health.  That helps me keep my mind on my own salvation a bit better than when I was younger.  There are things about Orthodoxy that I wholeheartedly accept.  There are others that I just push the “I believe” button and ask God to help my unbelief.  It has not been easy, but the Scriptures tell us that the Kingdom of God is taken by force, and the comparison of our path to Salvation is often compared to war.  It has been, and continues to be.  One day it will end.   

This might be a silly question but I do not understand why the antiochians wanted you to renounce your baptism.  Huh
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2011, 06:51:17 AM »

This might be a silly question but I do not understand why the antiochians wanted you to renounce your baptism.  Huh

I respect Punch for his openness and honesty here, so I don't want to say anything that would be seen as negative. I'll just leave it at saying that I can understand why the Antiochians would have issues with this. And fwiw, I went from Antiochian (where I'd only been chrismated), to ROCOR, back to Antiochian during my spiritual journey, and I was never asked to do more than go to a normal confession so that that priest knew I was properly prepared to receive communion in his parish.
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2011, 11:52:00 AM »


This might be a silly question but I do not understand why the antiochians wanted you to renounce your baptism.  Huh

Not a silly question at all.  The ROCOR did a much more thorough job of examining me before I joined than the Antiochians. That probably had a lot to do with the ROCOR priest being a former LCMS Lutheran himself, and knowing something about the various Lutheran denominations.  I was originally baptized in the ALC, and my wife was baptized Presbyterian.  The ALC eventually joined the abortion known as the ELCA, as did the most liberal elements of the LCMS (causing some pretty hard feelings and even splitting families).  Given what the ELCA was teaching from some of their pulpits, many of us in the LCMS and WELS did not even consider the ELCA to be a Christian denomination.  As such, I had no idea of how I was baptized when I was only one year old.  As to my wife, Presbyterians are known for being able to baptize without even getting you wet (not really, but the do not use a lot of water).  This bothered my conscience terribly, and the more I would read about baptism, the more it bothered me.  Around this time I also began to look at the Antiochian Archdioceses with great suspicion since I was seeing and hearing a lot of things that led me to believe that the Antiochians were on the same path as the ELCA, and not very far from getting there.

Now, before we go any farther, I should make it clear that the ROCOR at no time told me, nor have I ever heard from anyone in the ROCOR, that the Antiochians were without Grace, or that their sacraments were invalid.  The priest that baptized me certainly did not consider the Antiochian Sacraments invalid, nor did his Bishop.  However, given the circumstances, we felt it possible that my wife and I could be unbaptized in the Orthodox understanding of Baptism, and Holy Chrism cannot validate what is not there.  My sons were NOT re-baptized since my father baptized them and I knew for sure exactly how they were baptized and what form and ceremony was used.  Being former LCMS, and having a father that was a professor at the seminary and a theologian, the priest also knew that the form of my sons' baptisms were correct, and that the Chrism from the Antiochians validated their Lutheran baptism.  This was not understood by the Antiochian Bishop at the time.  My wife and I were also Chrismated after Baptism since the ROCOR (and I) take very seriously that the old man is dead and a new man has arisen from the water.  So to them, there was no "re-chrismation" since the man Chismated by the Antiochians was dead and a new man had arisen. 

After 15 years, and the unification of ROCOR with Moscow, I again attempted to reconcile with the Antiochian Church.  We discussed matters, and I made mention of the fact that the ROCOR and Moscow had forgiven far more of each other than whatever offenses that had occurred between me and the Antiochian Church, particularly given the reasoning behind my actions.  After serving a short penance, I was again allowed to commune with the Antiochians.  I joined the Serbs since my heart is with the Slavs, and they accepted me based simply on me being ROCOR.  The priest was appreciative that I had reconciled with the Antiochians since it made things less uncomfortable going forward, but he did not consider it a requirement since the Serbs have never been out of communion with ROCOR, and he concurred with my reasoning for doing what I did (as did the Serbian priest before him, who was instrumental in my choice of path).

I hope this clears things up.  I don't hold anything against the Bishop for denying my return when I was sick and really needed the Church.  I see it as God's will, and a test by Him regarding my commitment to what I believe.  Who knows, the Bishop may even have known good and well what he was doing, and knew that it would have the effect that it did.  It would not surprise me, given that particular Bishop is highly regarded even by the Old Calendarists that I have been associated with.  I learned several things after that event.  First, that I was part of the Body of Christ, and the prayers of my ROCOR priest were helpful to me (I have other stories that I could tell of this).  Second, that I was not afraid to die (at that time) for what I believed, and Third, God will use whomever He will to heal his people.  A Hindu did what some Christians would not.  My views regarding other Orthodox as well as other people in general have moderated considerably from the early days of my conversion.

BTW - I have no doubt that Asterikos had an easier time of it than this.  I have been told that I can over-complicate a straight line.
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2011, 01:29:09 PM »


This might be a silly question but I do not understand why the antiochians wanted you to renounce your baptism.  Huh

Not a silly question at all.  The ROCOR did a much more thorough job of examining me before I joined than the Antiochians. That probably had a lot to do with the ROCOR priest being a former LCMS Lutheran himself, and knowing something about the various Lutheran denominations.  I was originally baptized in the ALC, and my wife was baptized Presbyterian.  The ALC eventually joined the abortion known as the ELCA, as did the most liberal elements of the LCMS (causing some pretty hard feelings and even splitting families).  Given what the ELCA was teaching from some of their pulpits, many of us in the LCMS and WELS did not even consider the ELCA to be a Christian denomination.  As such, I had no idea of how I was baptized when I was only one year old.  As to my wife, Presbyterians are known for being able to baptize without even getting you wet (not really, but the do not use a lot of water).  This bothered my conscience terribly, and the more I would read about baptism, the more it bothered me.  Around this time I also began to look at the Antiochian Archdioceses with great suspicion since I was seeing and hearing a lot of things that led me to believe that the Antiochians were on the same path as the ELCA, and not very far from getting there.

Now, before we go any farther, I should make it clear that the ROCOR at no time told me, nor have I ever heard from anyone in the ROCOR, that the Antiochians were without Grace, or that their sacraments were invalid.  The priest that baptized me certainly did not consider the Antiochian Sacraments invalid, nor did his Bishop.  However, given the circumstances, we felt it possible that my wife and I could be unbaptized in the Orthodox understanding of Baptism, and Holy Chrism cannot validate what is not there.  My sons were NOT re-baptized since my father baptized them and I knew for sure exactly how they were baptized and what form and ceremony was used.  Being former LCMS, and having a father that was a professor at the seminary and a theologian, the priest also knew that the form of my sons' baptisms were correct, and that the Chrism from the Antiochians validated their Lutheran baptism.  This was not understood by the Antiochian Bishop at the time.  My wife and I were also Chrismated after Baptism since the ROCOR (and I) take very seriously that the old man is dead and a new man has arisen from the water.  So to them, there was no "re-chrismation" since the man Chismated by the Antiochians was dead and a new man had arisen. 

After 15 years, and the unification of ROCOR with Moscow, I again attempted to reconcile with the Antiochian Church.  We discussed matters, and I made mention of the fact that the ROCOR and Moscow had forgiven far more of each other than whatever offenses that had occurred between me and the Antiochian Church, particularly given the reasoning behind my actions.  After serving a short penance, I was again allowed to commune with the Antiochians.  I joined the Serbs since my heart is with the Slavs, and they accepted me based simply on me being ROCOR.  The priest was appreciative that I had reconciled with the Antiochians since it made things less uncomfortable going forward, but he did not consider it a requirement since the Serbs have never been out of communion with ROCOR, and he concurred with my reasoning for doing what I did (as did the Serbian priest before him, who was instrumental in my choice of path).

I hope this clears things up.  I don't hold anything against the Bishop for denying my return when I was sick and really needed the Church.  I see it as God's will, and a test by Him regarding my commitment to what I believe.  Who knows, the Bishop may even have known good and well what he was doing, and knew that it would have the effect that it did.  It would not surprise me, given that particular Bishop is highly regarded even by the Old Calendarists that I have been associated with.  I learned several things after that event.  First, that I was part of the Body of Christ, and the prayers of my ROCOR priest were helpful to me (I have other stories that I could tell of this).  Second, that I was not afraid to die (at that time) for what I believed, and Third, God will use whomever He will to heal his people.  A Hindu did what some Christians would not.  My views regarding other Orthodox as well as other people in general have moderated considerably from the early days of my conversion.

BTW - I have no doubt that Asterikos had an easier time of it than this.  I have been told that I can over-complicate a straight line.
Thank you for that Smiley I am a Lutheran myself and I can recognize many of the things you are mentioning from my own church. In my country the church is headed by the state and most politicians do not even care about what the church believes Sad Fortunately I have discovered the orthodox church and next week I am going to attend my very first Pascha liturgy Cheesy
Anyway, I am glad that you have found a church were you feel at home and I hope that you and your wife will have a good Pascha Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2011, 01:50:32 PM »

I have been wondering for a while, what was it like for you, converts, to leave your old Church?  was it very difficult?  I'm a convert, but have no idea about this, as I didn't go to Church before becoming Orthodox. 

how was it to leave your old community?

It was the best thing I could have done!  I have no regrets and never looked back.
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2011, 06:50:52 PM »

I never felt at home in the RCC since VII.  I searched until I found Orthodoxy.  Like scamandrius, I've never looked back.  And, I have no issues with family or friends, thank God.
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