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Yurysprudentsiya
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« on: July 06, 2011, 04:26:35 PM »

Good afternoon, forum members,

I have been a casual reader of this forum for the past few weeks and thought that I would sign on.  I hope that this opportunity for interaction and discussion with others more seasoned in the faith will be beneficial. 
I'll introduce myself and then will look forward to joining in (and learning from) the discussions, as time permits.
A bit of my background and how I got here:
I converted to the Orthodox Christian faith and was received by chrismation into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in January.  I was born into a Methodist family, with parents who were not active church-goers but with pious grandparents who bought me my first Bible when I was four years old and saw to it that I went to church with them every Sunday. 
I've always had a love for history.  At an early age, I became active in studying the genealogy of my family, a hobby (addiction?) which has stayed with me ever since.  At first, I peppered my older relatives with questions and then began examining whatever old documents I could find, traveling far and wide to study these old records.  Through these studies, I learned that my ancestry was a thorough mixture of Pennsylvania German (Mennonite/Lutheran/Reformed/United Brethren), Scots-Irish (Presbyterian) and one-quarter Ukrainian (my maternal grandmother).  Although many of my ancestors have been in America for three centuries, the most enigmatic for me was that of my grandmother's family.  Her parents emigrated from the former Galicia (Halychyna) and were Ukrainian Catholics, later attending a Roman Catholic Church when no Eastern Rite church was available in their community.
I was always active in church work growing up, eventually attaining the status of a certified lay speaker within the United Methodist Church.  This position enables one to supply pulpits (preach) whenever a pastor is away, there is a vacancy, etc.  It is not a clergy position, Methodism relying heavily on the support of its lay leadership.  I preached many, many sermons in various churches and nursing home settings.
Increasingly – from where, I do not know – when drafting these sermons, I developed an inclination to seek wisdom and guidance from the fathers of the church.  More and more, Sts. Polycarp, Chrysostom, etc., began to find their way into my sermons.  I became increasingly interested in a more liturgical form of worship and advocated, as much as I could, for reforms to accommodate my “discoveries.”  I sought for our little church to observe more of the feast days, such as Ascension Day, processing with the Gospel, and to embrace a more liturgical form of worship.  These efforts met with some (small) degree of success, usually instituted by me.  I recall that I often sought, and queried my pastor, about what the original form of worship for the church looked like.
I became increasingly dismayed with the laxity that I was observing in worship, and had an internal conviction that the proper expression of worship, hymns, etc., should be God-ward, rather than us-ward.  There is a tendency in mainline Protestant churches today (from where it came, I do not know) for prayer requests to be offered up in the middle of the service.  I saw this everywhere, and in some cases it turned into a bragging/gossip session.  In short, it made me uncomfortable. 
When I was traveling for extended periods, I sought out worship services in a more high-church Methodist Church as well as in an Episcopal Church.  I saw great value in the continuity of tradition and the emphasis on liturgy and the sacraments in the Episcopal tradition, but I could not reconcile myself, in my heart of hearts, with their extreme reinterpreting of the church’s traditional social positions.  Something about it just didn’t “feel right” inside.  It seemed that, in so many ways, the church bended so much to accommodate outsiders and to feel welcoming that it broke.  My grandfather always warned that if a church continually changes to accommodate the wishes of the world, eventually it will have nothing left.  I saw this in so many ways.
Now, these storylines begin to converge.  In the course of my genealogical studies, two significant events happened.  First, while visiting with friends one weekend, I happened to mention about my efforts at tracing my Ukrainian ancestry and to learn the language.  My friend offered that there was a Ukrainian Catholic Church nearby and perhaps we might visit it that Sunday for worship.  So we did.  In the process, I discovered that distant relatives of mine helped to found this church, and I recognized many surnames in the parish cemetery, which intrigued me all the more.  The liturgy was beautiful and reflective of that seriousness and reverence toward God that I had been seeking.  At that liturgy I met a young man from Western Ukraine who was there on summer work and travel, and who has remained one of my great friends ever since.
Additionally, I discovered living relatives in Ukraine.   To facilitate my communication with them, I joined a social network and posted my profile.  In short, through this medium, I met my wife.  She immigrated from Ukraine and we married last year.  Although “culturally Christian” and a believer, she was a member of no established church when we married.  We were living in a new community and, for the first month or so, I attended worship services alone in various Protestant and Catholic Churches.
At about that time, however, we discovered that there was a Ukrainian festival in our community, held at the local Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  Of course, we went.  Everyone was very, very kind there.  I had some questions about the history of the church, I think, so we were told to speak to the priest, outside.
It was a life-changing decision.  He sat with us for the better part of an hour, and took a genuine and sincere interest in us, as people.  He discussed our marriage, the importance of building a strong spiritual foundation for our family, as well as being a very down-to-earth, decent human being.  This greatly affected my wife, whose experiences with priests in Ukraine were much less than positive.  Soon after, she asked me if we could go to his church on Sunday.  We visited a few times, and she sought baptism there.
I was still somewhat reluctant – somewhat prideful – but I decided that, if my wife was affected by the power of God in this church, and if it has held to the same liturgy and teachings from the days of the Fathers, I should investigate it.  I went to the library and took out half a dozen or so books on the history and teachings of Orthodoxy, read Internet forums, and asked the priest to give me some literature.  I devoured as much as I could and was convinced that this Orthodox Church is the Church that is spoken about in the Bible, retaining its worship and teachings from the times of the Fathers.  These teachings, which I saw dimly reflected in my past experience, and for which I hungered, were now apparent in their fullness.  I expressed my belief to the priest and, at the end of January, I was received by chrismation.  My prayer life, with which I greatly struggled all of my life, began to deepen and become more rich.  I felt at home and, while yet far off, felt that God was drawing me closer.
Now, I seek to deepen my life of faith and I hope that this forum will help me to deal with my spiritual growth.  There are hard spaces, including dealing with older relatives who do not understand exactly what I’ve converted to, a need to familiarize myself with the details of the Eastern tradition of worship which remain mysterious to me, and the need – which I look forward to – to meet and fellowship with others in our community of faith.  I’m sure that I will have many, many questions, and perhaps I can contribute something to the discussion down the line.
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2011, 04:30:57 PM »

Welcome!
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 04:33:09 PM »

Welcome to the forum!  Feel free to ask any questions! 

Also, in case you do not know already, be aware that we do have certain rules when posting & etc. on the forum:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?action=rules
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 04:58:59 PM »

Great story.  I'm not sure if you are familiar with his posts, but there is a member here who is currently a Methodist Minister/Elder struggling with some issues similar to what you faced.  I'm not sure how he's faring, as he has his flock to factor in as well.  Although I wasn't a Christian when I converted, I had a great admiration for the founders of Methodism.  This minister (Kevin) recommended the Albert Outler book on John Wesley, which documented how Patristic he actually was (probably surprising to many modern United Methodists who would rather view him as some sort of Quaker).

Anyway, welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2011, 09:47:23 AM »

Thanks.  Cognomen, I found his post on a thread about Communion issues and posted a resource there which may help clarify his concerns. 

I'm not sure what other concerns he might have, but I would imagine that we share some common background.  I'll check into it further.
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2011, 11:34:55 AM »

Welcome !
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2011, 11:50:09 AM »

Great story indeed. Welcome  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2011, 12:33:34 PM »

Welcome on the forum and the family of Christ.

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« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2011, 01:39:51 PM »


Welcome to the forum!

...another UOCofUSA member!  Whooo hoooo!

 Wink

It was a pleasure reading your conversion story.  It had two main points that I would like to call out.

First, I give credit to the priest who took an interest and gave this couple time and attention.  His one talk with them was enough to plant the seed of interest.  This holds true to everyone, not only priests.  Always be kind and willing to take a moment to stop and talk to people.

Second, here's another reason to hold festivals!  Smiley  Yes, it's an "ethnic" thing, but, look..... people come for the festivities and the food, and stay for the Faith.

Welcome again!

You'll find a number of UOCofUSA members here, as well as a number of Ukrainians of various flavors.

I hope you enjoy your stay with us!

Mostly...welcome to the Orthodox Church!

Many Years!  Mnohaya Lita!
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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2011, 02:41:09 PM »


I hope you enjoy your stay with us!

Mostly...welcome to the Orthodox Church!

Many Years!  Mnohaya Lita!


Duzhe dyakuyu!  I am very glad to be here.


It was a pleasure reading your conversion story.  It had two main points that I would like to call out.

First, I give credit to the priest who took an interest and gave this couple time and attention.  His one talk with them was enough to plant the seed of interest.  This holds true to everyone, not only priests.  Always be kind and willing to take a moment to stop and talk to people.

Second, here's another reason to hold festivals!  Smiley  Yes, it's an "ethnic" thing, but, look..... people come for the festivities and the food, and stay for the Faith.


Yes, our priest is an absolute gem.  In one hour he wiped away almost all of my wife's prejudices about the clergy from her previous (bad) experiences and was also very, very welcoming to me as (at that time) a Protestant, thus eliminating any pride that I had from former traditions.  He is a true spiritual "father" for us.

Certainly, the ethnic festivals are wonderful.  America should celebrate its ethnic diversity and our parishes are prime places to do that.  Many people come just because they love the food and/or are curious about the culture.  The important role of faith should be highlighted as part of the culture.  If this is done in an open, welcoming manner, ethnic festivals can be an excellent opportunity for evangelization to the community. 

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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 02:44:24 PM »

I should clarify by my last post that my comments are not limited to the American church; simply that my experience is mostly limited to this country.  I don't know, for example, how well a Ukrainian festival at an Orthodox Church in Ukraine might go over, although, perhaps, what I say holds true for churches of minority ethnic groups throughout the world.  I think, from my limited observations, that churches in Ukraine are not especially known for their ethnic festivals as they are in the diaspora.  Perhaps others can comment on whether these aspects are a "new world innovation" and whether they would have any place or usefulness in the mother country(ies) of our ethnic parishes.
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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2011, 04:15:01 PM »


You'll find a number of UOCofUSA members here, as well as a number of Ukrainians of various flavors.


 Wink

Welcome to the forum, You seem like someone who I look forward to reading many posts from!

I must say, you remind me a bit of myself (except that I'm still a teenager).  I'm 1/4 Ukrainian (Ukes from Poland, that is), 1/4 Slovak, 1/4 Scotch-Irish, and 1/4 German.

I guess we're 100% Ukrainian in our hearts! Cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2011, 05:40:39 PM »

Welcome to the forum
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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2011, 05:47:47 PM »

Welcome, and thank you for sharing your story!
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2011, 05:53:37 PM »


I must say, you remind me a bit of myself (except that I'm still a teenager).  I'm 1/4 Ukrainian (Ukes from Poland, that is), 1/4 Slovak, 1/4 Scotch-Irish, and 1/4 German.


Do you know which villages in Poland?  Perhaps our ancestors were neighbors!
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2011, 05:56:51 PM »

You'll find a number of UOCofUSA members here, as well as a number of Ukrainians of various flavors.
And Ukrainian well wishers.
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« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2011, 06:00:22 PM »

You'll find a number of UOCofUSA members here, as well as a number of Ukrainians of various flavors.
And Ukrainian well wishers.
Ditto. Welcome!
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2011, 09:26:42 PM »


I must say, you remind me a bit of myself (except that I'm still a teenager).  I'm 1/4 Ukrainian (Ukes from Poland, that is), 1/4 Slovak, 1/4 Scotch-Irish, and 1/4 German.


Do you know which villages in Poland?  Perhaps our ancestors were neighbors!

Goworowo, in east-central Poland (The non-Jewish section).


I don't know why my post is coming out like a "quote", anyone care to explain?
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« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2011, 11:01:25 AM »


Goworowo, in east-central Poland (The non-Jewish section).


That is pretty far north of where my people lived in the villages Stefkowa and Zawadka Morochowska, near the very southeastern corner of Poland.  Do you know if your people were Lemkos?  Do you know if they were relocated during Akcja Wisla in 1947? 
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« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2011, 11:43:21 AM »


Goworowo, in east-central Poland (The non-Jewish section).


That is pretty far north of where my people lived in the villages Stefkowa and Zawadka Morochowska, near the very southeastern corner of Poland.  Do you know if your people were Lemkos?  Do you know if they were relocated during Akcja Wisla in 1947? 

I wish I knew!  They could have been.  My grandmother tells me that the migration from Poland was a LONG time ago. 

All I know from her is that their names were Markowski, and Finbrudski.  That's as far back as my records go, which is the early 1840's.   She says that they had a Ukrainian surname, but changed it long ago to Polish. 

I wish I knew more!  My grandmother is now in the nursing home and seems very senile.  I will ask her one day if we have Ukrainian ancestry, she says yes and gives me the schpiel about the surnames.  I ask here again in a few hours, and she gets very defensive that I'm questioning how Polish her blood is.

It seems like one day I'm Polish and one day I'm a Uke  Wink   

I have done my own research, and found that the Markoeski's were part of a group of Ukrainians that came to Poland quite a while ago.
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« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2011, 11:50:27 AM »

Interesting!  It is just my natural genealogical curiosity, I guess!  My Ukrainian relatives were all in what is now southeastern Poland, and converted from Orthodoxy to the Greek Catholic Church at various points between 1596 and 1692.  After reaching America, some remained Greek Catholic, some returned to Orthodoxy, some attended the Roman Catholic Church, some became Protestant, etc., etc., etc.  One of my ancestral Greek Catholic parishes in Poland became an Orthodox Church in 1961 and I've been in touch with the priest there - a very wonderful man.
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« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2011, 12:04:49 PM »

Interesting!  It is just my natural genealogical curiosity, I guess!  My Ukrainian relatives were all in what is now southeastern Poland, and converted from Orthodoxy to the Greek Catholic Church at various points between 1596 and 1692.  After reaching America, some remained Greek Catholic, some returned to Orthodoxy, some attended the Roman Catholic Church, some became Protestant, etc., etc., etc.  One of my ancestral Greek Catholic parishes in Poland became an Orthodox Church in 1961 and I've been in touch with the priest there - a very wonderful man.

very fascinating stuff.  I imagine my grandmother's Ukrainian ancestors did (if they weren't already) become Roman Catholics.  A more faithful and zealous Catholic I've never met. 
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