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Peacemaker
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« on: January 09, 2015, 02:02:22 AM »

(I put this in the Liturgy section because I normally experience this during, before or after a serves.)


Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"

For me personally I really get irritated at these questions because they don't feel very friendly and welcoming. It seems as if I need to be from anywhere or have to be Orthodox. I've heard a priest say that we should never greet someone who looks like a visitor if they are Orthodox because it'll make them feel unwelcomed because they aren't members of our "club." Instead we should thank them for visiting, ask them if they've visited an Orthodox church before so they feel welcomed instead of interrogated.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you have similar stories?
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2015, 02:54:03 AM »

The onle time I felt interrogated was at a ROCOR parish, but only at coffee hour.  It was pretty friendly, though.  Before and during liturgy, I suppose they thought I belonged there.  Whenever I visit the GOA parish nearby, I don't even get a glance my way; but the priest is very kind.

I take it in stride, because not everyone communicates the same way.  I'd surmise that most of those asking those series of questions are just asking questions; nothing sinister.
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2015, 10:59:37 AM »

i think a better greeting is 'hello, my name is ... i haven't seen you before, is this your usual church?'
my church is big (300 - 400 on a sunday), and nearly all 'strangers' i meet are regular members! we have several services a week, so it's easy not to meet everyone.

i think if you KNOW the person has never been there before, you can say 'hello, i'm ... it's nice to see you in church, how are you?'

i think you'll get it wrong sometimes and be accidently irritating, but it's better than ignoring people who may be lonely.
then if the people are not very talkative, let them just look around or sit and pray, without bothering them.

i really like the fact that in the orthodox churches, there are not people at the door shaking your hand
before you've even peeped in and decided whether or not to enter.
but we should be careful not to ignore people also. even regular attenders may be feeling a bit low and hoping for a greeting,
but being too shy to apeak first.
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2015, 01:51:13 PM »

i think a better greeting is 'hello, my name is ... i haven't seen you before, is this your usual church?'
my church is big (300 - 400 on a sunday), and nearly all 'strangers' i meet are regular members! we have several services a week, so it's easy not to meet everyone.

i think if you KNOW the person has never been there before, you can say 'hello, i'm ... it's nice to see you in church, how are you?'

Very nice. A similar line that I will use is "Is this your first visit with us here?"  We're small enough that I know all the regulars, but I may not remember someone who visited two years ago! The answer to that question then easily leads to others.
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2015, 03:05:51 PM »

(I put this in the Liturgy section because I normally experience this during, before or after a serves.)


Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"

This happened to me during my first Divine Liturgy. I was so scared and shy that I didn't even dare to take the food and drinks which were obviously free for all.

But that my good sir is nothing compared to what the Evangelicals would do when you pay them a visit. They bring out the cheers, applause, sometimes even a mighty feast fit for a king. And then they would suddenly ask: "Do you know Jesus?" or "Are you Saved?" and encourage you to attend some camp, programme or call them. It's outright creepy.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2015, 03:07:33 PM by sakura95 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2015, 03:26:56 PM »

ha ha! looks like you had even worse experiences than i did!

the worst was in romania on holiday when i was protestant.
i tried hard to keep a note of which churches had which rules, and thought we were going to a baptist church,
where only married women had to cover their heads (they hardly bother these days, this was about 20 years ago).
so i did not take a scarf, as i had only just got engaged and so did not need to cover.

when i got there, i found out it was an evangelical church, and was annoyed with my fiance for not checking.
i sat through the service bare headed, so even though i joined in most of the hymns and was fervent in my prayers,
i still got passed some leaflets on how to become a Christian by the lady behind afterwards.
i said thank you and was about to explain that i was already a Christian, but she had already left.

obviously my bare head had pointed out my need for salvation clearly enough, and no discussion was required!
 Shocked
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 03:38:12 PM »

That's still fine. I would simply dispose of the leaflets anyways when no one's looking if anyone's to pass me one.

Wearing a headscarf in Malaysia though, would instantly repel Evangelicals from touching you. They would all think you are Muslim and by Malaysian Law, proselytizing Muslims is illegal.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2015, 03:38:34 PM by sakura95 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2015, 07:13:50 PM »

I usually speak to visitors and welcome them but without asking a lot of prying personal questions.  If someone looks bewildered, I might ask them if they have ever visited an Orthodox Church before.  But that's about it.  I would never ask the following questions of a visitor:

1. Where do you work?
2. Are you married? 
3. Why aren't you married?
4. Is your spouse Orthodox?
5. Are you dissatisfied with your current church?
6. How old are you?
7. What does your wife think about you attending the Orthodox Church?
8. I bet your kids think you've adopted some bizarre Eastern European tribal religion, huh?
9. Are you legally going to change your name to your patron saint's name when you are chrismated?
10. Have you ever considered the monastic life?

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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2015, 08:14:04 PM »

So you find it odd that people at a parish attended almost exclusively by Greeks or Russians would ask a visitor where they are from?
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 08:42:23 PM »

Honestly?

I believe it would be proper to ask a visitor if they are Orthodox, and where their parish is, especially to safeguard the Chalice in those churches that practice frequent communion
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2015, 09:31:37 PM »

Honestly?

I believe it would be proper to ask a visitor if they are Orthodox, and where their parish is, especially to safeguard the Chalice in those churches that practice frequent communion

I thought it was the priest's job to safeguard the Chalice.  And my priest does a fine job of it too.
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2015, 11:09:57 PM »

Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"

Yes.  This happens a lot.
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2015, 11:11:10 PM »

Honestly?

I believe it would be proper to ask a visitor if they are Orthodox, and where their parish is, especially to safeguard the Chalice in those churches that practice frequent communion

I thought it was the priest's job to safeguard the Chalice.  And my priest does a fine job of it too.

True.  That is the priest's job.

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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2015, 11:14:23 PM »

Peacemaker, there may be better and worse ways to greet a visitor, but, believe me, when someone is visiting an Orthodox church it really needs to be done! People are at sea in an experience entirely unfamiliar to them, and without warm and vigorous human contact they're probably not coming up for air and coming back again. We've been glad for every word of welcome or advice.
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2015, 02:34:53 AM »

Peacemaker, there may be better and worse ways to greet a visitor, but, believe me, when someone is visiting an Orthodox church it really needs to be done! People are at sea in an experience entirely unfamiliar to them, and without warm and vigorous human contact they're probably not coming up for air and coming back again. We've been glad for every word of welcome or advice.
I have to agree completely.  I've been visiting an Orthodox Church nearby.  While I don't want to be interrogated, I do want to feel like people want me there!  Introducing themselves and asking a few questions about me has been welcome.  It helps me to know that I wouldn't be completely on my own if I decided to convert from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2015, 02:40:23 AM »

Threads about that can be divided in two categories:
- where people whine they had been greeted
- where people whine they had not been greeted
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2015, 04:43:08 AM »

(I put this in the Liturgy section because I normally experience this during, before or after a serves.)


Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"


This happened to me during my first Divine Liturgy. I was so scared and shy that I didn't even dare to take the food and drinks which were obviously free for all.

But that my good sir is nothing compared to what the Evangelicals would do when you pay them a visit. They bring out the cheers, applause, sometimes even a mighty feast fit for a king. And then they would suddenly ask: "Do you know Jesus?" or "Are you Saved?" and encourage you to attend some camp, programme or call them. It's outright creepy.


Attended evangelical churches most of my life before seeking the answer from the Orthodox Church and have never seen cheers, applause, etc.   Not saying it doesn't happen, just never seen it firsthand.  Then again, I've never seen snake handling either, at least not firsthand.
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2015, 04:44:35 AM »

It's called hyperbole.
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2015, 05:07:22 AM »

I usually speak to visitors and welcome them but without asking a lot of prying personal questions.  If someone looks bewildered, I might ask them if they have ever visited an Orthodox Church before.  But that's about it.  I would never ask the following questions of a visitor:

1. Where do you work?
2. Are you married? 
3. Why aren't you married?
4. Is your spouse Orthodox?
5. Are you dissatisfied with your current church?
6. How old are you?
7. What does your wife think about you attending the Orthodox Church?
8. I bet your kids think you've adopted some bizarre Eastern European tribal religion, huh?
9. Are you legally going to change your name to your patron saint's name when you are chrismated?
10. Have you ever considered the monastic life?

But nobody will badger you for adopting a bizarre Western European tribal religion.
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2015, 05:24:05 AM »

(I put this in the Liturgy section because I normally experience this during, before or after a serves.)


Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"


This happened to me during my first Divine Liturgy. I was so scared and shy that I didn't even dare to take the food and drinks which were obviously free for all.

But that my good sir is nothing compared to what the Evangelicals would do when you pay them a visit. They bring out the cheers, applause, sometimes even a mighty feast fit for a king. And then they would suddenly ask: "Do you know Jesus?" or "Are you Saved?" and encourage you to attend some camp, programme or call them. It's outright creepy.


Attended evangelical churches most of my life before seeking the answer from the Orthodox Church and have never seen cheers, applause, etc.   Not saying it doesn't happen, just never seen it firsthand.  Then again, I've never seen snake handling either, at least not firsthand.


Southern Baptist churches that I've been in tend not to do that.  IMO, they are in the quieter spectrum of evangelicalism when it comes to new visitors. 
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« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2015, 08:51:41 AM »

Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"

My daughters and I once visited an Antiochian parish in FL for Liturgy, and it was super obvious by the mostly friendly looks that we received that folks noticed immediately that we weren't regulars.  At the end of DL when we went up to receive a blessing, the priest asked where we were from and I answered appropriately.  He came back with, "No, where are you *really* from?  These children's father is from somewhere else, that's what I mean."  A bit rude, really blunt, but I understood where he was coming from and tried to take it in that vein.  (He guessed almost correctly that my children have 'some sort of Russian/Eastern European background' -- Carpatho-Rusyn and Ukrainian, to be exact.  I think it was more because I went to kiss his hand and totally threw him off.   Grin

On the flipside, we attended a church for years where there was open unfriendliness and being aloof was the norm.  We never fit for this and many other reasons, so we left.  I've heard stories of visitors who were majorly turned off by that church within 30 seconds of entering the door.  A shame.

I'm a needy and weird introvert.   Cheesy  I want the warm greetings, but not too much intrusion with the questions.  After the questions, leave me alone with my family so that we can enjoy DL and/or the food and atmosphere in peace.  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2015, 11:28:52 AM »

Blunt curiousity remains in the 'genes' of even second and third generation Americans. I've experienced that in Slavic, Greek and Arab churches over the years. People in older parishes are also surprised when 'outsiders' visit...it is hard to explain, but such questions are not usually mean spirited but merely unfiltered curiousity. I agree though that having a 'greeter' or 'greeters' to welcome visitors is a great idea, provided that the 'greeter' has tact and works with the priest (assuming he has tact, which sometimes is not the case!)
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« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2015, 12:25:33 PM »

(I put this in the Liturgy section because I normally experience this during, before or after a serves.)


Have you ever been visiting a parish that isn't your "home" parish and someone comes up to you and asks a question along these lines:

"Where are you from?" "Where are you visiting from?"  "Are you Orthodox?"  "What parish are you visiting from?"


This happened to me during my first Divine Liturgy. I was so scared and shy that I didn't even dare to take the food and drinks which were obviously free for all.

But that my good sir is nothing compared to what the Evangelicals would do when you pay them a visit. They bring out the cheers, applause, sometimes even a mighty feast fit for a king. And then they would suddenly ask: "Do you know Jesus?" or "Are you Saved?" and encourage you to attend some camp, programme or call them. It's outright creepy.


Attended evangelical churches most of my life before seeking the answer from the Orthodox Church and have never seen cheers, applause, etc.   Not saying it doesn't happen, just never seen it firsthand.  Then again, I've never seen snake handling either, at least not firsthand.


Maybe it happens to new visitors? I can't say since I've never been to any Evangelical churches in the US. Haven't even set foot on US soil to begin with.
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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2015, 01:26:22 PM »

Threads about that can be divided in two categories:
- where people whine they had been greeted
- where people whine they had not been greeted



Yeah I agree these threads are a little silly. When you walk into a parish you have to expect to find people. And anywhere you find people you will have people who act like people. Some are outgoing, some extroverted, some shy, some introverted, some loud, some quiet, some tactful, some tactless, some generous, some rude, some kind, some indifferent. Then there is another person in the equation which is you, and sometimes you are ignorant or misinterpret or misunderstand or project your own thoughts and beliefs and expectations etc.

You know I'm in AA and one of the things you learn is that an expectation is a premeditated resentment. If people don't behave the way we think they should or how we expect them to we feel disappointed and resentful. But that's a completely self centered way of thinking. These people who don't behave the way we would like them to are human beings just like us with their own personalities, thoughts, feelings and beliefs. So my advice to the OP, in all gentleness and love, would be to get over yourself and get out of yourself. Drop your self centered expectations and recognize that these people you are interacting with are individuals just like you. Show them all of the kindness, love and understanding you can muster.
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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2015, 01:30:33 PM »

an expectation is a premeditated resentment

How insightful.
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« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2015, 04:09:39 PM »

I tend to side with what Mariama said, "After the questions, leave me alone." I am a big time introvert pushing the likeness of a hermit  laugh. I tend to play along when people walk up and ask me questions. I've visited every parish in this city more than a few times and I'll always answer, "I'm from such and such a parish" which rolls into a conversation about said parish and priest which is okay. The only time I was a truly irritate at a person is when she came up to me and in a very stern and loud voice asked, "Where are you from?" I said to please talk to me after, the serves is still going on (I don't like to talk during serves) and funnily she smiled and said, "Really.....?oh shoot yeah, the post communion prayers, sorry!"    Tongue Roll Eyes


I have seen visitors come to Church and someone would ask them some questions and find out the visitor is Roman Catholic or Protestant and all of a sudden the Orthodox person starts to tell them why Orthodoxy is right. Needless to say that person never came back. It's those situations I don't like to see.
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« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2015, 04:16:17 PM »

What would you recommend, then, Peacemaker?
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« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2015, 05:28:23 PM »

What would you recommend, then, Peacemaker?

Wait until after the service is over  laugh
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« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2015, 06:19:27 PM »

Peacemaker, there may be better and worse ways to greet a visitor, but, believe me, when someone is visiting an Orthodox church it really needs to be done! People are at sea in an experience entirely unfamiliar to them, and without warm and vigorous human contact they're probably not coming up for air and coming back again. We've been glad for every word of welcome or advice.
I have to agree completely.  I've been visiting an Orthodox Church nearby.  While I don't want to be interrogated, I do want to feel like people want me there!  Introducing themselves and asking a few questions about me has been welcome.  It helps me to know that I wouldn't be completely on my own if I decided to convert from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy.

hey, welcome, and please tell us why you don't have children yet!
(joking! don't worry, i won't really ask stupid questions)

it's good to hear you have had some welcome conversations.
it would be good also to hear your opinion as a fairly new person what we do well and how we can do better.
may God guide you and bless you with a warm and sincere church family.
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« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2015, 11:10:18 PM »

Peacemaker, there may be better and worse ways to greet a visitor, but, believe me, when someone is visiting an Orthodox church it really needs to be done! People are at sea in an experience entirely unfamiliar to them, and without warm and vigorous human contact they're probably not coming up for air and coming back again. We've been glad for every word of welcome or advice.
I have to agree completely.  I've been visiting an Orthodox Church nearby.  While I don't want to be interrogated, I do want to feel like people want me there!  Introducing themselves and asking a few questions about me has been welcome.  It helps me to know that I wouldn't be completely on my own if I decided to convert from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy.

hey, welcome, and please tell us why you don't have children yet!
(joking! don't worry, i won't really ask stupid questions)

it's good to hear you have had some welcome conversations.
it would be good also to hear your opinion as a fairly new person what we do well and how we can do better.
may God guide you and bless you with a warm and sincere church family.

Actually I do have children! Three, all boys. Most people ask when we're going to have another one to try for a girl, which is kind of annoying Smiley

Honestly though, I think I'm too new to be able to say what could be done better.
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