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Author Topic: Ethnic Issue  (Read 1746 times) Average Rating: 0
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teresita
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« on: August 18, 2004, 10:10:59 AM »

Hi Everyone, Smiley
I am considering convertion, but I am having a big problem with the ethnic issue.
If I convert, I want to be recognized as a member of the orthodox church, not as member of an specific ethnic group or as a convert. This have had me very troubled. It should be one big church, loving one God, not different groups. It appears to me that there are more divisions within the church. Is my observation out of reality?  On my understanding this is an American practice, developed by the immigration. Am I correct?
My priest told me to call him to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions after finishing the material that he gave me. He is wonderful, but I am afraid to discuss this subject with him.

Teresita  Roll Eyes
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Teresita
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 10:26:38 AM »

Teresita, you should never be afraid to discuss anything with your priest.  As for ethnicity, the main thing that you should be worried about is finding a church were you can feel comfortable consentrating on the salvation of your soul.  After that, ethnicity is a minor bump in the road.
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Now where were we? Oh yeah - the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2004, 10:33:54 AM »

Well, what sort of problems are you having? Are they being unfriendly to you because you are not Greek, Serbian, Russian, Arab etc?

The best thing  you can do is be yourself and not try to be (fill in the ethnic group) They will eventually come around. Try to find other converts in the parish, buddy up to the "married ins". Often they feel left out too.

Here's some food for thought....

1. The ethnics parishes unlike convert parishes are not apt to welcome new people with open arms. It's not that they don't want you there, they show thier hospitality in other ways.

2. They find you "strange", in thier mind they are thinking. "Hmmm, she had it so easy as an American, why would she come here?"  

3. The "ethnics" view thier church as a safe place where they can express thier cultural heritage. Converts can be seen as a threat, as if you are going to come in and "Americanize" everything.

4. Remember, that dances and parish picnics are not liturgy. The people  that show up for these events are usually never in church, They go to church to be Baptised, married and funerals.  however they are the loudest when it comes to "american" converts.
 



You have an extra hurdle and I don't envy you. Be patient and understanding and I know it will work out for you.  

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Fr. David
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 03:11:11 PM »

If I convert, I want to be recognized as a member of the orthodox church, not as member of an specific ethnic group or as a convert.

My experience, teresita, is that this recognition comes, first and foremost, from within yourself.  If you want to live your life with the religious identity of an "Orthodox Christian" instead of a "Greek/Russian/Arab/etc. Orthodox," then it will happen.  There will be people in the Church who wish it were otherwise, and those outside the Church who assume that it is otherwise, but be firm.  I myself am not a single part Greek, Russian or Arab, so when people ask me if I'm Russian Orthodox, I say with a grin, "Nope!  Scotch-Irish-Cherokee Orthodox!" then tell them I'm an Orthodox Christian.

Quote
It should be one big church, loving one God, not different groups. It appears to me that there are more divisions within the church. Is my observation out of reality?  On my understanding this is an American practice, developed by the immigration.

You're right in noticing the jurisdictional divisions, which, yes, were started through immigration and lack of communication with Moscow during communism.  This doesn't mean a lack of unity in faith or doctrine, though, and all sacraments are universally recognized and accepted.  So it really is one Church, albeit with many different jurisdictions.  Some allow the ethnic thing to get in the way of "love thy brother," but that is not your problem, teresita.  If you become Orthodox -- I hope you do! -- then be Orthodox; the food, language, etc., are not what hold you in this faith!

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My priest...is wonderful, but I am afraid to discuss this subject with him.

As has been said before, I'm sure he would love to discuss things with you.  If he's worth his salt as a priest he'll be more than willing to listen.
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spartacus
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2004, 04:19:02 PM »

Hi Everyone, Smiley
I am considering convertion, but I am having a big problem with the ethnic issue.
If I convert, I want to be recognized as a member of the orthodox church, not as member of an specific ethnic group or as a convert. This have had me very troubled. It should be one big church, loving one God, not different groups. It appears to me that there are more divisions within the church. Is my observation out of reality?  On my understanding this is an American practice, developed by the immigration. Am I correct?
My priest told me to call him to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions after finishing the material that he gave me. He is wonderful, but I am afraid to discuss this subject with him.

Teresita  Roll Eyes


Dearest Teresita,

Coming from a Roman Catholic background all this "jurisdicional crap" seems like just that. The ethnicity issue only compounds your anxiety.

Not knowing where you live, might I make a suggestion?

Since you are apparently willing to become Orthodox for your fiance....Is your fiance willing to visit other Orthodox parishes in your area for you? Perhaps there is one you will feel more comfortable in?

In our parish we have many married couples of mixed ethnicity. They find our parish very comfortable because there is no dominant ethnicity. It is just a big buffet table of ethnicity and language with English being the dominant (common denominator ) language. We like to say we "speak in tongues" during fellowship -- about 14 at last count.

We have also had some parishioners join us from ethnic parishes because :

"We want our children to be Orthodox and Americans"

"We want our children to know their faith is about more than just being (insert ethnicity here)."

A number of these ethnic familes with children still attend their ethnic parish with family members on special occasions but are registered in our parish and their children attend our Sunday School.

Just an idea. Perhaps you will visit other parishes and realize you are both more comfortable in your fiance's home parish. However, if you are willing to become Orthodox for him....Is it unreasonable for you to ask him to explore some other Orthodox parishes, if you feel less than 100% comfortable at his? I think not.
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spartacus
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2004, 04:26:57 PM »

Another note....my wife and I were married in her Roman Catholic Parish....Afterwards though we lived too far to go there and her parish had become unrecognizably large to her.

Being naughty Roman Catholics, we shopped around at nearby parishes. We attended mass at a number of parishes and got a feel for them.......

Choosing "our" parish was one of the best experiences we had in our newly-married life. It started many deep and meaningful conversations about spiritual issues we probably never would have had otherwise.

We were able to help "our" parish grow tremendously over the course of about ten years. All three of our children were baptised in "our" parish. We travled one hour each way every Sunday for two years after a move just to attend "our"parish. When the old Church building was finally sold. We even bought one of the pews from "our" parish.

When my wife and I reflect back on our experience as Roman Catholics. The years in "our" Parish are the fondest memories....and when we discovered Orthodoxy, we found "our" parish and its parish priest borrowed very heavily from Orthdoxy.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2004, 04:28:13 PM by spartacus » Logged
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