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Author Topic: Ethnicity in The OO Churches in the US  (Read 3581 times) Average Rating: 0
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mike
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« Reply #45 on: January 29, 2012, 03:59:15 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.
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« Reply #46 on: January 29, 2012, 04:03:35 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mar Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

Let me caveat the rest of my answer by saying that the OO have every right to answer this question and arrange their structure however they want to. In other posts, I've pointed out that the EO 'ideal' (which we regularly fail to live up to these days) is quite ancient, going back through all the Ecumenical Councils to St. Ignatius, but it's always been a structural not a doctrinal issue. If a proper synod of bishops thinks another structure better serves their current needs (and doesn't cause conflict with any other synod), then it's certainly within their episcopal authority to actively enact or passively allow that. So I'm only answering in the sense of clarifying how the EO think about the above situation, not criticizing or commenting on the OO actuality.

Anyway, I would say it's not about 'becoming Syriac Orthodox'. The EO understanding would be that by moving to Damascus you have put yourself under the authority of the legitimate bishop of Damascus (which in the OO case would currently be Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas). Therefore, if you are going to participate in the Church, you need to do so through a parish that is under the authority of Patriarch Ignatius. If Patriarch Ignatius wants to mandate that all parishes under his omophorion use the Syriac rite, then that's what you'll have to attend. Or if he decides that it would be good to set up a parish that follows the Coptic rite, you would be free to go there. But it wouldn't be right for you to write back to your Egyptian bishop and have him send out a priest who set up a parish without permission, and not under the authority of Patriarch Ignatius.
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« Reply #47 on: January 29, 2012, 04:04:40 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

It's actually quite sad there are some people like yourself who hold to an idolatrous form of keeping canons.
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« Reply #48 on: January 29, 2012, 04:23:03 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?
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« Reply #49 on: January 29, 2012, 04:29:07 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.
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« Reply #50 on: January 29, 2012, 04:31:38 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

That is what I would like to see.  In the same way that the OCA and the GOA have ethnic dioceses/vicariates, e.g Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian, Albanian, etc., there is no reason why an American Church couldn't do the same.  We could have Serb, Russian, Greek, etc. Dioceses/vicariates within the Church, but still have a unified leadership at the synodal level.

My parish would then be part of the Serbian Archdiocese (for example) of the American Orthodox Church.  I don't see why that wouldn't solve the problem.
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« Reply #51 on: January 29, 2012, 04:34:11 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.

Witega,

You have a very common-sense approach to these issues.  Thank you.
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« Reply #52 on: January 29, 2012, 04:36:29 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?
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« Reply #53 on: January 29, 2012, 04:41:15 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2012, 04:42:56 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2012, 04:46:13 PM »

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

We do have the same problem but we don't say it's OK because we can't solve it.[/quote]

Quote
But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

There is no wondering. The II Ecumenical Council clearly states how it was solved.

Quote
Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.

I didn't write anything like that. It wa a counterargument for your statement that multi-ethnic communities is the recent immigration and Church did not deal with it in the past (what is completely false).
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« Reply #55 on: January 29, 2012, 04:50:09 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

In my humble opinion, yes.  Why not learn about the Syriac Orthodox church and her traditions?  Bask in the ambiance of her glory and liturgies, rather than seek your own desires.  Assimilate with the country your are moving in, but maintain your Orthodoxy.  We need to be reminded, it's more important to be Orthodox than to be Coptic or Syriac.  If you have this in mind, then you should also go with the desire and the need not to create a separate church of the same faith, but join the Church that you are already part of and learn from her.  There's no need to have another church.

Very well stated.
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« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2012, 04:58:54 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

That is what I would like to see.  In the same way that the OCA and the GOA have ethnic dioceses/vicariates, e.g Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian, Albanian, etc., there is no reason why an American Church couldn't do the same.  We could have Serb, Russian, Greek, etc. Dioceses/vicariates within the Church, but still have a unified leadership at the synodal level.

My parish would then be part of the Serbian Archdiocese (for example) of the American Orthodox Church.  I don't see why that wouldn't solve the problem.

Because it would be the same situation we already have, more or less.  I think a better thing to do would be for bishops of geographic areas (who aren't in charge of parishes in other geographic areas, merely because those parishes associate with a particular ethnicity) to allow some leniency with certain small-t traditions, such that those unique things Serbians do, that are not necessarily practiced by Greeks or Romanians, are able to be practiced still.  I don't really see a need for a bishop in New England, for instance, to oversee all parishes, that adhere to Greek small-t traditions, in San Francisco.
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« Reply #57 on: January 29, 2012, 05:00:46 PM »

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Not to be facetious, but a major component of how the Apostles dealt with it was by being saints. If there were any way to guarantee that all bishops were saints, I'm fairly certain a large number of the current problems would suddenly clear up fairly quickly.

(edit: meant to add here, that part of the reason we have canons is because of the recognition that the Church needed to be organized in such a way that it could run without assuming that every or even the majority of bishops would be saints who could be relied on to do the right thing without any kind of external guide).

There's also the issue that the Apostles were never appointed to a specific flock. Yes, St. Paul did seem to have special calling as 'Apostle to the Gentiles' but he obviously never considered that meant he would be able to take the Gospel to all the Gentiles--and he certainly didn't disdain to show up in a synagogue and start his preaching there. But in general, the Apostles had a standing mandate to spread the Gospel *period*. So once they had done that in a particular place, they would appoint someone to take care of the flock in that specific place (thus St. Ignatius in Antioch, St. Polycarp in Ephesus, etc) and move on. Those they appointed, in thinking in terms of, "I'm responsible for all the Christians in this specific place" were only following the mandate they had been given by the Apostles.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2012, 05:04:05 PM by witega » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2012, 05:00:56 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I think before a canon like that could be passed, it might be necessary to have all of the jurisdictions change their diocesan borders so that, for instance, an Armenian Diocese of Topeka would have the exact same diocesan borders as the Coptic Diocese of Wichita.  Otherwise, I think things would quickly become extremely confusing.
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« Reply #59 on: January 29, 2012, 05:13:30 PM »

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

We do have the same problem but we don't say it's OK because we can't solve it.
[/quote]

Where did I say it's okay we can't solve it?  I said that we have to deal with the situation of different political and cultural contexts, not that we can't solve it.  Sometimes the canons are unable to reflect the particular atmosphere we live in today, so we have to find a new way of dealing with things.

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But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

There is no wondering. The II Ecumenical Council clearly states how it was solved.

Yes, it solved it because most Christians at that time were Roman, including the Pentarchy, which occurred some three hundred years after the Apostles.  That's quite a long time.  Therefore, if it took three hundred years and a state-support of Orthodoxy at the time, then the situation shows that it's different today, where we lack state-supported Orthodoxy.

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Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.

I didn't write anything like that. It wa a counterargument for your statement that multi-ethnic communities is the recent immigration and Church did not deal with it in the past (what is completely false).

And yet the date of Pascha was not officially dealt with until Nicea, which again indicates the Roman Christian state at the time, different from today.
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« Reply #60 on: January 29, 2012, 05:14:19 PM »

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I think the problem is that for such a canon to be passed, all the churches to which it would have to apply would have to be able to meet in council and agree to it. And if they are able to work together well enough to meet and pass such a canon, then they are probably already in position to move ahead with the process of creating a single American Orthodox Church (however it's decided to internally structure it to deal with the historical ethnicity issue).
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« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2012, 05:17:10 PM »

Well then, until they can get together and work on it, there should be other goals that we can work on.  We can continue to lament on the situation, but we can also start an evangelical mission in these particular areas so as not to lose focus of the goals of the Church.
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« Reply #62 on: January 29, 2012, 05:19:00 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #63 on: January 29, 2012, 05:22:27 PM »

Gorazd, Mina, Johnathan, et al.: My apologies to all of you. I do not actually have a problem with the post I was replying to. I see now upon re-reading the original post I was replying to that I totally misread it to mean something akin to the RCC situation wherein different churches are established within a jurisdiction without regard to territorial boundaries (because, of course, they have a worldwide "supreme bishop" in their Pope), which, as someone else already mentioned in reply, exacerbates this problem. Again, my apologies. It is a confusion stemming from my RC days, no doubt, wherein the different sui juris churches were often referred to as "____ Rite" (Maronite, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, etc.), so I suppose the use of that word in this context raises some unnecessary alarm bells. I'm sorry.

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism. Of course they, like all of us, are under the authority of the local bishop here (HG Bishop Yousef; we had him visiting us just yesterday in fact -- what a man!). So they practice as Copts but remain Tewahedo. So please forgive me for being a bit confused, but Mina, you are simply advocating that one would practice as the Syriacs practice when in Syriac lands, correct? Because that's what I'm already seeing (if we can call New Mexico "Coptic land"; eh, why not...it's in the desert). Of course it's right, but I do wonder then how that's supposed to work in other places. Was it inadvisable, for instance, for the Copts to establish a church in Lebanon when the Armenians had of course already been there for much longer, and have established churches there of a much older vintage than the recent Coptic church? And if so, what should become of the Coptic community that is already there? (I've only seen one YT video on the Copts in Lebanon, but as I remember it they appear to have a priest lives there and serves them, and a nice building and all that.)
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« Reply #64 on: January 29, 2012, 05:31:25 PM »

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism.

You are correct. There is One baptism and One Church. I'm pretty sure no one was suggesting 'becoming Syrian Orthodox' in the sense of 'getting (re)-baptized' because that would imply that the Coptic and Syrian local Churches are not actually part of the same Church. We were only talking about it in the context of what you describe for the Ethiopians attending your Coptic Church.
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« Reply #65 on: January 29, 2012, 05:33:19 PM »

Well then, until they can get together and work on it, there should be other goals that we can work on.  We can continue to lament on the situation, but we can also start an evangelical mission in these particular areas so as not to lose focus of the goals of the Church.

Absolutely agreed. On the EO side, cooperation through things like SCOBA and the OCMC while not being actual fixes for the problem, have been an important step in bringing the various jurisdictions (hierarchs, clergy and laity) together to begin laying the groundwork for something more complete further down the line.
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« Reply #66 on: January 29, 2012, 05:44:14 PM »

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism.

You are correct. There is One baptism and One Church. I'm pretty sure no one was suggesting 'becoming Syrian Orthodox' in the sense of 'getting (re)-baptized' because that would imply that the Coptic and Syrian local Churches are not actually part of the same Church. We were only talking about it in the context of what you describe for the Ethiopians attending your Coptic Church.

Okay, thanks for explaining. I don't know what I was thinking before. Well, apparently not much of anything. Heh. Embarrassed
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« Reply #67 on: January 29, 2012, 06:26:27 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 
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« Reply #68 on: January 29, 2012, 07:32:37 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 

Why is this viewed as an either or thing?  This isn't a snarky question, I am genuinely interested.
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« Reply #69 on: January 29, 2012, 09:20:50 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 

Why is this viewed as an either or thing?  This isn't a snarky question, I am genuinely interested.

I suppose this is based on the assumption that they're worn out thin, that they don't have enough to do both?
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« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2012, 09:33:03 PM »

Given the circumstances of the Armenian Church in the 20th century, how could they do both?

During the Genocide, well over ninety percent of all existing Armenian clergy were killed.  The Turks took particular care to make sure none survived.  In my grandfather's village the priests were doused with kerosene and burned alive.

So after the Genocide, the Armenians who survived were scattered all over the globe, forced to start their lives over again in whatever foreign environment they found themselves in, and they had nothing with which to do it.  Coming out of the Genocide, there were virtually no priests to serve them.  In the next couple of generations, some young men in the diaspora did join the clergy, but very few.  There are different theories as to why this was, but becoming a priest was something most Armenian families at that time did not want for their sons.

When I was a kid, I think there were literally less than a couple of dozen Armenian priests here in the US, to serve hundreds of thousands of Armenians.  This was a perfect time for Protestant "missionaries" to sheep steal.  Your average Armenian had very little religious instruction, and the Armenian Protestants made much of the opportunity (and they still do) to misinform whomever they could and get them to change Churches.  Most Armenian priests were overworked, overwhelmed, and were mostly able to just do sacraments and try to do whatever damage control they could where the Protestants had been raiding their flocks.

In Soviet Armenia, of course, things were even worse, due to Communism.  In addition to the shortage of priests, any priests who did their jobs too aggressively were sent to prison.  They were barely able to address the needs of their flocks, much less go out an do missions work.

Now that Communism has fallen, young men are joining the priesthood in greater numbers, and Etchmiadzin is publishing religious educational material.  However, there is a lot of re-evangelizing to do, both in Armenia and the Diaspora.

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?
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« Reply #71 on: January 29, 2012, 09:46:46 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."
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« Reply #72 on: January 29, 2012, 10:02:46 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I guess I just find it frustrating because it seems like we should be able to accomplish this so much easier than the EO since we have been here far last time, have fewer parishes, are less established, and have fewer jurisdictions. I know it will never happen, but it just seem so easy.

There are only 5 Coptic bishops in North America (one of whom is ethnically Eritrian and serves their flock). not two many years ago it was only 2 or three. How many bishops do the other OO groups have?

It seems to me (as an outsider since I'm a convert and have no ethnic stake in this, but probably a wrong impression since I don't have good knowledge of the other OO groups), that the OO Church in North America should be a daughter Church of the Coptic Church, just like the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches were until recently. Not to exclude the other groups, but since the Coptic Church was, to my knowledge, the first OO group to become widely established here. Rather than the bishops here being part of the Coptic Synod, they should simply be reassigned to be a North American Synod, and the bishops of the other OO groups should be folded into that synod. The diocean boarders would have to be redrawn to properly divide up the continent between the existing bishops. The Church is not mature enough to be independent, but the Metropolitan bishop should be appointed by the Coptic Church, like the Ethiopian Aboune was until recently. The rite of the land should be Coptic, just like the rite in Ethiopia was Coptic for centuries until it was adapted to the Ethiopian culture and became its own rite. The language should be English, the language of the land. At the same time, parishes serving Arabic, Armenian, Ethopian, even Spanish needs could be established (and maintained since they exist now), using the rite familiar to the people at the congregation. Such parishes would be under the jurisdiction of the local bishop, regardless of their ethnicity, but that bishop would of course request support for that parish from a fellow bishop of that ethnicity.

It's not such a huge change. Most of the parishes remain unchanged, who they report to just changes. A few bishops get moved around, but we're talking about a handful of bishops that need to work things out, not huge councils. The new English/Canadian/American parishes that are emerging could be properly guided at the episcopal level into a harmonious emerging tradition, rather than each doing their own thing. We could start acting like one Church, and have the resources to accomplish things, rather than having a Coptic school that gets closed down without enough people, ignoring the rest of the Church.

This is almost what is happening in England. Abba Seraphim, the Metropolitan of the British Church, is the senior bishop of the Coptic bishops there, and has the authority to establish a British synod. The only problems are that the Copts still generally ignore them and hold conventions in H.E.'s diocese without even sending an invitation; that the British Church is considered a diocese that overlaps the Coptic diocese, and that there is no integration with other OO groups. A far cry from proper, but a lot closer than the situation we have in NA.

I know we're just going to continue as we are, because most Copts really believe that the Coptic Orthodox Church is their Church, and don't realize that it isn't even a Church, that the Orthodox Church is the Church, and that the Patriarch of Alexandria has no canonical place outside of Africa. I know we'll continue to ignore each other, act like we're separate denominations, contradict each other, duplicate resources, and probably all establish a variety of English mission experiments, many of which will drift outside of Orthodoxy (as already seems to be happening, with many Protestant-content youth publications arising from them).

But it just seems to frustratingly easy to accomplish if we would just realize who we are, that we hold something called the Orthodox faith, not this Coptic faith I keep hearing about.
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« Reply #73 on: January 29, 2012, 10:07:29 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

I don't think the Armenian Church considers Protestants and Catholics to be "part of the Church;"  However, I don't think the Armenians consider them to be totally without God either.  I'm surprised that this would surprise you.  Haven't you noticed how ready the Armenians are to engage in ecumenical prayer services?  I've never heard a member of the Armenian clergy point to the Protestants or Catholics and say that they are not Christians, or that they are totally without salvation.

Let me put it this way:  The Armenians don't consider these others to be part of the Church, but the Armenians don't consider them to be so lost that the Armenian Church should abandon its own Armenian flock to fall over a cliff, so they can spend their few resources "saving" the Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics.


Quote
Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."

There are those here in the US who want English liturgies.  It's a controversial issue.  A few years back there was an "English liturgy" movement, but the Catholicos came out with a pronouncement banning liturgies in anything but Classical Armenian, and that put an end to the movement.

I personally would like to see English liturgies, but when the "English liturgy" movement was at its height a few years back, I opposed it.  That was because everyone I knew who was in it wanted to do more to the liturgy than just translate it.  They wanted to make a whole bunch of other "reforms," like shorten it way down to 45 minutes, arrange the altar so the priest is facing the congregation, etc.  That might actually be the reason why the Catholicos put a stop to it.
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« Reply #74 on: January 29, 2012, 10:33:43 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

I don't think the Armenian Church considers Protestants and Catholics to be "part of the Church;"  However, I don't think the Armenians consider them to be totally without God either.  I'm surprised that this would surprise you.  Haven't you noticed how ready the Armenians are to engage in ecumenical prayer services?  I've never heard a member of the Armenian clergy point to the Protestants or Catholics and say that they are not Christians, or that they are totally without salvation.

Let me put it this way:  The Armenians don't consider these others to be part of the Church, but the Armenians don't consider them to be so lost that the Armenian Church should abandon its own Armenian flock to fall over a cliff, so they can spend their few resources "saving" the Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics.

Well, you won't see Coptic people praying with them (I'm not surprised about the ecumenical prayer meetings, but I am surprised that there's still no sense of at least having that goal of evangelical fervor that other churches have), but certainly they won't say they're not Christian either.  HG Bishop Moussa in our church made an interesting comment in a sermon saying that the Orthodox Church is the straight way, while other Christians have a zig-zag way.  I suppose you can compare that to HE Metropolitan Kallistos' "We know where the Church is, we don't know where it isn't."

Actually if anything, I was at least talking about the Armenian Protestants and Catholics, not the non-Armenians.  If Protestants partake of sheep-stealing, it's a very good indicator of fighting back by exposing their own heresies.

Quote
Quote
Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."

There are those here in the US who want English liturgies.  It's a controversial issue.  A few years back there was an "English liturgy" movement, but the Catholicos came out with a pronouncement banning liturgies in anything but Classical Armenian, and that put an end to the movement.

I personally would like to see English liturgies, but when the "English liturgy" movement was at its height a few years back, I opposed it.  That was because everyone I knew who was in it wanted to do more to the liturgy than just translate it.  They wanted to make a whole bunch of other "reforms," like shorten it way down to 45 minutes, arrange the altar so the priest is facing the congregation, etc.  That might actually be the reason why the Catholicos put a stop to it.

Interesting.  Well, perhaps the issue needs to be brought up again in the future without the reforms of course.  Hopefully, the strict keeping of classical Armenian isn't affecting the youth too much.
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« Reply #75 on: January 29, 2012, 10:57:22 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I guess I just find it frustrating because it seems like we should be able to accomplish this so much easier than the EO since we have been here far last time, have fewer parishes, are less established, and have fewer jurisdictions. I know it will never happen, but it just seem so easy.

There are only 5 Coptic bishops in North America (one of whom is ethnically Eritrian and serves their flock). not two many years ago it was only 2 or three. How many bishops do the other OO groups have?

It seems to me (as an outsider since I'm a convert and have no ethnic stake in this, but probably a wrong impression since I don't have good knowledge of the other OO groups), that the OO Church in North America should be a daughter Church of the Coptic Church, just like the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches were until recently. Not to exclude the other groups, but since the Coptic Church was, to my knowledge, the first OO group to become widely established here. Rather than the bishops here being part of the Coptic Synod, they should simply be reassigned to be a North American Synod, and the bishops of the other OO groups should be folded into that synod. The diocean boarders would have to be redrawn to properly divide up the continent between the existing bishops. The Church is not mature enough to be independent, but the Metropolitan bishop should be appointed by the Coptic Church, like the Ethiopian Aboune was until recently. The rite of the land should be Coptic, just like the rite in Ethiopia was Coptic for centuries until it was adapted to the Ethiopian culture and became its own rite. The language should be English, the language of the land. At the same time, parishes serving Arabic, Armenian, Ethopian, even Spanish needs could be established (and maintained since they exist now), using the rite familiar to the people at the congregation. Such parishes would be under the jurisdiction of the local bishop, regardless of their ethnicity, but that bishop would of course request support for that parish from a fellow bishop of that ethnicity.

It's not such a huge change. Most of the parishes remain unchanged, who they report to just changes. A few bishops get moved around, but we're talking about a handful of bishops that need to work things out, not huge councils. The new English/Canadian/American parishes that are emerging could be properly guided at the episcopal level into a harmonious emerging tradition, rather than each doing their own thing. We could start acting like one Church, and have the resources to accomplish things, rather than having a Coptic school that gets closed down without enough people, ignoring the rest of the Church.

This is almost what is happening in England. Abba Seraphim, the Metropolitan of the British Church, is the senior bishop of the Coptic bishops there, and has the authority to establish a British synod. The only problems are that the Copts still generally ignore them and hold conventions in H.E.'s diocese without even sending an invitation; that the British Church is considered a diocese that overlaps the Coptic diocese, and that there is no integration with other OO groups. A far cry from proper, but a lot closer than the situation we have in NA.

I know we're just going to continue as we are, because most Copts really believe that the Coptic Orthodox Church is their Church, and don't realize that it isn't even a Church, that the Orthodox Church is the Church, and that the Patriarch of Alexandria has no canonical place outside of Africa. I know we'll continue to ignore each other, act like we're separate denominations, contradict each other, duplicate resources, and probably all establish a variety of English mission experiments, many of which will drift outside of Orthodoxy (as already seems to be happening, with many Protestant-content youth publications arising from them).

But it just seems to frustratingly easy to accomplish if we would just realize who we are, that we hold something called the Orthodox faith, not this Coptic faith I keep hearing about.

I hear you brother.  I don't know how this can be accomplished properly.  Recently, our Church started something called "Orthodox Pulse," as a way of uniting our Coptic parishes and try to establish relationships with our sister churches.  Well, that's great and all, but why are only Copts invited to the first event, I wondered?  The reason:  "We need to clean house first before we can establish our unity with others."  I think that's a cop-out, at least on our side.  I hope we're not forever trapped with this excuse of "cleaning house."

But let's see how a grass-roots level works out.  Hopefully this forces a certain position among bishops, if no problems occur....hopefully. Lips Sealed
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« Reply #76 on: January 29, 2012, 11:44:26 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

Ordinarily, I worship in a Greek-speaking parish which commemorates His Eminence Styllianos of Australia. I suppose you could call me "Greek Orthodox", though I personally can't abide that phrase.

I was recently in Japan and attended liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Daniel of Tokyo and all Japan according to the Russian custom. In what sense was I "Greek Orthodox" while doing so?

Orthodoxy is orthodoxy. We celebrate liturgy according to the fashion of the community in which we find ourselves and we commemorate the local bishop. Or so it should be.
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« Reply #77 on: January 30, 2012, 12:10:55 AM »

I understand. I suppose I am doing nothing different (in so far as I worship at a Coptic Orthodox Church despite not being Coptic myself). As you may have seen in my previous post, I greatly misunderstood what Gorazd was calling for in his original post. Sad
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« Reply #78 on: January 30, 2012, 04:23:12 AM »

In the UK we have the advantage that we are geographically small, but we do have the COOC - Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches - which at least brings together a lot of the bishops and clergy. Unfortunately two of the Coptic dioceses are not represented, but all the other communities are, even those in dispute with each other.

This is not the same as a combined Synod, but it does allow us to be in fellowship together (which is a good start), and to be aware of what each other is doing, and to have a common approach to those issues which are most pressing on us all. But I don't find a lot of folk thinking ahead and saying, if we should have a united Synod in 100 years, or 200 years, what do we need to be doing now to bring that about.

There is certainly warm fellowship, and a eucharistic concelebration is held each year as a sign of our unity. As a start, I guess, at least the clergy in the UK understand and express a unity. But we have the advantage of being the size of a single US state so we can much more easily get to know each other.
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« Reply #79 on: January 30, 2012, 12:34:16 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Not to be facetious, but a major component of how the Apostles dealt with it was by being saints. If there were any way to guarantee that all bishops were saints, I'm fairly certain a large number of the current problems would suddenly clear up fairly quickly.

(edit: meant to add here, that part of the reason we have canons is because of the recognition that the Church needed to be organized in such a way that it could run without assuming that every or even the majority of bishops would be saints who could be relied on to do the right thing without any kind of external guide).

There's also the issue that the Apostles were never appointed to a specific flock. Yes, St. Paul did seem to have special calling as 'Apostle to the Gentiles' but he obviously never considered that meant he would be able to take the Gospel to all the Gentiles--and he certainly didn't disdain to show up in a synagogue and start his preaching there. But in general, the Apostles had a standing mandate to spread the Gospel *period*. So once they had done that in a particular place, they would appoint someone to take care of the flock in that specific place (thus St. Ignatius in Antioch, St. Polycarp in Ephesus, etc) and move on. Those they appointed, in thinking in terms of, "I'm responsible for all the Christians in this specific place" were only following the mandate they had been given by the Apostles.

What about where Paul mentions not building upon another brother's foundation or when he was sent to Antioch?

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« Reply #80 on: January 30, 2012, 03:26:53 PM »

interesting discussions.
i was surprised to see salpy's post about the lack of spiritual education among the armenian orthodox. but then i have only been to an armenian church once (due to large distance travelling). i have been twice, if you include the time i popped in after visiting a neighbouring coptic church. the church was already locked after the liturgy, but i enjoyed the best stuffed vine leaves in the world (don't tell the copts!) and chatted a little with the people there having food.
maybe the armenians need to integrate more with the other churches, not less, so that we can help them with this problem. especially as a lot of the uncles will be able to chat together in arabic (i was surprised to see how many armenians were born in arabic speaking countries) and make friends.

i think the way forward (at our level anyway) is to visit each other's churches and form friendships and work well together. those of you who are priests and bishops can also raise the issue in meetings and hang out together for Bible study and friendship.
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« Reply #81 on: January 30, 2012, 04:06:48 PM »

I don't know if I necessarily agree with Salpy's assessment, if it's meant as a blanket statement, that the average Armenian has had very little religious instruction.

If we're talking Armenians from Armenia, predominantly those who came of age before the mid-90s, I think that's an accurate statement.  Yet, for American-born Armenians who have been active in the Armenian Church, the vast majority of us went through Sunday School for most, if not all of our childhood.  For Armenians born overseas from elsewhere in the mideast, I've found many of them are quite well versed, both biblically and liturgically.  A lot of them grew up going to church more than just Sunday morning. 

Sure, we could do better (with religious instruction, I think you always can, and should strive to), but I don't think I agree that a lack of religious instruction is a major problem across the board, comparatively speaking, for the Armenian Church in the United States. 
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« Reply #82 on: January 30, 2012, 04:38:27 PM »

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« Reply #83 on: January 30, 2012, 09:09:38 PM »

I don't know if I necessarily agree with Salpy's assessment, if it's meant as a blanket statement, that the average Armenian has had very little religious instruction.

If we're talking Armenians from Armenia, predominantly those who came of age before the mid-90s, I think that's an accurate statement.  Yet, for American-born Armenians who have been active in the Armenian Church, the vast majority of us went through Sunday School for most, if not all of our childhood.  For Armenians born overseas from elsewhere in the mideast, I've found many of them are quite well versed, both biblically and liturgically.  A lot of them grew up going to church more than just Sunday morning. 

Sure, we could do better (with religious instruction, I think you always can, and should strive to), but I don't think I agree that a lack of religious instruction is a major problem across the board, comparatively speaking, for the Armenian Church in the United States. 

It could be the difference between our perspectives has to do with where we are.  It could be the Eastern Diocese, where you are, is not as bad as the Western Diocese.  The Eastern Diocese for decades has had a Christian Education Department, St. Vartan Bookstore, and an organized Sunday School program.  The Western Diocese is only starting now to emulate that.

Over here, it is not uncommon to find devout Armenians who know little of the basic teachings of the Christian faith, and I am not just talking about the newcomers from Armenia.    Those who do know quite a bit about the Christian religion have mostly learned it from reading Catholic or Protestant literature, or attending Protestant Bible studies, and thus they are indoctrinated with a version of Christianity that is not ours.  This underscores another problem, which is that in addition to not knowing much about Christianity, people also do not know the difference between our Church and others, and both of those problems make them easy targets for the proselytizing of sheep-stealing wolves.

I do have to say that things are better now than they were twenty years ago.  We are getting more priests now, and Archbishop Hovnan is starting to address some of the problems.  Bible studies are not uncommon in Armenian Churches now, whereas twenty years ago they were non-existent.  Overall, things are starting to look up, but it seems the Eastern Diocese continues to outpace us.   Smiley
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« Reply #84 on: January 30, 2012, 10:29:34 PM »

This problem exists in many EO parishes as well.  I have gotten to know a number of lifelong members (cradles) since converting, and many of them know almost nothing about the distinctive features of the faith.  Words like Theosis elicit a blank stare, while an understanding of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is almost non-existent.  And these are not only people from the Old Country, but people born and raised in the Church here.

A lot of converts like myself converted to Orthodoxy after years of study, reading numerous books on Orthodox history and theology which convinced us of the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It comes as a bit of a shock after joining a parish to discover that people born into the Church, and being active in a parish for decades, have little knowledge of terms like prelest, Orthopraxy, the Christological controversies of the early Church, the Orthodox view of the Atonement, and all the other subjects we discuss here on the forum.

Of course I am not questioning their commitment or personal piety, but it is still quite surprising to experience. 
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« Reply #85 on: January 30, 2012, 10:33:13 PM »

This problem exists in many EO parishes as well.  I have gotten to know a number of lifelong members (cradles) since converting, and many of them know almost nothing about the distinctive features of the faith.  Words like Theosis elicit a blank stare, while an understanding of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is almost non-existent.  And these are not only people from the Old Country, but people born and raised in the Church here.

A lot of converts like myself converted to Orthodoxy after years of study, reading numerous books on Orthodox history and theology which convinced us of the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It comes as a bit of a shock after joining a parish to discover that people born into the Church, and being active in a parish for decades, have little knowledge of terms like prelest, Orthopraxy, the Christological controversies of the early Church, the Orthodox view of the Atonement, and all the other subjects we discuss here on the forum.

Of course I am not questioning their commitment or personal piety, but it is still quite surprising to experience. 

I know it was a bit jarring for me, the first time I attended coffee hour, to find that - in fact - not everyone present (indeed, almost no one) was talking about the usual subjects posted about on OC.net.
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« Reply #86 on: January 30, 2012, 10:35:44 PM »

Yes.  As I became friends with some people after my conversion I felt it was natural to bring up subjects that I had been reading about or discussing with others on the web and almost universally they had no clue as to what I was talking about.   Smiley
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« Reply #87 on: January 30, 2012, 11:54:53 PM »

I'm talking about much greater ignorance than what you described above.

Like I said, though, things are better now than when I was younger.  I think that is partly due to there being more priests now.  We still have a long way to go, though.

The Copts, on the other hand, have a pretty well educated laity, religiously speaking.  At least that is my experience.  Most Copts I've met have a better knowledge of Christian doctrine, as well as the differences between their Church and other Christian Churches.  I've always been very impressed with them and I can see how they can be in a position to start looking outward and to think about evangelizing Non-Copts.  
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 11:55:44 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #88 on: January 31, 2012, 12:06:17 AM »

Dear Salpy,

I want to take this opportunity to ask you a question about the Armenian Liturgy that is not related to the thread.  In all the EO and OO Churches with the exception of the Armenian, leavened bread is used and that portion not consecrated is distributed as antidoron at the conclusion of the service.  My understanding is that the Armenians use wafers similar to those used by the RC's.  Are blessed, but unconsecrated wafers, distributed to the faithful at the end of the service?  Thank you.
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« Reply #89 on: January 31, 2012, 12:09:34 AM »

A very thin, unleavened bread call "mas" is distributed to the faithful after the liturgy.  It's a little different from the bread used for the Eucharist, but it's unleavened.
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