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Author Topic: Visiting a Serbian Church  (Read 487 times) Average Rating: 0
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FountainPen
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« on: April 21, 2012, 11:54:40 AM »

I'm going along to a Serbian service tomorrow morning and i want to know what to expect; what will other people do during the service for example, that i might be expected to do?



« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 11:55:59 AM by FountainPen » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 12:06:17 PM »

I'm so glad you've finally gotten the chance to visit an Orthodox service! I've never been to a Serbian service so I can't advise you on what they might or might not do - there are minor variations in pious practices from one parish to another as well.

As for yourself, you can participate in probably everything (except Communion, of course) to the extent of your comfort level. Don't hide in a corner, but hang back a little so you can observe others.

Is it an English language service? If not, try to latch on to someone who might be able to help you follow a bit.

You've picked a good Sunday to go. Thomas Sunday repeats many Easter hymns and themes.
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2012, 12:15:43 PM »

you may or may not have read this already, but i think it's helpful to know what to expect:

http://www.frederica.com/12-things/
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2012, 12:41:07 PM »

That REALLY depends on the parish.

Language
At our church, half is in English, a quarter in Slavonic and a quarter in Serbian.  Of course, that depends on the day.  If we have a lot of English speakers, more will be in English.  More Serbs, Serbian.  More Russians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, etc., more in Slavonic.  Some churches do everything in English.  Some do everything in Slavonic.  If that is the case . . . good luck.  I'm used to Slavonic and Serbian, although I am not a Slav, so I can go any which way the service goes.  That just comes with time and exposure to the languages.

People
I've been to our church and been very happy with how open and friendly our church is.  I've also been to our church and been utterly ashamed at the way some Serbs treat non-Serbs.  It really depends on the focus of the parish (outreach to the community or outreach to a large population of Serbs).  While trying not to make a judgement, some churches are ethnically focused and the spiritual life of that parish *may* suffer, especially regarding the outreach to the community as a whole.

Unique Practices
I honestly cannot think of anything unique about a Serbian church from other Orthodox Churches that a visitor would need to know before visiting.  Don't put your hands in your pockets.  Learn to say "Vaistinu voskrese" as a response to Christos voskrese.  You don't have to do so, but it goes a long way to show you are respectful to some Serbs who may not speak English well and who will appreciate a warm greeting of Christos voskrese, even if you can't say anything else. 

There should be a service book that has one side in English and one side in Serbian/Slavonic.  You should be able to track where you are and you will even start figuring out some Serbian and Slavonic words as you go on.  Because of the season, it will be more difficult to follow in the book, as there will be special troparia, kontakia, antiphons, etc.  Just flip around and you'll figure it out.

The choir may or may not be amazing.  I hope the choir where you go is excellent.

Afterwards
They may or may not have a meal after Divine Liturgy.  If they do not, hang around and talk to folks.  If they do, go to the meal and talk.  Speak with the priest.  Enjoy yourself.

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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 12:48:41 PM »

That REALLY depends on the parish.

Language
At our church, half is in English, a quarter in Slavonic and a quarter in Serbian.  Of course, that depends on the day.  If we have a lot of English speakers, more will be in English.  More Serbs, Serbian.  More Russians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, etc., more in Slavonic.  Some churches do everything in English.  Some do everything in Slavonic.  If that is the case . . . good luck.  I'm used to Slavonic and Serbian, although I am not a Slav, so I can go any which way the service goes.  That just comes with time and exposure to the languages.

People
I've been to our church and been very happy with how open and friendly our church is.  I've also been to our church and been utterly ashamed at the way some Serbs treat non-Serbs.  It really depends on the focus of the parish (outreach to the community or outreach to a large population of Serbs).  While trying not to make a judgement, some churches are ethnically focused and the spiritual life of that parish *may* suffer, especially regarding the outreach to the community as a whole.

Unique Practices
I honestly cannot think of anything unique about a Serbian church from other Orthodox Churches that a visitor would need to know before visiting.  Don't put your hands in your pockets.  Learn to say "Vaistinu voskrese" as a response to Christos voskrese.  You don't have to do so, but it goes a long way to show you are respectful to some Serbs who may not speak English well and who will appreciate a warm greeting of Christos voskrese, even if you can't say anything else. 

There should be a service book that has one side in English and one side in Serbian/Slavonic.  You should be able to track where you are and you will even start figuring out some Serbian and Slavonic words as you go on.  Because of the season, it will be more difficult to follow in the book, as there will be special troparia, kontakia, antiphons, etc.  Just flip around and you'll figure it out.

The choir may or may not be amazing.  I hope the choir where you go is excellent.

Afterwards
They may or may not have a meal after Divine Liturgy.  If they do not, hang around and talk to folks.  If they do, go to the meal and talk.  Speak with the priest.  Enjoy yourself.



Question? Is the meal you refer to a regular Sunday event, or special for St. Thomas Sunday? I remember when the Ukrainians were next door to us that they would have a special dinner with Paschal foods on St. Thomas Sunday (we were always 'hammed and kolbasied out' by then! )
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 06:58:02 PM »

It is a weekly event at our church, but I don't believe that is typical for most Serbian churches.  I have been to Ruthenian churches where it is a regular event. 
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2012, 07:07:59 PM »

The Serbs in my experience are also among the least pious. But coming from me, this is the highest praise I can come with.
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 08:23:57 PM »

you may or may not have read this already, but i think it's helpful to know what to expect:

http://www.frederica.com/12-things/

For what it's worth, I found virtually none of them in my first few visits to Orthodox parishes.  Some helpful info in there though.
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2012, 09:44:36 PM »

you may or may not have read this already, but i think it's helpful to know what to expect:

http://www.frederica.com/12-things/

To the OP:  Please don't put too much stock in what this woman has to say.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2012, 09:59:35 PM »

I do not believe orthocat is a woman.

In any event, it's best just to sort of wait and see what others do. Even if you think you know what is going to happen, don't assume. The first (and only) time I went to a Serb parish I made that mistake. Ended up having some guy give me dirty looks because I did what every other parish I'd ever been to did, rather than what they did at that particular parish.
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 10:57:07 PM »

I think scamandrius is referring to the author of the linked article, not Ortho_cat...

you may or may not have read this already, but i think it's helpful to know what to expect:

http://www.frederica.com/12-things/

To the OP:  Please don't put too much stock in what this woman has to say.

Scamandrius, why do you say that?  (I'm asking out of general interest as I'm reading her book "Facing East" at the moment.)  Thanks.
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2012, 01:30:19 AM »

Deborah, you'll get used to *tos...

OP - Oh, it's going to be horrible.  Those Serbs swing from the chandeliers and dance on top of the pews and they even drink Slivovitz out of high-heeled shoes in the Narthex!  Is outrage! 

All joking aside, it is all going to depend on the parish.  Ours is probably an oddity so most of this may or may not apply, but it's what I've got to work with:

I'd say there is an even quarter split between old, Americanized Serbs, fresh off the boat Serbs, American Converts, and people from just about every Warsaw Pact country.  (We've had at times Bulgarians, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Georgians, and probably others, but these are the groups I knew or know someone from.)  The Liturgy is pretty much half Slavonic half English.  The Gospel is in English and Slavonic and sometimes in Serbian as well.  The Epistle is in English because none of the readers speak anything other than English.

Other than that, ours is pretty much like any other Orthodox church I've been to.
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 10:52:29 AM »

again, i can only speak for my parish, and how it differs from my other parish(i attend a ROCOR and serbian parish regularly, depends on the city that i am in)

my parish has

pews
about 50% serbian 50% english
the great enterence looks just like the little enterence
the Epistle, Gospel, Sermon, and Creed are repeated in serbian and english
the Creed was said, and not chanted
the Royal Doors were open the entire Liturgy

not saying these are bad or good, just my differences
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2012, 01:33:39 PM »

I'm going along to a Serbian service tomorrow morning and i want to know what to expect; what will other people do during the service for example, that i might be expected to do?


I'm glad you're going, and I hope you will enjoy it.  angel
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