I have attended a Greek parish in Long island, NY since the last school semester while in school. I attended church occasionally for one or two times per month due to the time and traveling expense.
Attending today’s service was very difficult for me emotionally. As I entering the narthex and ready to enter the church, I saw two men were having conversation. One person usually takes care the reader job and custodian work. He has seen me a couple times in church but almost always looking at me blankly and ignores me even I am the only person in the nave.
Initially at the starting of service, I don’t feel too uncomfortable about myself. But as time went by I realized that I became quite scared by Greek people. As an Asian and a Chinese, I always feel that people who are Caucasians look down Chinese sociologically and economically since many Chinese are new immigrants in the states, and Greeks are Caucasians.
I sat on the church bench alone and did not talk much. As the service went on and more Greeks entering the Church after Matins, I lowered down my head and embraced myself with my arms, neither wanting to stand Nor talking to anyone. I felt really guilty for not standing up during memorial service and the forty day blessing for a child but I was just even afraid to stand up with other people.
I do know there is a person who is the parish council is a Chinese who is married to a Greek wife. I do not know him personally but wish to ask him for advice, but feel he is not interested in talking to me at all. Later when almost everyone was left from the nave, I saw another Greek guy and asked him if I could have a chance to talk to the Chinese parish council member. I felt he was not very eager to talk to me at all.
As I am on the way of going back to my college campus, I have a feeling that Greeks might kick me out if there is no presence of the priest, since I have learned the presence of a left-wing party in Greece and which proclaims ethnic and racial inequality. I have talked to a Jewish student in school about my Greek parish experience, and he told me that everyone one thinks he is Greek in Greece and just based on judging his physical appearance. I am so jealous of him because I cannot disguise myself at all.
Here are also some other things relating to Greek parishes that I am also concerning. Why every time His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch seems only visiting Greek parishes when he is in the United States? I know Ecumenical Patriarchate is also not just caring Greek Americans since it also has work in Hong Kong and South East Asia, but I still do not understand why.
Also, I don’t understand why on the official GOA website—Goarch.com, it is so hard to find anything being relating to Evangelism of non-Greeks. It seems the main focus of GOA is only to help converts who are already married to Greeks and promoting Hellenism within new generations of Greek Americans. Is it because that GOA is conservative and afraid that any new fluxes of people are going to hurt Hellenism, the Greek language and culture? I was quite shocked comparing the liturgy experience I attended yesterday at a ROCOR monastery, where the entire liturgy was entirely in English. In the Greek parish where I attended today, the service was 85 percent Greek and very difficult for me to follow. I do understand that liturgical language is dependent upon the people who attend the parish, but it is still quite shocking as I keep hearing the same language and feeling that I am so different from others and become more frightened and scared. During liturgy, I could not focus and only much kept thinking that bad experience I encountered with Greeks in school who are not interested in faith at all but still have the “birth right” in GOA.
Orthodox Christians always recite “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” in Nicene Creed. However, Orthodox Church is still seemed quite divisive between ethnic jurisdictions today in America. Of course not, but if they are OCA and Antiochian jurisdiction that converts should go to find the ancient faith, I would feel very sad about the situation. And to me, the ethnic situation does not seem from being happening in Catholic Churches in America, where there is no ethnic designation on church title at all.
I hope I do not offend anyone here. I am just confused and discouraged. If most of the Greek parishes are only for Greeks and converts who are married to Greeks, I should go to "convert friendly" parishes if I am still interested in Orthodoxy and accepting the fact.