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Author Topic: Predominate Orthodox Church in America  (Read 5644 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 14, 2012, 02:10:53 PM »

With all of the questions arising in the thread about the OCA, what do you all think is the predominate Orthodox Church (i.e., Greek, Antiochian, ROCOR, etc.) in the United States?

Please understand I am not asking for bragging or bloviating purposes, this is a serious inquiry.  I know the Russians were the first missionaries in North America, I know the Greeks seem to have the largest and best organized group, but if we broke it down to the most basic essence of who rightfully is the predominate  in the USA, who would that be?

I could be very wrong, but I would think it would be ROCOR from what I have read.
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 02:12:57 PM »

I don't know what the criteria would be for determining this...  Huh   Most seem to have strengths and weaknesses.
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 02:30:46 PM »

Size & Organization: The Greek Orthodox Church in America
Missionary Work: The Orthodox Church in America & the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

The GOA has bigger parishes  with more members, but lower average attendance.
The Antiochian & especially the OCA has more parishes with fewer members, but higher average attendance.
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 11:28:35 PM »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought that the OCA originally came out of the Russian Orthodox Church.
So on my first instinct I would say ROCOR. (If what I said is correct)

The thing is though, there are all kinds of groups in OCA churches wherever you live.  I've seen OCA churches where 50-75% were greeks, and OCA where 50-75% were Russians. 

or...

They could just go join in under HOTCA.  Smiley  Now that would be very interesting.
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 04:01:07 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2012, 04:02:41 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

However, they do have a lower average attendance.

Also, what is their missionary work inside the United States like?
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2012, 04:03:32 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

But do they have more theological-chutzpah?
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 04:40:01 PM »

In terms of financial strength and numbers? The Greeks.
In terms of evangelization? The Antiochians.
In terms of awesomeness? ACROD!! Cheesy
And, of course, ROCOR has some of the best beards.
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 05:12:11 PM »

In terms of awesomeness? ACROD!! Cheesy

What is the metric for awesomeness?
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 05:38:59 PM »

In terms of awesomeness? ACROD!! Cheesy

What is the metric for awesomeness?

Pierogies and quality thereof  Wink however, I honestly just have a deep affection for the Ruthenian chant melodies and love the people and priests I've met in ACROD parishes. The Carpatho-Russian melody for "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is especially wonderful.

Kerdy: What do you mean by "rightfully" predominate and what leads you to opine that ROCOR deserves such a title?
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2012, 05:50:38 PM »

In terms of awesomeness? ACROD!! Cheesy

What is the metric for awesomeness?

Pierogies and quality thereof  Wink however, I honestly just have a deep affection for the Ruthenian chant melodies and love the people and priests I've met in ACROD parishes. The Carpatho-Russian melody for "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is especially wonderful.

Kerdy: What do you mean by "rightfully" predominate and what leads you to opine that ROCOR deserves such a title?

I do not know who, if anyone, deserves the position.  I am only curious due to my lack of knowledge about all of the different jurisdictions.  My inquiry comes from the thread about the OCA and talks of who would be consolidated into an "American Orthodox Church" if everyone got together and decided to consolidate.  There really is no goal with my question other than to become more educated from those who know more than I do.  I picked ROCOR based on the first missionaries were Russian and ROCOR seems to be the official Russian link in America.  I had never heard of ACROD until I joined this site.  I had no idea there were more than a couple of jurisdictions.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2012, 05:51:02 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

However, they do have a lower average attendance.

Also, what is their missionary work inside the United States like?

A lower percentage of members attend on any given week, but the absolute numbers are still higher.

Regarding missionary work: perception is one thing, hard numbers another. The GOA has chrismated more converts in the last 30 years than the entire membership of the OCA, cradle and convert combined. Biggest surprise I had when looking at the actual sacramental records.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2012, 07:53:43 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

However, they do have a lower average attendance.

Also, what is their missionary work inside the United States like?

A lower percentage of members attend on any given week, but the absolute numbers are still higher.

Regarding missionary work: perception is one thing, hard numbers another. The GOA has chrismated more converts in the last 30 years than the entire membership of the OCA, cradle and convert combined. Biggest surprise I had when looking at the actual sacramental records.

What about evangelism of its own? I assume (though we don't know) that the ranking above includes most jurisdictions, because from what I've heard, the GOA has been losing it's young people, more-so than the other jurisdictions. They may not necessarily leave because they are unhappy, but leave because they marry Protestants or Roman Catholics (rather than the opposite occurring).

I think there are something like 3 million Greek-Americans. The GOA has 476,900 members (with only 107,400 being regular attendees, about 23%).
Of course, there are also around 3 million Russian-Americans and you could argue that ROCOR, OCA & ACROD haven't done a better job with only 123,067 members (47,687 of which are regular attendees, about 40%).

I guess this actually leads to question the study in the Christian News section. We may have a good retention rate because those 3 million Greek-Americans & 3 million Russian-Americans may still consider themselves Orthodox Christians, even if they aren't technically in good standing with the church.

Unquestionably the GOA is the predominant Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. But I think each jurisdiction can and should learn from one another. The GOA should look to ACROD, OCA & the Antiochians for getting their faithful to regularly attend church. While the other jurisdictions could also try to improve regular attendance. They can all learn from each other to improve their missionary work in the country.
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2012, 10:38:25 PM »

See what a dynamic witness Orthodoxy could make in North America if we brought all these elements together into a single administratively unified church!  Pray for the success of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North America!
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2012, 11:17:56 PM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

However, they do have a lower average attendance.

Also, what is their missionary work inside the United States like?
More converts than anybody else. More monasteries, more new monasteries, than anybody else. "Lower average attendance" - okay, sure, they keep more people on the lists than anybody else. But the people that do come far outnumber the others. maybe the denominator is inflated.

If you complain about how many people of Greek descent are there vs how many are on the lists vs how many attend, let me just say that the Christian Russians are far worse.
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2012, 12:26:35 AM »

Greeks outnumber everybody else by any metric. They have more, bigger parishes, more people on the lists, more people in church on any given Sunday, more money, etc.

However, they do have a lower average attendance.

Also, what is their missionary work inside the United States like?
More converts than anybody else. More monasteries, more new monasteries, than anybody else. "Lower average attendance" - okay, sure, they keep more people on the lists than anybody else. But the people that do come far outnumber the others. maybe the denominator is inflated.

If you complain about how many people of Greek descent are there vs how many are on the lists vs how many attend, let me just say that the Christian Russians are far worse.

Actually the GOA & OCA have the same number of monasteries (20) in the United States. The OCA also has more parishes (551) than the GOA (525).

Ordered by number of adherents:
1. GOA: 476,878 (107,289 regularly attend, 22.5%)
2. OCA: 84,928 (33,797 regularly attend, 39.8%)
3. AOCA: 74,527 (27,256 regularly attend, 36.6%)
4. Serbian: 68,760 (15,331 regularly attend, 22.3%)
5. ROCOR: 27,677 (8,954 regularly attend, 32.4%)
6. Ukrainian (EP): 22,362 (6,857 regularly attend, 30.7%)
7. MP: 12,377 (1,952 regularly attend, 15.8%)
8. Romanian: 11,203 (2,158 regularly attend, 19.3%)
9. ACROD: 10,457 (4,936 regularly attend, 47.2%)
10. Bulgarian: 2,212 (989 regularly attend, 44.7%)
11. Georgian: 920 (345 regularly attend, 37.5%)
12. Albanian: 700 (185 regularly attend, 26.4%)
Total: 793,001 (210,049 regularly attend, 26.5%) adherents

By number of parishes:
1. OCA: 551
2. GOA: 525
3. AOCA: 247
4. ROCOR: 136
5. Serbian: 123
6. Ukrainian (EP): 101
7. ACROD: 79
8. Romanian: 31
9. MP: 30
10. Bulgarian: 20
11. Georgian: 6
12. Albanian: 2
Total: 1,851 parishes

By number of monasteries:
1a. GOA: 20
1b. OCA: 20
2. Serbian: 12
3. ROCOR: 10
4a. AOCA: 2
4b. MP: 2
4c. Bulgarian: 2
5a. Romanian: 1
5b. Georgian: 1
Total: 70 monasteries

Data from: Krindatch, Alexei. Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011. 143.

By number of Bishops:
1. GOA: 14
2. OCA: 11
3. AOCA: 9
4. ROCOR: 8
5. Serbian: 3
6a. Bulgaria: 2
6b. Ukrainian (EP): 2
7a. Romania: 1
7b. Albanian: 1
7c. MP: 1
7d. Georgia: 1
Total: 53 bishops

from: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/bishops

By total number of U.S. counties with at least 1 parish:
1. GOA: 361
2. OCA: 308
3. AOCA: 199
4. ROCOR: 118
5. Serbian: 95
6. Ukrainian (EP): 76
7. ACROD: 57
8. Romanian: 27
9. MP: 26
10. Bulgarian: 19
11. Georgia: 7
12. Albanian: 2

From: Krindatch, Alexei. Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011. ix.

U.S. Military Chaplains:
U.S. Army + Reserve & Ntl. Guard (Active Duty): 14
U.S. Navy (Active Duty): 11
U.S. Air Force + Reserve (Active Duty): 6
Total: 31 active duty Military Chaplains

from: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/military-chaplains

U.S. States with the most Orthodox Christians:
1. California
2. New York
3. Illinois
4. New Jersey
5. Massachusetts
6. Pennsylvania
7. Florida
8. Ohio
9. Michigan
10. Texas
11. Maryland
12. Indiana
13. Connecticut
14. Virginia
15. New Mexico
16. Washington
17. North Carolina
18. Georgia
19. Alaska
20. Wisconsin

From: Krindatch, Alexei. Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011. 29.
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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2012, 01:00:21 AM »

On unfortunate statistic for the GOA is that apparently 65% of marriages within the GOA are "mixed", which means one spouse is not Orthodox.
From: Krindatch, Alexei. Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011. 57.

This could be a possible reason for some of it's youth being lost. Without an emphasis on the importance of Orthodox identity and staying Orthodox, it is probably much more likely that the children of these mixed marriages may be lost and leave the church.

The one thing the GOA could learn from the other jurisdictions is to handle these marriages with care and to emphasize the need to assimilate the spouses into the church and requiring their children be raised as Orthodox and teach their children to marry other Orthodox or at least try to lead their spouse to the church.

There isn't really any reason to sugar-coat it, because if we really do want jurisdictional unity and a better American Orthodox Church, every single jurisdiction needs to address its own problems and learn from the other jurisdictions on to better conduct itself. We have to struggle to either eliminate these problems before unity occurs, or at the very least, make an effort to accept that the new, unified church, will be strong enough to tackle our many problems.

As for evangelism:
In the mid-1960s, 15% of OCA members were converts. Today, 51% of OCA members are converts (including 5 bishops).
Today, about 29% of GOA members are converts. (no earlier data to compare with)
In the mid-1960s, the AOCA had about 65 parishes, today it has 249.

From: Krindatch, Alexei. Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011.
and: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-10-23-orthodox-christians_N.htm
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2012, 06:34:08 AM »

Hmmm, I'm fairly certain the Orthodox Church in America is. The ROC gave them autocephaly legitimately, that should be good enough. The squabble with the Ecumenical Patriarch is purely political, he doesn't want to lose such a large number of his "flock" (As well as the power that goes with it). I respect the Ecumenical Patriarch's position and him personally, but I think know he is wrong to try to oust the OCA. The OCA should be the unchallenged organization in the Americas.
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2012, 07:59:40 AM »

So there are about as many GOA converts regularly attending church as there are OCA members regularly attending church...
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« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2012, 10:02:58 AM »

Quote
The squabble with the Ecumenical Patriarch is purely political, he doesn't want to lose such a large number of his "flock" (As well as the power that goes with it). I respect the Ecumenical Patriarch's position and him personally, but I think know he is wrong to try to oust the OCA. The OCA should be the unchallenged organization in the Americas
I dont think the EP is trying to oust the OCA. Its not like he has excommunicated them as schismatics or anything. however, I do agree that it is nothing more than a political thing.

PP
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2012, 03:08:06 PM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.
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« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2012, 03:43:58 PM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

Actually the Russians really haven't been in America the longest, the Greeks - I believe - have.  The Russians certainly were in North America first, because of Alaska, but Alaska was not part of the United States until 1867.  The first Greek parish in the United States was established in New Orleans in 1864, and continues today as Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2012, 01:26:04 AM »

Quote
The squabble with the Ecumenical Patriarch is purely political, he doesn't want to lose such a large number of his "flock" (As well as the power that goes with it). I respect the Ecumenical Patriarch's position and him personally, but I think know he is wrong to try to oust the OCA. The OCA should be the unchallenged organization in the Americas
I dont think the EP is trying to oust the OCA. Its not like he has excommunicated them as schismatics or anything. however, I do agree that it is nothing more than a political thing.

PP

Oust is probably the wrong term. I can't think of the correct word. Like he doesn't accept them as legitimate I guess?
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« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2012, 01:26:04 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

Actually the Russians really haven't been in America the longest, the Greeks - I believe - have.  The Russians certainly were in North America first, because of Alaska, but Alaska was not part of the United States until 1867.  The first Greek parish in the United States was established in New Orleans in 1864, and continues today as Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Random note, but that's the church I am getting married at.  Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2012, 01:26:04 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

You talk about the Russians being un-American, but the Greeks are the last group ever to change their culture for where they are. Whether in the USA, Norway, or wherever, they always speak liturgy in Greek, and carry their very Greek culture without adding the local customs. I've been told by many a Greek that Orthodoxy isn't for my people. I'm not hating on the Greeks, but if you are going to call the Russians out, you must know the Greeks are MUCH worse about including other cultures.
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2012, 01:00:22 AM »

My OCA Church is comprised of a mix of ethnic groups: 

    approximately 40% Greek (mostly foreign born)
                        30% Russian (all American born)
                        20% Middle Eastern and Romanian (mostly foreign born)
                        10% Convert (including our priest)
 
All of these groups are included in the parish officers and alter servers, although not by design.  While the liturgy is mostly in English, we do incorporate a small amount of Greek, Russian, Arabic, and Romanian  language into the services.

I grew up in an ethnic (Greek) church, and my perception at this particular church was that many, if not the majority, saw church more as a Greek thing, and less as a religious thing.  (Of course, perceptions are not always accurate.) 

My dream is of a pan-ethnic American Orthodox Church, where each parish can adjust the language(s) of their services to address the needs of their congregation.
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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2012, 02:43:11 AM »

For some reason that is a perception on this forum, that GOAA churches are culturally oriented.  At 59 years old, I've lived through witnessing some ethnicity, but growth in the faith was always the overwhelming dominant thrust of the parish's ministry.  The culture came up on Greek Independence Day, and sometimes "Ochi" Day, October 28th, (when Greece pushed the Fascist Italians back out of Greece into Albania).  Keep in mind there has been very limited Greek immigration since the 1970's.  I see only a little culture anymore in the GOAA parishes, at least in my experience, in the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, (Northeast and Central Ohio, Pennsylvania except Greater Philadelphia, and West Virginia).  Probably New York, New Jersey, and Chicago retain more cultural attachment these days (Canada and Australia too, I'm sure), but really, I don't see this Greekness that you assert.  We do have a Greek School and allow them to offer a Christmas play in church, most of it in Greek, following the Liturgy, and the Sunday School does one too, in English; likewise a 10 minute Greek Independence Day program is allowed after church.  No other mention of ethnicity, none, all year long; just worship and living the life of the Orthodox Church through the church calendar.  We have a Greek dance group among our youth that dances at our annual Grecian Festival, which is more of a fund raiser, than a cultural event and includes instructional church tours (many of which I conduct).  I find GOAA priests dedicated, devout churchman, wholly dedicated to the Christ-centered priestly ministry exclusively.  Our year round Sunday Liturgy is 90% in the English language of the priest's parts, though the choir chants almost all of the a major hymns in Greek still, but it's more because they haven't taken the time to learn them in English yet. We have much more English, probably 80% overall, in the Summer months when we have chanters and congregational participation.  My priest always looks over the congregation to decide how much of which language we will emphasize, but I recall a funeral when he was new to our parish, I am the chanter and went into the Sanctuary to whisper to him he might want to do a little more Greek, but he replied, "They have to understand this is the way we execute the services at St. ____."  Our Liturgical Assistant Priest is an American convert, St. Vladimir Seminary graduate, affiliated with the Antiochian Archdiocese, with a limited knowledge of Greek.

And frankly, retention of cultural activities comes from primarily American born, often 2nd generation parents of the youth, who want the kids to learn the culture, there isn't another venue for that even though we have Greek fraternal organizations.  I was looking over our 70+ youth in the dance groups and I'll bet the majority of them are 25% Greek.  It is not the Parish Council or the Priests, and not our Metropolitan, promoting ethnicity in the churches. 

During his archepiscopal tenure, 1996-'99, Archbishop Spyridon of America reported that 30% of the GOAA parishes didn't have Greek Schools.

The other GOAA parishes in my area are similar with their expression of Greek ethnicity.  Out of 6 parishes in the area, 1 has always been the more ethnically oriented parish.  It's the intercity "mother church," the ethnic orientation keeps its membership numbers up, because no one lives near it anymore.  That church, in the past decade, has declined in membership (They're transferring to our churches in the suburbs.)  The current priest assigned there is American born, and his Greek is not perfect.  When he was assigned, the Metropolitan had their parish council come to Pittsburgh to meet, to tell them the parish had to move more toward English in the Divine Services because their youth were now in their 30's and they are American born, primarily,  (They have youth too, who are the children of yesterday's youth.)

Anyway, these discussions about the "Greekness" of the GOAA parishes annoy me because they ignore the massive decline in cultural association in the parishes over the past 30 years that I've witnessed, and ignore the Orthodox spirituality which overwhelmingly dominates the life of the parishes.  I can recall parish bulletins that were half in English.  Today, there is not a word of Greek in our parish publications.

If this is not your experience with a GOAA parish, I'd like to see from where it is that you are seeing all this cultural orientation.
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« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2012, 05:54:13 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

You talk about the Russians being un-American, but the Greeks are the last group ever to change their culture for where they are. Whether in the USA, Norway, or wherever, they always speak liturgy in Greek, and carry their very Greek culture without adding the local customs. I've been told by many a Greek that Orthodoxy isn't for my people. I'm not hating on the Greeks, but if you are going to call the Russians out, you must know the Greeks are MUCH worse about including other cultures.

I would not doubt your observations, but I do know that my observations of the Greeks has been different. From what I have noticed, most Greeks actually seem really liberal things and are always looking for a way to 'Americanize' Greek culture or adopt practices that are more common in America and instill them into their Churches--sometimes to the point where I find it a bad thing, like including pews in their Churches or having Bible studies like Protestants. The Russians on the other hand, while extremely friendly and courteous once you get to know them, seem to care much more about culture and tradition than the Greeks do, at least in my experience. Then again, keep in mind the demograph. Most Russians I have been around are elderly 1st generation immigrants whereas most Greeks I have seen were at least 2nd generation immigrants.
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« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2012, 05:58:36 AM »

Bible studies a bad thing?
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« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2012, 05:59:38 AM »

If this is not your experience with a GOAA parish, I'd like to see from where it is that you are seeing all this cultural orientation.

2 Greek priests told me "Orthodoxy is not for Scandinavians, it is for Greeks, Arabs, and Slavs.". I had to seek out the OCA and Russians, because the Greeks only want culturally/ethnically Greek people at their churches.

Not to mention all the times I go to a Greek parish and everyone speaks Greek to eachother and exclude me and anyother non-Greek person.
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« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2012, 06:00:13 AM »

Not to mention all the times I go to a Greek parish and everyone speaks Greek to eachother and exclude me and anyother non-Greek person.

You can't force people to like you or talk to you.
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« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2012, 06:47:08 AM »

Bible studies a bad thing?

That is an excellent question.  I have never known an Orthodox priest (at least any of the several that I have been under) that didn't encourage us to read the Scriptures, and bible studies would certainly be Orthodox.  If nothing else, it gives the priest a chance to make sure that we know the Orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures instead of thinking that we are to go by our own interpretations.  I know that my current priest is always encouraging me to read and study the Scriptures.  I am looking forward to him getting some classes going.  I am also looking forward to learning more about the teachings of his spiritual father for his first 5 years as an Orthodox Christian, Elder Sophrony.
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2012, 06:54:38 AM »

If this is not your experience with a GOAA parish, I'd like to see from where it is that you are seeing all this cultural orientation.

2 Greek priests told me "Orthodoxy is not for Scandinavians, it is for Greeks, Arabs, and Slavs.". I had to seek out the OCA and Russians, because the Greeks only want culturally/ethnically Greek people at their churches.

Not to mention all the times I go to a Greek parish and everyone speaks Greek to eachother and exclude me and anyother non-Greek person.

WHERE IS THIS "GREEK PARISH [WHERE] EVERYONE SPEAKS GREEK TO EACHOTHER (sic) AND [EXCLUDES] YOU AND ANYOTHER (sic) NON-GREEK PERSON?"
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« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2012, 08:16:33 AM »


I don't know.  All the Greek parishes I have visited were not like that.  They were just fine.  I actually enjoyed visiting them.

I have never felt "unwanted" in any of the Orthodox churches I visited, including:  Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, Albanian, OCA, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc.

Actually, the OCA tried too hard to make me welcome, making me feel uncomfortable.  I didn't come looking for all that much attention.

...and I am amazed to learn there are only two Albanian parishes, and I've been to one.  They are very friendly, and have hosted our "Pan-Orthodox" St. Nicholas event for the past 3 years.

Here, where I live, there are a lot of Romanian parishes, followed by Serbs, Greeks, Antiochian and then everyone else with one parish.

The Greeks and Antiochians have the most money, and the most faithful, and do the most in the community, because they can.  They don't just build churches, they build "complexes", with huge churches, halls, schools, lecture areas, etc.  It's great!  The Antiochian priest told me they have over 600 members on the books, and each Sunday they have well over 200 in attendance.  Wow!!!!

The most "faithful" and pious people I have encountered were actually the Romanians.  I've never seen anyone pray like them.  I didn't understand a single word, but, nonetheless, it was an edifying experience.



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« Reply #34 on: July 18, 2012, 09:07:53 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

I think that many folks here have the idea that if an administratively united Church of America comes about, it will happen by folding all churches into an existing dominant one. Dominance has been mostly defined as (a) OCA is already autocephalous and thus dominant; or (b) GOA is by far the most numerous and thus dominant. I do not think that it is going to work that way.

First, the autocephaly granted to the OCA was always understood by the OCA itself to be provisional; to be sacrificed when a truly united and autocephalous Church in America is established. OCA's autocephaly cannot be given up for an administratively united but autonomous church under another (foreign) local church. When that new autocephalous church comes about, all of the Orthodox churches in the States would belong to it, with only representational churches belonging to foreign patriarchates. Any other church that does not belong to the new autocephalous church would be uncanonical and schismatic. So, we do have a very difficult task ahead and perhaps an impossible one. In the mean time. the thing to do is to maintain cordial relations with each and perhaps intensify joint endeavors under the auspieces of the Assembly of Bishops.

Second, there are slight differences, not only between juruisdictions, but also between dioceses/parishes of a jurisdiction. Some folks, to include myself, think this to be a good thing. Other people are more inclined to stress standardization. However, some people are too focused on these differences. And when that happens, the "us vs them" phenomenon kicks in, causing all kinds of unwanted and unnecessary problems.

In any case, over the passage of time, we will see the emergence of a distintinctly American church--just as we had the rise of distinct Bulgarian, Serrbina, Romanian, Ukrainian, Carpathorissian, and Russian churches. Indeed, the range of Orthodox "flavors" in the Orthodox ice cream shop will be even greater when the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox finally reunite. The point is that, all the flavors are essentially the same thing and we do need the Orthodox Church of the United States to be Orthodoxy's big tent.
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« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2012, 09:13:25 AM »



As a Swede (Svenska) and Orthodox I guess I am a pioneer of sorts?


Intersting enough, the Scandinavians inhabited what is now northwestern Russia at least thats what Ive been told.
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« Reply #36 on: July 18, 2012, 09:40:46 AM »

I've only once visited an EP parish (for vespers) with my family.

Before the service I approached two young guys who happened to speak English and they told me when the vespers start etc. Secondly we were approached by a deacon who gave us a detailed tour on the church (and realised we have some common friends). Finally we were blessed by the local bishop.

No, I can't say it was not welcoming enough. For me maybe to much.
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« Reply #37 on: July 18, 2012, 10:10:13 AM »

And frankly, retention of cultural activities comes from primarily American born, often 2nd generation parents of the youth, who want the kids to learn the culture, there isn't another venue for that even though we have Greek fraternal organizations...It is not the Parish Council or the Priests, and not our Metropolitan, promoting ethnicity in the churches. 

Agreed. I see the Greeks getting a bad rap often, and I don't want to diss anyone's experience, but this has definitely not been mine. The first Divine Liturgy I attended was at a Greek Orthodox parish, and I was perfectly able to follow along and even participate, because most of the service was in English. If there was Greek, it was repeated in English. The people couldn't have been nicer or more welcoming. They all greeted us after Liturgy, invited us to stay for coffee hour and Sunday School, and to a midweek Bible study. Several members stayed for over an hour afterward to answer our questions.
I have heard a GOA priest say to his congregation that if they were looking to the Church to teach their children the language and culture, they were bound to be disapointed, because that is not the Church's business.
I have also heard a GOA Metropolitan (Greek-born) say that if people want to have an ethnic social club, they should feel free to do so. But don't call it a Church.
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« Reply #38 on: July 18, 2012, 10:24:51 AM »

And frankly, retention of cultural activities comes from primarily American born, often 2nd generation parents of the youth, who want the kids to learn the culture, there isn't another venue for that even though we have Greek fraternal organizations...It is not the Parish Council or the Priests, and not our Metropolitan, promoting ethnicity in the churches. 

Agreed. I see the Greeks getting a bad rap often, and I don't want to diss anyone's experience, but this has definitely not been mine. The first Divine Liturgy I attended was at a Greek Orthodox parish, and I was perfectly able to follow along and even participate, because most of the service was in English. If there was Greek, it was repeated in English. The people couldn't have been nicer or more welcoming. They all greeted us after Liturgy, invited us to stay for coffee hour and Sunday School, and to a midweek Bible study. Several members stayed for over an hour afterward to answer our questions.
I have heard a GOA priest say to his congregation that if they were looking to the Church to teach their children the language and culture, they were bound to be disapointed, because that is not the Church's business.
I have also heard a GOA Metropolitan (Greek-born) say that if people want to have an ethnic social club, they should feel free to do so. But don't call it a Church.

This is very reassuring and moving in the right direction.
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« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2012, 10:35:15 AM »

For some reason that is a perception on this forum, that GOAA churches are culturally oriented.  At 59 years old, I've lived through witnessing some ethnicity, but growth in the faith was always the overwhelming dominant thrust of the parish's ministry.  The culture came up on Greek Independence Day, and sometimes "Ochi" Day, October 28th, (when Greece pushed the Fascist Italians back out of Greece into Albania).  Keep in mind there has been very limited Greek immigration since the 1970's.  I see only a little culture anymore in the GOAA parishes, at least in my experience, in the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, (Northeast and Central Ohio, Pennsylvania except Greater Philadelphia, and West Virginia).  Probably New York, New Jersey, and Chicago retain more cultural attachment these days (Canada and Australia too, I'm sure), but really, I don't see this Greekness that you assert.  We do have a Greek School and allow them to offer a Christmas play in church, most of it in Greek, following the Liturgy, and the Sunday School does one too, in English; likewise a 10 minute Greek Independence Day program is allowed after church.  No other mention of ethnicity, none, all year long; just worship and living the life of the Orthodox Church through the church calendar.  We have a Greek dance group among our youth that dances at our annual Grecian Festival, which is more of a fund raiser, than a cultural event and includes instructional church tours (many of which I conduct).  I find GOAA priests dedicated, devout churchman, wholly dedicated to the Christ-centered priestly ministry exclusively.  Our year round Sunday Liturgy is 90% in the English language of the priest's parts, though the choir chants almost all of the a major hymns in Greek still, but it's more because they haven't taken the time to learn them in English yet. We have much more English, probably 80% overall, in the Summer months when we have chanters and congregational participation.  My priest always looks over the congregation to decide how much of which language we will emphasize, but I recall a funeral when he was new to our parish, I am the chanter and went into the Sanctuary to whisper to him he might want to do a little more Greek, but he replied, "They have to understand this is the way we execute the services at St. ____."  Our Liturgical Assistant Priest is an American convert, St. Vladimir Seminary graduate, affiliated with the Antiochian Archdiocese, with a limited knowledge of Greek.

And frankly, retention of cultural activities comes from primarily American born, often 2nd generation parents of the youth, who want the kids to learn the culture, there isn't another venue for that even though we have Greek fraternal organizations.  I was looking over our 70+ youth in the dance groups and I'll bet the majority of them are 25% Greek.  It is not the Parish Council or the Priests, and not our Metropolitan, promoting ethnicity in the churches. 

During his archepiscopal tenure, 1996-'99, Archbishop Spyridon of America reported that 30% of the GOAA parishes didn't have Greek Schools.

The other GOAA parishes in my area are similar with their expression of Greek ethnicity.  Out of 6 parishes in the area, 1 has always been the more ethnically oriented parish.  It's the intercity "mother church," the ethnic orientation keeps its membership numbers up, because no one lives near it anymore.  That church, in the past decade, has declined in membership (They're transferring to our churches in the suburbs.)  The current priest assigned there is American born, and his Greek is not perfect.  When he was assigned, the Metropolitan had their parish council come to Pittsburgh to meet, to tell them the parish had to move more toward English in the Divine Services because their youth were now in their 30's and they are American born, primarily,  (They have youth too, who are the children of yesterday's youth.)

Anyway, these discussions about the "Greekness" of the GOAA parishes annoy me because they ignore the massive decline in cultural association in the parishes over the past 30 years that I've witnessed, and ignore the Orthodox spirituality which overwhelmingly dominates the life of the parishes.  I can recall parish bulletins that were half in English.  Today, there is not a word of Greek in our parish publications.

If this is not your experience with a GOAA parish, I'd like to see from where it is that you are seeing all this cultural orientation.

I am the same age and I would agree with much of what Basil said. One thing that is often lost in this whole thing and which may account for some of the perceived differences among us is that the OCA was not really founded by ethnic Russians. Its roots in the Metropolia come from the same regions of Europe where the ACROD and UOC's founders came from - the lands of the Austro-Hungarians, the Poles and the western reaches of the Tsarist empire. This is important to note because while what became the Metropolia was initially funded in large part by the Russian government prior to 1917 and the more prominent clergy and hierarchs were largely ethnic Russians who emigrated after 1918, such was not the case on the parish level for either the laity or the local clergy. As people grew into the second and third generations, they understood that while they were called 'Russians', they were really never Russian. Different native languages, different foods, different folk customs etc... Also, at the height of the cold war, being called Russian was not a good thing in America. Hence there was a desire to become more clearly American. American patriotic events were prominent in both the ACROD and the Metropolia. There was nothing like the Greek Independence Day of the old country to celebrate - excepting that the Ukrainians had such a day to commemorate - short lived as its independence was following the collapse of Imperial Russia..... Those who came to self-identify here as Ukrainian, or who had such an identity in the old country are more like the Greeks in terms on honoring and holding on to their image of the old world ways - festivals, dancers etc...

But under these cultural veneers we are the same Orthodox Christians.

Look it up. http://www.squidoo.com/rusyns The Rusyns and Lemkos were the people without a nation in Europe to fully relate to, hence today both the OCA and ACROD are far less nationalistic than the other churches. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing as I see it as I don't see the establishment of one administrative entity as a magic elixir to cure all of our ills. But enough of the banging on the Greeks already.

One more thing - the people within both the OCA and ACROD have shown a willingness to accept Bishops from outside of their ancestral heritage - something none of our sister jurisdictions have shown to be case, perhaps that will come in time.
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« Reply #40 on: July 18, 2012, 10:36:22 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

I think that many folks here have the idea that if an administratively united Church of America comes about, it will happen by folding all churches into an existing dominant one. Dominance has been mostly defined as (a) OCA is already autocephalous and thus dominant; or (b) GOA is by far the most numerous and thus dominant. I do not think that it is going to work that way.

First, the autocephaly granted to the OCA was always understood by the OCA itself to be provisional; to be sacrificed when a truly united and autocephalous Church in America is established. OCA's autocephaly cannot be given up for an administratively united but autonomous church under another (foreign) local church. When that new autocephalous church comes about, all of the Orthodox churches in the States would belong to it, with only representational churches belonging to foreign patriarchates. Any other church that does not belong to the new autocephalous church would be uncanonical and schismatic. So, we do have a very difficult task ahead and perhaps an impossible one. In the mean time. the thing to do is to maintain cordial relations with each and perhaps intensify joint endeavors under the auspieces of the Assembly of Bishops.

Second, there are slight differences, not only between juruisdictions, but also between dioceses/parishes of a jurisdiction. Some folks, to include myself, think this to be a good thing. Other people are more inclined to stress standardization. However, some people are too focused on these differences. And when that happens, the "us vs them" phenomenon kicks in, causing all kinds of unwanted and unnecessary problems.

In any case, over the passage of time, we will see the emergence of a distintinctly American church--just as we had the rise of distinct Bulgarian, Serrbina, Romanian, Ukrainian, Carpathorissian, and Russian churches. Indeed, the range of Orthodox "flavors" in the Orthodox ice cream shop will be even greater when the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox finally reunite. The point is that, all the flavors are essentially the same thing and we do need the Orthodox Church of the United States to be Orthodoxy's big tent.

Amen. Amen. Amen.
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« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2012, 10:51:30 AM »

I'm so happy to see that many of you do not have the "GOAA churches are Greek social clubs" bias.

(PARTIAL) REPLY TO REPLY NO. 33

Liza, There are only two (maybe 3) Albanian parishes under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  I don't know how many they have, but there are quite a few more in an Albanian Archdiocese that is within the OCA.
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« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2012, 11:14:12 AM »


I see.

I have a number of Romanian parishes here.  A few of them are under the OCA.

I've always wondered about that.
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« Reply #43 on: July 18, 2012, 11:23:53 AM »

I'm so happy to see that many of you do not have the "GOAA churches are Greek social clubs" bias.

(PARTIAL) REPLY TO REPLY NO. 33

Liza, There are only two (maybe 3) Albanian parishes under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  I don't know how many they have, but there are quite a few more in an Albanian Archdiocese that is within the OCA.

In my post, I spoke of MY experience growing up in One Particular GOA church.  I NEVER said that my experience was typical.  I even allowed that I might have been mistaken in my perceptions.  Would you prefer that I LIE about MY experiences so as not to offend your Greek sensibilities? 

BTW, I am not a self-loathing Greek, but I am an American before I am a Greek, and I am an Orthodox Christian before I am an American (a fact which irks some of the Greeks to whom this has been told).
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« Reply #44 on: July 18, 2012, 11:33:44 AM »

That is a tough one. The OCA and Antiochian Churches definitely seem the most contemporary or 'Americanized' like they fit in with the American culture the greatest, however, they also have their weaknesses. The Greeks on the other hand are the largest group here, making up like 50% of American Orthodox Christians, but, I'm not too sure how much the Moscow Patriarchate would like the Greeks becoming the pre-dominant Church in an area that is pretty much considered more his territory. Lastly, the Russians definitely have been here the longest and are therefore probably entitled to being like the main American Orthodox Church, however, Russian Churches are REALLY un-Americanized and mostly composed of immigrants from what I hear and are a bit weary of strangers. All in all, I think that it will either come down to the OCA, Greeks or Antiochians.

I think that many folks here have the idea that if an administratively united Church of America comes about, it will happen by folding all churches into an existing dominant one. Dominance has been mostly defined as (a) OCA is already autocephalous and thus dominant; or (b) GOA is by far the most numerous and thus dominant. I do not think that it is going to work that way.

First, the autocephaly granted to the OCA was always understood by the OCA itself to be provisional; to be sacrificed when a truly united and autocephalous Church in America is established. OCA's autocephaly cannot be given up for an administratively united but autonomous church under another (foreign) local church. When that new autocephalous church comes about, all of the Orthodox churches in the States would belong to it, with only representational churches belonging to foreign patriarchates. Any other church that does not belong to the new autocephalous church would be uncanonical and schismatic. So, we do have a very difficult task ahead and perhaps an impossible one. In the mean time. the thing to do is to maintain cordial relations with each and perhaps intensify joint endeavors under the auspieces of the Assembly of Bishops.

Second, there are slight differences, not only between juruisdictions, but also between dioceses/parishes of a jurisdiction. Some folks, to include myself, think this to be a good thing. Other people are more inclined to stress standardization. However, some people are too focused on these differences. And when that happens, the "us vs them" phenomenon kicks in, causing all kinds of unwanted and unnecessary problems.

In any case, over the passage of time, we will see the emergence of a distintinctly American church--just as we had the rise of distinct Bulgarian, Serrbina, Romanian, Ukrainian, Carpathorissian, and Russian churches. Indeed, the range of Orthodox "flavors" in the Orthodox ice cream shop will be even greater when the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox finally reunite. The point is that, all the flavors are essentially the same thing and we do need the Orthodox Church of the United States to be Orthodoxy's big tent.

I agree than if/when all the Orthodox Christians in America are united, then they must form a new American Orthodox Church;  let each parish determine the language(s) and customs per the needs of the congregants.  As I stated in my original post, at my pan-ethnic church, languages other than English have been added or deleted to/from the services depending upon the needs of the parishioners.  Where I live, there is a large hispanic population, and if we are ever successful in attracting some into our church, then we'll be adding Spanish.
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