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Author Topic: Converts to Oriental Orthodoxy  (Read 1269 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cyrillic
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« on: August 28, 2012, 11:42:54 AM »

I was wondering, how many of you are converts to the Oriental Orthodox faith?

How did you find out about it Oriental Orthodoxy? What made you choose for it?

And how does that work, converting to Oriental Orthodoxy? I suppose most of the OO parishes are not used to receiving converts.

Sorry for bothering you with so many questions  Smiley
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 11:43:26 AM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 12:09:00 PM »

I'm a convert to Coptic Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism. I think there are at least a few others around here, like Mabsoota and Seafra (sp?). I think Habte Selassie and Gebre Menfes Kidus are converts to Ethiopian Orthodoxy. I'm not sure about other OO jurisdictions.

In short (because I have to leave; I can write more later, if you have questions), I found OO/Coptic Orthodoxy via some sermons of HH Pope Shenouda III online (I was taking Arabic classes at the time and had run out of Christian material, and didn't want to do the actual work I was assigned, because it involved Islamic propaganda). I realized that he had the faith that I didn't have but wanted (I was estranged from the RCC at the time, having removed myself from communion due to doubts about RC claims and faith in general). I didn't live anywhere near any OO church (the local OO where I come from all go to the OCA and Bulgarian churches, because there's no OO church for miles and miles). I moved to New Mexico about a year ago, got in touch with the local Coptic community (~40 people, meeting in a private house for 16 years so far), and began attending their liturgies. I was baptized last May, taking the name Shenouda after St. Shenouda the Archimandrite, and to remind me that I came into the Church under Pope Shenouda and I will always be thankful to HH for providing that initial light that led me to the Orthodox faith.

(I had previously attended some EO services at the local OCA back in California and found them quite holy and beautiful, but it wasn't until I found the Coptic Orthodox Church that it really "clicked" that Orthodoxy could be something for ME, not just Slavs, Greeks, Arabs, etc. It was the faith....it IS the faith that keeps me going, despite being the only convert to regularly attend here in Albuquerque. I have met one other. God willing, we will have many more after we get our own church building. Please pray for St. Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church of Albuquerque that we will be able to raise the necessary money to fill the gap in our funds in time to get the building we're currently looking at. We are extremely poor, because we are such a small group and so cannot generate too much money in our congregation.)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 12:12:07 PM by dzheremi » Logged

Cyrillic
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 12:11:28 PM »

Yes, I knew of you Dzrhemi, back in another forum we talked a lot  Wink

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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 12:13:49 PM »

Yes, I knew of you Dzrhemi, back in another forum we talked a lot  Wink

I was known as Credo ergo Sum

Ah! I suspected, but didn't want to say anything out of respect for your privacy. It's good to "see" you again, my friend. It's terrible what CAF did to you. I am glad you've found your way here. May the Lord enlighten you with knowledge and guide your path to the true faith.
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 12:17:58 PM »

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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 12:29:14 PM »

Yes, I knew of you Dzrhemi, back in another forum we talked a lot  Wink

I was known as Credo ergo Sum

Ah! I suspected, but didn't want to say anything out of respect for your privacy. It's good to "see" you again, my friend. It's terrible what CAF did to you. I am glad you've found your way here. May the Lord enlighten you with knowledge and guide your path to the true faith.

I was banned there because they thought I was a shill for Oriental Orthodoxy. I shouldn't have been so enthusiastic about it  Cheesy

I have watched that video of Pope Shenouda III you sent me a few times now. It helps me a lot with prayer. Thanks!

But now, back to topic. I would want to know what others have been through converting to OO'y
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 12:44:19 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 01:06:21 PM »

I was banned there because they thought I was a shill for Oriental Orthodoxy. I shouldn't have been so enthusiastic about it  Cheesy

Was that all?  I was worried I was next  Grin I'm surprised no one has warned me yet for encouraging people to explore Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 01:27:10 PM »

(I had previously attended some EO services at the local OCA back in California and found them quite holy and beautiful, but it wasn't until I found the Coptic Orthodox Church that it really "clicked" that Orthodoxy could be something for ME, not just Slavs, Greeks, Arabs, etc

You are an American, attended an American Orthodox Church with American hierarchs and with services in American language but you didn't feel that Orthodoxy could be something for you? What went wrong?
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2012, 02:02:56 PM »

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

(I had previously attended some EO services at the local OCA back in California and found them quite holy and beautiful, but it wasn't until I found the Coptic Orthodox Church that it really "clicked" that Orthodoxy could be something for ME, not just Slavs, Greeks, Arabs, etc

You are an American, attended an American Orthodox Church with American hierarchs and with services in American language but you didn't feel that Orthodoxy could be something for you? What went wrong?

Because like I try to reiterate every time this issue of language and the Church come up, it is so much deeper than just languages and comfort zone familiarity.  There has to be a Spiritual connection, the Holy Spirit has to draw you into a parish.  American heirarchs and services are fine for those who need or appreciate that, but some folks like myself needed something a littler more.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2012, 02:40:22 PM »

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

(I had previously attended some EO services at the local OCA back in California and found them quite holy and beautiful, but it wasn't until I found the Coptic Orthodox Church that it really "clicked" that Orthodoxy could be something for ME, not just Slavs, Greeks, Arabs, etc

You are an American, attended an American Orthodox Church with American hierarchs and with services in American language but you didn't feel that Orthodoxy could be something for you? What went wrong?
Because like I try to reiterate every time this issue of language and the Church come up, it is so much deeper than just languages and comfort zone familiarity.  There has to be a Spiritual connection, the Holy Spirit has to draw you into a parish.  American heirarchs and services are fine for those who need or appreciate that, but some folks like myself needed something a littler more.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Are you asserting that other jurisdictions are "more" when compared to the OCA because it has American hierarchs and the English language? I'm a convert to Orthodoxy, and I don't find my parish to be "less" because it uses English.
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Alpo
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2012, 02:41:19 PM »

Because like I try to reiterate every time this issue of language and the Church come up, it is so much deeper than just languages and comfort zone familiarity.  There has to be a Spiritual connection, the Holy Spirit has to draw you into a parish.

That's nice idea but it's linked with diaspora situation where there are myriad of local churches to chooce from. That's not the ideal Orthodox situation so I find an idea that Holy Spirit would lead different people to different local churches a little weird. Why would Holy Spirit have different policy for Americans than for the traditional Orthodox countries?

Quote
American heirarchs and services are fine for those who need or appreciate that, but some folks like myself needed something a littler more.

I'm not trying to criticize dzheremi and I'm not trying to argue that EOs are superior to OOs nor otherwise downplay his experience. Good for him if he has found the Coptic church more comfortable than OCA and I understand that experiences can't always be rationally explained.

But an idea that having foreign culture, foreing language and foreign hierarchs are "something more" is really a rather weird one.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 02:43:22 PM by Alpo » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2012, 02:47:01 PM »

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

(I had previously attended some EO services at the local OCA back in California and found them quite holy and beautiful, but it wasn't until I found the Coptic Orthodox Church that it really "clicked" that Orthodoxy could be something for ME, not just Slavs, Greeks, Arabs, etc

You are an American, attended an American Orthodox Church with American hierarchs and with services in American language but you didn't feel that Orthodoxy could be something for you? What went wrong?

Because like I try to reiterate every time this issue of language and the Church come up, it is so much deeper than just languages and comfort zone familiarity.  There has to be a Spiritual connection, the Holy Spirit has to draw you into a parish. 

^^^ This. I'm lots of things, but that didn't really factor into my decision. I love everyone back at the OCA (St. Saraphim of Sarov, Santa Rosa CA, if anyone's ever in the area), but it's not for me. I did not connect to Orthodoxy until finding the Coptic Church. It has very little-to-nothing to do with cultural similarity or dissimilarity.
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2012, 02:53:14 PM »

I hope this is not a sensitive question to ask but to those in very ethnic churches, are you single or married with family?  Because I am having a hard time for my family.  I could probably grin and bear it if I was there alone.  But I want my family to share the faith and I can see that they feel pretty disconnected being of another culture and ethnicity.
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2012, 02:57:53 PM »

Are you asserting that other jurisdictions are "more" when compared to the OCA because it has American hierarchs and the English language? I'm a convert to Orthodoxy, and I don't find my parish to be "less" because it uses English.

Just for the record, here at St. Bishoy we're about 80% English to 20% Coptic/Arabic. We're all quite fine with that, even though I'm the only native English speaker.

Quote
I find an idea that Holy Spirit would lead different people to different local churches a little weird. Why would Holy Spirit have different policy for Americans than for the traditional Orthodox countries?

The Holy Spirit has a "policy" as to who goes where?  Huh

Quote
I'm not trying to criticize dzheremi and I'm not trying to argue that EOs are superior to OOs nor otherwise downplay his experience. Good for him if he has found the Coptic church more comfortable than OCA and I understand that experiences can't always be rationally explained.

But an idea that having foreign culture, foreing language and foreign hierarchs are "something more" is really a rather weird one.

But again, I don't look at it that way. It's not a matter of foreign vs. indigenous. It's a matter of the faith that I connected with. When you find Orthodoxy, whether it is of any particular ethnic or cultural provenance, what choice do you have but to respond to it? I have done nothing else. If all of our hierarchy were native-born Americans (and many of them are), it wouldn't change my choice at all. So long as the faith is the same, this is where I belong.
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2012, 03:07:12 PM »

The Holy Spirit has a "policy" as to who goes where?  Huh

That's what HabteSelassie seemed to assert. There are numerous of different local churches in America but he/she seemed to claim that just being Orthodox is not enough and that some churches have something more.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2012, 03:18:06 PM »

Well, I don't know about that. All I'm doing or trying to do is be Orthodox. The fact that I'm doing it in the Coptic Church and other do it in other churches is not a concern. I don't judge others' churches that way. I know how and why I am where I am, but others may have other reasons for being where they are. So be it.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2012, 04:00:55 PM »

my story is long (3 years inquiry then wanting to be orthodox; 4 years being orthodox) and some of it is on page 2 of this thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,39261.msg632340.html#msg632340

basically, i never lived near an EO church and when it was first suggested i go to an orthodox church (by a muslim friend!), it happened to be a coptic one. after many visits, and all my questions being answered, i joined the church.
i have since been to several EO churches, and would be happy to be a member there if i wasn't already coptic (no need to change churches as it's fine in the OO church). if i had been invited first to an EO church, i suppose i would have joined there.
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2012, 04:04:36 PM »

basically, i never lived near an EO church and when it was first suggested i go to an orthodox church (by a muslim friend!),

LOL. Did he/she specify why he recommended Orthodoxy instead of some other denominations?
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2012, 04:38:23 PM »

I hope this is not a sensitive question to ask but to those in very ethnic churches, are you single or married with family?  Because I am having a hard time for my family.  I could probably grin and bear it if I was there alone.  But I want my family to share the faith and I can see that they feel pretty disconnected being of another culture and ethnicity.
I am alone. I think life would be easier if I had someone to share it with.

Well, I don't know about that. All I'm doing or trying to do is be Orthodox. The fact that I'm doing it in the Coptic Church and other do it in other churches is not a concern. I don't judge others' churches that way. I know how and why I am where I am, but others may have other reasons for being where they are. So be it.
Good for you.

As for all this Holy Spirit policy stuff, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Maybe there is some subtle thing, some phrasing of something that clicks with someone that happens at one place or another that moves that person toward Orthodoxy. Maybe being removed from conventional cultural norms helps that person realize what Christ's ways really are. Maybe the people have an attitude about things that gel with them differently and make it seem easier/less scary/intimidating. Ok, I'm writing this last one from my own bias, so I will skip to my own answer.  The way they talk about God and Christian faith just feels right, and when you find that, why keep looking?  Plus, it is the only Orthodox church I have any ethnic connection to at all, unless it is OCA, which is farther from me.

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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2012, 04:48:44 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
The Holy Spirit has a "policy" as to who goes where?  Huh

That's what HabteSelassie seemed to assert. There are numerous of different local churches in America but he/she seemed to claim that just being Orthodox is not enough and that some churches have something more.

No you misunderstand and I am sorry to cause any confusion.  The something more I mentioned was not to necessarily imply something less in other jurisdictions, rather why folks chose an individual parish of any jurisdiction should be an act of the Holy Spirit.  For example, there are several Ethiopian Churches in the area, why I am in the particular one I am in is because of the Holy Spirit guiding through many ups and downs.  I have been to Coptic parishes, and other Orthodox parishes, and Catholic parishes, but my heart is not just in Tewahedo, it is quite literally in the hands of the clergy at the particular parish which I am an active member of Smiley


But an idea that having foreign culture, foreing language and foreign hierarchs are "something more" is really a rather weird one.

I agree with you completely, though I would prefer a better euphemism like Mysterious Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2012, 05:17:54 PM »

alpo / darth vader  Tongue
my friend was egyptian, and his Christian friend was also egyptian and had talked about his church.
so he made the connection between us and i sort of invited myself to my friend's friend's church!
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2012, 01:45:23 AM »


Absolve te. Thank you for the explanation. I understand your position and actually share it.
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2012, 03:13:45 AM »

Which Pope Shenouda III video did dzheremi send to Cyrillic? Is it one of those available on YouTube with English subtitles?
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2012, 04:37:01 AM »

I am also a convert. I was received into Orthodox in 1994. I had been learning and looking for a way into Orthodoxy for 4 years or more before that, and seeking a deeper experience of Christ all my life.

I am English and live in England. I was able to become a member of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

I could have perhaps become Antiochian, as there were various activities going on with them and Father Peter Gilquist and others in the UK at the same time, but the path that opened up most clearly led me to where I am now.
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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2012, 05:09:14 PM »

I am also a convert. I was received into Orthodox in 1994. I had been learning and looking for a way into Orthodoxy for 4 years or more before that, and seeking a deeper experience of Christ all my life.

I am English and live in England. I was able to become a member of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

I could have perhaps become Antiochian, as there were various activities going on with them and Father Peter Gilquist and others in the UK at the same time, but the path that opened up most clearly led me to where I am now.

Thank you for your story, Father. I have read some of your writings before coming to this forum and that's what got me interested in Oriental Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2012, 07:49:26 PM »

I hope this is not a sensitive question to ask but to those in very ethnic churches, are you single or married with family?  Because I am having a hard time for my family.  I could probably grin and bear it if I was there alone.  But I want my family to share the faith and I can see that they feel pretty disconnected being of another culture and ethnicity.

I don't think anyone addressed your question.  I am not a convert, but my husband is, and we have one child.  Even as a mixed family, it can really be hard to fit in certain churches.  Are you able to shop around a bit to find a more welcoming community? I think it's harder for converts if they're introverts Smiley. I think those who were really social and not shy about initiating conversations and joining others for an agape meal after liturgy started to be welcomed quite quickly! Praying for you and your family.
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« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2012, 06:08:09 PM »

I hope this is not a sensitive question to ask but to those in very ethnic churches, are you single or married with family?  Because I am having a hard time for my family.  I could probably grin and bear it if I was there alone.  But I want my family to share the faith and I can see that they feel pretty disconnected being of another culture and ethnicity.

I don't think anyone addressed your question.  I am not a convert, but my husband is, and we have one child.  Even as a mixed family, it can really be hard to fit in certain churches.  Are you able to shop around a bit to find a more welcoming community? I think it's harder for converts if they're introverts Smiley. I think those who were really social and not shy about initiating conversations and joining others for an agape meal after liturgy started to be welcomed quite quickly! Praying for you and your family.

Thank you.  The problem we have is that everyone in the parish, from the bishop to the clergy to the people, have been warm and accommodating.  But the problem is that them being themselves is already a challenge for us because they are just being who they are.  We feel alienated by the culture.  Whenever there are parish gatherings, it is all about their culture.
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« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2012, 06:50:49 PM »

Well, if you join a church from Egypt where most people are Egyptians, they are going to act like Egyptians, and you better learn to at least like kofta and umm 'ali. Smiley It's really no different than if you go to a Catholic parish where the majority are Hispanic and you're not, the tortillas will probably go faster in the banquet hall than the hotdogs. None of this is a reason not to join the Church that you are convinced has the true faith.

Believe me, as the only non-Egyptian who regularly attends the church here in Albuquerque, I can definitely relate to the cultural alienation. I'll never be Egyptian, and I don't want to be. That's not what matters anyway. Yesterday I spent about an hour tutoring the children of one of the parishioners in math and vocabulary (2nd and 3rd grade, thank God, or I'd have really looked like a fool with some of the math questions!), and one of them was very, very excited to tell me about how she had made a card by hand for her grandmother (another regular member of the church) by looking up on Google how to write "Happy Birthday" in Arabic. It was heartwarming, really. Smiley Granted, today those kids are 7 and 8 years old, but in another 10 years we'll have two young Egyptian-Americans who are in a church that does the majority of its liturgy in English (which is already the case today), who will probably bring friends to church with them of all kinds of backgrounds. It is important to remember that with the exception of the Armenians (who have their own special challenges related to the genocide that have led them to focus on their own people first and foremost), there is hardly any OO church in the west that is older than the 1960s. So the cultural identification with the church is still very, very strong. I pray that it won't weaken (as this is the natural place to be an Egyptian, Syrian, etc. Christian; better to be Orthodox than Catholic or Protestant!), but I also pray that it will change, naturally, as befits the organic development by which the church has always baptized the surrounding culture into the saving life of Jesus Christ. There are already signs that this is happening in the Coptic Church, anyway (non-Egyptian converts among the priests, monks, etc). Long may it continue, wisely guided away from any Protestantizations (a common complaint against the missionary parishes in some areas; sometimes I can see why, but other times it seems like some people are just grumpy) and towards a truly Orthodox expression of the faith of all the Christian people of the world.
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