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Author Topic: Possible new convert with some questions.  (Read 629 times) Average Rating: 0
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Hebrides
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« on: September 10, 2012, 03:07:06 AM »

Hello there.

I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember, but only recently have I really admitted it to myself and started acting on it by regularly attending church and prayer. Now, and I can only describe it as an unquenchable thirst for God, has led me to realise that I want to train to join the clergy, in fact I have never felt so strongly about anything before.

I started, due to convenience, going to my local Episcopal church, and I have to say I like it there, the congregation are very friendly, I like the liturgy and it's a very relaxed and all encompassing church, to me it feels like a relaxed branch of Catholicism. But it does lack a feeling of history and continuity that I crave and after reading a lot about Orthodoxy, I am feeling more and more drawn to that. I am fascinated with the early Celtic church and the Orthodox Church feels like it is part of that tradition and history.

I do have a couple of questions though...

I am a divorcee and I am getting re-married soon, what is the standpoint of the Church on that?
The Episcopal Church welcomes Gay and Lesbian clergy, and I am very pleased about this, my future wife is a staunch feminist and this equality is important to both of us, again if anyone has an idea of the Churches ideology regarding this I would be very grateful.
And thirdly, how long does it take to train to be a member of the Orthodox clergy and do you have to go where they send you once trained?

Thank you in advance.

God bless.

Rich
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2012, 03:52:38 AM »

I am a divorcee and I am getting re-married soon, what is the standpoint of the Church on that?
The Episcopal Church welcomes Gay and Lesbian clergy, and I am very pleased about this, my future wife is a staunch feminist and this equality is important to both of us, again if anyone has an idea of the Churches ideology regarding this I would be very grateful.
And thirdly, how long does it take to train to be a member of the Orthodox clergy and do you have to go where they send you once trained?

Thank you in advance.

God bless.

Rich

Rich, welcome to the forum.

I can't answer your questions about training for the clergy but I can say that we do not share the Episcopal church's attitude to gay and lesbian clergy. In fact we don't have female clergy so that excludes the latter straight off. It would be possible for a homosexual man to be a priest, but only if he were celibate. It's the homosexual act that is sinful, not the inclination. I'd also have to say that, depending on exactly what you mean by 'staunch feminist', that sounds like it could be a problem to me in and of itself. The priest's wife (presbytera) has a very important role in the parish but one that is different from her husbands and not liturgical. Feminism of the type that seeks equality by destroying all distinctions between male and female is not consonant with Orthodoxy. Everyone being equal before God does not mean that everyone has the very same role.

James

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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 04:06:31 AM »

G'day, G'day mate. Let me answer some of ye' questions.

I am a divorcee and I am getting re-married soon, what is the standpoint of the Church on that?

If you were not married in The Church the first time, I do not think it is an issue (as they wouldn't recognize the original marriage). But I'd double check with a priest on that one.

The Episcopal Church welcomes Gay and Lesbian clergy, and I am very pleased about this, my future wife is a staunch feminist and this equality is important to both of us, again if anyone has an idea of the Churches ideology regarding this I would be very grateful.

We do believe that homosexuality is a sin. But there are many other sins, and we, by no means, will say that homosexuality is the worst sin. The Orthodox Church has been consistent in condemning acts of homosexuality (but not homosexual persons). It is a sin that people really struggle with and something that a priest would advice one with like any sin (per-marital sex for example).

10th All-American Council, 1992:
"Men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings...Persons struggling with homosexuality who accept the Orthodox faith and strive to fulfill the Orthodox way of life may be communicants of the Church with everyone else who believes and struggles. Those instructed and counseled in Orthodox Christian doctrine and ascetical life who still want to justify their behavior may not participate in the Church’s sacramental mysteries, since to do so would not help, but harm them.

Assistance is to be given to those who deal with persons of homosexual orientation in order to help them with their thoughts, feelings and actions in regard to homosexuality. Such assistance is especially necessary for parents, relatives and friends of persons with homosexual tendencies and feelings. It is certainly necessary for pastors and church workers"
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 04:07:30 AM by celticfan1888 » Logged

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Hebrides
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 04:27:40 AM »

I am a divorcee and I am getting re-married soon, what is the standpoint of the Church on that?
The Episcopal Church welcomes Gay and Lesbian clergy, and I am very pleased about this, my future wife is a staunch feminist and this equality is important to both of us, again if anyone has an idea of the Churches ideology regarding this I would be very grateful.
And thirdly, how long does it take to train to be a member of the Orthodox clergy and do you have to go where they send you once trained?

Thank you in advance.

God bless.

Rich

Rich, welcome to the forum.

I can't answer your questions about training for the clergy but I can say that we do not share the Episcopal church's attitude to gay and lesbian clergy. In fact we don't have female clergy so that excludes the latter straight off. It would be possible for a homosexual man to be a priest, but only if he were celibate. It's the homosexual act that is sinful, not the inclination. I'd also have to say that, depending on exactly what you mean by 'staunch feminist', that sounds like it could be a problem to me in and of itself. The priest's wife (presbytera) has a very important role in the parish but one that is different from her husbands and not liturgical. Feminism of the type that seeks equality by destroying all distinctions between male and female is not consonant with Orthodoxy. Everyone being equal before God does not mean that everyone has the very same role.

James



Hi

Thanks for the reply and that has helped, when I said she's a feminist she is aware of the different roles women play, she's actually a non believer so I can't see it being an issue, she is very supportive of me and my faith and is quite possibly the kindest, nicest person on the planet I know.

With regard to the homosexual question, that answers my question perfectly and does not put me off at all, it makes sense to me. Thank you and God bless.

Rich
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Hebrides
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 04:33:59 AM »

G'day, G'day mate. Let me answer some of ye' questions.

I am a divorcee and I am getting re-married soon, what is the standpoint of the Church on that?

If you were not married in The Church the first time, I do not think it is an issue (as they wouldn't recognize the original marriage). But I'd double check with a priest on that one.

The Episcopal Church welcomes Gay and Lesbian clergy, and I am very pleased about this, my future wife is a staunch feminist and this equality is important to both of us, again if anyone has an idea of the Churches ideology regarding this I would be very grateful.

We do believe that homosexuality is a sin. But there are many other sins, and we, by no means, will say that homosexuality is the worst sin. The Orthodox Church has been consistent in condemning acts of homosexuality (but not homosexual persons). It is a sin that people really struggle with and something that a priest would advice one with like any sin (per-marital sex for example).

10th All-American Council, 1992:
"Men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings...Persons struggling with homosexuality who accept the Orthodox faith and strive to fulfill the Orthodox way of life may be communicants of the Church with everyone else who believes and struggles. Those instructed and counseled in Orthodox Christian doctrine and ascetical life who still want to justify their behavior may not participate in the Church’s sacramental mysteries, since to do so would not help, but harm them.

Assistance is to be given to those who deal with persons of homosexual orientation in order to help them with their thoughts, feelings and actions in regard to homosexuality. Such assistance is especially necessary for parents, relatives and friends of persons with homosexual tendencies and feelings. It is certainly necessary for pastors and church workers"

Thanks for the answers, got married in a C of E church so that should be OK then. Pleased about that!

Meeting up with my local priests soon to discuss other matters.

Rich
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 06:58:04 AM »

I believe that your spouse's non-belief is a huge impediment to your goal. She must be Orthodox if I'm not mistaken.
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 07:06:43 AM »

I believe that your spouse's non-belief is a huge impediment to your goal. She must be Orthodox if I'm not mistaken.

Ah... That could be a huge sticking point then.
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pensateomnia
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2012, 07:20:24 AM »

You shouldn't worry yourself with questions of training for ordination until you have already been Orthodox for some time.

But as a point of information: requirements vary greatly by location and jurisdiction. In all cases, you need the approval of your local priest and bishop before starting. The most common route entails being Orthodox for a good while, receiving blessings from your priest and bishop, and then going to an Orthodox seminary for three years.

However, ordination as a deacon or priest requires that you exemplify the ideal in your personal life. Among many things that includes being married only once and to an Orthodox Christian woman.

Some bishops excuse divorces that occurred before conversion; most don't. But all ordinands, if married, must be married to an Orthodox Christian woman.
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« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2012, 07:37:30 AM »

There is no way my other half will convert so that's pretty much that then!

Never mind, my interest will have to remain, just that, an interest.
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pensateomnia
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2012, 07:44:41 AM »

There is no way my other half will convert so that's pretty much that then!

Never mind, my interest will have to remain, just that, an interest.

So, your interest is not in being Orthodox but in being an Orthodox priest? Or do I misunderstand?
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 07:46:08 AM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2012, 07:46:14 AM »

There is no way my other half will convert so that's pretty much that then!

Never mind, my interest will have to remain, just that, an interest.

So, your interest is not in being Orthodox but in being an Orthodox priest?

No not at all, but that is a big part of it. I do eventually want to become a priest and if that is not going to happen, I need to think very hard about what I want.
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2012, 07:50:33 AM »

There is no way my other half will convert so that's pretty much that then!

Never mind, my interest will have to remain, just that, an interest.

So, your interest is not in being Orthodox but in being an Orthodox priest?

No not at all, but that is a big part of it. I do eventually want to become a priest and if that is not going to happen, I need to think very hard about what I want.

Yes, it makes the decision more starkly about pursuit of the Truth. I know several men who were priests or pastors before becoming Orthodox. They became Orthodox even when doing so meant finding another career.
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2012, 08:39:38 AM »

Quote
I do eventually want to become a priest and if that is not going to happen, I need to think very hard about what I want.

Several Orthodox priests I know and respect have all given this advice to those who have expressed a wish to be priests: Anyone who has an ambition to be an Orthodox priest is the wrong sort of candidate. The best priests are those who are "tapped on the shoulder", not the ones gunning for ordination.

From my own experience of some 50 years in Orthodoxy, I can say that this is completely true. Not only have the best priests I have encountered the ones who had no priestly ambitions, but the worst priest who's crossed my path is one who only ever saw himself as being one. I can't speak for his ability during his days as a priest in a non-Orthodox denomination, but, since he converted to Orthodoxy some 15 years ago, his priesthood has been increasingly disastrous. There are other priests who are similarly flawed, though perhaps not to the same extent.

And I second the excellent advice given earlier that you must have experienced Orthodoxy for a good number of years before even thinking about the possibility of entering the priesthood. Ya gotta learn to crawl before ya can run.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 08:43:48 AM by LBK » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2012, 09:24:17 AM »

The main thing you have to decide is whether you think Orthodox Christianity is the very Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the fullness of truth. The other problems take care of themselves once you've figured that out. 
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2012, 01:04:19 PM »

The main thing you have to decide is whether you think Orthodox Christianity is the very Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the fullness of truth. The other problems take care of themselves once you've figured that out. 

Absolutely! Before I became Orthodox, I had been accepted to seminary, on the ordination track. Once I became convinced of the truth of Orthodoxy, that was no longer an issue.

For a sermon on "The Role of Women in the Orthodox Church," from our parish website, yesterday's sermon,http://www.saintjohnwonderworker.org/.
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2012, 08:33:55 PM »

I believe that your spouse's non-belief is a huge impediment to your goal. She must be Orthodox if I'm not mistaken.

Ah... That could be a huge sticking point then.

Just if you want to be a priest.
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« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2012, 08:34:45 PM »

There is no way my other half will convert so that's pretty much that then!

Never mind, my interest will have to remain, just that, an interest.

At least you have your mind open to the Orthodox faith.  Continue to explore the Orthodox faith.  Attend services.  Ask questions.  Compare and contrast.  If you feel that the Episcopal Church is where you belong, then God Bless You.  If you feel that the Orthodox Church is where you belong, at least you wouldn't be the first convert with a non-believing spouse or significant other.   Smiley
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