So we have a lot further to go, and a few controversial priests can't stop us, can they?
I believe they can create a serious stumbling block. There is serious backlash in surrounding areas. This sets back what needs to be done, because English service, and service for converts, becomes associated in people's minds with a Protestant style of "worship" and preaching. This is why it bothers me when they are held up as examples. It plays right into HabteSelassie's argument that we're dreaming that if we just used English great numbers would come in and the West would be won. Look, here are people winning big numbers... by dumbing down Orthodoxy until it's not, clearly this is the wrong directions.
It's not about numbers. It's about doing our duty, not having grand phantasies about what would happen if we did.
If people want to hold up an example of a Coptic priest doing it right, the one in that area is Fr. Athanasius Iskander, who was very much a pioneer of the usage of English... not that the Liturgy hadn't been prayed in English before, but he was a large part of shaping the translation we have, and did great work in creating an English parish. And it isn't a megachurch ,and doesn't want to be.
The Church was a typical closed community. He sat them down and told them that if they weren't open to outsiders, they would lose their kids. They would end up getting married to people from where they lived, and they would bring them to the Church, and if they were driven away as outsiders, their own kids would go with them. He said that for the future of their children in the Church, they had to sacrifice having the Liturgy they way it was comfortable to them.
One of the parents in the Church went to him and told him that when he prayed 50/50 English/Arabic, as soon as he switched to Arabic, their kids eyes glazed over. They were afraid their kids would be lost to the Church. Since then the Liturgy has been English. There's a very small amount of Arabic, a little big of Coptic, and of course some Greek.
Not shockingly, not everyone likes that. But being faithful to Christ, His Gospel, and the great commission is not about being popular.
This doesn't mean he neglects the needs of Arabic speakers. He has tried to get a second priest to hold a parallel Arabic Liturgy, but he hasn't been given one. So he does the best he can, and has an Arabic Liturgy on a Saturday once or twice a month. No one goes to them though. The people who complain so loudly about wanting Arabic still seem to go to the English one on Sunday, or not go often at all, and don't tend to show up to the Arabic Liturgy being held to meet their "needs". So it gets cancelled because no one comes. Then people complain, and they run it for a bit again, until they just can't since you're not allowed to have a Liturgy without people. The weekday Liturgies used to be in Arabic. But the people going are pretty much exclusively English speaking, so it has shifted to mostly English.
Has this resulted in droves of North Americans coming into the Church? Of course not. Our culture doesn't want religion. But those who are seeking do find a home where they can live, and the kids are about to bring friends and others, and have a place to introduce people. A future has been assured for the parish, and for those seeking Orthodoxy, a barrier is removed, it's made that much more accessible.
This is what it's about. It's not about converting the West. It's about doing our duty to offer the Gospel to all, and then it's up to God if those who respond is a billion, or one. What we'll be judged on is doing our duty, and offering, not on the fruit, which depends wholly on God.
One man, not a priest, not a monk, a layman, a child on a journey with a businessman, offered Orthodoxy to those who massacred those with him in Ethiopia. When he was allowed to return to Alexandria, he told St. Athanasius about the need to send a shepherd for those who believed. St. Athanasius ordained him a bishop, and sent back St. Frumentius as the first bishop of Ethiopia.
One child offered Orthodoxy, and converted a nation. Now there are millions of Orthodox are in North America, and we don't offer. We just keep to ourselves, create pockets of the old cultures, and then wonder why people here who find Orthodoxy can't become Greek, or Egyptian, or Russian, or whatever, for the sake of Orthodoxy. We don't only not offer, we place barriers in the way of those seeking Christ. We're more concerned with preserving cultures than obeyign the great commission.