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Author Topic: GOA looks at Interchruch/Interfaith marriages  (Read 4708 times) Average Rating: 0
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Orthodoc
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« on: January 11, 2003, 11:12:45 AM »

INTERCHURCH / INTERFAITH MARRIAGES

Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LMFT., Researcher
Email: joanidesch@aol.com Web: www.interfaith.goarch.org



Over the past 22 years the percentage of inter Christian marriages conducted in the GOA has steadily increased from 46% to 64%. It should also be noted here that Archdiocesan statistics only reflect those weddings performed in the GOA, and do not account for those persons who identify themselves as Greek Orthodox who have chosen to marry outside of the church. When these marriages are also considered, intermarriage rates may be closer to 75 - 80%.

Given these and other similar statistics, the Archdiocese has chosen to conceptualize these trends as an opportunity for growth rather than a problem. With love toward all, and with a vigor to witness Orthodoxy to all persons who choose to worship in the GOA, the Archdiocese has taken a proactive approach in its efforts to reach out to intermarried couples and their families.

To be more specific, since the 1970s, both clergy and laity have expressed deep concern for interfaith families in our Church. At the 32nd and 33rd Clergy-Laity congresses, meetings were convened and reports were given that acknowledged the difficulties many of these marriages and families face. In 1994, Holy Cross Seminary held a conference on this topic, and from this conference a book was published entitled, Intermarriage: Orthodox Perspectives.


In 1997, the Archdiocese determined to embark on a systematic study of the inter-Christian marriages across our Archdiocese. Moreover, as a result of this research, the following deliverables have emerged.

* An Interfaith Marriage Web site has been established which (a) provides results from the Interfaith Research Project (IRP), (b) offers interfaith couples and other interested persons opportunities to offer feedback, and (c) affords persons the latitude to ask questions and generate conversation in two different chat rooms.

* A regular column has been featured in the in the Orthodox Observer whose objectives have been to share the results from the IRP with our faithful.

* In collaboration with the Department of Religious Education (DRE), articles and videos addressing the interfaith marriage challenge have been produced and are now available through the DRE.

* A manual for clergy and lay leaders is well on its way toward completion.

* A manual for interfaith spouses and their families is close to completion.

* Teaching seminars have been conducted around our country for clergy, laity, and interfaith couples. Those desiring more information about these workshops may contact Rev. Dr. Charles Joanides.

Furthermore, the underlying purpose behind this work has been grounded on the following additional objectives.

1 . To assist the GOA at the Archdiocesan, Diocesan and local church level in its efforts to reach out to intermarried spouses, couples, and their families.

2. To Positively impact GOA members' attitudes toward interfaith marriages.

3. To foster an environment of tolerance and acceptance for all individuals, couples and families who choose to worship in the GOA.

4. To educate clergy and laity concerning the unique spousal, marital and familial challenges that this growing population of faithful face in their efforts to worship in our churches.


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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2003, 03:33:42 PM »

Well I am not surprised at all by interfaith marriages.  I am the only college age person who attends my OCA church.  Frankly, the Orthodox church in America is a lousy, and I repeat lousy place to meet young people my age.  Sad  There are so few Orthodox in this country. I would like to see the GOA address this because they aren't a whole lot of young people in the churches.  Let's face it, the church in America is a place for married people and families..the Orthodox church is not a welcoming place for young people.  As a college aged person, it is hard for me to relate to married and older people, and I think many my own age would agree with me.  I have given up totally on marrying an Orthodox woman..it just is not going to happen.  A snowball has better chance of eternal life in hell than I do of finding and marrying an Orthodox woman. Sad
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2003, 03:38:49 PM »

Let's face it, the church in America is a place for married people and families..the Orthodox church is not a welcoming place for young people.  

This is an interesting remark.  What makes you think this is so?  What are your reasons?  Why don't you think young people don't feel welcomed in our Churches, or in what way(s) do you think the Churches are not seeking out the youth?  What do you think can/should be done about it?
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2003, 04:20:20 PM »

[Well I am not surprised at all by interfaith marriages.  I am the only college age person who attends my OCA church.  Frankly, the Orthodox church in America is a lousy, and I repeat lousy place to meet young people my age. ]

I think part of the problem is that so many of our parishes are small to begin with.  When the membership is two to three hundred people there aren't too many college age young adults around to begin with.  The ones we have are AWAY AT COLLEGE.  The buzz word is AWAY.  Many churches are in small towns so you only see the college crowd at Christmas and Pascha.  It's like summer time where the whole teenage crowd is missing because they are working summer jobs in preparation for college or the next semester if they are in college.

Thats why its important that we continue to organize groups like the OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) within our college campuses.  That gives the students an opportunity to meet and socialize with other Orthodox.

It's also the parents responsibility to find out if there is a local Orthodox parish around and take the student there.  We have a young college girl named Christine that is from the mid west that is going to the U. of P. here in Philly.  She's in her third year.  She lives on campus which is probably a thirty minute ride to our parish.  But every Sunday there is someone within the parish that will stop and pick her up for church and take her back.  Most have to go a little out of their way to do so, but are happy to.  Christine is in the Choir, read the hours, and is a Sunday School teachers helper.  So she contributes to our parish while away from her own.  Most, if not all, of the college age students in our parish are away from home.  Some come back after they finish, some don't.  But we are fortunate that most who marry non Orthodox bring them into the faith.  So we must be doing something right!

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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2003, 05:02:18 PM »


This is an interesting remark.  What makes you think this is so?  What are your reasons?  Why don't you think young people don't feel welcomed in our Churches, or in what way(s) do you think the Churches are not seeking out the youth?  What do you think can/should be done about it?  

First of all, as Orthodoc said, many of our parishes are small.  And the OCF is only available at larger universities.   I go to small university about 5,000 students and there is no OCF as I am probably the only Orthodox student there.  First of all, none of the local parishes make an effort to reach out to the students on the campus that are Orthodox.  For instance we have exchange students that come from Russia sometimes, and no one from the church reaches out to those students.   Many college students live on campus and often times do not have a vehicle of their own.  To my knowledge, many churches do not have anyone to pick them up and bring them to church. My first semester in college there was a Orthodox church 15 minutes away by car but I could not attend because I had not vehicle nor any means to get there.  Nor does the church do any evangelization on campus to attract converts.  
  Another problem I have is that the churches are not reaching out and helping young people in their problems.  A lot of college students have their faith challenged and assaulted on a daily basis.  If you are not going to big state U, there are no fellow Orthodox christians there to support.  If you try to talk to people in your church, all they do is nod their head and say nothing Angry....which is not helpful to those who struggle in their faith.  I would also blame the priests in all of  this because they are not dealing with the issues that many young people face.  They don't discuss dating and loneliness and many Orthodox christians and priests have little to offer than 'don't do it or why do you want to date(they make it sound like there is something wrong, unnatural to do this).'  A lot of young single people struggle with sexual sins, and there is no support or advice given.   They are no support groups for  any of this in Orthodoxy like there is in Protestantism.   We have a rich Patristic resource in the fathers and the saints, and yet I will tell that unless I did research on my own on Orthodoxy, I would not have known that.
  I will put it bluntly, but I think that  many parishoners cannot relate to college students.  I know that sounds harsh but that is the way it is.  It seems like they could care less.  They are more interested in their coffee hours and fundraising.  They don't want to reach out to others but sit in their little church and have their stupid ethnic festivals when half the people aren't even from that ethnic group.  As I said earlier, no one is there to help young people in their struggles, not even the priests. Angry  To me Orthodoxy is a nice museum piece of ethnic vestige and nothing more.
  So what is one to do other than to join up with the other Protestant groups at campus.  I mean one has to make friends someplace.  So many Orthodox students end up going to those groups, some come back to Orthodoxy while others leave for Bible college.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2003, 05:35:26 PM »

Thankfully I am in a much better area.  There are a lot of young involved people (of both sexes) here at the various churches.  Even so there is much room for improvement, and I mean MUCH.
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2003, 05:44:30 PM »

[My first semester in college there was a Orthodox church 15 minutes away by car but I could not attend because I had not vehicle nor any means to get there. Nor does the church do any evangelization on campus to attract converts.]

Question is - What are YOU doing about the situation?  You seem to be doing nothing except complaining and expecting people to come to you and do for you.  What are YOU doing to help yourself?

How do you know  there is not someone in the parish 15 minutes away that either lives near you and would be willing to bring you to church if you don't make the effort on your own to find out?  Did YOU CALL the priest to find out or express a desire to attend church?  It's not up to the priest or the parishioners to go out to look for you.  It's up to YOU to contact them to let them know you exist.  Christine, the girl in our parish is where she is because SHE TOOK THE INITIATIVE.  You don't seem to want to do that and then complain.  I don't mean to be hard on you but you'll never get anywhere in this life sitting on  you a-- waiting for people to do for you.

[A lot of college students have their faith challenged and assaulted on a daily basis.]

A lot of adults have their faith challenged and assulted on a daily basis.  Including myself.  But once again, I TAKE THE INITIATIVE to find the answers and read the books necessary to defend my faith.

You obviously have access to a PC and the internet.  If a particular religious issue comes up do a search or ask the question on the internet.  Once again you seem to think that everything should come your way.  Life is not a one way street.


[They don't discuss dating and loneliness and many Orthodox christians and priests have little to offer than 'don't do it or why do you want to date(they make it sound like there is something wrong, unnatural to do this).' A lot of young single people struggle with sexual sins, and there is no support or advice given.]

Ever hear of Confession my friend? If you have such issues ITS UP TO YOU TO MAKE THE EFFORT to discuss them with the priest.

I'm sorry but you seem to think the responsibility lies everywhere else but on your shoulders.  If you don't make an effort, no one else will.  Nor is it necessarily anyone else's responsiblity.  

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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2003, 06:08:32 PM »

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Did YOU CALL the priest to find out or express a desire to attend church?

Yes I did....but I was not successful in procuring a ride to church.   As for me expecting the church come to me, I don't expect that at all.  But rather I wish or church was more visible inside of sitting there like a bump on a log.   The Orthodox church needs to do more missionary and outreach work here in the US, and not just the passive approach of getting converts on the door step.  

Quote
You obviously have access to a PC and the internet.  If a particular religious issue comes up  do a search or ask the question on the internet.  Once again you seem to think that everything should come your way.  Life is not a one way street.

The internet is not always the best means of discerning truth.  There is a lot of garbage put out there by a lot of charlatans.  Finding truthful information is hard.  Discussion boards are not the best means either again because people may not know what they are talking about.  The thing is, why should I have to go to the internet to find answers to a religious question.  Shouldn't the church be able to answer them?
 Other religions such as the Catholics and Protestant groups have actual websites for young people.   They do a great job of reaching out to young people.  Does the Orthodox church have anything for young people?  Why can't Orthodoxy establish a mission for young people in America?
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2003, 06:58:26 PM »

[Yes I did....but I was not successful in procuring a ride to church.]

Thats a shame.  But I'm glad to hear that you made the effort.

{Discussion boards are not the best means either again because people may not know what they are talking about. The thing is, why should I have to go to the internet to find answers to a religious question. Shouldn't the church be able to answer them?]

Of course the church should be able to answer them.  But you have to go to the Church to ask them.  
There are plenty of  web sites where you can ask the Church any question.  There are priest or theologians available to answer.  These are two of my favorites -

http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A/index.html

http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/answers/principal.htm

[Does the Orthodox church have anything for young people? Why can't Orthodoxy establish a mission for young people in America?]

How about giving us some ideas for the college crowd.

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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2003, 02:24:54 AM »

It is truly difficult to find an orthodox woman, also because of the ethnicity issue. It's not easy for an Albanian familly, for example, to accept a non-albanian, even if he's Orthodox, when he is a anglo-american, not to mention a hispanic Cry This is also very frequent in other ethnic groups, unfortunately.
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2003, 02:31:06 AM »

Sinjinsmythe<<Well I am not surprised at all by interfaith marriages.  I am the only college age person who attends my OCA church.  Frankly, the Orthodox church in America is a lousy, and I repeat lousy place to meet young people my age.>>

On a somewhat different tack, I have observed (rather dourly) that in my present parish, if you are a single male (or female) above age 30 or so, you are treated as a kind of pariah.  The parish seems set up to cater only to married and engaged couples and families with children and their relatives, but widows are looked after quite nicely.  Widowers, the separated and divorced are left out in the cold.  The foregoing represents the "clique" aspect of parish life here.

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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2003, 04:11:13 AM »

I'm not sure who lurks on this board, so I have to be discrete and non-descript about this.

A parishoner at my parish once suggested to me that I attend the OCF meeting at a local university. Why do people think all young adults fit the same stereotype? I told her I thought that stuff was a waste of time. Nevertheless, I figured I'd check it out, coming from a Catholic background, I didn't think it could get much worse than that.

Usually I don't go for those young adult groups, I think they're goofy, and are usually devoid of theological topics, or anything Orthodox.

I was right, it turned out to be a Greek social club, where the boys were just running after the girls trying to get some 'action'.

For a few months this put a big hamper on me and my perception of Orthodoxy and its reaching out to youth. This parishoner who told me about the youth group is a rather esteemed and well connected woman. In my mind, she was representative of the collective Orthodox opinion of how to reach out towards youth. That is, basically shoving young adults into a group, and have them socialize with others from the same faith. No theological or spiritualize building-up going on.

All of my catechesis on Orthodoxy has come from my own studies, my own reading, my questions have all been answered by emails or visits to Orthodox priests that are far away.

All in all, the situation for young Orthodox in America is a bad one, at least so it is around here.


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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2003, 01:38:33 PM »

Ibid, Bobby, for my two Greek and cradle Orthodox sons, now lost to Orthodoxy

The fact that thousands of young--and not so young--American Orthodox communicants are lost to secularism, the New Age, various Protestant fellowships, and even to Islam, annually, testifies to the fact that too many Orthodox find their ethnic faith depressing and too much of a burden to bare.

No wonder they look elsewhere for "relief."

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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2003, 03:17:48 PM »

If the Greek Church is numerically the biggest Orthodox one in America and, not surprisingly considering Orthodox’ minority in the population, most young GOs marry out, this is a real problem or challenge. Do they want to evangelize the non-Orthodox spouses or do they want to be a Greek social club? I fear too often that most of the time the GO spouse leaves, or the next commonest thing happens, the ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ scenario plays out and the non-O spouse/fianc+¬(e) insincerely converts, ‘becoming Greek’ just to please the beloved’s family.

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I have observed (rather dourly) that in my present parish, if you are a single male (or female) above age 30 or so, you are treated as a kind of pariah.  

Sounds terribly protestant. One good thing about traditional Catholicism historically, as one of my late conservative Episcopal friends once wisely observed, was that there always was a place in the church for society’s ‘misfits’ — people who never would fit in at a monastery/convent nor were at all suited for married life. Instead there were states of life and indeed ways to sainthood tailor-made for such — third orders! (St Catherine of Siena, for example, was a Dominican but never lived in a convent. She lived at her parents’ house.) And single people weren’t seen as ‘misfits’ anyway, at least compared to Protestant culture: there were the options of monasticism or its third-order variant. Something for everyone. (My guess is the closest things in Orthodoxy were/are the holy fools and the wandering pilgrims such as people who traveled from monastery to monastery. AFAIK, fully accepted in 19th-century Russian society.)

I’m in my late 30s now and according to most people’s wisdom might as well stop looking. I understand that but never say never — I know somebody who happily married for the first time aged 50.

My experience with what passed as an Orthodox college chaplaincy was similarly lame (and there wasn’t even the consolation of lots of attractive Greek girls to try to date! Smiley) — a lacklustre group there primarily ’cos one student’s dad was a priest. When that person graduated, that was the end of that. At least it was orthodox — no dissenter rubbish like with ‘Catholic’ chaplaincies (‘Newman’, ‘campus ministry’ — UGH!) — but socially it was a DUD. My experience with RCs at university in the ’80s was nearly 180 — sort of fun to use socially but please, get your religion elsewhere! In my case, conservative Episcopalians were off-campus to teach me real religion. Everything these small-o orthodox taught me can be found in the big-O Orthodox Church — even though it’s not the place to look for a date!

Then again, the last two women I have dated I met through my Eastern Church activities so again, never say never.
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2003, 03:22:35 PM »

Indeed Serge, as stated above, I went to the OCF at Duke University, here in Durham.

It was a bunch of rich affluent Greeks who cared little for their faith, mixed in with some Americans who I guess come to visit.

Is the OCF program actually backed, and endorsed by the SCOBA? If this is the case, perhaps they should reevaulate the situation.

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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2003, 04:35:39 PM »

Quote
On a somewhat different tack, I have observed (rather dourly) that in my present parish, if you are a single male (or female) above age 30 or so, you are treated as a kind of pariah.  The parish seems set up to cater only to married and engaged couples and families with children and their relatives, but widows are looked after quite nicely.  Widowers, the separated and divorced are left out in the cold.  The foregoing represents the "clique" aspect of parish life here.

That is a great point Hypo.  That is the way I have found it for anyone who is not married/engaged/has children/elderly in my personal experience.

Quote
A parishoner at my parish once suggested to me that I attend the OCF meeting at a local university. Why do people think all young adults fit the same stereotype? I told her I thought that stuff was a waste of time. Nevertheless, I figured I'd check it out, coming from a Catholic background, I didn't think it could get much worse than that.

Usually I don't go for those young adult groups, I think they're goofy, and are usually devoid of theological topics, or anything Orthodox.

I was right, it turned out to be a Greek social club, where the boys were just running after the girls trying to get some 'action'.

For a few months this put a big hamper on me and my perception of Orthodoxy and its reaching out to youth. This parishoner who told me about the youth group is a rather esteemed and well connected woman. In my mind, she was representative of the collective Orthodox opinion of how to reach out towards youth. That is, basically shoving young adults into a group, and have them socialize with others from the same faith. No theological or spiritualize building-up going on.

All of my catechesis on Orthodoxy has come from my own studies, my own reading, my questions have all been answered by emails or visits to Orthodox priests that are far away

Bobo I understand what your saying.  I have surveyed some of the OCF webpages on the internet, to me most of them seem like big social clubs.  Frankly, I am sick of playing Greek social club.   Some people are so obsessed with their ethnicity as if it is their defining characteristic.   I could care less about marrying some Greek or Russian girl.  A college Christian fellowship should be a place of support spiritually for people not social club.   Another thing Bobo, is the OCF is endorsed by SCOBA.  It sounds to me like it needs an overhaul.

Quote
Why do people think all young adults fit the same stereotype?

Exactly.  That is my question.  I am so tired of the stereotyping done by older people in the church of the younger people.  I wish they would use their brains instead of stereotyping, which may be difficult for them since they will have to try to relate.  Some of us young people, believe it or not, would like some spiritual advice and are tired of having to fight for it.

Quote
The fact that thousands of young--and not so young--American Orthodox communicants are lost to secularism, the New Age, various Protestant fellowships, and even to Islam, annually, testifies to the fact that too many Orthodox find their ethnic faith depressing and too much of a burden to bare.

No wonder they look elsewhere for "relief."

Jude, it is too much to bare when there are no young people who are around and who face the same struggles as you to support each other.  The Orthodox church does a lousy job of educating its cradle born parishoners spiritually.  Perhaps the church needs to establish missionary projects for the young in this country.  As I said earlier, a snowball has a better chance of eternal life in hell tthan me finding and marrying an Orthodox woman.  The Church in America faces a big problem, that is while it has been spoiled by receiving disgruntled Catholics and Protestants, it does nothing to ensure the salvation of souls of the cradle born, especially the college age.  It has become lazy in this aspect and this will hurt Orthodoxy in America.  I laugh when many in the Church(especially the Hierarchy) dream of converting all of America to Orthodoxy.  Well, if that is to happen, the church needs to get its rearend in gear because while they will get the converts, many born Orthodox will be lost to the world.   Face it, a person judges a church by the reception of the people within it, since they are the image bearers of Christ of the Orthodox faith.  If the church is treats those who are not in the clique as pariahs, then they are not serving Christ at all.  Plain and simple.
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2003, 05:27:20 PM »

I think that the problem you describe is not particular of Orthodoxy in the USA, but the problem of most craddle members of other Churches too. This is understandable. In spite of their protestantized views, converts are almost always more enthusiastic, and they're anxious to participate. The Church often puts obstacles that proofs have to pass, talks, cathechisms, going to Church for one year and all sundays, learn a lot anout orthodox faith, and they also have to be chrismated. It's logical that the way to Orthodoxy is as easy as for craddle ones, who have the gift of being orthodox without all this paperworks and talks.

This pattern exist in most countries that have minoritary religions. It's normal that in a country which is mostly Orthodox, the minorities are "more religious" or go to church more often than the Orthodox, or that is the way things are perceived. The same here, for example, where catholics are generally very secular and don't attend Mass as often as the Orthodox do, or as the evangelicals attend their services.

The ethnic problem is also unfortunate. I think that the Church should be more open to mixed congregations (this doesn't mean that everything must be in English) so that people would feel more confortable and a spirit of unity would be present.
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2003, 06:38:14 PM »

[I am so tired of the stereotyping done by older people in the church of the younger people.  I wish they would use their brains instead of stereotyping, which may be difficult for them since they will have to try to relate.  Some of us young people, believe it or not, would like some spiritual advice and are tired of having to fight for it.]

Guess I'm one of those old coots that has been sterotyping our Orthodox youth.  But how absolutely wonderful it is for me to find out I've been wrong.  That there are those within the college generation who are interested in learning the faith rather than socializing!  Your last sentence in the above paragraph is like music to my ears!

I have always said that the biggest criticism I had about Orthodoxy was its failure to teach its people the faith.  I, like most of my generation, learned the little I do know, on my own initiative through reading and searching.
Once I did, I knew that I could never give up this beautiful Orthodox Catholic faith the Lord has Blessed me with.  To trade it for any of the western types of Christianity would be like trading a diamond for either a zircon or rhinstone depending on the western Christian denomination I was trading it for.   For I truly believe Holy Orthodoxy is the diamond amongst the Christian denominations.  You can't fully respect something you don't understand or comprehend.  And you have to learn to respect something before you can fully  love and appreciate it.

I think its safe to say that those in the college generation that are interested in the faith would be the type that would post here and we have been hearing from.  Those that are only nominal in the faith will never even make the effort to find this site.  Unfortunately, those are the ones we older folks have been catering to in the OCF and elsewhere.  We think that  if we put them together maybe they will find a mate and thus preserve the next generation Orthodox.  Ain't gonna happen folks!  

Thanks be to God we do have a core within our next generation like those who are posting here complaining.  So I ask them...Tell us what we can do.  What would you like to see happen within organizations like the OCF?  More retreats?  More campus lectures?  How do we handle OCF organizations in smaller colleges where the amount of Orthodox Catholics is minimual?  Those that want a social ethnic club will probably not attend if it becomes all religious in content.  Since we are such a small minority, is it worth the time, effort, and money to sponsor retreats, etc. for the sake of a few?  Can the electronic media be utilized better than it is to teach your generation?  And in what way?  What is more important - learning through social gatherings where you can exchange comments and ideas verbally or doesn't it matter how the communication  is obtained.

Come On!  Help us old coots help you younguns!

Orthodoc

« Last Edit: January 12, 2003, 06:43:55 PM by Orthodoc » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2003, 07:53:19 PM »


Is the OCF program actually backed, and endorsed by the SCOBA? If this is the case, perhaps they should reevaulate the situation.


As recently as last year, SCOBA seemed to be making a recommitment to OCF.  http://www.ocf.net/ I think there is even funding available for starting or sustaining a chaper.

However, I think many of the statements on this thread have been valid, on both sides of the issue.  On the one hand, Orthodox college students who are away from their home parish need to simply speak up and let their desire to remain connected to an Orthodox Christian community be known.

On the other hand, I think even the recent efforts to rejuvenate the OCF have been spotty.  There seems to be no direction, no organization in the effort.  It's kind of thrown to the wind in the hope that "someone" will pick up the pieces.

Furthermore, although this is probably a misplaced "gripe," I've found (just this year) that many times the priest/communities/dioceses who are "involved" with particular college/university communities are unfortunately protective of what they see as "their turf."  Anyone who tries to offer the parish's assistance (or even inviting them publicly, as in, placing an ad in a college paper) is chastised for "hurting their efforts."

So let me state for the record: All college students in the Pittsburgh area are welcomed to be in our parish.  We will make every effort to secure a ride to church for you, and we will also have a local family contact you for any needs that you may have!   Smiley

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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2003, 08:36:32 PM »

Orthodoc, I haven't had any experience with the OCF so my knowledge is limited as how to make it better.  However, I have been to other nondenominational groups and some advice that I think would be helpful.   With schools that are small, and therefore have a small amount of Orthodox students, a local parish can do somethings that might be helpful.  First, advertise in the school newspaper and let them know you are in the area.  Plus, you might pick up a few new converts to the faith by doing this.  It doesn't hurt to advertise.  You can also post things on campus.  College campuses have tons of flyers posted everywhere, why not post a few on campus?  All of this is relatively inexpensive to do.  Many universities have ecumenical centers, make sure you are listed with so that Orthodox students can find you.   Another thing that is done by a local Lutheran church on the campus I attend, is that they run a Bible study for the Lutheran students.  They meet once a week during the school year.  Again, this would be a great idea to reach out to the Orthodox students.  If their is no interest, try again next semester or next year.  Talk to the young people that come to your church and see how you can help them get more of their peers out to church.

Quote
On the other hand, I think even the recent efforts to rejuvenate the OCF have been spotty.  There seems to be no direction, no organization in the effort.  It's kind of thrown to the wind in the hope that "someone" will pick up the pieces.

From what I have seen on the OCF pages, different OCFs do different things from each other, there is no consensus. Some from what I have seen from their description of activities, do things that are not just social club activities.  For instance, some have a meal and then have small compline after it.  This is a good idea.  I think OCF needs to have more direction to it and organization based on what I have seen on their website.

For students like me who go to small schools with few Orthodox, why not establish a website(with the blessings of SCOBA) that specifically targets the college age crowd.  And not just a cheap website, why not have a place for prayer requests and a place to ask priests questions.   Offer advice on issues that pertain to the college crowd(such as dating, loneliness, sins of the flesh such as drinking and sex, porn..many college students struggle with these things on a daily basis).  It should also offer spiritual advice and guidance and perhaps a bulletin board and a chat room so that people can interact.

If I was an Orthodox christian going to an OCF for the first time, what would I expect?  I would hope that it is not just social club.  I am not against socializing, but you could have a meal together(social part) and then serve Small Compline afterward(Orthodox worship part).  Another thing every Christian group does whether Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, is a Bible study.  I think that all OCFs should be mandated to have a bible study as it is not an easy book for many to understand.  Some Christian groups volunteer at local Christian homeless shelters in my area, why not highly encourage that OCFs volunteer in their local area instead of just doing break trips.  Many Christian groups have worship as a part of them, I think that the OCFs should be mandated and required to have worship as part of their existence such as serving Small Compline or Vespers.   One thing that Crusade did last year my school that I really liked was that they had a video lecture series on the Song of Solomon, and it dealt with relationships, courtship, and marriage.  It was an excellent series and it would be nice to see the Orthodox have something like this.

Quote
Furthermore, although this is probably a misplaced "gripe," I've found (just this year) that many times the priest/communities/dioceses who are "involved" with particular college/university communities are unfortunately protective of what they see as "their turf."  Anyone who tries to offer the parish's assistance (or even inviting them publicly, as in, placing an ad in a college paper) is chastised for "hurting their efforts."  

I think the turf wars must go.  If Big State U has church Y in its turf, yet church Y does nothing to offer assistance to the Orthodox at that school, and another parish comes in and offers assistance, then church Y has no right to complain, and if they do, chastise them and say they are falling miserable as stewards of Christ.

We have such a rich heritage with the holy fathers and the saints, their wisdom is so applicable today and can offer guidance to the young, yet one has to fight for it and find it on their own.
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« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2003, 10:55:25 AM »

Those that want a social ethnic club will probably not attend if it becomes all religious in content.

I don't know about this one.  At my university, we have something called "Indian Christian Fellowship".  There are weekly meetings where someone (one of the students or someone from outside) speaks, hymns are sung, prayers are said, and afterwards, people can chill and chat with friends and others they may not know (yet), and then either go home or see what everyone else is doing that night.  Also, there are Bible studies for men (one group) and for women (another group), "prayer meetings" in which people will go to someone's suite, sing a few hymns, read a Scriptural passage, and offer prayers for people on campus, family, friends, etc. (these are held almost daily)...basically, every day, there is something informal going on somewhere (in addition to the weekly, more formal meeting) in which people can have the ethnic social thing, and at the same time have a heavy religious influence to these things.

Unfortunately, although quite a few of us are Catholics and Orthodox, it is almost exclusively a Protestant operation (it's not officially sponsored by anyone, and if you ask people, they'll say it's "nondenominational", but you know what that really means).  There is nothing wrong with prayer, singing, or reading the Bible.  But all this is done through a Protestant lens.  It is the Protestant students who are more knowledgeable about religious matters than the Catholics or the Orthodox for the most part, years of Sunday School or CCD notwithstanding.  It is the Protestant students who are passing on "the faith" to the younger generation, and whenever some of us try to present the true faith, it is at best accepted as "another view", and at worst shot down with the standard Protestant responses.    

And the younger generation is, by and large, eating it all up eagerly, the good and the bad, because it's all they've got.  Roman Catholic parishes have English Masses, but it's not like they have any "grabbing" power otherwise...people are not catechised well.  You go to church on Sunday because your parents drag you.  Orthodox parishes have Sunday School programmes that offer quite a lot, but the Liturgy is often in a language that they don't understand all that well (yes, I suppose you could try and teach the language, and that would work well if you start young, but for those who haven't learned, they will either want to learn on their own, or they'll leave for a place they can understand...so we've got to find a balance, and right now, at least in our parishes, the balance doesn't seem to be there).  If you don't understand the Liturgy, that which has preserved our faith for two thousand years, what point will you see in standing there for two hours every Sunday?  Protestants capitalise on all this by offering "simple faith", hymns that tug at emotions but doctrinally are mush, etc.  Is it a surprise, then, that after four years, one of my Catholic friends is asking everyone to pray that he gets admission into "Bible College"?  

The Protestants at my school, however informally, seem to have found a way to draw people in to a deeper relationship with the Lord, through daily or nearly daily activities heavily influenced by religion, and at the same time preserve the ethnic connections.  If they can do it, so can we (at least on a weekly basis, with solid teaching, liturgical prayer, etc.).

As I said earlier, a snowball has a better chance of eternal life in hell tthan me finding and marrying an Orthodox woman.

So go to Plan B.  Find a good woman, and make her Orthodox.  You'll have wife material and increase the numbers of the Church at the same time.  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2003, 05:28:20 PM »

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So go to Plan B.  Find a good woman, and make her Orthodox.  You'll have wife material and increase the numbers of the Church at the same time.  

The problem is that Plan B is not working out to well right now.  Any suggestions?  Sad
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« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2003, 08:46:38 PM »

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So go to Plan B.  Find a good woman, and make her Orthodox.  You'll have wife material and increase the numbers of the Church at the same time.  

The problem is that Plan B is not working out to well right now.  Any suggestions?  Sad

Yes, time for Plan C.

http://www.aprettyrussianwife.com/

Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2003, 04:50:09 AM »

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The Orthodox church does a lousy job of educating its cradle born parishoners spiritually.
I've been wondering whether or not the church should have something like catechism classes for those wishing to baptise their children. Attendance should be manditory for both parents and god-parents. I wouldn't want to keep people from baptising their children, perish the thought, but considering that parents are the primary agent whereby children are taught the orthodox faith, it would be a good opportunity to help them actually be up to the task.
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« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2003, 09:19:31 AM »

Sinjinsmythe said:
Quote
The problem is that Plan B is not working out to well right now. Any suggestions?

Only one, Matthew 6:31-33
Quote
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
My older brother once made a concious decision not to seek after a wife. He was married within a year Grin. Seriously, if you are looking at women as potential wives you will not be able to relate as openly or honestly with the women you come into contact with. When you are not in the market, you can be more open and natural and become an order of magnitude more desireable simply by nature of being unavailable.

Work on being holy, let God worry about the rest Cheesy

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« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2003, 12:13:37 PM »

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The Orthodox church does a lousy job of educating its cradle born parishoners spiritually.

That's only if whatever education for adults in a parish is restricted to the homily at Sunday Liturgy.  Baby food is not going to satisfy adults intellectually and spiritually.  Parishes must provide for the education of their parishioners of *all* age groups, from pre-schoolers to Golden Agers, when they can go back to eating Pablum again.   Wink  Religious education cannot stop when the kids graduate from Church School, sometimes labeled as "Sunday School" in Protestant fashion.  Orthodoxy is really very much an adult Faith and it requires adult education.  And what better place to meet "Miss Lovely" or "Mr. Future Husband" than in your parish's Adult Education Class or Mini-Retreat!

Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2003, 01:47:18 PM »

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The Orthodox church does a lousy job of educating its cradle born parishoners spiritually.

That's only if whatever education for adults in a parish is restricted to the homily at Sunday Liturgy.  Baby food is not going to satisfy adults intellectually and spiritually.  Parishes must provide for the education of their parishioners of *all* age groups, from pre-schoolers to Golden Agers, when they can go back to eating Pablum again.   Wink  Religious education cannot stop when the kids graduate from Church School, sometimes labeled as "Sunday School" in Protestant fashion.  Orthodoxy is really very much an adult Faith and it requires adult education.  And what better place to meet "Miss Lovely" or "Mr. Future Husband" than in your parish's Adult Education Class or Mini-Retreat!

Hypo-Ortho

Hypo, I think that is a good idea.  At my church, we have an adult education class held during the time Sunday school is after Divine Liturgy.  I think it is a very good idea.  My only question is, how does one meet "Miss Lovely"  when they are all married or too old? Cry
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« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2003, 01:48:16 PM »

Quote


The problem is that Plan B is not working out to well right now.  Any suggestions?  Sad

Yes, time for Plan C.

http://www.aprettyrussianwife.com/

Smiley

No.  Those women are looking for meal tickets to the west Tongue
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« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2003, 01:57:33 PM »

Sinjinsmythe<< My only question is, how does one meet "Miss Lovely"  when they are all married or too old?>>

Stay away from the married ones!  But why not consider a Summer/Winter romance?  They seem often to work well when the man is older.  Give the single, widowed, or divorced older women a chance (and many of them will already be independently secure financially).  You may like them!   Grin  There's someone for everyone, if we only enlarge our field of vision and possibilities.

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« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2003, 01:58:15 PM »

I agree that 1) when it comes to dating, church doesn’t work and 2) lots of born Orthodox are abysmally or never catechized, which may be why so many don’t care about abortion.

Things like Russian mail-order bride services and personals in general give me a kind of Schadenfreude — if I get too down on myself for being single, remembering that so many such businesses exist tells me there are lots of people in far worse shape.
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2003, 03:15:36 PM »

Not the way to go Serge, I agree.  And this stuff is all the rage now.

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