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Author Topic: What Should I Expect in a Visit to an Orthodox Church?  (Read 669 times) Average Rating: 0
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adampjr
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« on: October 27, 2012, 09:47:30 PM »

OC.net Community,

I am new to this forum and I will ask my immediate questions up front. I will provide some introductory details after so they can be read if desired.

I have grown up in the evangelical community and am in some ways very disaffected by it. I find there is a lot missing. A few years ago, whenever I heard the words "Eastern Orthodox" I pictured Gandalf the Grey, but after reading a good amount of Orthodox material, I am very impressed by it, and while some of the issues give me pause, I have come to the conclusion that I need to seriously consider Orthodox Christianity.

Questions: What is the disposition of Orthodox Christians towards visitors? How should I dress? I certainly don't want to underdress but I don't want to be way overdressed either. What should I expect and what will be expected of me? Are there certain titles, greetings, and formalities I should be familiar with first?
I've tried to read a lot about Orthodoxy and what the people do, but I wanted to ask a community of Orthodox people as well. I don't want to ensure that they understand that I am not some random wanderer but someone who is very serious about this.
Any input would be appreciated.

Introductory details: My wife and I are 25 and we have 3 kids. We currently live in Augusta, GA which we think we may end up calling home, but we are not sure.
My church situation is that there are many problems with evangelical christianity in my opinion and we are ready to make changes. However, my current employment requires that I work half the time on days and half the time on mids, rotating. That schedule covers Sundays, which means at best I am available for church 50% of the time. The result of this is that my wife is much closer in with our current church than I am. While she sees a lot of the problems with evangelical christianity that I do, and also sees the functional problems with our chruch in particular, she has taken many positions in helping the church. I intend to visit the Orthodox church and then bring my family on a following week. If we feel that converting is teh right thing to do, a few issues arise for us:
1. The current church we are in woudl suffer deeply if we left quickly. I want to follow what is right but also keep our moral obligations to our current group.
2. My being unavailable to help my wife adjust 50% of the Sundays is also a consideration.

anyways, thanks for any answers to the questions and for hearing me out.
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adampjr
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 10:19:21 PM »

Also, on the off chance that anybody knows anything about this joint, this is the place I want to visit sometime soon:

Holy Resurrection Orthodox Mission in Augusta, GA.

http://holyresurrectionmission.org/
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Nephi
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2012, 10:40:29 PM »

First of all, welcome and I hope you enjoy your visit here!

Questions: What is the disposition of Orthodox Christians towards visitors? How should I dress? I certainly don't want to underdress but I don't want to be way overdressed either. What should I expect and what will be expected of me? Are there certain titles, greetings, and formalities I should be familiar with first?
I've tried to read a lot about Orthodoxy and what the people do, but I wanted to ask a community of Orthodox people as well. I don't want to ensure that they understand that I am not some random wanderer but someone who is very serious about this.
Any input would be appreciated.
For your first visit I'd say to dress formally, but not necessarily full on suit and tie. If the people there dress casually, you can just adjust to it afterward but you don't want to go in way underdressed (overdressed is always better, I'd think). I don't think there are any titles or greeting you'd need to know. If you haven't already, read this: 12 Things I Wish I’d Known… by Frederica Matthewes-Green, it's great introductory material for inquirers.

Quote
1. The current church we are in woudl suffer deeply if we left quickly. I want to follow what is right but also keep our moral obligations to our current group.
2. My being unavailable to help my wife adjust 50% of the Sundays is also a consideration.
My advice would be to make your transition to Orthodoxy slow. Don't immediately cut ties with your church - take it slow! If you decide to one day become Orthodox, then take time to fade out of your previous church duties before becoming a catechumen.

For more precise advice, perhaps this: Go to the Orthodox church once a month, once to your current church, and let your wife decide to go to either church on the Sundays you cannot attend with her. Repeat this cycle and adjust as you desire until you decide.

I don't know the OCA mission you'll be visiting, but know that it is a mission - so it's small! If you haven't already looked at their pictures, then you should go ahead to get an idea. Their website also says they have a sizable body of converts from other Christian confessions so you should be pretty welcomed.

I hope I've been of some help. And again, welcome and I hope you and your family find the Orthodox Church home! Smiley
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soderquj
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2012, 10:55:39 PM »

I concur take it slow, and relax and just enjoy the service. It will seem real different, just try to follow along you are not required to do any thing and if you tell some one it's your first time they should be helpful.  You will not see any conversations during liturgy as all are worshipping.


The following is also a good intro.
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/eastwest/10_things_i_wish_i_knew
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 10:56:26 PM by soderquj » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2012, 11:25:16 PM »

At a mission parish such as the one you are looking to visit I would expect the majority of congregants to be converts and they will identify with your situation.  You may be surprised by the emotions (both positive and negative) that surface.  When I first visited an Orthodox church I had some knee jerk negative reactions and some really positive impressions and I left feeling more confused than anything.  A friend who is now my godfather advised me to commit to going a certain number of times and to not dwell on what I thought about any of it until I had completed that commitment.  He said that I would know what that number was.  That was some of the best advice I received early on so I pass it on to you.  Also, if you are hoping to chat with the priest when you visit it would be a good idea to email or call him to let him know you will be there.
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adampjr
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2012, 12:00:59 AM »

Thank you for your information, all of you. I look forward to my visit.
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CatherineBrigid
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 06:01:23 AM »

It couldn't hurt to also email the priest and introduce yourself as an inquirer, and try to strike up a dialogue with him. Smiley That's what I did when I knew my inquiry was getting into the 'serious' stage and moving well past the 'curious just because it's fascinating/different' stage.  Some priests are better than others about email, i've heard, so do not be disheartened if you don't get a quick response.... since it's a mission, I'm thinking priest would be thrilled to hear from an inquirer (but what do I know, LOL.... I'm not even Orthodox yet for another 12 days LOL). Keep us posted!!! Praying for y'all! and greetings from my corner of GA (Lawrenceville/Grayson area)to y'all's. Smiley
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CatherineBrigid
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 06:04:49 AM »

You may be surprised by the emotions (both positive and negative) that surface. 

this is so true... My first visit to an Orthodox church touched me deeply and profoundly... I was quite surprised.
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* * *
http://www.SNMOC.org
(St. Nicholas of Myra WR parish)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rain fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his han
genesisone
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 03:12:48 PM »

Also, on the off chance that anybody knows anything about this joint, this is the place I want to visit sometime soon:

Holy Resurrection Orthodox Mission in Augusta, GA.

http://holyresurrectionmission.org/
Keep an eye on their schedule (or try to contact them about this): there may be additional services during the Nativity Fast (commonly called Advent) when for us begins on November 15.
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mabsoota
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2012, 03:15:59 PM »

all of the above!
plus:
1. be sure to share what you are going through with your wife. be open and kind.

2. orthodox churches are often the best if you work weekends, as there is often a midweek liturgy
(sometimes at 6am, but it's worth it!) so u can 'catch up' if you missed out on sunday.

3. ask lots of questions.
visit the convert issues board here and read a lot of posts.
the convert issues board is the most closely moderated, so u won't find so much rubbish stuff
or stuff posted by people trying to sabotage the subject as occasionally occurs on other boards here
(if anyone tells u that u r going to hell, for example, skip reading their posts!)

once u have met 'real life' orthodox people, value their opinions more than ours! (with the exception of
the priests who post here).

4. as someone who had been orthodox for 4 years, with a protestant family, i encourage you to take it slow
and remember u r on a spiritual journey to become closer to God, not to find the perfect church.
(although if u find it, please inform me by personal message!)
 Wink

5. ahh, fasting!  Smiley don't try it all at once, a little bit at a time is the usual recommended for newcomers who want to fast.
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adampjr
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2012, 08:41:44 PM »

Thanks for the other posts too.
 I went ahead and went today even though I work nights. I just slept after and woke up recently.

It was different of course, and in many ways I liked the difference. The icons are going to take a while for me but I definitely intend to visit again soon with my wife.
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