Author Topic: Uncomfortable Inquirer  (Read 3142 times)

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Offline africanus

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Uncomfortable Inquirer
« on: May 02, 2013, 10:11:00 AM »
Over the past year I've attended liturgy at a local mission here on Chicago's south side. Discovering orthodoxy has literally opened my entire world admittedly. Yet I have some nagging concern. I happen to be the only African American in attendance, which did not bother at the beginning. Over the course of the my entire time there only 3 others ever even speak or talk to me. The resident Priest is very attentive and I could not ask for a better teacher, however I do feel uncomfortable and out  of place - for as said before I feel 'isolated' socially because no one, I mean no one even says much of a 'Hello, how are you'? Strange? And I do enjoy Orthodoxy as a religion/the liturgy, the icons, etc. there are no other churches in the immediate area. Am I alone in this regard? Has this happened to other Inquirers (African American or not)?

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2013, 10:16:48 AM »
Over the past year I've attended liturgy at a local mission here on Chicago's south side. Discovering orthodoxy has literally opened my entire world admittedly. Yet I have some nagging concern. I happen to be the only African American in attendance, which did not bother at the beginning. Over the course of the my entire time there only 3 others ever even speak or talk to me. The resident Priest is very attentive and I could not ask for a better teacher, however I do feel uncomfortable and out  of place - for as said before I feel 'isolated' socially because no one, I mean no one even says much of a 'Hello, how are you'? Strange? And I do enjoy Orthodoxy as a religion/the liturgy, the icons, etc. there are no other churches in the immediate area. Am I alone in this regard? Has this happened to other Inquirers (African American or not)?
I'm very sorry to hear about that. I have been very fortunate that my experience has been different. My parish is very ethnically diverse and also very friendly, almost to the point of overload sometimes. I am still a catechumen, but I have difficulty getting out the door some days.  Do you attend an ethnic parish?  I have heard complaints regarding a few parishes that are around me where the people are very ethnicly minded and not very welcoming to outsiders.   :(
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2013, 10:17:03 AM »
One of our local deacons, Fr. Michael Bishop, is an African American who serves in a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in Baltimore, MD.  His story may be of some help to you.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2013, 12:00:27 PM »
There is an African-American archdeacon at the nearby OCA church and my Church has a few African Americans as well as  Ethiopian and Eritrean attendees.
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Offline IoanC

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 12:06:41 PM »
Of course, don't let it affect your peace and faith which is between you and God. If you feel you are not wanted there, I don't know, maybe you should find a different place. Personally, I avoid situations that cause illogical and unnecessary tension because it never leads to good things and can possibly exacerbate over time. A more immediate question would probably be if you feel that that church actually live the faith as they should. If they don't, then don't be surprised, if they fail at accomodating such a basic element as the ethnicity of another person.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 12:07:16 PM by IoanC »

Offline jah777

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 12:08:04 PM »
Over the past year I've attended liturgy at a local mission here on Chicago's south side. Discovering orthodoxy has literally opened my entire world admittedly. Yet I have some nagging concern. I happen to be the only African American in attendance, which did not bother at the beginning. Over the course of the my entire time there only 3 others ever even speak or talk to me. The resident Priest is very attentive and I could not ask for a better teacher, however I do feel uncomfortable and out  of place - for as said before I feel 'isolated' socially because no one, I mean no one even says much of a 'Hello, how are you'? Strange? And I do enjoy Orthodoxy as a religion/the liturgy, the icons, etc. there are no other churches in the immediate area. Am I alone in this regard? Has this happened to other Inquirers (African American or not)?

Some parishes are just this way, unfortunately.  We belong to a rather warm and welcoming parish, but we have certainly attended others where where nobody went out of their way to greet or welcome us.

Regarding skin color, keep in mind that many of the Orthodox churches have their origins in countries like Russia and Greece where dark skin-color is very rare.  Antiochian churches may have more people from the Middle East and Arab countries where skin color may be darker than what you will see in a Greek or Russian church, but still not dark brown or black.  

In Africa, of course, there are many Orthodox churches.  You may be interested in learning more about these churches and about other African Americans who have become Orthodox:

http://www.mosestheblack.org/

http://oca.org/news/oca-news/interview-with-fr.-moses-berry-the-church-belongs-to-everyone

http://www.godsgardenthefilm.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Unbroken-Circle-Christianity-African-American-Experience/dp/0916700518

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/10/largest-orthodox-church-in-africa.html

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/06/icon-of-saints-of-africa.html

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/01/missionary-patriarchate-of-alexandria.html

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/10/fr-themi-atheist-rocker-who-became.html

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/03/first-orthodox-monastery-in-uganda.html




Offline tuesdayschild

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2013, 12:14:11 PM »
No, you're not alone. And after 10 years, it isn't an experience exclusive to inquirers, either.

Don't assume hostility. Most socializing after Liturgy occurs among three groups: within (large) extended families, between non-related families whose children are growing up/have grown up together, and between persons concerned with some aspect of parish council ministries. If you don't fit into at least one of those three categories, it's difficult to develop relationships.

If you really want to get to know people quickly, volunteer for kitchen duty alongside the babas and the yia yias. Pinch some pierogies, roll some dolmades, wash the pots, mop the floors. Do that, and the ladies will take care of your social networking for you.

Offline xariskai

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 01:10:03 PM »
It pains me personally to hear this. I wish I was around to pull up a chair with you for a nice warm chat or to invite you for coffee or dinner.

Offline dcommini

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 01:28:38 PM »
Perhaps you could try approaching some of the people there? Also, there are a few Orthodox parishes in Chicago, perhaps you could jump on a bus or train to one? I'm sorry that you are experiencing issues, I will keep you in my prayers.
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2013, 01:29:41 PM »
Over the past year I've attended liturgy at a local mission here on Chicago's south side. Discovering orthodoxy has literally opened my entire world admittedly. Yet I have some nagging concern. I happen to be the only African American in attendance, which did not bother at the beginning. Over the course of the my entire time there only 3 others ever even speak or talk to me. The resident Priest is very attentive and I could not ask for a better teacher, however I do feel uncomfortable and out  of place - for as said before I feel 'isolated' socially because no one, I mean no one even says much of a 'Hello, how are you'? Strange? And I do enjoy Orthodoxy as a religion/the liturgy, the icons, etc. there are no other churches in the immediate area. Am I alone in this regard? Has this happened to other Inquirers (African American or not)?

No, you're not alone. Parishes can sometimes be cliquey, people can be shy or afraid to step out of their comfort zones, etc. I'd like to think it has nothing to do with you being African-American but it goes without saying that some white people have all kinds of irrational hang-ups in that area and have no idea how to talk to you like a human being. They might be waiting for you to say hello first, just to demonstrate that you're not threatening. Yeah, it's stupid. Or they might honestly be uncomfortable with strangers.

It's good though to hear that the priest is attentive.

Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 02:39:51 PM »
Some parishes are just this way, unfortunately. 

Why "unfortunately"?
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 02:54:41 PM »
Because it is unfortunate that people would not make inquirers welcome to the parish. That seems to be obvious.  ;)
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Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 03:07:28 PM »
Because it is unfortunate that people would not make inquirers welcome to the parish. That seems to be obvious.  ;)

This is not obvious. It's an American tradition. I do not see any reasons why 1st gen cradle parishes must adhere to it.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 03:07:44 PM by Michał Kalina »
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 03:19:39 PM »
Because it is unfortunate that people would not make inquirers welcome to the parish. That seems to be obvious.  ;)

This is not obvious. It's an American tradition. I do not see any reasons why 1st gen cradle parishes must adhere to it.

It is an American tradition to be kind to strangers?  :o  I was under the impression that kindness was present in the Church much longer than Orthodoxy in America was.
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 03:21:14 PM »

Yes....I don't understand Michal's statement, either.

Exactly what is the "American" tradition?
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Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013, 03:30:00 PM »
Exactly what is the "American" tradition?

Talking to strangers in a church. Socialising in church setting.

I'm not saying it's wrong. I only would like to note it's not universal and people who from some reasons are not used to it shall not be treated with reluctance. Some people go to church just to pray and it should be respected.
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2013, 03:40:44 PM »

Oh sure....certainly don't get in people's faces if they are trying to make a quick exit.

However, if you are in an "American tradition" church....and people ARE talking to each other and greeting each other...than they ought to greet everyone....even the different shaded newcomer.

It's unchristian to talk to Suzy, and ignore Jose, who is standing right next to her.

Mind you this "talking" does NOT occur during services...other than a nod or a smile, as greeting.

My parish is mostly white....however, we are open to all....

Here's a photo from last Sunday (Palm Sunday).  These are our four First Confession kids.  One is of African heritage, one is Mexican and the other two are Ukrainians.



I love them all....and think each one is beautiful, inside and out.

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

Offline jah777

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2013, 03:44:32 PM »
Particularly those who are raised in the Orthodox Church may not understand why they need to welcome strangers.  "If they want the true Church, and they want to worship God in spirit and truth, and if they want to save their soul, they will return."  They are correct in this view, but those Orthodox who come primarily from Evangelical Protestant backgrounds, where churches may bend over backwards to try to make the newcomer feel "special" and welcome, understand that newcomers from the same background expect this when visiting a new church and consider the absence of such a warm welcome to be indicative of a "cold" and "unloving" church.  At least in this country, where Evangelical Protestantism is so widespread, I think Orthodox churches should be aware if this perception that inquirers may have, however wrong it may be.  Our parish seems to do a pretty good job in this area, but not all parishes do.

The main recommendation to the OP would be to get to know the priest well.  He, then, can introduce you to others.  

Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2013, 03:49:31 PM »

Oh sure....certainly don't get in people's faces if they are trying to make a quick exit.

However, if you are in an "American tradition" church....and people ARE talking to each other and greeting each other...than they ought to greet everyone....even the different shaded newcomer.

It's unchristian to talk to Suzy, and ignore Jose, who is standing right next to her.

Yeah. I've already got that all of you all better than these obscure people who just come to church to pray and not to make friends. "God, I thank you, that I am not like these cradles, casual Orthodox, 1st gen. immigrants, people from Old Country. I greet everyone who arrives at church. I socialise with everyone during coffee hour."
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 03:49:52 PM by Michał Kalina »
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2013, 03:56:20 PM »

Who said anything about anyone being better than anyone else?

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2013, 04:01:13 PM »
 ::) It must be a full moon out tonight.

I don't think anyone is claiming they are better than anyone else.  It is just a matter of common human decency that you are kind to those who are around you.  I don't think you have to be American to believe that.  It kind of falls in the whole "love your neighbor as yourself" genre.
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Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2013, 04:04:54 PM »

Who said anything about anyone being better than anyone else?

Everyone who posted here behaviour mentioned in the OP is not OK.

It is just a matter of common human decency that you are kind to those who are around you.

It's just a matter of common human decency that you are aware that not all people are alike and some do not go to church to talk to strangers. And not to think they are worse than those who like to talk to strangers.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 04:09:42 PM by Michał Kalina »
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2013, 04:06:50 PM »
I don't know how it is in Poland....perhaps there are so many faithful each Sunday that there is no way of knowing one from the other...they are just a bunch of faces.

In the States, we actually know each other.  It's just our "thing".  We notice when someone is missing, and we call or visit to make sure they are okay...especially the old folks.

Usually we go down to the church hall after Liturgy on Sunday for either a lunch, or just coffee and sweets.  This lets us talk to each other, share concerns, offer advice, etc.  At this point we teach the kids, the kids become friends with other Orthodox kids, etc.

In the States, more often than not...this is the only time Orthodox have an opportunity to mingle...because usually we are the only Orthodox person in our school, at our job, in our neighborhood.

This is just the way we do things here.  

Nobody is saying it's better or worse than any other tradition....this is just our tradition.

Living in the States, and living this tradition....it would be wrong to ignore a new face that enters the church.  That was the point we were trying to make.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2013, 04:08:22 PM »
It is just a matter of common human decency that you are kind to those who are around you.

It's just a matter of common human decency that you are aware that not all people are alike and some do not go to church to talk to strangers.

I am aware that everyone is different.  I am not an outgoing person by any means, but I do endeavour not to be rude to those around me.  I'm not saying that you (or anyone else is).  The Church is a refuge for lost souls, not a group of individual islands in the same building.
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Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2013, 04:10:46 PM »
but I do endeavour not to be rude to those around me.

Accordingly to you, is not talking to strangers in a church rude?
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2013, 04:12:37 PM »

No, it's not.....not after kissing the cross and exiting the building.
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2013, 04:20:47 PM »
Yeah, it took me a long time to understand the concept of "socializing at Church".....I think I'm still working on it, but living in United States helped a lot. We are a minority and it's nice to have people around you that believe, behave and think alike. As a cradle Orthodox, I can tell you that I took my faith for granted for way too long. I'm still learning what Orthodox really means, and I've been an Orthodox all my life.
You have to be in communion with those who you share the Eucharist with. You pray together, you form the Church together, you are One. Act like it. Wink wink.
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2013, 04:21:27 PM »
but I do endeavour not to be rude to those around me.

Accordingly to you, is not talking to strangers in a church rude?

I would say ignoring someone is unkind or prideful.  Christ says "I was a stranger and you took me in", if we aren't willing to take in the stranger, what are we doing?  Christ has harsh words for those who ignore strangers in his sermon in Matthew 25.  I'm pretty sure telling Him, "sorry, it just isn't my culture" isn't going to cut it.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 04:22:10 PM by TheTrisagion »
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Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2013, 04:35:07 PM »
but I do endeavour not to be rude to those around me.

Accordingly to you, is not talking to strangers in a church rude?

I would say ignoring someone is unkind or prideful.  Christ says "I was a stranger and you took me in", if we aren't willing to take in the stranger, what are we doing?  Christ has harsh words for those who ignore strangers in his sermon in Matthew 25.  I'm pretty sure telling Him, "sorry, it just isn't my culture" isn't going to cut it.

About 500 people attended my church tonight. How can I see whom should I talk to? Or should I talk to all of them in turn?
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2013, 04:37:03 PM »

But, see....that's the difference.  Did you read my post?

We aren't like that.
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2013, 04:39:38 PM »
Michal,

This isn't a case of "I just want to come and pray and leave, please don't bother me."

This is a case of, "I am refusing to notice someone who is relatively new; I've seen him around here so he's not not a total stranger, but I'm not going to make any effort at all to even say hello when our eyes meet and, instead, I'm just going to socialize with Joe and Maria here."

The first I can sympathize with; that's me most of the time, especially in an unfamiliar place.  The latter, however, is unconscionable for a Christian.  I am socially awkward at the best of times and not very outgoing, especially with strangers, but to see someone being uncomfortable, sitting all by his lonesome during coffee hour while everyone else is socializing (note, this isn't some Old Country parish where no one is socializing...it's happening all around him), I would at least say hello.  No one is saying that you have to be best friends with everyone in your church, but to patently and obviously avoid someone is rude, especially in the United States.


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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2013, 04:46:46 PM »
but I do endeavour not to be rude to those around me.

Accordingly to you, is not talking to strangers in a church rude?

I would say ignoring someone is unkind or prideful.  Christ says "I was a stranger and you took me in", if we aren't willing to take in the stranger, what are we doing?  Christ has harsh words for those who ignore strangers in his sermon in Matthew 25.  I'm pretty sure telling Him, "sorry, it just isn't my culture" isn't going to cut it.

About 500 people attended my church tonight. How can I see whom should I talk to? Or should I talk to all of them in turn?

If you notice people there who've never (to your knowledge) been there before, especially if they are near you, what do you do?  Ignore them, or somehow acknowledge their presence and make them feel welcome--even if with nothing more than a simple smile or nod of your head? 
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2013, 04:52:52 PM »
If you notice people there who've never (to your knowledge) been there before, especially if they are near you, what do you do?  Ignore them, or somehow acknowledge their presence and make them feel welcome--even if with nothing more than a simple smile or nod of your head?  

I do nothing and they do nothing.

Michal,

This isn't a case of "I just want to come and pray and leave, please don't bother me."

This is a case of, "I am refusing to notice someone who is relatively new; I've seen him around here so he's not not a total stranger, but I'm not going to make any effort at all to even say hello when our eyes meet and, instead, I'm just going to socialize with Joe and Maria here."

I do not see nothing wrong with the latter either.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 04:53:33 PM by Michał Kalina »
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #33 on: May 02, 2013, 04:53:22 PM »
If you notice people there who've never (to your knowledge) been there before, especially if they are near you, what do you do?  Ignore them, or somehow acknowledge their presence and make them feel welcome--even if with nothing more than a simple smile or nod of your head? 

I do nothing and they do nothing.

Would it be considered rude for you to do something?
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2013, 04:55:38 PM »
If you notice people there who've never (to your knowledge) been there before, especially if they are near you, what do you do?  Ignore them, or somehow acknowledge their presence and make them feel welcome--even if with nothing more than a simple smile or nod of your head? 

I do nothing and they do nothing.

Would it be considered rude for you to do something?

Interrupting some strangers? Maybe, maybe not. I know I would feel awkwardly in such a situation and would pray such a person go away ASAP.
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2013, 04:57:22 PM »
If you notice people there who've never (to your knowledge) been there before, especially if they are near you, what do you do?  Ignore them, or somehow acknowledge their presence and make them feel welcome--even if with nothing more than a simple smile or nod of your head?  

I do nothing and they do nothing.

Michal,

This isn't a case of "I just want to come and pray and leave, please don't bother me."

This is a case of, "I am refusing to notice someone who is relatively new; I've seen him around here so he's not not a total stranger, but I'm not going to make any effort at all to even say hello when our eyes meet and, instead, I'm just going to socialize with Joe and Maria here."

I do not see nothing wrong with the latter either.

:)  This explains a lot.

Do people in Poland never greet each other?  What about on Pascha?  Do you greet each other with Christ is Risen?  Is there the Paschal kiss x 3?

What you don't seem to understand, or are unwilling to understand, is that in the States things are done differently.  We DO greet each other, and share kisses, etc.

Therefore, if Joe is sitting in the corner and he sees everyone else speaking to every other person, but him....it's wrong.  If you take the time to say hello to one person, you ought to at least smile at the person standing next to them.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2013, 05:02:19 PM »
Do people in Poland never greet each other?  What about on Pascha?  Do you greet each other with Christ is Risen?  Is there the Paschal kiss x 3?

To some strangers you have no intention to get to know? Not really.

Quote
What you don't seem to understand, or are unwilling to understand, is that in the States things are done differently.  We DO greet each other, and share kisses, etc.

Therefore, if Joe is sitting in the corner and he sees everyone else speaking to every other person, but him....it's wrong.  If you take the time to say hello to one person, you ought to at least smile at the person standing next to them.

And you do not seem to understand there might be some people (or even whole parishes) who might share the approach I have. And they have right to do it. And they are not worse than others.
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2013, 05:13:20 PM »
Africanus,

 Welcome to the forum!  If you're following the conversation, you're probably noticing that some foreigners aren't comfortable with socializing with folks they don't know.  I would also say that they've probably taught their children, by word or action, their custom too.  If the bulk of your church are foreigners, this might be your answer.  If no one made any attempt to welcome me after a while of attending, I'd probably either ask the priest what's up with his congregation or (most likely) I'd just find another church to attend. 

 

 

 
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2013, 05:30:58 PM »
Do people in Poland never greet each other?  What about on Pascha?  Do you greet each other with Christ is Risen?  Is there the Paschal kiss x 3?

To some strangers you have no intention to get to know? Not really.

Quote
What you don't seem to understand, or are unwilling to understand, is that in the States things are done differently.  We DO greet each other, and share kisses, etc.

Therefore, if Joe is sitting in the corner and he sees everyone else speaking to every other person, but him....it's wrong.  If you take the time to say hello to one person, you ought to at least smile at the person standing next to them.

And you do not seem to understand there might be some people (or even whole parishes) who might share the approach I have. And they have right to do it. And they are not worse than others.

Michal, we are replying to the OP, and not commenting on what you, your parish, or people in Poland do.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2013, 05:34:33 PM »
I'm white and I was never made to feel so unwelcome as when visiting a Russian Cathedral.  If that had been my first exposure to Orthodoxy I would still be Lutheran  ;)

Fortunately I came in thru the Antiochians.  Welcoming to the point of being nosy, lol.

I think it has less to do with you being African American than just being a stranger- every parish I have attended have had some Ethiopian and Arab members.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2013, 05:45:05 PM »
Michal, we are replying to the OP, and not commenting on what you, your parish, or people in Poland do.

I'm saying the OP might have visited similar parish.
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Offline Putnik Namernik

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2013, 06:02:35 PM »
Welcome to the forum. As mentioned above it depends on parish...more specifically of people in it and it is not what race you are or anything as such. The main criterion is whether you are a member of their congregation or not. NonSerbs in our parish are treated the same and they have been members of our parish for a long time. The same thing can be aaid for the Russian parish. Some people will feel comfortable approaching, second group do not wish to socialize with new people, while the third group do not socialize for personal reasons, and fifth group of people is composed of people who wish to give you space and wait for you to approach them you feel ready. I have met all such jndividuals. If you wish to create an opportunity for more social interraction then ask a priest if you can help somehow by volunteering on short term project like cleaning around the church, helping in the parish library or something as such that a priest suggests and you feel confortable doing. As Michal pointed out some pople even in North America come to prat and do not wish to socialize whatsoever. There are such people in my parish and I respect their decision.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2013, 06:28:02 PM »
::) It must be a full moon out tonight.

I don't think anyone is claiming they are better than anyone else.  It is just a matter of common human decency that you are kind to those who are around you.  I don't think you have to be American to believe that.  It kind of falls in the whole "love your neighbor as yourself" genre.

Yes, it was a full moon yesterday. And I barely slept due to the howling wind, crickets, a bob cat eating a rabbit outside my bedroom window, banging cans, and those Mercedes speeding down the road at all hours of the night. The natives were restless.

And yes, our Lord did instruct us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER, and that means being kind in and outside of church.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 06:29:01 PM by Maria »
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2013, 07:11:34 PM »
Michal, we are replying to the OP, and not commenting on what you, your parish, or people in Poland do.

I'm saying the OP might have visited similar parish.
he says it's a "mission"on the southside of Chicago. Now I doubt there is an Eastern European or Middle Eastern 'ethnic' enclave doing "missionary" work on the southside of Chicago. The only thing I heard of would be a mission affiliated  with the University of Chicago.
I also think that underneath the OP's apprehension is, even if left unsaid, the racial thing, not an unreasonable fear imo. And we live in the same city.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2013, 07:18:03 PM »
hmm...  I feel bad about not socializing with the many ethnic Russians in my church.  They politely leave me alone but I know in my heart the "distance" is my choice not theirs.  They speak enough English for me to talk to them if I really wanted to.  Maybe after silently seeing each other eye to eye for many months more I'll move out of my comfort zone to a barely perceptible nod - which seems about right (to me). 

Perhaps I was Polish in another life?  <---  (that's a joke, I don't believe in reincarnation).
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2013, 08:52:01 PM »
Isn't a parish supposed to be a community? How can it be a community if nobody knows the name of the person next to them? And if it is a community, shouldn't it be a community that embraces all visitors?

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #46 on: May 02, 2013, 09:06:36 PM »
Isn't a parish supposed to be a community? How can it be a community if nobody knows the name of the person next to them? And if it is a community, shouldn't it be a community that embraces all visitors?

and each other. However, that is hard if the number of congregants is too high. I have  heard of research that the most a priest can effectively minister to is about 150 souls--not families. May be the same is true for the parishioners. In any case, the OP has received some thoughtful answers, the side discussion of the Polish Situation notwithstanding.

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #47 on: May 02, 2013, 09:07:27 PM »
Isn't a parish supposed to be a community? How can it be a community if nobody knows the name of the person next to them? And if it is a community, shouldn't it be a community that embraces all visitors?

and each other. However, that is hard if the number of congregants is too high. I have  heard of research that the most a priest can effectively minister to is about 150 souls--not families. May be the same is true for the parishioners. In any case, the OP has received some thoughtful answers, the side discussion of the Polish Situation notwithstanding.
Yeah if you are looking for a tight knit community, the higher number parishioners is not for you.
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #48 on: May 02, 2013, 09:12:40 PM »
I thought tuesdayschild's suggestions were pretty good. 
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Offline NightOwl

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #49 on: May 02, 2013, 09:16:58 PM »
Isn't a parish supposed to be a community? How can it be a community if nobody knows the name of the person next to them? And if it is a community, shouldn't it be a community that embraces all visitors?

and each other. However, that is hard if the number of congregants is too high. I have  heard of research that the most a priest can effectively minister to is about 150 souls--not families. May be the same is true for the parishioners. In any case, the OP has received some thoughtful answers, the side discussion of the Polish Situation notwithstanding.

Yeah, that's sort of a conundrum. The more successfully a parish is in its missionary effort, the less cohesion there will be among its members. However, Protestants may have valuable lessons to offer in this regard, because from what I've noticed, they tend to do a very good job at welcoming visitors and maintaining close communities (this could be another conundrum, as many Protestant churches are now criticized for having become little more than "social clubs"-- I guess it's best to find a balance).

Maybe more committees are the answer? :D
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 09:19:56 PM by NightOwl »

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #50 on: May 02, 2013, 09:21:01 PM »
(this could be another conundrum, as many Protestant churches are now criticized for having become little more than "social clubs").
That holds true for Orthodox parishes as well.
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Offline NightOwl

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #51 on: May 02, 2013, 09:53:21 PM »
(this could be another conundrum, as many Protestant churches are now criticized for having become little more than "social clubs").
That holds true for Orthodox parishes as well.

Yes but more exclusionary. Protestants on the other hand have always been VERY good with social outreach. The YMCA, for example.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 09:56:03 PM by NightOwl »

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #52 on: May 02, 2013, 10:40:56 PM »
I thought tuesdayschild's suggestions were pretty good.  

I agree, our parish is pretty welcoming, but I really got to know people when I showed up for the church work days.

P.S. Welcome to the forum Africanus.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 10:43:06 PM by Maximum Bob »
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #53 on: May 02, 2013, 11:37:43 PM »
Over the past year I've attended liturgy at a local mission here on Chicago's south side. Discovering orthodoxy has literally opened my entire world admittedly. Yet I have some nagging concern. I happen to be the only African American in attendance, which did not bother at the beginning. Over the course of the my entire time there only 3 others ever even speak or talk to me. The resident Priest is very attentive and I could not ask for a better teacher, however I do feel uncomfortable and out  of place - for as said before I feel 'isolated' socially because no one, I mean no one even says much of a 'Hello, how are you'? Strange? And I do enjoy Orthodoxy as a religion/the liturgy, the icons, etc. there are no other churches in the immediate area. Am I alone in this regard? Has this happened to other Inquirers (African American or not)?

Yeah, that's common in many "ethnic" churches. Elsewhere, one tends to be smothered. Some people don't like that, either. Eventually, after you keep going, you will make connections. Sometimes it's difficult because some parishes are kind of insular--they're made up of people who are by and large related to one another somehow and they only talk to the people they know and strangers are rather invisible to them. It's just habit, not intentional.
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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #54 on: May 02, 2013, 11:55:20 PM »
I feel for you-Reminds of when I was attending my closest church, hadnt been back to church in, well-wayyyy too long. Started attending my local parish-Catholic-(another story- raised a Catholic-Baptist). Was gong quite a bit, went to coffee hour after mass one sunday ....talk started around a "fundraiser" the church was having. One of the people at my table stated that the church should not be doing another "begging thing", that every member should just give 200 bucks and be done with it instead of a fundraiser  again-and everyone at the table agreed, (most at the table were on the church council),   LOL And I said, but not everyone here has that kind of dough to do that-such as me- (who works part time-25 hours/wk to be able to take of my Mom full time  at the time who has Alzheimer's). One of the ladies looked at me and asked me if one of the churches in the inner city wouldn't be more like my liking for "people like me", and how could "you llive where we do when your base income isnt at least 80k/yr", and I do believe she was truly perplexed by my "lack" of income. It ended up being a rather interesting conversation from my perspective- Started going to the Greek orthodox church around the corner- it seemed the attitude was not much different- I'd sign up to do stuff, or attend stuff- since I wasn't a "supporter"- couldn't do it-unless I "gave" only x amount more (only working 25 hours to keep Mom taken care of, safe and pay what I need to-doesnt leave any play room for those dollars at 10/hr/net-took the job to be able to take care of my Mom, I was just an inquirer at the time-mind you).  Some, like me, know we need to be "home", find home,-and then forget that FINALLY being "home" includes warts and all with all the different "family members". Hmm, I am a  "tomboy at heart"- give me a huge chunk of  much land of a few acres or more to mow  and grow, take care of, nurture every week,  such as the church property, than to "pay" x more than what I dont have- some just don't think that is "lady like", let me be physical setting up those tables,moving those 100 pound boxes, stripping and waxing the floors, cleaning up/moving the big stuff, give me a chainsaw, mower/tractor, hammer, drill, screwdriver, shovel, dolly, cleaning out a livestock stall, etc - I can do that-love to do that type of  heavy physical labor stuff, its a stress reliever for me being in the medical field, but the "ladies" dont do that type of thing. LOL


Offline africanus

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2013, 02:43:42 AM »
Thank all of you for some valuable insight! The 'welcome' mat here was certainly more congenial than at church....but speaking to the issue I've visited a couple of more churches - one of which was exclusively 'African American' (yet their liturgy was more 'episcopal'). They too weren't over the top in welcoming me socially....more later.

Offline mike

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2013, 04:21:29 AM »
Isn't a parish supposed to be a community? How can it be a community if nobody knows the name of the person next to them?

My parish has 7 (or maybe 12) k of members.

I've visited a couple of more churches - one of which was exclusively 'African American' (yet their liturgy was more 'episcopal').

Are you sure it was an Orthodox Church.
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Offline Margarita

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #57 on: May 06, 2013, 11:10:26 PM »
You are not alone in this experience!  For this too has also been my experience within  my local Orthodox Church.  This experience has renewed my questions of the social-racial-political agenda of Christianity as a whole, my place within it (as a non white American), and most importantly do I want to align my person with the powers that be.  On the above points, I digress.  This is not the place for such a discussion.  But they are my silver lining to this experience.

However, I do understand all to well the discomfort that you describe after such treatment.  Such discomfort has left me searching for a new church, less attendance at present, and postponed chrismation (if I do continue with conversion into the church.)  I can't help but see the separation of Christ, Christianity, and the title of Christian.  Three terms that could very well merge into one, but can (and often do) remain singular.

Find a new parish?  What if better options are not available?  What does one do then?   

Offline J Michael

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #58 on: May 07, 2013, 09:35:23 AM »
You are not alone in this experience!  For this too has also been my experience within  my local Orthodox Church.  This experience has renewed my questions of the social-racial-political agenda of Christianity as a whole, my place within it (as a non white American), and most importantly do I want to align my person with the powers that be.  On the above points, I digress.  This is not the place for such a discussion.  But they are my silver lining to this experience.

However, I do understand all to well the discomfort that you describe after such treatment.  Such discomfort has left me searching for a new church, less attendance at present, and postponed chrismation (if I do continue with conversion into the church.)  I can't help but see the separation of Christ, Christianity, and the title of Christian.  Three terms that could very well merge into one, but can (and often do) remain singular.

Find a new parish?  What if better options are not available?  What does one do then?   

If no "better options" are available, if you're serious about the faith, you grin and bear it.  Over time, depending on the make up of the parish and your own personality and how much or little you participate in activities outside the actual liturgical services, you may (or may not!) begin to feel more comfortable, more at home.  Seems to me the most important thing is to pray and worship God. 

Christianity has no "social-racial-political agenda" other than the salvation of souls--all souls.  There may be individuals who claim to be Christians, or groups within "Christianity" who have such agendas, but Christianity does not.

What do you mean by "...most importantly do I want to align my person with the powers that be."?
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Offline Martyr Eugenia

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #59 on: May 07, 2013, 11:13:42 AM »

If no "better options" are available, if you're serious about the faith, you grin and bear it.  Over time, depending on the make up of the parish and your own personality and how much or little you participate in activities outside the actual liturgical services, you may (or may not!) begin to feel more comfortable, more at home.  Seems to me the most important thing is to pray and worship God

Christianity has no "social-racial-political agenda" other than the salvation of souls--all souls.  There may be individuals who claim to be Christians, or groups within "Christianity" who have such agendas, but Christianity does not.

What do you mean by "...most importantly do I want to align my person with the powers that be."?

I agree with the red highlighted statement. As for the blue highlighted statement, I wonder if you should add to that list financial status, as I agree with Mersch. I have struggled in some 'Christian' circles because although I see myself as 'rich' (I can keep a roof over my head and some sort of vehicle that runs, although not a late model, I buy my clothes at thrift stores, etc.) some 'Christians' only accept or talk to people within their same financial circle. Its the reason I dont take my handbag into church with me. It was free. It serves it purpose. I have had women look at my handbag and then at what I am wearing and simply look away and not even give me the time of day.

Mersch, you state that you are 'converting to Orthodoxy'. Is that an 'official' status? I had thought I would be a perpetual inquirer, then thought I was okay'd to elevate to catechumen, only to be shot down to inquirer again. All this said, when do they (powers that be?) assume you will be contributing to the parish? Is it when you are an 'official' member? I havent reached that part in my inquiry yet.

Offline J Michael

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #60 on: May 07, 2013, 11:46:19 AM »

If no "better options" are available, if you're serious about the faith, you grin and bear it.  Over time, depending on the make up of the parish and your own personality and how much or little you participate in activities outside the actual liturgical services, you may (or may not!) begin to feel more comfortable, more at home.  Seems to me the most important thing is to pray and worship God

Christianity has no "social-racial-political agenda" other than the salvation of souls--all souls.  There may be individuals who claim to be Christians, or groups within "Christianity" who have such agendas, but Christianity does not.

What do you mean by "...most importantly do I want to align my person with the powers that be."?

I agree with the red highlighted statement. As for the blue highlighted statement, I wonder if you should add to that list financial status, as I agree with Mersch. I have struggled in some 'Christian' circles because although I see myself as 'rich' (I can keep a roof over my head and some sort of vehicle that runs, although not a late model, I buy my clothes at thrift stores, etc.) some 'Christians' only accept or talk to people within their same financial circle. Its the reason I dont take my handbag into church with me. It was free. It serves it purpose. I have had women look at my handbag and then at what I am wearing and simply look away and not even give me the time of day.

Mersch, you state that you are 'converting to Orthodoxy'. Is that an 'official' status? I had thought I would be a perpetual inquirer, then thought I was okay'd to elevate to catechumen, only to be shot down to inquirer again. All this said, when do they (powers that be?) assume you will be contributing to the parish? Is it when you are an 'official' member? I havent reached that part in my inquiry yet.

Well, financial status also has nothing to do with Christianity.  Christ accepts all who accept Him.  Unfortunately, not all Christians are very Christ-like or are more or less so depending on a huge number of factors.

It occurs to me that perhaps we should not try so hard to feel at home in this world, though I do like what Mersch said about accepting family "warts and all"  ;).
"May Thy Cross, O Lord, in which I seek refuge, be for me a bridge across the great river of fire.  May I pass along it to the habitation of life." ~St. Ephraim the Syrian

"Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes you're the bug." ~ Mark Knopfler (?)

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2013, 12:19:11 PM »
I feel that I have to speak up for those of us who are somewhat socially awkward and unsure about how to approach visitors or inquirers.

ISTM that there are two types of visitors and inquirers: those who wish to just stand in the back and soak it all in, to be left alone, as it were and those who are comfortable with and want interaction with strangers.

Since I feel awkward approaching visitors, could y'all wear some sort of identifying badge -perhaps red for "leave me alone" and green for "hey there, let's get to know each other!" ;)

Of course, I haven't visited every parish in the country, and there probably are some parishes where the people judge you on what clothes you wear or what kind of purse you carry. I just haven't visited any - and I shop at Goodwill.
If they are, that's their problem - not mine, and I certainly wouldn't let it keep me away from worshipping God in His Church.
Something to consider is that we may be ascribing motives and attitudes to people that they don't have, but which may be based on our own past experiences and perhaps insecurities.
"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2013, 03:45:27 PM »
sometimes it just takes time. like 5 years ago there were not so many non-pale-to-medium-brown people in the uk coptic orthodox church (and people used to look at me like i was some kind of alien), but now i'm in a church with a few other white people, 2.5 south asians, one chinese and 2.5 central-to-south africans (one guy is mixed race south asian/central african). there are others who visit and enquire from time to time. my friends' churches are also becoming more mixed. people are getting used to looking outside their comfort zone.
remember (as katherineofdixie hints) that apparently longstanding confident member who does not speak to you may have just come back to church after a bad life experience and be battling anxiety. make sure you hang around at least half an hour after the service ends, and actually say 'hello' to someone (smiley body language is not always enough to encourage others to approach you).

it's hard being the first person of your social / ethnic group in your church, but if you stick it out, you can soon welcome the second / third etc. etc.
 :)

top tip: loving people and having the social skills to demonstrate that love are often two different things!
 ;)

Offline Punch

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2013, 06:41:37 PM »
I don't think you have to be American to believe that.  It kind of falls in the whole "love your neighbor as yourself" genre.

No, you don't have to be American.  It does, however, help if you are a Christian.  John 13:35.
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline mersch

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #64 on: May 08, 2013, 12:07:29 AM »


Mersch, you state that you are 'converting to Orthodoxy'. Is that an 'official' status? I had thought I would be a perpetual inquirer, then thought I was okay'd to elevate to catechumen, only to be shot down to inquirer again. All this said, when do they (powers that be?) assume you will be contributing to the parish? Is it when you are an 'official' member? I havent reached that part in my inquiry yet.
[/quote].

 :)   Over the last 2 years, Mom's Alzheimer's has gradually increased to affect how she can do things. 2 years ago she could still drive in her neighborhood to get to Church (Catholic),  go to her store to get what was on her list, with minimal help from me,1//2 years ago- forget driving, and then needing someone around around 100 percent of the time so can be safe, healhty and clean. So, I would take her to her church-Catholic. It became increasingly hard to get her to her usual time she has always gone, and trying to get back, have someone dependable to keep an eye on her to make it to DL, cat nap to catch up on sleep missed from the previous week of up most nights, before work on Monday, Unfortunately, we had to make a decision to place her in a facility in April, due to increasing  aggression/paranoid episodes- starting in the evening (sundowners type syndrome) and lasting most of the night with out her ( or I getting much if any sleep). So, I've been taking Mom to Mass rather than not having my Mom not being able to attend her own Church from  birth- couldnt do that to Mom. Mass is one of the very rare places/times  where her alzheimers does not seem so apparent the past year and a half. Plus some other issues within the family. I dont think God will hold it against me. I did take her vespers a few times about a year ago, she kept asking over and over and over and over what kind of stange thing was I putting her in- it was "dangerous" (I know that was the alzheimers talking, NOT my Mom, (and what time does Vespers usually begin- around sundown/early evening? LOL).  Take her still to a Mass today, she does it like she breathes-without having to think, away from church, she has a hard time saying the Lords prayer or the rosary, making the sign of the cross - but at Mass, doesnt skip a beat, and in a good strong voice.  So since we (sister and I), had to place her, I've been getting her house ready to put on the market,  looking for a place for me, and either a part time job in addition to my regular part time job (which I took to be able to take care of her full time 1 1/2 years ago) or a full time one to replace my part time one-which I really like.  So, thats why my status is the way it is.( I'm just extremelly thankful that the issues I do have with getting to DL are not nearly as bad/awful as  others who cant make it, or get killed for going or their beliefs in Christ-regardless of denomination.)

Offline xariskai

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #65 on: May 08, 2013, 03:12:45 AM »
:)   Over the last 2 years, Mom's Alzheimer's has gradually increased to affect how she can do things. 2 years ago she could still drive in her neighborhood to get to Church (Catholic),  go to her store to get what was on her list, with minimal help from me,1//2 years ago- forget driving, and then needing someone around around 100 percent of the time so can be safe, healhty and clean. So, I would take her to her church-Catholic. It became increasingly hard to get her to her usual time she has always gone, and trying to get back, have someone dependable to keep an eye on her to make it to DL, cat nap to catch up on sleep missed from the previous week of up most nights, before work on Monday, Unfortunately, we had to make a decision to place her in a facility in April, due to increasing  aggression/paranoid episodes- starting in the evening (sundowners type syndrome) and lasting most of the night with out her ( or I getting much if any sleep). So, I've been taking Mom to Mass rather than not having my Mom not being able to attend her own Church from  birth- couldnt do that to Mom. Mass is one of the very rare places/times  where her alzheimers does not seem so apparent the past year and a half. Plus some other issues within the family. I dont think God will hold it against me. I did take her vespers a few times about a year ago, she kept asking over and over and over and over what kind of stange thing was I putting her in- it was "dangerous" (I know that was the alzheimers talking, NOT my Mom, (and what time does Vespers usually begin- around sundown/early evening? LOL).  Take her still to a Mass today, she does it like she breathes-without having to think, away from church, she has a hard time saying the Lords prayer or the rosary, making the sign of the cross - but at Mass, doesnt skip a beat, and in a good strong voice.  So since we (sister and I), had to place her, I've been getting her house ready to put on the market,  looking for a place for me, and either a part time job in addition to my regular part time job (which I took to be able to take care of her full time 1 1/2 years ago) or a full time one to replace my part time one-which I really like.  So, thats why my status is the way it is.( I'm just extremelly thankful that the issues I do have with getting to DL are not nearly as bad/awful as  others who cant make it, or get killed for going or their beliefs in Christ-regardless of denomination.)
*Prayers and respect*

Offline john_mo

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #66 on: May 08, 2013, 09:53:42 AM »
The Orthodox Church in the UK I used to attend was about 40% Black out of a congregation of 80 people.  Only about 4 of them were from the Caribbean diaspora (mostly ex-Rastafarians, and the rest were from Eritrea.  I rarely spoke with the Eritreans, but I developed relationships with the diaspora Caribbean Jamaicans.  

I guess it just depends.

I am sorry to hear about your situation.  It doesn't sound right.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 09:54:17 AM by john_mo »
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Offline Cyrillic

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #67 on: May 08, 2013, 10:07:50 AM »

What you don't seem to understand, or are unwilling to understand, is that in the States things are done differently.  We DO greet each other, and share kisses, etc.

Therefore, if Joe is sitting in the corner and he sees everyone else speaking to every other person, but him....it's wrong.  If you take the time to say hello to one person, you ought to at least smile at the person standing next to them.

Silly Americans...
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #68 on: May 08, 2013, 11:23:15 AM »

:)  I think that in this regard, we are doing the right thing.

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Offline J Michael

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #69 on: May 08, 2013, 01:32:25 PM »
:)   Over the last 2 years, Mom's Alzheimer's has gradually increased to affect how she can do things. 2 years ago she could still drive in her neighborhood to get to Church (Catholic),  go to her store to get what was on her list, with minimal help from me,1//2 years ago- forget driving, and then needing someone around around 100 percent of the time so can be safe, healhty and clean. So, I would take her to her church-Catholic. It became increasingly hard to get her to her usual time she has always gone, and trying to get back, have someone dependable to keep an eye on her to make it to DL, cat nap to catch up on sleep missed from the previous week of up most nights, before work on Monday, Unfortunately, we had to make a decision to place her in a facility in April, due to increasing  aggression/paranoid episodes- starting in the evening (sundowners type syndrome) and lasting most of the night with out her ( or I getting much if any sleep). So, I've been taking Mom to Mass rather than not having my Mom not being able to attend her own Church from  birth- couldnt do that to Mom. Mass is one of the very rare places/times  where her alzheimers does not seem so apparent the past year and a half. Plus some other issues within the family. I dont think God will hold it against me. I did take her vespers a few times about a year ago, she kept asking over and over and over and over what kind of stange thing was I putting her in- it was "dangerous" (I know that was the alzheimers talking, NOT my Mom, (and what time does Vespers usually begin- around sundown/early evening? LOL).  Take her still to a Mass today, she does it like she breathes-without having to think, away from church, she has a hard time saying the Lords prayer or the rosary, making the sign of the cross - but at Mass, doesnt skip a beat, and in a good strong voice.  So since we (sister and I), had to place her, I've been getting her house ready to put on the market,  looking for a place for me, and either a part time job in addition to my regular part time job (which I took to be able to take care of her full time 1 1/2 years ago) or a full time one to replace my part time one-which I really like.  So, thats why my status is the way it is.( I'm just extremelly thankful that the issues I do have with getting to DL are not nearly as bad/awful as  others who cant make it, or get killed for going or their beliefs in Christ-regardless of denomination.)
*Prayers and respect*

+1
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"Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes you're the bug." ~ Mark Knopfler (?)

Offline africanus

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #70 on: May 09, 2013, 01:07:25 AM »
Katherineofdixie says....."I feel that I have to speak up for those of us who are somewhat socially awkward and unsure about how to approach visitors or inquirers.ISTM that there are two types of visitors and inquirers: those who wish to just stand in the back and soak it all in, to be left alone, as it were and those who are comfortable with and want interaction with strangers.Since I feel awkward approaching visitors, could y'all wear some sort of identifying badge -perhaps red for "leave me alone" and green for "hey there, let's get to know each other"

Brutal.....sigh

Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #71 on: May 09, 2013, 01:22:50 AM »
People who stick to their ethnic communities probably don't have much experience interacting with other ethnicities, including African-Americans. I doubt that anyone holds any serious racial prejudices, but unfortunately, they might believe in certain stereotypes, out of their own ignorance. I would recommend that you take the initiative here and speak with the parish members. It's sad to say, but it can be hard for people to approach someone who looks different than anyone they've spoken to before. Once they realize that you're a breathing human being just like everybody else, they'll lower their defenses significantly, and probably grow warmer towards you.

I wish I didn't have to give the above advice, but sadly, we still live in a racial world and not everyone goes outside of their own groups for day-to-day affairs.

Always remember that to be a follower of Christ has nothing to do with one's skin color, or social status. What you're battling with here is the result of a fallen humanity, not of the Christian ideal. God bless, my brother.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 01:24:47 AM by lovesupreme »

Offline Феофан

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #72 on: May 09, 2013, 12:03:37 PM »
Katherineofdixie says....."I feel that I have to speak up for those of us who are somewhat socially awkward and unsure about how to approach visitors or inquirers.ISTM that there are two types of visitors and inquirers: those who wish to just stand in the back and soak it all in, to be left alone, as it were and those who are comfortable with and want interaction with strangers.Since I feel awkward approaching visitors, could y'all wear some sort of identifying badge -perhaps red for "leave me alone" and green for "hey there, let's get to know each other"

Brutal.....sigh

The red and green reminded me of our Paschal Vespers service and following feast which was attended by a newcomer who was so disarmingly beautiful (dare I say sexy) that I felt obliged to not even look at her a second time.  Her darker skin contrasted strikingly with a lime green skin tight, low cut, mini-dress.  I overheard her telling an old Russian guy at her table that she was a Pentecostal christian and that it "seemed different".  He paused and agreed ... "yes very different".

Even with color coding, we poor souls could still be confused and locked up in our own misunderstandings! 

Have pity on those of us who can't be open and honest and kind to you right away, we might need you to be open and honest and kind to us first and we might need that for a good long time!  The only way people can ever get over being racist is to have a real friend who is also of a different race and you might be their last best chance.   Of course it's asking an awful lot from you to return love & understanding to those who show disdain or indifference to you but if you do it, you might just save everybody's soul in the process!

All that aside... there might be other churches in your area that are more welcoming!  :angel:
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Offline kelly

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Re: Uncomfortable Inquirer
« Reply #73 on: February 03, 2014, 09:29:58 AM »
I understand how you feel. Unfortunately I think some parishes are just not welcoming to visitors, especially smaller parishes - it's like they have no idea what to do when a visitor arrives. I was attending a church in Baltimore for a while and not once did anyone say hello to me except for the priest. "Hello" - silent glare. Smile - silent glare. Needless to say, I refuse to go there anymore and if it makes you feel as bad as it did me, maybe another parish would be a good idea. Sorry you have to go through this.
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