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Author Topic: choosing a church  (Read 1635 times) Average Rating: 0
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irene
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« on: January 22, 2005, 10:57:14 AM »

Hi,

If you have the option of choosing an Orthodox Church, (say there are a few within decent driving distance, etc...), but you are not of Greek, Russian, Albanian etc...heritage, how do you choose?  I'm Irish and Hungarian.   Does it really matter? 
Are most equal  when it comes to  helping you grow in your spiritual journey, etc....or, are some known to be better than others?
When I watch the Greek Orthodox Church service live on their website, I wonder how it is to be a member there as opposed to a Serbian or Albanian Church, etc...Are some more interested in helping converts than others (or known to be).

I hope you can understand what i'm trying to say!  Huh
  irene 
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 11:02:26 AM »

irene.....

they are all in communion with each other, so which church you choose is all a matter of preference.
However, as far as some minor issues are concerned (ecumenicalism, etc.), there are some differences.
The Greek church appears to be the most conservative and the Antiochian the most liberal as far as these sort of things go---the Russian and Eastern European being in the middle.  As far as liturgy goes, the Russian church appears to be the most conservative, whereas the Greek would be the most liberal. A lot of this is an oversimplification, but the general idea is true.

May God bless you in your search.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2005, 11:06:09 AM »

Irene,

The thing all of these churches have in common is that they will be different from parish to parish, parishioner to parishioner. The heritage doesn't matter unless it matters to the ppl who attend there. Sometimes you can find parishes that are enamored with being ethnic than being Orthodox. Hopefully the ones around you won't.

The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the Antiochian Orthodox are two of the larger groups that are "known" for being receptive to converts. But it really depends on the mindset of the individual church.

You should go to all of the churches around you a couple of times. Try to talk to a few people, and most importantly, try to talk with the priest. Ethnicity and jurisdiction don't matter; the Orthodox faith does. Find the parish that is welcoming to you and that you can make your spiritual home.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2005, 11:12:14 AM »

Also, some Local Churches tend to be more conservative and traditional, while some tend to be less so. Generally speaking, old calendar Churches tend to be more conservative (though every group has conservative parishes and less conservative ones). If you like that whole head covering, standing during the liturgy, conservative/stricter priest stuff, a more traditional church is in order. The best way is just to go and see for yourself, interact with the people and the priest, and see how things go. I hate to use the word "comfortable" when deciding on a parish, but that probably is the best word for it if understood from an Orthodox perspective: after all, they will be your extended family for many years. (of course, being "comfortable" is ok snice you already know they have right belief, worship, practice, etc.--so it's not the beliefs you are picking and choosing, but just the place where you can best work our your salvation)
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Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2005, 11:44:28 AM »

It is interesting to note that in Austin, the three churches (two Antiochian and 1 GOA) vary greatly in Practices---St Elias Antiochian is more of a PAN Orthodox Parish serving Arab, Slavic and some Greeks witha moderate (50%) group of converts--it is a parish with pews, most women do not cover their head, and a modecum of services are held on weekdays. The GOA Parish has pews, is focussed on the Greek Community, limited weekdays services, but also has the College Outreach ministry and gets a good deal of College age converts---few head coverings are noted in the parish, The other Antiochian Church, St. John the Forerunner has no pews, about 40% of the women wear head coverings, English is used solely and it membership is about 80% convert, services are held daily to include Orthros, vespers and compline.

It really goes to show that it pays to shop around. I think that in the US there will be some practice of Orthodoxy that you will be able to assimilate into as a convert depending on what level of commitment you have and what you want out the church your attend.

In Christ,
Thomas

edited for grammar and capitalization
« Last Edit: January 22, 2005, 11:46:32 AM by Thomas » Logged

Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2005, 11:54:37 AM »

Irene,

Regarding your comment about being of Irish and Hungarian extraction, it seems that a Russian or Rusyn-style liturgy is what people from a western background are often most comfortable with. But you never know. My church uses Russian-style liturgical practice, and I love it. But I also have come to really appreciate traditional Byzantine chant found in some Greek and Antiochian parishes. It transports you a bit, into a different mindset, if i may put it that way. It can be more spiritual, if done properly. I don't want to disparage the liturgical practices of other Slavs.  Maybe you'll like them too. Sorry, I think that words are inadequate to describe what I'm trying to say. I hope this mish-mash of comments gives you some kind of idea about things!

Bob
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2005, 11:59:51 AM »

Thomas,

Wow, what a variety.....often in the same parish!  You're right.  You just have to shop around, I guess.

Bob
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