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Author Topic: Greek Orthodox Church  (Read 13592 times) Average Rating: 0
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irene
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« on: February 02, 2005, 12:50:16 PM »

Hi there!
I have been going to services at a Greek Orthodox Church, and besides liking it, I also am happy it is a very active church in the community, they offer courses and study groups, etc....My feet are a bit tired from standing from Orthos through to the end, but I imagine that takes some time to get used to------ Cheesy

I was just wondering what people's experiences have been in the Greek Orthodox Church, if they don't have any Greek Heritage at all.   I probably seem stuck on this ethnic subject.    Is it like what are you doing here, if you aren't Greek?  Not rude like that, but do people even care?   I am going because of other reasons, and I don't know if my not being one ounce of Greek matters or not. :dunno:

Thank you!
Irene   
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2005, 12:57:43 PM »

Sigh....my feelings on the Greek Church are not good.

I'm trying to think of ways to say this without offending anyone on this forum.

Granted, I've only been to a limited number of Greek Churches (I'm sure they probably vary from parish to parish), but the one word that comes to mind is "dead".  I think the Antiochian and Eastern European varieties have much more sincerity and livelihood.

Once again, for anyone who goes to a lively and sincere Greek church (which would obviously be one I have not been to), correct my false assumption.
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2005, 01:14:02 PM »

I have never had anything but excellent experiences in Greek Orthodox parishes--whether Archdiocese parishes or Old Calendarist Greek parishes.  The people have always been nice and if the community is mostly Greek, they are usually quite satisfied that a "gringo" like me takes an interest.

I don't like that in many areas where there is a need for English there are parishes that are still all-Greek, but on the other hand, in many areas there are still large numbers of first and second generation immigrants for whom the ability to have liturgy iin Greek is a necessity, really.

The parish I often went to in Raleigh, NC, is full of converts, having what I believe is the optimum mix: 50/50 cradle/convert and is quite active.

Now, there are Greek parishes that are dead as there are parishes of all jurisdicitons that are dead.  Maybe the Greek Archdiocese has more of those parishes proportionally? I don't know. Or maybe the fact that they are the largest also means they have the greatest chance at being "dead"?  After all, a small parish with close-knit convert families is usually close--but sometimes too close!

Let me bring up an example. There is another parish I know where all the people are converts and it is like going into a cult environment. Everyone acts the same, dresses the same, has the same attitudes, etc.  It is scary and you feel just as much of an outsider there.  Our esteemed Administrator Robert, who I am sure agrees with me on this one parish, when he used to be a Byzantine/Greek Catholic visited and when asked what he was said, "Byzantine Catholic" they replied, "ACK! UNIATE!" and left his presence! This really happened!

Also, you might be surprised at how some of the Antiochian parishes are in the Midwest--note how I said SOME though, everyone! I went to one that had an organ and no one even sang "Lord have mercy."  I thought I was in a theatre.

Anyway, I think all jurisdictions have this problem and the solution is to be able to maintain the cultural tradition of Orthodoxy (which is shared by all Orthodox of all national churches--to figure out what exactly I mean, visit a variety of ethnic parishes and notice what they all have in common) and while keeping that, appeal to Americans and converts.  Keep the flow of fresh blood coming in, while not forgetting the roots. It's hard but it can be done.

Anastasios

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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2005, 01:39:24 PM »

I must say, our Greek brothers and sisters were quite kind to us during our church's hardship here in South Florida.  St. Mark's Greek Orthodox Church of Boca Raton allowed us to use their facilities during a period in which our church building was rendered unusable by a fire.  Ironic how the Greek church was named after St. Mark (our church St. Mary).  Thank God, and His servant Fr. James of the Greek Orthodox for his kindness.
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2005, 08:05:34 PM »

I've had mixed experiences with Greeks in NY.  I visited a local GOA parish several times, but the only time anyone was welcoming was because he was the husband of someone I knew online, and once he started to talk to me, others welcomed me.  It was like my visit was "seconded" by a member, and so I was deemed OK.  Even the priest didn't have much to say other than "Good morning, thanks for coming" while giving me antidoron.  When I was at school upstate, the local Greek parish was much the same.  The only reason anyone talked to me was because I knew them from online (a member of the site goes to that parish, and he's a convert), or because I was with someone who knew someone in the parish. 

The last time I was at St. Irene's (the stavropeghial EP monastery in Astoria), Met. Paisios yelled at me in Greek.  They were blessing water for the feast outside in a big font, and afterwards, he wanted the font moved off to the side, so he enlisted the help of some Greek guys, and me.  All instructions were given in Greek, with no English at all.  I figured it wouldn't be so bad, I would just follow everyone else's lead.  So I moved it in the direction the others were moving it, and he stops them, and looks me dead in the eye and yells in my direction, in Greek, presumably for not moving it where he said, in Greek, to move it.  Finally, "we" got it right, but I was annoyed.  Then some lady made me pour holy water in my hair (I thought if I didn't, she'd get offended, like their holy water wasn't good enough for me), and I was dripping throughout Great Vespers.  What a weird day.

On the other hand, my experiences at St. Markella's, the Matthewite church in Astoria, and the GOC monastery in upstate NY have been without incident and even very positive.  They made me feel welcome, even though they regarded me as a heretic. 

I don't mention jurisdictions to make one look worse than the other, but only for factual purposes (a lot of these same things could be said about Indians).  All were Greeks, but their way of dealing with non-Greeks seemed different.  I suppose if the individual parish has the right attitude (as some of the Greek parishes of people on this site seem to have), it will be just as welcoming as any other parish. 

One thing is certain: when you're at their festival, EVERYONE is welcoming.   
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2005, 08:09:01 PM »

Quote
One thing is certain: when you're at their festival, EVERYONE is welcoming.

Isn't that the truth!  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2005, 08:20:14 PM »

They made me feel welcome, even though they regarded me as a heretic.

Well Mor, not everyone can be as accomodating as those in the ROAC who let you "heretics" participate in their services!  laugh
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2005, 08:20:32 PM »

The last time I was at St. Irene's (the stavropeghial EP monastery in Astoria), Met. Paisios yelled at me in Greek.

Yeah, getting "re-ordained"* by the EP when you are already an Orthodox bishop will do that to you Wink

Anastasios

*(What's funny is if you actually look at the May 1998 issue of The Voice of Orthodoxy they repeatedly use the term "re"ordination over and over again; it's like it's lost on them that you can only get ordained once!)
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2005, 08:30:04 PM »

Irene,

My experience with the Greek Church (ie. ethnically Greek parishes) is very limited. Limited to one weekend, as a matter of fact. I visited a GOA monastery in Ohio, and they were hospitable. There was some discernable tension, but that was not directly because of a non-Greek's (my) presence. Actually, the one monk was quite open in talking about Greek and Greek-American culture (as it existed in the past few generations) and how it differs from American culture, and how Greeks from older generations sometimes have difficulties adapting to their children becoming more Americanized. This was something of a, shall we say, less traditional monastery. At one point, an icon had to be delivered to a, shall we say, more traditional GOA monastery, and I was invited to go along with the monk who was going to deliver it. This second monastery was also hospitable, and so far from feeling any bad vibes, my own actions probably caused some discomfort for at least one monk*.

The GOA Church I attended on Sunday, on the other hand, was a different story. The Abbot of the (first) monastery I was visiting was also the priest at a local parish. So, this was obviously the parish I attended for Liturgy. I got quite a few looks from people, sort of like a "You know you're not Greek, right?" type of look, hehe. The fact that much of the service was in Greek didn't help matters I guess. I was so uncomfortable that I ended up leaving even before communion was given, using the fact that I had a 4 hour drive home as an excuse (in my own mind).


* There was a monk who was sent to make sure I was ok, and to greet me (a second time). He introduced himself as "Father so and so," and not wanting to do anything wrong, I asked for his blessing. He said he was "Father," after all! Smiley He half blessed me, and then sort of awkwardly tried to excuse himself, saying that he really shouldn't be giving blessings. I don't know if I was more embarrassed or he was.
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2005, 08:50:19 PM »



Well Mor, not everyone can be as accomodating as those in the ROAC who let you "heretics" participate in their services!  laugh

This is true.  Maybe next time I will tell them I am Metropolitan Valentin's official American "Monophysite" Mitre-bearer, and then they will show me some respect.  Tongue
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2005, 12:06:06 AM »

Hi everyone, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

At this point i feel it may not be for me since I'm not Greek.   I'm sure they would be welcoming, and very kind, but the bottom line is I'm not Greek.   At this stage anyway, imo, they would be wondering why would you come here if you aren't Greek?   I could probably just make up my mind to get steeped in the culture, learn the language, participate, etc...on the other hand, it also seems like the way is birthright, and I will never be Greek, so maybe it's not where I'm meant to be.

The service was beautiful, and I am glad that we can walk into a service like we did,  and feel God's presence.   I'm not Orthodox yet, but feel it anyway.   

So, will keep looking.
Irene Shocked) :confused:     
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2005, 12:07:20 AM »

didn't mean to put the shocked face!
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2005, 12:15:20 AM »

Irene,

Are there any other non-Greek people there?

Anastasios
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2005, 12:24:09 AM »

Irene,

I would only say that if you are comfortable there and made to feel welcome at the Greek Church, then stick with it. Don't base your opinion about the Greek Church based upon other's experiences, be they negative or not. The faith is the same whether the church is Antiochian, Ukrainian, Greek or OCA, etc.

Try visiting some other Orthodox churches in your area (if they are others) and check them out before you make your final decision - you may just find another church that is a "better fit" or find that it's best for you to stay where you're at. In the meantime, pray and ask for God's guidance.

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2005, 04:40:02 AM »

Irene,

I, too, have had mixed experiences with Greek parishes. I used to worship at a Greek church in Reading (southern England) and I generally found the people there to be warm and welcoming. They did seem inordinately proud of their non-Greek converts (me and the deacon) and truly welcomed me into the community, helping me out as much as they could with things like the language (the liturgy was mostly in Greek).

But (there's always a but), they did also tend to put local Greek customs ahead of the Orthodox faith in a way that I've never seen happen in the Romanian church I converted into. For instance, in Romania it is very common for a child to be baptised with a double name say, Traian-Ioan (Trajan-John), where only one of the names is a saint's name. My wife and I wanted to baptise our son William-Stefan (William's a family name on my side - though as Wilhelm) but the priest refused point blank to use William because Greeks only baptise with saints' names. That annoyed the whole family including my son's godmother who's also Romanian. I've actually found out since that there's a pre-Schism St. William anyway and the Russian priest who told me of him said that he'd heard this sort of story many times, so I don't think it was an isolated case.

I also have to say that it did grate on me that he always called me Iacobos when I received the Eucharist - my name is James, which surely is perfectly adequate when said in English?

I hope you have better experiences of the Greek church than I had. Neither I nor my wife would worship regularly at one after our experiences in Reading as we just got sick of the blatant Hellenism. I realise that this sort of ethnic parochialism is not true of every Greek parish, but once bitten twice shy as they say.

James
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2005, 07:37:37 AM »

I had similar hesitations at first, for reasons already mentioned by some.

Holy Archangels' Monastery--the Athonite monastery under the GOAA in Kendalia, TX--changed that.  Yeah, the entire thing (and I mean EVERY...THING) was in Greek, so I tried to follow as best I could.  But it was heavenly.

Also, St. John Prodromos Church in Amarillo...very nice; though I guess you could attribute that to the fact that it's got a convert priest/presbytera, several converts in an already VERY small parish.

Anyway, they're just like everybody else; the good w/ the bad.
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2005, 07:56:28 AM »

Hi everyone!

I think James hit the nail on the head----do Greek Customs surface more often,  whereby the convert, afterawhile, may feel a bit out of place?   Not that it is done intentionally, but you just have that reminder deep inside.

I think its awesome to be taught by others their languages, cultures, etc...but since that is not my heritage, I was just curious if it can become a bit too much afterawhile, and the Orthodoxy becomes less.   Not to the Greeks, (i"m not picking on them, please!!! I think they are wonderful!), but to the convert.

Irene  :- 
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2005, 08:46:31 AM »

Irene,

I don't think that it's Greek customs themselves that made me uncomfortable - some of them were, in fact, very nice and even comforting - it was the refusal to accept other, perfectly Orthodox, national customs as equally valid to their own and seeming to emphasise their Greekness over their Orthodoxy.

My own ethnic background is not Romanian (I'm German/Czech) and, as I wasn't brought up Orthodox, I didn't have any customs that clashed with those of the Romanian church. That's fine and, in your case I'd imagine you'd be in a similar postion with the Greek church. The problem I found was that I picked up local customs (understandably) from the Romanian church only to find that they were looked down on by the Greeks. I know from my godmother (who's Romanian but married a Greek Cypriot) that she's experienced similar problems whilst her husband has not been treated in a corresponding manner in Romania.

I'm sure that not all Greek parishes are like this and I'm sure you could also find similar ethnic ghettos in some other immigrant groups, so it would probably be best just to look for a parish (in whichever jurisdiction) where you feel comfortable. I wish you all the best and hope your experience of the Greek church is better than mine.

James
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2005, 08:01:19 PM »

I started going to the Greek Church in my area because my biology teacher (who was Greek) went there and suggested it to my dad at a conference and I went with him one time and then I started going on my own (he doesn't like church). I like it, though it is an ethnic church (almost everyone is Greek) I was able to meet some old Arabic people from our area, some of the only ones which was nice. And they are very welcoming. They don't seem to care (if they did they don't say anything) that I am not Greek. A lto of the people are younger and very helpful to aiding me in learning more about the faith and the church.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2005, 08:29:55 PM »

Greek churches are just like any other.  In all jurisdictions you have ethnic and "American" parishes.  There are friendly people and people that will litterally insult you for not being Greek.  I would particularly recomend visiting a Greek monastery in the United States as they genuniely carry the ancient spirit of Christian monasticism IME.  http://stanthonysmonastery.org/Map.htm

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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2005, 08:43:46 PM »

Also I would like to add that it would be beneficial for any convert to be immersed in the Tradition of the Greek Church.  The State Church of Greece has had a wealth of monastic elders and spiritual fathers in recent times. 

This book is a good sampling of their spirituality and teachings: Precious Vessels of the Holy Sprirt by Andrew Middleton.

Anything by or about Fr. Philotheos, Fr. Porphyrios, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ephraim (the one in America), Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, Elder Paisos or Metr. Hierotheos Vlachos is very beneficial reading for the soul. 
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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2005, 03:05:44 AM »

...carry the ancient spirit of Christian monasticism IME.

In My Experience?
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« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2005, 03:18:40 AM »

yes, IME = in my experience. 
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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2005, 08:22:04 AM »

GM!

Are you of Greek Heritage?

Irene
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« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2005, 10:08:09 AM »

I absolutely love my GO church here..the Greek community has been in this city a very long time but i dont feel too much an outsider, I may not understand greek duing the casual conversation, but that is ok, i'll pick it up. Wink There are plenty of people who married in or converted for whatever reason, so it isn't like i am the only non-Greek. Everyone has been so welcoming, out new priest is fantastic, he gagues the composition of the congregation and adjusts his greek to english ratio accordingly. (our old one did too) I just love it. To me it isn't any different learning Hebrew and hearing Yiddish when my parents took me to Shul on a regular basis. Anyway, i have to agree that you are gong to find "dead" congregations mno mater where you go, or what denomination. Keep searching, you may have to drive, but it could be worth it if you find a great place to go.

~Aurelia
ps, not a drop of Greek that i know of, but then you never know! Nothing after the 1100's anyway, on the one side.
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« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2005, 01:22:58 PM »

That's very encouraging, Aurelia.  I have an appt. in a week or two with the Priest at the GO.   I am new to Orthodoxy, and wanted to get some feedback about the ethnic churches.    I plan on asking the GO Priest the same questions asked here, but also didn't want to feel uncomfortable doing so.   There is a fine line sometimes where inquiry could possibly become insult, although that was never the intention.

I have enjoyed reading all the posts, and welcome any more responses about one's experiences!!  It has been a great help.

Irene   Grin
 
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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2005, 09:17:26 PM »

Hi,
Sorry to respond so late to your post. My wife and I are recent converts to OC and we are members of a local Greek Othodox  parish.  One of the reasons we are Othodox is because of Father Pat, our Priest.  He was very patient with us and never failed to answer our questions and most certainly never pushed Greek ethinicity on us. I am of Irish background and my wife is German -Polish.  Sure we will never be Greek, but that's not why we became Orthodox.

The Devine Liturgy in Greek still stirs my soul-I have never had such an experience.

Give it time and let God sort it out.

We love our Parish
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« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2005, 08:49:06 AM »

Hi,

I found your post very encouraging.   Passed the last two Sundays without going, and now I feel more encouraged to go this next Sunday.

I really think someday this won't be an issue, 'will look back on it and wonder why it was, but for now, it is still new, and very different.
So, am determined now to give it a chance  (since that is where I believe in my heart I want to be).

Am so glad these boards are here!

Irene   less  :confused:
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« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2005, 12:20:22 AM »

Just a point of clarification, in response to the quote below (even though is relatively unimportant to the main thrust of this thread):


For instance, in Romania it is very common for a child to be baptised with a double name say, Traian-Ioan (Trajan-John), where only one of the names is a saint's name. My wife and I wanted to baptise our son William-Stefan (William's a family name on my side - though as Wilhelm) but the priest refused point blank to use William because Greeks only baptise with saints' names. That annoyed the whole family including my son's godmother who's also Romanian.


While this may have appeared to be a "Greek" custom, it is actually universal in nature. I recall listening to a sermon by Elder Cleopa of Sihastria, in which he castigates his fellow Romanians for baptizing with the "double name," since, as he says, we have only one name -- and that is our Christian name. Do we receive Holy Communion with a pagan name (he asks)? And so forth...you get the point. He also scolds the people for thinking that there are two (or more!) nash, since, as he says, the Church has always taught that there is only one sponsor of the marriage (who may happen to be married). Other prominent Romanian priests have told me likewise, e.g. Fr. Roman Braga and Elder Sofian.

St Nikodemos makes all of these points in his commentaries on the relevant canons, which confirm this tradition as an important point of liturgical practice (both in terms of proper order and theology).

It is true that Greeks can be sticklers for the customs of the Great Church or the State Church of Greece, but that is not always an indication of phyletism or an outright condemnation of theologically legitimate customs in other Churches, since there are often good theological reasons to follow one's own customs and Typikon closely -- not to mention it is the responsibility of the priest to do so, since such is his Bishop's mandate.
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« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2005, 09:00:19 PM »

If I may......

Can't tell you how many people in church seem puzzled that I am interested in becoming a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and I don't have:
 1) Greek heritage
 2) am not converting due to marriage

So, as much as you all might say, just go if you want,.....I am getting a bit down about it.   My reason for wanting to go is because I believe in the Orthodox Church.   People seemed a little surprised that  is the main reason or something.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share this scenario......again.   Thinking of giving up.

Irene 
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« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2005, 09:26:47 PM »


Try another Orthodox jurisdiction that is not so narrow minded and ethnic orientated.  In order to be Orthodox one does not have to be Greek.

I'm a so called 'cradle Orthodox' and have experienced what you mention when I first left home and went to college.  Was thrilled because there was a Greek Orthodox Church two blocks from my dorm.  To me, my church was within walking distance.  But apparently not.  In those days there was another Orthodox Church on the other side of the city that celebrated Christmas on the 'old calendar'.  During the times I went to the Greek Church which was about four months, only two persons spoke to me.  One asked me if I was Greek and turned her back when I said no.  The other spoke to me in Greek and when I replied I only understood English shook his head and left even though I heard him speak English to others. 

I went to the 'other church' for old calendar Christmas'.  When I went to the Greek Church the next Sunday I was greeted by one of my professors who also went to the church with - "What are YOU doing here?"  I thought to myself 'What a dumb question' but replied - "I'm going to Church."  The reply I got was "Oh I thought you found your Church!"  With tears in my eyes I replied "Well, until this moment I thought I had!"  And walked out.  Not only did I never return to that parish but I left the Orthodox Church for 17 years.  Until one day God directed to a small English speaking parish where I was greeted with "Good morning!  Welcome to our parish.  Are you Orthodox or familiar with Orthodoxy?  If not, I will be glad to answer  any questions."  With that I knew I had found a home and it wasn't within the GOA!

There are many English speaking parishes in the various jurisdictions.  Find one and then you will begin to experience what true Orthodoxy is!

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« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2005, 12:36:19 AM »

Orthodoc,
Try another Orthodox jurisdiction that is not so narrow minded and ethnic orientated. In order to be Orthodox one does not have to be Greek.

I am sorry that you had a bad experience in a GOA parish, and I am assuming that it is this experience that has made you as bitter as you are towards both the Greeks and against the Oecumenical Throne. However, even in light of your unfortunate experience, I find your open proselytism for your concept of Orthodox, which in your last post was to the extent of trying to denigrate the Church of the Oecumenical Throne inorder to pull away those who faithfully attend her parishes, to be shameful and unchristian. If you want to debate the importance of Greek Culture or American Culture that is one thing, this attempt at proselytism is another (not to mention, I believe there's something in the fourm's rules that I saw somewhere that addressed this). I am certain that a few supporting words would be more helpful than your political ideology to all concerned.
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« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2005, 01:01:54 AM »

Irene,
As a convert in the GOA, I can understand where you are coming from. There were at times when I found the Culture a bit overwhelming, and there are still places that I can go where I will be ignored because I'm neither Greek nor do I speak Greek (not yet anyway). And yes, the question of why would a non-Greek want to be Greek Orthodox has been presented to me on numerous occasions, usually out of genuine curiosity.

Something that must be remembered about the GOA is that when the Greeks first came to this Country they suffered more religious persecution than most groups who came early in the 20th century, the Klan, amongst other organizations, was in full force terrorizing Greek immigrants and even lynching Greek Clergy. Thus there there was a move to Americanize the Greek Immigrants, and this would even extend to the Church, which is where many of the modern Anglicanizations came from. With this tendency to become more 'American' came a natural surprise that any American would want to embrace the Religion of the Greeks. Moreover, the fact that the Church was an integral part of their Culture and Identity is what kept many of these immigrants in the Church, though at the same time they came to regard it as something particular to their culture, making the concept of an American joining the Greek Church even stranger.

With this said, though there are a few exceptions, I have found that the Greeks have no problems with converts; provided, of course, that you show appropriate respect to their culture and heritage and do not try and undermine their customs or threaten their identity. This puzzlement of some members of the Parish as to why you want to become Orthodox, if properly discussed, could be edifying both to both of you. You can speak of the rich gems of the Orthodox Church and the great blessing that it is, hopefully giving the other person a new insight and level of appreciation for the Church they had attended since birth, and they can give you insights into Orthodoxy that cannot be learned in books. But dont give up, keep talking to people and strive to make friends, try to get involved in the Parish life and activities, not only in Catechesis classes but also in things like Philoptohos and the Greek Festival. Embrace the parish life and continue to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, and from someone who has been there I can tell you that things will get easier and more comfortable with time.
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« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2005, 01:09:00 AM »

But dont give up, keep talking to people and strive to make friends, try to get involved in the Parish life and activities, not only in Catechesis classes but also in things like Philoptohos and the Greek Festival. Embrace the parish life and continue to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, and from someone who has been there I can tell you that things will get easier and more comfortable with time.

While this line can sound corney (go to the Greek Festival) and has been derided by many as the only foot that many Greek parishes put out into society (i.e. they are never known for their philanthropy, etc, just their baklava)... But I do know someone whose conversion began with a Greek festival!  I know this is few an far between, but he went to the festival, decided to poke his head in the Church while there, and thus the ball got rolling; now he is a seminary graduate living with his wife in Australia.

I just wanted to point out that random and irrelevant story, because in my attention-deficit brain it just came up.
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« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2005, 01:43:43 AM »

...I am assuming that it is this experience that has made you as bitter as you are towards both the Greeks and against the Oecumenical Throne.

You remember what they said in school when you 'assume'? 

I'm of pretty much the same viewpoint of Orthodoc, but am probably a decade or more younger, have not had (at least as a) bad experience like him, but somewhat understand his feelings as well.  In case you haven't notice, most of us who have this 'denigrating attitude' as you call it (that's definitely an exaggeration anyway) have this attitude do to the politics the current EP is playing.  Open your mind (and more importantly your heart) a little.

irene,
Don't give up on that parish, but at the same time, visit other Orthodox parishes in your area if it is feasible.
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« Reply #35 on: April 11, 2005, 01:52:56 AM »

While this line can sound corney (go to the Greek Festival) and has been derided by many as the only foot that many Greek parishes put out into society (i.e. they are never known for their philanthropy, etc, just their baklava)... But I do know someone whose conversion began with a Greek festival!

It's not so random and irrelevant.  My (OCA) parish has a food festival every year called....Glendi! (The greek word for party.)  We hire a band that plays 'Balkan folk music' (how they advertise themselves).  We have Gyro, Greek style Lamb and Rice, Eritrean, Russian (Borscht & Piroshki), Middle-Eastern (meat pies, falafel, etc.) and Serbian (Sarma, potato salad, green beans) booths as well as bear and wine.  We have a bakery with all kinds of baked goods (a woman who is half-lebanese bakes around 30+ pans of Baklava every year) from many countries.  We also have church tours by the iconographer, who studied under Ouspensky and is frescoeing our church, with many based on an old Monastery in Turkey.  We probably average a convert a year or just from the food festival.
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« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2005, 02:29:36 AM »

I just read all your replies, thanks for the advice.

I would also like to say this to be fair to Greeks... I hope they know I'm not "picking" on them.   I have a lot of respect for their culture/heritage.   No one has been impolite, or disrespectful because I am not Greek.    It is just a question that made me feel a bit out of place, and that is something I have to work on.

Am hoping I don't give up.   Knowing of other's experiences helps at this time, thanks for the encouragement.    No one else in the church, at this time, is in the same boat, so I walk in asking God to give me the courage to do so.   It's much easier to just turn around in the parking lot, but by doing so, I may miss what God has in store.

Irene   
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« Reply #37 on: April 11, 2005, 03:01:30 AM »

I respect the Greek Orthodox Church greatly. I've learned enough Greek to even sing in their choir on occassion and I can recite the Creed and the Lord's Prayer in Greek. But I really understand the negative experience people have had with some Greek Orthodox. I think it varies from parish to parish. Some are very welcoming of everyone. Others treat you like you are a goy in the synagogue if you aren't Greek.  I have been in the OCA for the past 10 years. My parish, while it has a mixture of people for various backgrounds, and has all its services in English, has strong Russian roots.  You can ever hear people at coffee hour speaking Russian sometimes. Yet the very first time I set foot in the door (when I wasn't even Orthodox yet), I was welcomed with love, affection, genuine interest, and in many cases, three Slavic style kisses on the cheek. No one has ever made me feel inadequate or unwelcome because I'm not Russian.  Yet, 10 years before I ever visited the OCA parish, I visited the Greek Orthodox Church in town. I had read a LOT about Orthodoxy, and I met with the priest. I was ready to convert or at least become a catechumen. And guess what? This Greek Orthodox priest was nearly scandalized that I wanted to become Orthodox! Yes, sad but true. He kept telling me, "I don't understand why you want to become Orthodox. This is a GREEK Church. You are Lutheran. That's German." I persisted and told him that I was unfulfilled in the Lutheran Church, that it was too Protestant, that I wanted a Church that celebrated the Eucharist every Sunday, that maintained that the Virgin Mary was Theotokos and Ever Virgin. I thought I gave him some SOLID reasons for wanting to become Orthodox. I mentioned reading books by Kallistos Ware and being so impressed by them. I also remind this priest that Bishop Kallistos was a convert too.  It was all to no avail.  The priest told me "There are people here who would be upset by your presence. This is a GREEK church. You have to realize that. I don't want my people to accuse me of taking people in off the street. I'm not saying you can't come in, but I think it would be much better for you if you went back to your Lutheran Church and tried to find spiritual fulfillment there."  So I did. I went back to the Lutheran Church, stayed 10 more years, and got even more fed up and disillusioned with it.  Then the OCA opened a mission in my town. I attended. The priest himself was a former Lutheran. He welcomed me with open arms and all the Russians kissed me. I was home.
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« Reply #38 on: April 11, 2005, 03:05:05 AM »

What proseltism might that be? This person is longing for the Orthodox faith and is being treated as an outsider in a GOC. To tell her to go to another Orthodox Church that will accept her in a better christian manner and not discriminate against her becuse of her DNA is not proseltyzing, its common sense and good advice.

And don't assume anything. My previous story may be part of the reason I am critical but it isn't the only one. Ever hear of "By their deeds they may be known'? That's how I feel about the EP.

In response to my psots both here and elsewhere, I get many private emails. And 99% of them are for advice. Two years ago I got one from a man who was raised a Roman Catholic. In fact he became a Roman Catholic deacon. After Vatican II he became disatisfied with the RCC and after studying Orthodoxy decided to convert. Which he did in a GOC. After 4 years in that parish his treatment was so bad he returned to the RCC and he was miserable. He felt he lost everything because when he converted he lost his wife and his kids refuse to speak to him. But he still longed for Holy Orthodoxy.

Why, I don't know from hearing some of the horror stories he told me. He said that after 4 years in the parish he was still referred to as that Roman Catholic. Once when he tried to start an outreach program to the poor he was told that there are no poor Greeks. And, as for the poor non Greeks, let the Protestants and Roman Catholics take care of them! I'm not making this up! His question to me was that I obviouly love my Orthodox Catholic faith but I portray it so different than what he had experienced. He wanted my assurrance that the Orthodoxy I speak of did exist and asked where could he find it.

My honest reply was to look in a non Greek Orthodox parish (same as I'm saying here). I asked his location and found a small OCA parish in the Bulgarian Diocese reasonably close to him and put him in contact with the priest. He had since remarried a widow with children but felt guilty the marrage wasn't blessed in the church. I put him in touch with the OCA priest and they began to meet. His wife was from a fundamentalist background and was not to keen on the 'Orthodox' bit but began to go to church with him. Both were amazed by the love, warmth, and greeting they received.

So, after two years of study he was received back into the Orthodox faith and his wife baptized into the Orthodox faith (against her family's wishes) on western Easter weekend! Their marriage was also blessed and they are very happy and very much a part of the parish which gave them a Lenten dinner celebration after the service.His wife has three boys 8,11, and 13. They have now told her they also want to become Orthodox! That's whati its like to be Orthodox my friend!


In remembrance of the occassion I sent his wife a small Russian Pysanty locket with a Guardian Angel on the front and a 3 bar cross on the back. And reminded her that upon her baptism she received her own Guardian Angel which will be with her forever! I told her of the slavic tradition that some of the women observe in my own parish by wearing their minature pysanky from Pascha to Pentecost and suggested she do the same.

To the man I sent a lapel pin with a 3 bar cross and a U.S. flag joined together. I told him that it should remind him that he is now an Orthodox American. He is not an American Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Bulgarian Orthodox, etc. He is an Orthodox American because God always comes first in everything we do and say. This is something many of our Orthodox people (including non Greeks) have yet to learn.

=========

Here is how he describes the day -

The day was fantastic!!!!

We arrived about 20 minutes before Liturgy. S----- (now Sophia) was of course
beautiful in her new dress. Fr D. called the evening before to remind her
not to wear panty hose. I asked him if it were all right for me to wear
them and he laughed. But to continue...at
about 3 min until the beginning, she was swept away by her God Mother, (NONA
in greek, what is it in Slavonic?) and the ending prayer of the Acceptence
into the Catachumens was were he began, leading her into the front of the
church by her holding his stole. (This is the first adult baptism in memory
for this parish) Fr. did the prayers, the annointings, baptism,
Chrismation, Absolutions and Tonsure. I had given S----- tissues before it
began, she said she wouldn't need them but i insisted...as things progressed,
she shed more tears then water was poured. Cameras popping everywhere.
Afterwards, of course the Liturgy continued,,,oh, by the way, she was given
a white baptismal garment to wear, it was my white alb i had used in the
Roman Church, i then donated it to the church to be used for any further
adult baptisms....When it was time for Holy Communion, her godmother once
again took charge, pushing aside the unwary infants who were used to
receiving first and stormed the Chalice, showing her (Sophia) the
way....Sophia said she didnt know if she could swallow it she was so
emotional. Then I received for the first time in the Holy Orthodox Church
since 1998. How humbling and awesome it was.
After Liturgy, we went down stairs for a catered meal of meatless Rigatoni,
salads, pies, (Wine) there was a i think serbian wine that was very good, i
had but a sip as i do not normally drink anything. The entire parish came
forward to congratulate Sophia (and me) and as i had told her, she would be
one of the family and she was astounded. She got a great Ikon of St. Sophia
and we got an Ikon of the Marriage of Cana because as i had forgotten to
include, our marriage was blessed.

There are pictures and once Sophia gets them off the camera i will send
them on. On a bit of a sad note, the choir director and his wife had been
up to visit her mother near St. Tikhons the day before, Father had wanted
them back for the Baptism, which they were, and yesterday morning she was
told her mother had died that morning. But when talking to her, she said
what a blessing it was for them that they had gotten to visit with her and
she had died on a sunday morning and then witnessed and chanted at a
baptism,,,now that is faith and a good example of True Orthodox belief in
the resurrection for my wife.....

On Friday, i took Sophia to C------- just to get away for a day or so since
she works 7 days a week, many days for 12 hours, (they had closed for
Western Easter) we dropped into a little Russian store i had always wanted
to visit and everything was in russian (duh) but we bought a wonderful cake
called Izba do you know this delight? we didnt know what was in it, i fear
it is not Lenten but i tasted it....it was wonderful. we will return and
get some for our Pascha basket.

After the Liturgy, we drove to Sophia's parents house for Easter and their
only comment was..."How did your little thing go?" O' if they only knew how
not little it was and is.....

Probably much more to tell, but i have taxed your attention enough. Again,
my many thanks and couldnt think of anyone i would rather have shared this
part of the journey with than you.....
God love you....

G---
===========
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« Reply #39 on: April 11, 2005, 04:07:04 AM »

I've had IDENTICAL bigoted experiences in not one, not two, but THREE (out of four) Slavic parishes in the past three years here. I don't complain as those here  bigoted against Greeks do. You guys are doing the devil's work. You can't see your own sins in your zeal to point out those of others.

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« Reply #40 on: April 11, 2005, 05:52:16 AM »

I've always believed there is no such thing as a stupid question, if it is sincere.   I think these boards can be very helpful esp. when people have experienced things way ahead of another.   And, their experience is asked for.....

Some have had positive, some negative experiences in various areas.   IMO, the replies haven't had the intention of prostylizing.

I think the replies are there to help a person work through what they are asking.   If the intent is wrong, it is found out sooner or later anyway.

just my 2 cents!
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« Reply #41 on: April 11, 2005, 06:57:40 AM »

When my wife and I first went to an Orthodox Church service, it was in the GOA. After the service several parishioners with convert spouses came up to meet us and asked us if we were Russian (my blond wife was definitely not Greek). When I said no, we were inquirors they got the priest, when we told him that we were interested in becoming Orthodox, His answer truely surprised us,

He said :"Why on earth would you want to become Orthodox, you are not Greek!"

While this took us back quite a bit, we did continue to study in the Orthodox Church and became the first of many converts that he had taught and brought into the Orthodox Church. He had been a priest for several years and was about 50 when we met him---he had never had a couple convert, the only converts he had ever seen werwe people who had married into the Orthodox Church. Despite the shocking response he gave to our initial quirey, he was a true catichist and taught the faith well. We remember him fondly.

In Christ,
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« Reply #42 on: April 11, 2005, 07:25:12 AM »

I find it interesting, the stories of priests being shocked at one's conversion into "Greek" Orthodoxy.  It is deeply related to a subject that I was talking about with a friend and schoolmate who is about to graduate.  He is from Greece (came here in his teens) and would like to be sent to a parish with many Greeks because, as he said, "I get them."  During the course of the conversation we spoke about how we've had (in the GOA) a couple of generations of priests who basically went out into the parishes with the idea of only maintaining what was already there - an unfortunate attitude (when it comes to receiving converts to Orthodoxy), and one which is becoming incresingly problematic (because the kids are leaving - so they're not doing their jobs).  We were saying how that kind of attitude served its purpose once upon a time - but has no place now in the Church.

Unfortunately, there are still priests who think that way, and I can say that there are students here (in the distinct minority, thankfully) who still think that way.  I think it was brought up earlier - Greeks can be very clan-ish; we are even rude to people from other parts of our own country. (There are islands where if you are from one end you are considered "cultured," but if you're from the other end you are a hillbilly - and the island is only 10-15 miles long!)  This is changing in different areas of the country, thankfully; take my beloved hometown, for example: we have 4 GOA parishes in Cleveland; only one is stereotypically "Ethnic" (i.e. Greek in the liturgy, speaks Greek most of the time, and is somewhat inhospitable to visitors); the other three have all become more inviting, open, etc. (If you're ever on the East side of town, stop by Sts. Constantine and Helen!)

Thats all for now - its time to go see the bishop off to the airport.
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« Reply #43 on: April 11, 2005, 09:54:28 AM »

[You guys are doing the devil's work. You can't see your own sins in your zeal to point out those of others.]

How does one either solve a problem or change an injustice when one will not even admit it exists?  The devils work is how these people are being treated.

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« Reply #44 on: April 11, 2005, 10:28:22 AM »

How does one either solve a problem or change an injustice when one will not even admit it exists? The devils work is how these people are being treated.

As cleveland pointed out, we do acknowledge that there are some in our Archdiocese who view Orthodoxy as little more than an element of their Cultural Identity, fortunately it is less of a problem than it has been in the past (and the GOA is by no means the only Jurisdiction with faithful who think like this, as +æ-ü+¦-â-ä+++¦+++«-é pointed out, and I have even seen converts who are quite hostile to ethnic Orthodox Christians, accusing them of only being Orthodox because they were born into it and thus some how less Orthodox than these converts). However, from your post you are clearly not concerned with 'solving a problem' or 'changing an injustice,' you have not tried to understand the roots of this thought nor offer a viable solution to this difficultiy; instead you have used this difficultiy as an excuse to bash the Greeks and the Greek Orthodox Church and to try and proselytize, ignoring the great Cultural and Religious wealth that the Greeks and the Greek Orthodox Church has to offer because of your bitterness and bigotry. The fact that you were unable to enjoy what Greek Christian Culture, Customs, and Tradition have to offer does not mean that you should deny others the blessings of these experiences.
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