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Author Topic: Jurisdictional Obedience, Shopping, and Valid Change  (Read 3300 times) Average Rating: 0
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cizinec
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« on: February 23, 2005, 06:41:42 PM »

This started from another thread about distances to church in which I was told that I don't HAVE to go to the Serbian church.

I responded, in part:

Quote
I'm pretty sure we HAVE to go to the Serbian church. If one is reasonably close, that is where we will go. When you choose your jurisdiction, it's your jurisdiction and you have an obligation. If you are born into a jurisdiction, barring some extenuating circumstances, you remain under that jurisdiction. How can you ever really live Orthodoxy if you keep jurisdiction hopping, even if unofficially?

Our priest had a Greek Orthodox person come to him after this person had a fight with the priest. The visitor wanted to come to our church and get over this other priest.

Our priest told the visitor that there are things he didn't know about the Greek traditions. He also reminded the Greek parishioner of his status as a member of the Greek church here and his responsibilties of obedience. He then told the visitor to go back to the Greek priest and confess to him the wrongs done and make peace. Then come back.

The person went back to the Greek parish, made confession and never came back to our parish. There wasn't a need to come back.

 
 
admiralnick then responded, in part:


Quote
I wasn't aware that Orthodoxy was something that was meant to be separated by Nationalistic borders (yes, you can yell at me for using that scary N word... I'll even do it again... Nationalistic!) I am Carpatho-Russian by birth, but I feel that my church and diocese are not living up to my expectations as an Orthodox Christian. If I want to get away from that, the only other choice is an orthodox church of another "jurisdiction". Is it so bad to jump jurisdictions if it means the saving of your eternal soul? Thats not for me to debate. But the important thing to remember is that as long as the churches remain separated along "jurisdictional lines" we can never truly all be "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church".

There are certainly times when a jurisdictional change is beneficial to the churches and to the individual. One of our parishoners was OCA. He found himself to be much more traditional and yet was not willing to say that the OCA was heretical, etc., as some "traditionalists" have done. He received permission to change to the Serbian jurisdiction because it follows the JC, was more traditional and does not have canonical "issues."

If a person makes a permanent move to another jurisdiction, that will alter the persons situation. Eventually that person may find themselves living their life in the manner of the other jurisdiction. Say, a Serb moving to Russia, or an Antiochian moving to place that only has a Russian church.

HOWEVER, A PERSON MUST ALWAYS REMAIN OBEDIENT TO THEIR PATRIARCH, BISHOP AND PRIEST AND A CHANGE SHOULD NOT BE MADE WITHOUT PRAYERFUL CONSIDERATION AND PERMISSION OF THE JURISDICTION BEING LEFT. I should probably make that even more bold.

What I describe is a real, valid change, not jurisdiction shopping. Shopping is when a person goes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction until they feel comfortable. That is so antithetical to Orthodoxy I don't even know where to begin. I'm going to borrow some comments I made to another thread.

"Concerning praxis, different Orthodox traditions have integrated the daily life of the believer with the Faith. By picking and choosing what one will and will not follow can and probably will affect one's ability to live according to the Faith. It's Orthodoxy in the worst American style: smorgasbord. Take a little of this and a little of that, toss in a priest and a patriarch and, voila! Orthodox!"

"But *I* chose to go to a Serbian church when there is an Antiochian, Greek and OCA church here. *I* chose it. So now that I am there I live my faith the way the Church has developed in that setting so as not to lose everything the fullness of the Tradition has to offer. The fullness of the WHOLE tradition."

This has NOTHING to do with ethnicity. It has to do with the effectiveness of praxis! I'm not a Serb, but I live my life as a Serbian Orthodox Christian, not just a generic EO. There is no such thing. I think the OCA has some serious struggles ahead of it, but those are the struggles of the people who have chosen that path! They are *not* generic EOs. They are a developing tradition. That's a hard road to hoe.

In shourt, shopping robs the Church and the believer.

If you wish to change from Carpatho-Russian to something else, do so with the direction of your priest, if at all possible. Remember that when you change jurisdictions, you will need to add the way that jurisdiction practices the faith to your private practice as well. I say "add" because I'm assuming you will retain some of the traditions you were brought into and which have become a natural part of your daily life.

Personally, I love the Carpatho-Russian praxis and chant. If there had been a Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church in Houston, we probably would have gone there since my wife's family is Eastern Slovak and we were coming from the Ruthenian Catholic Church. Once again, it's not about ethnicity, it's about continuing to live the life as an Orthodox Christian the way we best know. One of the main reasons we went to the Serbian Church was because of Her connection to the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church and the historical connections.

This may seem like a fine line between ethnicity and praxis. It may be fine, but it's still a bright line. I'll never be Serbian, but I am Serbian Orthodox.

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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2005, 07:45:01 PM »

I forget to address the "One Church" issue.

Just because we are united as One Church doesn't mean that we can be disobedient to one bishop to hop over to another. It means that, while we are obedient to our bishops and priests, we are in communion with those in other jurisdictions who are also obedient to their bishops and priests.

It is kind of like dining at a fine restaurant. Oftentimes you can ask the waiter to help you choose the right appetizer, main course and desert and a wine to go with all three. I mean three wines to go with all three.

You could randomly pick whatever from the menu yourself. Go ahead and have the Penfold's Bin 389 with the apricot and pecan torte, while the waiter knows that the desert was *designed* to go with the tawny port.

You could just go to a smorgasbord. You can pick out what you want and pay less! You get a lot less too, but who cares about quality.

The "cost" isn't money; it's in time, effort, and, at times, comfort. So take your pick, smorgasbord at "Pig Out Palace" or a dinner at La Cote Saint Jacques.

Okay, they wouldn't serve something as ignoble as Aussie wine at La Cote Saint Jacques.
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2005, 08:55:29 PM »

'Wherefore, as children of light and truth, flee from division and wicked doctrines; but where the shepherd is, there do ye as sheep follow...For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God.' -- Ignatios of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians

The issue of loyalty is not related to Nationality, Custom, or Culture as much as it is related to being under and loyal to your Bishop. In Orthodox lands, this has traditionally been and still is quite simple, a Bishop has a Geographical area, while your there, you're under him...there is no Other Bishop for you to be under or to go to every time you have a dispute with your bishop: any other Bishop who tried to Jurisdiction in this region, against the will of the synod, would be deposed. Unfortunately the situation has been complicated in the Americas; however, the principle is the same, you are under a Bishop, who is under a certain Synod, and you no more have the right to run to a different bishop or synod whenever you have a disagreement with yours than someone in Constantinople, or Antioch, or Serbia does. If one has a problem with their Bishop, they can take it before their Synod, but they have the duty to remain under their Bishop. If you move, you are under the local Bishop of the new region to which you move; though with the possible exception of not having a Church close by, I could find no reason for one to change Jurisdictions and abandon the Patriarchate/Synod whose omophorion they are under.

I speak on this with a certain level of conviction, because I am familiar with the damage this type of Schism (yes, it is far more serious than just 'Jurisdiction Hopping' or 'Church Shopping') can cause to a community. And those who engage in such Schisms are literally 'Tearing asunder the Body of Christ' in the words of St. John Chrysostom; which is, ultimately, worse than Heresy.
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2005, 09:01:45 PM »

Quite right, GIC! 

We've had some who had an issue with our priest leave and go to another bishop.  I say that because we had some folks chastised by our bishop.  They then jumped ship.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2005, 09:18:05 PM »

Before this thread gets diluted; thanks to the posters above for a good discussion, a necessary one I'm afraid in the Orthodox climate today in the USA.

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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2005, 10:37:14 PM »

I think there are several different types of "jurisdictional hopping" and that these should be differentiated before making the judgements that have been made in this thread.  Also it should be considered that America is a canonical oddity and the situation here was not envisioned by the Fathers (or at least the idea of multiple over lapping jurisdictions that are NOT in schism with eachother). 

For example my spiritual "home" as I think of it is at monastery in one jurisdiction and the parish I attend (most often) is in another (and I have a blessing from BOTH places for this situation).  Would this fall under the category of jurisidictional hopping?

I attend a ROCOR (English) mission for the most part, if I were to move to anothe city and say the only ROCOR parish used 100% Slavonic (a language that I have almost no knowledge of) I would opt to attend a parish that used more English or Greek.  I think most of other posters that go to OCA or Antiochian English usage parishes would go to a ROCOR English parish if that was the only English language church in town - but maybe I'm wrong, actually I am curious what they have to say about this. 

Basicly I think such matters are more for bishops and clergy to worry about - laymen can just go to an Orthodox Church and live the Orthodox life as best as possible and that is enough.  Also it should be considered that there are some times when leaving a particular parish are justified and that turning any one priest, bishop, or group into the sine qua non of your faith is very very dangerous. 

Where this whole discussion is more applicable IMO is the "old country" where there is one Orthodox jurisdiction in place.  Or for example the FYR of Macedonia where you have a jurisdiction independently claiming it's independence or perhaps Estonia where the MP and EP have had a turf war for territory. 
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2005, 11:53:20 PM »

I agree with Nektarios in that America is a special case. In any given town, there may be several geographical bishops from several jurisdictions. This puts one in a very different circumstance than in places where there is one bishop for an area.

My teasingly flippant comment was made because of the orig poster's comments that the drive was long, the kids were difficult, and another church was close, but not desired. Of course, when one is the choir director, the issue becomes a little different.  However, especially for services that are hard to get to sometimes (Presanctified during Lenten weekdays), if I was in the same position, and had no active reason to NOT attend the closer church (as well as the blessing of my parish priest,) I would probably go there. I agree that attending one church and developing a spiritual home is important.  What I was advocating was less jurisdiction shopping or hopping, and more practical choices when attempting to fulfill a church life.

Maybe this is my upbringing, but I have grown up in places where there was no church, or where there was no church in my family's official jurisdiction. I tend to see all Orthodox churches less in terms of who runs them and more in the light that they are all fully Orthodox and therefore my home.  When there is a choice of 3-4 RC churches within a 30 minute drive of one's home, one is free to choose which one to attend based to an extent on person taste and "fit" within a congregation.  Because I was born into my jurisdiction, rather than necessarily "choosing" one, the "choice" is not such a thing to me. Orthodox is Orthodox. 

So, if I'm lucky enough to be in an area where there is more than one parish, I'd probably attend my jurisdictions. But, if that parish doesn't use English, or is dying, or has volatile political issues, or lacks any resources for youth, and another jurisdiction's parish had all those, I would attend the other jurisdiction and not think twice about it.
This isn't hopping or shopping by doctrine or disagreement with a priest or bishop. It's attending the parish that will be spiritually benefitial to you, regardless of who runs it. I'm coming at this from a different viewpoint than those of you who "chose" a jurisdiction, but in the US, to me, that doesn't mean a whole lot.
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2005, 12:15:09 AM »

What if you move and there is no church of your jurisdiction in your area?  Excuse me, but with the price of gas, driving miles and miles to get to a church of your jurisdiction may not be possible, if there is one of your jurisdiction anywhere around.  For instance, in Montana, if you're Antiochian, ROCOR, ACROD (anything other than OCA, Greek, or Serbian) you're out of luck.  There is only 1 Serbian church in the entire state, and for some people, that would be a drive of hundreds of miles.  Should we just stay home and hold typica services?  If there is an Orthodox church of another jurisdiction in my area but not of mine, then I will attend it.  I think my priest would back me up on this one.

No city here in my state has more than one Orthodox church (in fact, there are only 6 in the entire state, and Montana is a large state). 

It seems that some of you seem to feel that the only reason people would attend a church of another jurisdiction is because they have a dispute with a bishop.  That is obviously not the case.  Maybe some of you live in areas where there are more than one Orthodox church, but please be advised that this is hardly the case in many areas.  If I am visiting a city where there is only 1 church, I will attend it no matter what the jurisdiction.  It's funny, but the Chancellor of our jurisdiction wanted the people of our mission to attend liturgy on our first Pentecost (we don't have a resident priest) and told us we could either attend the OCA church in Billings (which is 258 miles away and is of our jurisdiction) or the Serbian church in Butte, which is only 60 miles away.  We chose to go to the Serbian church in Butte. 
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2005, 12:29:29 AM »

Nektaroios and Choirfriend, I respectfully disagree.

Choirfirend,

Here are your prerequisites to attending a parish.

1.  The parish must use English
2.  The parish must not be dying
3.  The parish must not have volatile political issues
4.  The parish must not lack resources for youth
5.  There is another parish not lacking these things

Forgive me, but it appears you are looking for the parish with the least need for your work and the greatest benefit for your welfare. 

How, exactly, is this not shopping?  To my eyes that's what it looks like.

Concerning the Latin comparison, they are not changing bishops when they go to one parish over another.  They are certainly not changing patriarchs.  In most of the examples I have seen, EOs do both.

Nektarios,

You claim that such matters are the issues for bishops to work out. "(L)aymen can just go to an Orthodox Church and live the Orthodox life as best as possible and that is enough."  My response to the necessity of living a tradition is found above.  I see nothing in your bare conclusion to convince me to change my thoughts on this subject.

"Also it should be considered that there are some times when leaving a particular parish are justified and that turning any one priest, bishop, or group into the sine qua non of your faith is very very dangerous."

Indeed!  Did you read the response by greekischristian?  Would you care to share with us the quotes from the Church Fathers that cause you to reach the conclusion that following your own will is less dangerous than obedience to your bishop?  Or were the Church Fathers not wise enough to speak to our modern American condition?

It seems to me that the more dangerous approach is to pretend that we somehow have the right to overrule our bishops and priests with our personal consciences whenever we see fit.  That seems very Protestant to me.  Exactly where do you see any respected Orthodox writer say that it is wise for an individual to change their bishops when the bishops don't meet their personal requirements?  Does your jurisdiction not have a means to address problems properly?  What do you think about obedience to your bishop and priest?  Does obedience mean you follow them only when you agree?  What, then, is the role of the bishop as shepherd of a flock?  How is creating a schism in a parish where half the members of a church switch to another bishop, leaving the existing church in troubles, not creating a schism?

I'm sorry, but I don't follow your line of thought.  I see some inconveniences, but nothing that leads me to believe most are making changes because of heresies or radical abuses.
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2005, 12:37:13 AM »

katherine,

you need to re-read my original post.

"Say, a Serb moving to Russia, or an Antiochian moving to place that only has a Russian church. " 

Although poorly written, I list that as an obvious exception. 

If an Antiochian or Greek finds themselves in a place where there is only a Russian church, that's where they must go for that time.  I also mentioned that after a time, they may feel more comfortable with that tradition than the one they came from.  They also may not. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2005, 01:20:39 AM »

This is actually something I've been thinking about, as there will be three Orthodox churches, each of different jurisdictions, in the city I will live in next year... in the city I live in now, there are two churches of different jurisdictions, and I attend the OCA one (the other one is GOA.) Part of me is really drawn to the Antiochian Archdiocese and sort of wants to check out the Antiochian church first, even though I intend to be baptized in the OCA church. But if that really is a problem from an Orthodox standpoint, then I guess I won't. Well, hmm.

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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2005, 02:06:37 AM »

cizinec,

I have moved across the country and attended a lot of different jurisdictions in my short time, including attending other jurisdictions long term when there were several churches to choose from, but none of my inherited jurisdiction.
How much experience do you have with any of the afore mentioned situations? Have you experienced long years in a declining parish that refuses to do anything save itself or spread the faith or retain any of its founders' grandchildren and great-grandchildren, slowly reducing to a dozen old people who would rather see the church close than change(and it since has closed, in a city of 800,000. There was no one left to attend.)?  Have you been a member of a parish where the people actually were defaming each other and causing official police and IRS investigations of certain parishioners because of unfounded rumor? Have you spent your life seeing any and all Orthodox youth around you have nothing but a vague cultural connection to the faith because they've never heard the Liturgy in a language they could understand? Have you experienced the ignorance of those who can even hear the Liturgy in English, but have no recourse for education, bible study, and fellowship; when even the priest offers nothing when asked?  Such situations are common in American Orthodoxy.

If the answer if no, then I respectfully claim that I know what I am talking about when it comes to parishes being spiritually damaging. If I live somewhere and a particular parish is spiritually damaging, you better believe that after taking every attempt at open and honest communication with the parish priest and the bishop, I would not attend there. Of course, I would be shocked if any bishop that I know would refuse to allow someone to attend another jurisdiction.  This is not shopping because this is not hopping around because of preferences or opinions or fights. I am not advocating changing because you prefer Obikhod to Byzantine or you think the priest needs a beard or you can't get the board to budge on their desire to install pews.  This is about parishes with problems. It's very easy to be optimistic and hopeful and say that any good person would stick it out and work to make it better. I, regretfully, can say that I know that it is not always possible, probable, or profitable to try to do so. 

The issue of changing Bishops by changing parishes within the same city is a uniquely American one, and I would say that it is one that has great need of being rectified.  An eventual "American Orthodox Church" may never be attained unless common concord is happening between parishes and jurisdictions within overlapping jurisdictional dioceses. I am of the opinion that if you think "staying loyal to your jurisdiction" is more important than being part of a spiritual home where you can grow in Christ, then the ecclesiastical structure of the Church is being held in greater esteem than the Church itself. Orthodox is Orthodox.

In "choosing" a jurisdiction when you converted, did you not make some judgements based on the local options? Did you not visit several parishes, and finding one in which you felt most at home, or most supported by the priest, or was most benefitial to your family, make a judgement call  wherein you "shopped" and decided upon one over the others?

If there's anything that's true about Orthodoxy in America, it's that there is not necessarily any continuity between parishes of the same jurisdiction. The Greek Cathedral may have nothing in common with the local greek parish or the small mission church. When you shopped for a jurisdiction initially, you made a choice. My belief that, when newly encountered with several options, you make the same judgmental choice (based on individual parishes,) even if that takes you across jurisdictional lines, is no different.  You choose the place that can be home for you, whether that is between parishes within a jurisdiction or between parishes in different jurisdictions.

In choosing Orthodoxy, you did not wed yourself to the Bishop you came in under. You wed yourself to the CHURCH. Once you are in a church, you have every obligation to be obediant to the bishop who is responsible for it and for the faith.


I of course am not in favor of the idle, spurious, and dubious habit of changing churches whenever one has a conflict with anything in their current parish. The sort of flighty change from church to church, sometimes in search of the "ultraOrthodox" is not at all what I am describing. Happening to attend services in a church of a different jurisdiction when finding a new spiritual home either because of relocation or severe spiritual need is not unacceptable--when we have churches united under one bishop like all the other churches of the world, then this will be a non-issue. Rather than condemning the change in jurisdiction, let us condemn the reason WHY a parish change may be a jurisdiction change.
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2005, 11:37:26 AM »

WOW!  Did anybody actually read my original post?

I don't mean to be rude, choirfriend but I need to point out what I wrote in all-caps, bold and in italics. 

" . . . A CHANGE SHOULD NOT BE MADE WITHOUT PRAYERFUL CONSIDERATION AND PERMISSION OF THE JURISDICTION BEING LEFT."

Exactly how is that in conflict with the situation you described?

For your questions . . .

1.  "long years . . ."  I'm in my early thirties so I haven't been alive long years.  I would, therefore, defer to my spiritual father and the Church fathers on that point.

2.  "Defaming and Police . . ."  Yes.

3.  "vague cultural connection . . ."  I can't say my whole life.  Sorry.  Yes, that exists at my current parish.  There are many families who choose to raise their children that way, especially since most of them were brought up under communism.

4.  "No education . . ."  Yes, I've seen that too, but not at my parish.

5.  "Choosing jurisdictions . . ."  No, I didn't shop.  I had visited an Antiochian Church once.  My wife and I decided that, as I explained above, because of the connections with what would be my wife's traditional jurisdiction we would go to the Serbian Church.  They were in the middle of a great political battle when I got there.  But then my father was a Protestant minister in my younger years and I know what kind of nonsense goes on in all churches. 

6.  "Visiting, beneficial, etc. . . ."  No.

Your subsequent statement "when you shopped" is not an accurate portrayal of what we did. 

Our parish is struggling.  We had a group of people calling our priest's wife's employer  accusing them of theft.  In the end, the bishop corrected the situation and the people decided to leave.  Now we have a group of the "vague cultural connection" folks trying to destroy our parish.  We've been doing better financially ever since.  We haven't built a nice church yet and I spend a lot of time doing work.  We don't have a school, which the Greeks have.  The church is a bit of a hike.  We have closer churches with lots of activities for the kids and built churches with committees doing all the work for us.  I have a lot of conveniences I could use to shop around.  But I won't.  It doesn't sound, at least in your last post, that you would either.
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2005, 11:50:06 AM »

choirfiend,

You seem to want to attend a parish that lacks sinners; however, I find it most fortunate that Christ did not take this approach, lest he have spent his entire time here on Earth locked in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Furthermore, the entire concept of loyality to a Church without Loyality to a Bishop is inconsonent with Orthodox Ecclesiology, to this extent I again quote St. Ignatios of Antioch: 'The bishop in each Church presides in place of God. Let no one do any of the things which concern the Church without the bishop...Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.'

Every parish I've come across, without exception, has had people who have some problem with their Parish others with their Priest and yet others with their Bishop. Some complain their Priest/Bishop isn't spiritual enough, others complain he isn't pastoral enough, some say their parish are too Ethnic, others say it's too American, some complain of the Lack of funds, others (sometimes even the same ones...lol) complain that the Priest/Bishop is too concerned with Fundraising and monetary issues. So you will forgive me if I am not comfortable with laity trying to find the parish that is the 'best fit' for them. Ultimately, the centre of the Church's life is the Holy Eucharist: whether the Parish is rich or poor, spiritual or worldly, american or ethnic, and whether you like or dislike your priest, or whether your priest is a good man or a terrible sinner (remember the Donatist heresy) the Eucharist concecrated at the Divine Liturgy (whatever language it may be in) is Still the Body and Blood of Christ and a Unifying Element in the Church, and the Priest who celebrates stands in the place of your Bishop who Stands in the Place of Christ.

Finally let us consider the real problem with with overlaping jurisdictions...is it simply wrong because it is condemned by Canon VIII of the Great and Holy Synod? Or did the 318 most Blessed Fathers of the Synod actually have reason for such a posistion? The Orthodox Church allows for Several Patriarchates, none of which are Subject to another, we are all ultimately unifyed through Christ, and we have no problem with this arangement, so why not allow two Bishops in one City? Could they not also be in Communion as the Patriarchates are, and live in a Brotherly manner towards one another, each tending to their Flock, but having concern for all Orthodox Christians? Unfortunately human nature will not allow for this peaceful coexistance, as the Fathers wisely observed people will try to play one bishop off another, and if they dont like their bishop, enter into the service of another, creating animosity and division between the Christians in the Community, and there should be no division in the Church.

The issue we're addressing here is at the very heart of the problem of overlapping Jurisdictions, the reason overlapping Jurisdictions are Condemned is because of the problems and division that arise from this type of Schism (and yes, it is Schism, not just 'Changing Jurisdictions'). I've witnessed this first hand, with all the division, animosity, and mistrust involved on both sides, it bore witness to the true problems and results of our uncanonical situation.
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2005, 03:45:01 PM »

Calling for Orthodox unity, with diversity

By TERRY MATTINGLY
Scripps Howard News Service
23-FEB-05

Week after week, Eastern Orthodox hierarchs guide their flocks
through the incense-shrouded rites that define their ancient
faith.

Bishops also become experts at another intricate ritual _
banquets.

So Metropolitan Philip, the Antiochian Orthodox archbishop of
North America, was not surprised to be asked to make a few remarks at
the final banquet of the 2004 Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek
Orthodox Church in New York City. He was surprised when Greek
Archbishop Demetrios indicated that this was more than a polite
request.

"I reminded him that when I speak, I tell it like it is," said
Philip.

What happened next caused shock waves that reached all the way
to Istanbul, even if the archbishop's words would have seemed mild
to outsiders who could not break the Byzantine code.

Philip addressed the delegates as Americans _ not Greeks.

The Lebanese-born archbishop said it was time to challenge the
ties that bind the new world to the old. He said what he has been
saying since 1966, when he assumed control of a diocese that has grown
from 66 to 250 parishes on his watch.

Philip brought greetings from Patriarch Ignatius IV in Damascus
and his ancient church founded by Peter and Paul. Then he ventured
into an ecclesiastical minefield, offering greetings from the 1000
Antiochian Orthodox delegates who, days earlier, had voted
unanimously to approve what many Greek lay people have long
demanded _ a constitution granting them control of their own church in
North America.

The delegates burst into applause. Philip plunged on.

"I told them that if I could sum up this new constitution, I
would begin with the words, 'We the people,' " he said. "The hall
erupted again. I told them we cannot ignore this truth _ Americans are
infested with freedom. We cannot ignore that our churches are in
America and we are here to stay."

That was all Philip needed to say. Nikki Stephanopoulos, the
veteran press officer for the Greek archdiocese, described the scene
this way: "It would be accurate to say that he received an
enthusiastic response."

The response was different in Istanbul. According to the
National Herald, the Greek-American daily newspaper, Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew criticized Demetrios for allowing Philip to "spread
his propaganda in favor of establishing an autocephalous," or
independent, "Orthodox Church in America!" When Demetrios said
that Philip spoke as vice president of the Standing Council of
Canonical Bishops in the Americas, Bartholomew reportedly exclaimed: "You
should have stopped him!"

Months later, Philip continues to travel from altar to altar and
banquet to banquet, offering his own people an even blunter
version of the sermon he preached to the Greeks. This past week he was
in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The archbishop continues to tell familiar stories about life in
the Middle East. He still asks second- and third-generation Arab
children if they can speak Arabic.

But Philip said Eastern Orthodox Christians must embrace
Americans who seek ancient roots in the confusion of modern times. This
will mean learning from converts who are not afraid to use words
like "missions," "tithing" and even "evangelism." A symbolic
sign of change: One of his newly consecrated bishops once taught
biblical studies at Oral Roberts University.

Change will be difficult, but bishops must realize that they are
called to spread their faith to others, not just to "to preserve
it for ourselves," he said.

Orthodox leaders will find a way to save the traditions of their
homelands, said Philip. But the clergy and laity must realize
that their own children and grandchildren are Americans who need a
faith that is stronger than old music, familiar foods, folk dancing
and traces of an ancient language.

"I believe in Orthodox unity, with diversity," he stressed. "We
will not melt into the Greek archdiocese and the Greeks will not melt
into our archdiocese. ... But we must have a united synod that
speaks to this country. We must speak to America, not as Arabs
and Greeks and Russians and Romanians and Bulgarians. We need to
speak with one Orthodox voice on the issues that affect our country
and our country is America."


======

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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2005, 04:41:45 PM »

Let me continue with this theme from that article. I happen to live in one of the largest US cities, namely Chicago. We have 6 Bishops in the city of Chicago. There is no Carpatho-Russian Bishop in Chicago, but yet we are a Carpatho-Russian Parish. Now why would we keep loyalties to the Bishop in Pennsylvania when he comes out to visit once every 3 or so years, doesn't have any idea of what is happening at the church, and when consulted this bishop says to deal with it because he doesn't want to get involved in petty issues. I've been told by both the priest and some parishioners that all I do is cause trouble and that if I don't like the way things are, that I should leave the church. Do you still think that I should remain loyal to the Bishop and Priest when they don't assist with the issues that come up?

Now speaking of the American Orthodox Church, that is a great idea and one that I've been a proponent of for a long time. Why can't we have an American Orthodox Church? I'll tell you why. Because the hierarchs don't want it to happen. Here's the idea, The Greek diocese won't follow a "non-greek" American Patriarch. The Serbians will not follow a "Greek" patriarch, and neither will the Russians. No matter who is elected Patriarch of America, there will be a jurisdiction that doesn't want to follow them because of their nationalistic ties. Take another Chicago example because we have such an abundance of jurisdiction overlap here:

The Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Greater Chicago holds 2 annual services for all Orthodox. One is the Vesper Service for Sunday of Orthodoxy, the other is a Thanksgiving Eve night Liturgy. Any given year that this service is held you are lucky to see more than 2 hierarchs at that service. Usually Bishop Job if he isn't at parish visits and lately Bishop Vsevelod of the Ukrainian church. Where are all the other Chicago Bishops? For the Thanks Giving Eve Liturgy, it had been served for 7 years. Last year, Metropolitan Christopher said that no Serbian Priests/Faithful are allowed to attend and receive communion at this service. This comes after it was given blessings by all of the other Chicago hierarchs on separate occasions. Now why would Christopher do something like that? Is it really a bad thing to have all Orthodox of EVERY jurisdiction together to celebrate at least 2 times every year?

-Nick
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2005, 04:43:16 PM »

Cizinec,

     I have a few questions for you. 

1.      In the Serbian Church you currently attend, is the liturgy in Serbian or is it broken into portions Serbian/English?

2.      What if a person (such as yourself) were to move to a neighborhood where there was a SOC, but the Priest could ONLY speak Serbian?  Would you consider a diferent jurisdiction?

3.     What about the situation with the Macedonian Orthodox Church.  If a member from that Church wanted to change to a SOC or a Greek Church, because of the current political problems, would that constitute "shopping"?

Please don't construe these questions as being adversarial.  I'm genuinely interested to hear what you have to say, because I've often thought about these issues as they pertain to my parish.

As you know, I was born into the SOC (and am ethnically Serbian).  I speak the language, and the SOC is all I have ever known.  However, my current Priest speaks almost NO English.  I have often wondered what might happen if someone wanted to become a member of our Church but could not communicate in Serbian.

I mean, I hopeful to think nobody would ever be turned away, but I'm not entirely convinced of that.  It seems as though, most everyone in "decision making roles" with the Church, don't really speak English (certainly not as their first language).  Interesting, to say the least.
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2005, 04:48:33 PM »

Last year, Metropolitan Christopher said that no Serbian Priests/Faithful are allowed to attend and receive communion at this service. This comes after it was given blessings by all of the other Chicago hierarchs on separate occasions. Now why would Christopher do something like that? Is it really a bad thing to have all Orthodox of EVERY jurisdiction together to celebrate at least 2 times every year?

This sounds very odd to me.  Is this something that was written about at all.  If so, please send a link.  I have a (very extended) family member who is Serbian Orthodox Priest in Chicago (FR Dennis Pavichevich).  I would like to ask him about this.
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2005, 05:05:26 PM »

Quote
You claim that such matters are the issues for bishops to work out. "(L)aymen can just go to an Orthodox Church and live the Orthodox life as best as possible and that is enough." My response to the necessity of living a tradition is found above. I see nothing in your bare conclusion to convince me to change my thoughts on this subject.

The matters that I claim are for bishops to work out are the multiple overlapping jurisdictions in North America. The only people I see clamoring otherwise are actavist groups with a blatant agenda (i.e groups within the GOA that are very opposed to the Patriarch having jurisdiction over the GOA). While this mess is sorted out by bishops (and progress is coming slowly but surely - for example the Romanian Patriachate gave the OCA the care of thier flock of the diaspora).

Quote
Indeed! Did you read the response by greekischristian? Would you care to share with us the quotes from the Church Fathers that cause you to reach the conclusion that following your own will is less dangerous than obedience to your bishop? Or were the Church Fathers not wise enough to speak to our modern American condition?

There is no need to insult me and imply that I am opposed to the patristic doctrine of obedience. There is a reason I chose to have an Athonite monastic spiritual father opposed to a parish priest.

Suffice it to say that there are some bad parishes where it is probably of more spiritual harm to stay than to go. There is this trend I see from various sources to claim that one's parish priest of the nearest Orthodox parish is someone's ipso facto spiritual father. Of course we owe respect and a level of obediance to all priests, but the obedience spoken of in the fathers is to one's spiritual father. I have seen cases where staying at a particularly parish would have caused someone to leave Orthodoxy all together - there are bad parishes.

Also if you could point out a patristic quote that deals with the issue of overlapping jurisdictions, I will revise my stance - but until then I will say (and correctly) that the fathers never spoke of this type of situation.

I am not arguing against being grounded spiritually. I have my spiritual father and that will never change. I am strong proponent of lay people being odedient to a spiritual father. I think this article sums up how I feel to an extent : http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/intro_bpv.aspx
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2005, 05:30:58 PM »



This sounds very odd to me.  Is this something that was written about at all.  If so, please send a link.  I have a (very extended) family member who is Serbian Orthodox Priest in Chicago (FR Dennis Pavichevich).  I would like to ask him about this.

I've met Fr. Dennis a few times. I'm not sure it was ever written anywhere, I know it because the director of the Pan Orthodox Choir (Gordonna Trebohouvich (or some similar spelling  Tongue) ) is Serbian and she said to the choir members that serbians were forbidden via announcements made in all the churches, after we asked why alot of the serbian choir members weren't singing for that particular service. Now I'm not sure it was true or heresay, but I know that there were not many serbians there as compared to other years and those that were there did not receive communion. I do see her as a credible source though since she is quite knowledgeable about the political aspects of the church.

For the most part however, I think it was kinda hidden under the cap so to speak because obviously since I'm not attending a Serbian church I wouldn't be able to verify the announcement, but its more what I heard from a credible source.

-Nick
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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2005, 06:34:47 PM »

Southserb,

1. It depends. The responses are almost always in Slavonic. Most of the liturgy is in Slavonic. The gospel is almost always read in English as well.

2. No. My Serbian is terrible, but I could muddle through it. It would probably be good for me! Confession would be tough and I’d have to write it out the first few times.

3. Well, once again I think you have to look at my argument. You are describing a situation where there is a question of canonicity, etc. I'm describing the casual move from one jurisdiction to the next for reasons of convenience, comfort, to create discord, etc.


Nick, was that Thankgiving 2003?

Nektarios, I was not trying to be insulting. I'm merely trying to ascertain what you're saying. I may react based on what it sounds like you're saying.

One may choose one’s spiritual father. That has been, I believe, the common practice all over Orthodoxy and one’s spiritual father is often a monastic. I have never seen anyone claim that the loyalty to one’s spiritual father relieves one of the requirement of obedience to one’s bishop. The church fathers could not be more clear on that point. Many of the early epistles emphasize this fact. How do you explain St. Clement’s First Epistle if all that is required is obedience to a spiritual father?

That may not be what you are arguing, but that’s how it appears to me.

I understand the situation in the USA is different, but you still seem to miss the issue I'm trying to discuss. How does that relieve one of the responsibility of remaining obedient to the hierarchy of one's church? The fact that jurisdictions overlap is irrelevant.  If we are commanded to be obedient to our hierarchy, then we should be obedient and not continually shift about.   If you are going to maintain that Orthodoxy only requires obedience to your spiritual father, then we will agree to disagree.
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« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2005, 07:30:24 PM »

First things first. Jurisdictions are a modern innovation.  They are not part of traditional Orthodoxy. 

You give allegiiance to your bishop, if you are a priest, deacon etc. not to some Patriarch or other higher titled bishop. Again the laiety are not bound as are clergy, who represent their bishop.  So a layman may be accused of jurisdictional hopping, but it is meaningless.  For clergy this is another matter.  Some bishops don't regard readers as clergy in this respect - so a reader may leave without telling anyone. 

You don't need  a blessing from your priest to go to another church.  This  a RC innovation, brought about by centuries of exposure to the Vatican.  Your obedience to your priest is optional. If you choose not to be obedient, then the priest cannot help you spiritually, but the priest does not have canonical rigths over you.  When you are baptized and christmated into Orthodoxy (check the service book), you do not swear allegience to your bishop. You simply enter the Holy Orthodox Church.  The Russian Church took up this innovation, probably to control the masses - but spiritually it is fluff.  I do know that a certain Russian bishop makes his clergy take an oath of obedience - this is a secular custom, a hangover from the 19th century - it's not Orthodox.
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« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2005, 07:48:54 PM »

You don't need a blessing from your priest to go to another church. This a RC innovation, brought about by centuries of exposure to the Vatican. Your obedience to your priest is optional. If you choose not to be obedient, then the priest cannot help you spiritually, but the priest does not have canonical rigths over you. When you are baptized and christmated into Orthodoxy (check the service book), you do not swear allegience to your bishop. You simply enter the Holy Orthodox Church. The Russian Church took up this innovation, probably to control the masses - but spiritually it is fluff. I do know that a certain Russian bishop makes his clergy take an oath of obedience - this is a secular custom, a hangover from the 19th century - it's not Orthodox.

Observer,

      Do you have any readings on this?  Sure would like to read some work on this issue.  Thanks.
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« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2005, 07:51:24 PM »

Fluffy innovations from those dern Russkies, eh?

Please clarify the patristic sources already cited and explain why they don't say what they appear to say. That is, the believers are subject to their bishops.

You are correct that you don't need (juridically) to get the blessing of your priest to shop about for a new church, but I argue that you need (spiritually) to leave properly and for a good reason.

The believer is subject to the bishop. The bishop (perhaps a patriarch and perhaps not) appoints the priest to act in his name. Rebellion against the priest would then be . . .

Are you saying that the Vojvodinans (say, for the sake of argument) have the right to pick a bishop, tell the Serbian patriarch to go fly a kite and it's all good Orthodox ecclesiology?  What if an Orthodox bishop decides he wants to be under the Patriarch of Albania and he is a Russian living in Russia?
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« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2005, 07:53:16 PM »

3. Well, once again I think you have to look at my argument. You are describing a situation where there is a question of canonicity, etc. I'm describing the casual move from one jurisdiction to the next for reasons of convenience, comfort, to create discord, etc.

The reason why I asked the question which illicited this response because I know many in the "Macedonian" community and the Serbian community have viewed the Churches as one. I know many "modern" FYROMians would never admit this, but it is true.

I think in the context of someone who goes to a MOC, it isn't "shopping" at all if you move to the "mother" church, namely the SOC.
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« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2005, 07:59:45 PM »

I agree completely. Not all changes are created equal. I hope that's not what it sounds like I'm trying to say.

In that case, as I understand it, a group of priests and laity got together and made a "Macedonian Orthodox Church."  They were eventually received under Patriarch Pavle.  Later, for many reasons, they declared themself a patriarchate and declared their metropolitan to be a patriarch.  Many don't want to change and many do.  The government has been fairly repressive in its support of the unrecognized "Macedonian Orthodox Patriarchate." 

I would argue that those who remain in the canonical jurisdiction are the ones following proper Orthodox ecclesiology.  The others are the hoppers. 

Once again, IHMO, a lot of strife could have been avoided with a little obedience. 
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« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2005, 08:14:09 PM »

Once again, IHMO, a lot of strife could have been avoided with a little obedience.

Well said and 100% true!!!
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« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2005, 08:46:41 PM »

Part of what I originally said referred to attending the closer church when constraints make it possible. I'd be willing to bet that a priest wouldn't mind if you wanted to attend feast day morning liturgies or weeknight presanctifieds at a church that was much easier to get to.  My original comment, pretty tongue in cheek, was made to poke at those who would never consider attending any parish but their own, specifically any parish but one that was made up of their ethnic enclave.  As you explained, that doens't apply to you because your wife is the choir director, and I can certainly understand that Smiley

My idea of attending different churches is not your idea of jurisdiction hopping....I said some things in my post too that I think are important because they're dealing with a different meaning than as what you're taking attending a different church to mean.
If I "had no active reason to NOT attend the closer church (as well as the blessing of my parish priest,) I would probably go there.

" I agree that attending one church and developing a spiritual home is important.  What I was advocating was less jurisdiction shopping or hopping, and more practical choices when attempting to fulfill a church life.
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« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2005, 09:21:54 PM »

Stop it, choirfriend! I'm trying to have a heated discussion here!  :argue:        Grin

I understand that what you were saying was tongue in cheek.  It just reminded me of another discussion I was having with some folks at the parish.  I thought I'd bring it online to discuss a bit.

For anyone who knows me, I'm not nearly as disagreeable in person.  Well, maybe the odor . . .
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« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2005, 09:31:50 PM »

First things first. Jurisdictions are a modern innovation.  They are not part of traditional Orthodoxy. 

Well, no, the innovation is overlapping jurisdictions. Well, and the corresponding erasure of parish boundaries.

Looking at episcopal polity a bit larger: I don't know about Anglicans in general, but Episcopal priests do take oaths of loyalty to their bishops, and have for a very long time. I'll bet they do the same in the C of E. Priests do not normally move between jurisdictions-- i.e., dioceses-- without explicit transfer. This would apply even between national churches, which is why there is stink at the moment about various African bishops collecting priests from the USA and even sending bishops in.

As for telling your people (priests or laity) that they cannot participate in a divine liturgy: that's broken communion, and then the bets are off, are they not? The continung mutiple Orthodox churches is one thing, but this would be being willfully schismatic. Isn't that ipso facto bad?
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« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2005, 10:02:39 PM »

I hope we're not talking about participation at divine liturgy.  That would be bad.

I am discussing permanently changing jurisdictions (i.e. bishops) for questionable reasons.  I'm not talking about a Serb sending their kid to a Greek Orthodox school or an Antiochian going to a Russian Church for a visit for Divine Liturgy or vespers.

We have a Bulgarian family at our parish.  There aren't any Bulgarian churches here.  They're still Bulgarian Orthodox, but attend liturgy at our parish because they have to go somewhere and their bishop ain't around here.
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