Author Topic: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant  (Read 1238 times)

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Offline CharalambisMakarios

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Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« on: December 19, 2013, 12:40:44 AM »
Hi all!

This is my first post in the forum. Not a stranger to the Internet, of course, but if any of my manner isn't up to snuff, I apologize in advance and in good faith.

I am a Protestant (raised in a Presbyterian Church, though neither the church nor my family were particularly Calvinist) who is considering the change to Orthodoxy. I'm currently most interested in the Syriac or Coptic church. This community seems pretty ecumenical, but I will say that I'm not particularly interested in being convinced one way or the other (i.e., Oriental vs. Eastern).

To get back to my point, coming from the background I do, I do not have any friends who are Orthodox Christian. I have heard that one requires a sponsor as a catechumen joining Orthodoxy. Since I have no friends or family in the communion, I want to ask if this sponsorship is a universal practice, and if so, how do I resolve the problem?

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2013, 12:45:25 AM »
Not absolutely universal, but not a problem either.  If you don't find one, the priest will surely find one for you.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2013, 12:45:36 AM »

I have heard that one requires a sponsor as a catechumen joining Orthodoxy. Since I have no friends or family in the communion, I want to ask if this sponsorship is a universal practice, and if so, how do I resolve the problem?

Yes, it is a universal practice. The sponsor/Godparent must also be Orthodox.

If you're having trouble choosing someone for this very important role, ask your priest. He, or his wife, will probably find you someone suitable.
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Offline CharalambisMakarios

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 12:55:18 AM »
Thank you both for the responses. When I find a church I'll be able to attend long term, I'll follow your advice.

Blessings!

Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2013, 03:00:00 AM »
Yes, it is a universal practice. osing someone for this very important role, ask your priest. He, or his wife, will probably find you someone suitable.

Not here. It's not universal, then.

Offline LBK

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2013, 03:21:54 AM »
Yes, it is a universal practice. osing someone for this very important role, ask your priest. He, or his wife, will probably find you someone suitable.

Not here. It's not universal, then.
 

The sponsors are prayed for during the baptismal service. This is no accident, and it has nothing to do with the age of the person being baptized. Even an adult being baptized is but a babe in the faith, and, like a real baby, needs a spiritual parent and guide.
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Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2013, 03:37:09 AM »
What about receiving by chrismation alone?

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2013, 03:39:13 AM »
What about receiving by chrismation alone?
I was still required to have a sponsor.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 03:39:45 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline LBK

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 03:41:49 AM »
What about receiving by chrismation alone?

The service is the same as at baptism. Only the parts involved with the blessing of the baptismal water and the immersion are omitted. The sponsor(s) are prayed for by name at several points in the service.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 03:42:25 AM by LBK »
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Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 03:42:18 AM »
And what about receiving with confession and Communion?

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2013, 03:43:44 AM »
And what about receiving with confession and Communion?
When is that ever done?
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Offline LBK

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2013, 03:45:58 AM »
And what about receiving with confession and Communion?

The OP is Protestant (Presbyterian). While it's the bishop's call, I doubt very much that he would be received into the Church by this means.

Last time I checked the Trebnik, only OOs may be received through confession and communion.
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Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2013, 03:49:03 AM »
When is that ever done?

Holy Russia, here...

Last time I checked the Trebnik, only OOs may be received through confession and communion.

I think our bishops have different trebniks.

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2013, 04:00:53 AM »

I think our bishops have different trebniks.

I doubt it.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2013, 05:15:59 AM »
When is that ever done?

Holy Russia, here...

Last time I checked the Trebnik, only OOs may be received through confession and communion.

I think our bishops have different trebniks.
How does this help resolve the OP's concerns? I'm really not sure whether you're actually trying to help the OP or just trying to start another argument. ???
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Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2013, 05:18:06 AM »
When is that ever done?

Holy Russia, here...

Last time I checked the Trebnik, only OOs may be received through confession and communion.

I think our bishops have different trebniks.
How does this help resolve the OP's concerns? I'm really not sure whether you're actually trying to help the OP or just trying to start another argument. ???

My point is LBK is not right saying that sponsors for adult converts are universal.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2013, 05:25:11 AM »
When is that ever done?

Holy Russia, here...

Last time I checked the Trebnik, only OOs may be received through confession and communion.

I think our bishops have different trebniks.
How does this help resolve the OP's concerns? I'm really not sure whether you're actually trying to help the OP or just trying to start another argument. ???

My point is LBK is not right saying that sponsors for adult converts are universal.
I see that the OP has expressed an interest in Coptic Orthodoxy, maybe even more so than in Eastern Orthodoxy. Seeing how LBK is EO, I wonder how qualified she is to speak for the Coptic Orthodox regarding whether they observe the same practice of requiring sponsors for adult converts that many EO churches do. I think it might be helpful, then, for some of our OO to chime in and confirm/deny that what LBK claims to be the universal EO practice is also as widespread in OO churches.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 05:25:58 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline mike

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2013, 05:27:31 AM »
I see that the OP has expressed an interest in Coptic Orthodoxy, maybe even more so than in Eastern Orthodoxy. Seeing how LBK is EO, I wonder how qualified she is to speak for the Coptic Orthodox regarding whether they observe the same practice of requiring sponsors for adult converts that many EO churches do. I think it might be helpful, then, for some of our OO to chime in and confirm/deny that what LBK claims to be the universal EO practice is also as widespread in OO churches.

And this is right.

Offline mabsoota

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2013, 05:43:04 AM »
hi, i'm a formerly protestant coptic orthodox Christian.
sponsors are actually not common in coptic churches and other OO churches that i have asked about.

we do not have a part in the service for 'God parents' but we do have an arabic word for it, so it is possible to have them.
what i mean is that if a child is baptised, the parents automatically have the role of 'God parents' in the EO churches.
there is no formal arrangement about who takes the child if both parents die. family members / friends automatically step in if this happens.
if an adult / older child is baptised / chrismated, the person speaks for himself / herself and there does not need to be a God parent or sponsor.
however, it is common for new people coming into the church to be instructed in the faith by the priest and by other church members, and a relationship similar to the 'God parent' relationship may develop spontaneously.

i think this is because 'God parents' became common fairly late (after 300s) in church history, but i am not sure about this. maybe someone who knows more about this can comment.

in my own case, when my husband and i first visited the priest and his wife, we asked them 'what shall we call you?'.
they replied, 'call us mum and dad' and so, later when i joined the orthodox church, i told them i considered them my God parents.
they are very happy about this!

PS i forgot to say, may God bless your journey and guide you as you learn more of the depth of His love.
 :)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 05:44:06 AM by mabsoota »

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2013, 11:05:46 AM »
I see that the OP has expressed an interest in Coptic Orthodoxy, maybe even more so than in Eastern Orthodoxy. Seeing how LBK is EO, I wonder how qualified she is to speak for the Coptic Orthodox regarding whether they observe the same practice of requiring sponsors for adult converts that many EO churches do. I think it might be helpful, then, for some of our OO to chime in and confirm/deny that what LBK claims to be the universal EO practice is also as widespread in OO churches.

And this is right.

LOL.  The whole point of replies 4-17 was to get to this?  You could've just said so in the first place. 

I can't speak for current Syriac (Middle Eastern) practice, but certainly in the Indian Church and in historical Syriac practice (cf. St Dionysius Bar Salibi's Commentary on Myron and Baptism), a sponsor is necessary whatever the age of the convert.  Mabsoota's information re: the Coptic Church surprises me, but we are an interesting bunch, so :P
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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2013, 03:30:33 PM »
interesting.
i attended a baptism this year where the only people present were the man being baptised, his wife (protestant), his young son, me and the priest.
i wasn't the sponsor (as far as i know!)
 ;)
other people came later and congratulated him, but were not there at the moment of baptism.

also when my friend was chrismated, she didn't have a sponsor, but she also considers herself a spiritual child of my Godfather the priest and his angelic wife.

the arabic for God parents is  اشبان
(pronounced 'ish-baan' - i am not 100% sure of the arabic spelling as i have not seen it written down).
it seems to be linked to the words for best man and bridesmaid ('ish-been' and the corresponding feminine)
so we have a concept of it, and i don't know if we used to have them and now don't, or if the idea of having them is recent and taken from other orthodox churches.
i hope some people who are better informed can comment.

how old is saint dionysius' commentary?

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2013, 03:33:31 PM »
how old is saint dionysius' commentary?

About a thousand years, give or take.  :P

The Syriac term for "sponsor" which he uses in his commentary is related to the Arabic term you have given, both in its root and its range of meaning. 
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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2013, 03:43:36 PM »
ahh, very interesting.
i have the only arabic dictionary i have seen that includes 'Christian' words such as 'altar', but even then it gives the arabic for 'easter' as 'passover' instead of 'resurrection feast' as the Christians say (they are very different words in arabic), so i am a bit hesitant in using it for church without checking.
it is from oman, i got it while transiting through the gulf region.

1000 years ago the historical ties between syria and egypt were stretched by the difficulty the Christians were living under at the time. before that we had many links, you even gave us an extra 3 days fasting!
thanks!
i think...
 ;)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 03:45:05 PM by mabsoota »

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2013, 04:02:28 PM »
1000 years ago the historical ties between syria and egypt were stretched by the difficulty the Christians were living under at the time. before that we had many links, you even gave us an extra 3 days fasting!
thanks!
i think...
 ;)

Recent scholarship suggests, basically, that the origin of a fifty day long Great Lent is to be found in Alexandria, and that the rest of the Church had a Great Lent no longer than a week until the Alexandrian custom spread throughout Christendom. 

Don't complain about three days.  :P
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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2013, 04:14:30 PM »
ha ha!
all i can say is the eritreans and ethiopians fast more strictly than we do, we are not the worst, just nearly...
 ;)

Offline CharalambisMakarios

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2013, 01:48:12 PM »
Thank you all for the continued responses. This thread exploded in length in my absence (in a good way :). I was also very glad to hear from some OO posters on the subject. Thanks, Mabsoota!

So from what I'm hearing, it sounds like a mostly utilized practice, with perhaps a few scattered exceptions? Interesting to hear about the possible non-requirement in the Coptic Church. Having not yet spoken with a Coptic or other OO priest I myself have not heard any ecclesiastical opinions. I'm hoping to investigate in the near future (I'm still in a pretty early phase of considering this process, though I have been to services and found them very spiritually enriching).

I suppose my other problem is that at this point in my spiritual life, it would feel strange having a sponsor who doesn't yet know me or have an understanding of my life on the whole. I suppose that's the price of starting over. I have spiritual mentors, (one in particular who has been a source of deeply healing wisdom), but none of them would qualify what with differences of denomination. I wish there was a way I could wait and become more integrated with the community. I mean, there's going to a parish regularly, but it's taken me about 5 years to develop the kind of personal rapport and emotional trust that allows for spiritual growth.

Sorry for the angst. I really do appreciate everyone's answers and counsel on the matter. I'm just kind of at a loss.  :-\
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 01:48:59 PM by CharalambisMakarios »

Offline Antonious

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2014, 04:51:13 PM »
I do not have any friends who are Orthodox Christian. I have heard that one requires a sponsor as a catechumen joining Orthodoxy. Since I have no friends or family in the communion, I want to ask if this sponsorship is a universal practice, and if so, how do I resolve the problem?

Hello CharalambisMakarios,

I am an inquirer myself, meaning I am not (at present) Orthodox, but I do have a strong interest in the Orthodox Church, and am considering the possibility of conversion. I have been studying on my own for the last few years, but have only recently begun to visit a local parish. All that to say, I am new to this as well, so take what I say with a grain of salt. However, I do want to suggest something to you. Please don't let your current lack of having Orthodox friends or family be a stumbling block for you. I'm sure this is common for many converts, and that changes over time. How does this change? First and foremost by visiting an Orthodox parish, and beginning to attend services there (Divine Liturgy, Matins, Vespers, etc.). I have only been to my local parish twice. The first time was last week, and the second time was today. The first time I stood quietly in the back and observed. At the end of the Liturgy (which I found to be an amazing experience) I went home without talking to anyone. Today, when Liturgy was over, I approached a brother and asked him a simple question. This began a long, and very helpful, dialog that lasted about an hour or so. The brother also then introduced me to the deacon, and then later to the priest. Several other parishioners also joined in the conversation now and again. I felt really welcomed, and everyone seemed genuinely willing to help answer any questions and support me in my inquiry. I was also told the dates for an ongoing catechism class offered at the parish. If I do eventually decide to convert, I feel confident that I should have no trouble finding someone in the parish to be my sponsor/godparent. I don't think this is going to happen overnight, per se, as the parishioners will probably need to see if I am serious, and that can take time (plus, I want to make sure I am serious before I take that big of a step myself).

My recommendation is, find an Orthodox parish local to you. Contact them and confirm dates and times for their services. Go check them out. Maybe even contact the priest and let him know you are an inquirer coming from a Protestant background. They are there to help. And don't be too shy. Once I broke the ice and asked a question, many doors were opened up for me. Trust in God, and take the initial step. Peace to you, and let us know how it goes if you do visit.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Offline mabsoota

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2014, 05:32:01 PM »
yay, well done, you talked to people!
 :)

we (mr. mabsoot and i) hung out for ages with people from church after Bible study today, it was so nice!
(mabsoota is the feminine arabic word for happy; mabsoot is the male)

i am so glad that you got to meet people outside of the virtual world of orthodoxChristianity.net, nice though it is.
 ;D

Offline crazyms

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2014, 07:04:45 PM »
I don't think you'll have any trouble either once you get to a church. I haven't spoken to my priest about this yet because I'm still taking it all in and sorting things out but I'm sure I won't have trouble getting a sponsor if/when I decide to convert. I've heard a lot of mention of the priest choosing one for you but I've found the people at the church (my local one at least) to be very helpful and I'm sure they'd love to sponsor a new convert. Almost everyone at the church has asked me questions and offered me books or other information. I emailed the priest hear before I ever went in to the church so they were expecting me in a way and were excited to see I came. This might be an idea for you as well so that you have already made contact of sorts before being nervous in a new place.

Offline Antonious

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2014, 02:17:30 AM »
yay, well done, you talked to people!
 :)

Hahaha, yes, I did this time Mabsoota. I'm glad I did too, as I don't want to be just some strange guy that shows up for Liturgy and leaves afterwards without ever really getting to know anyone. The parish I have been visiting uses the Julian calendar, so we will be celebrating the Feast of the Nativity this Tuesday, January 7th. I'll be going back for that as well. One of the parishioners also gave me an Orthodox calendar, which shows the major and minor Feasts, as well as indicating all the fasting days for the year.

we (mr. mabsoot and i) hung out for ages with people from church after Bible study today, it was so nice!
(mabsoota is the feminine arabic word for happy; mabsoot is the male)

i am so glad that you got to meet people outside of the virtual world of orthodoxChristianity.net, nice though it is.

That is wonderful. I am happy for you and your husband. It is good to have fellowship. And I agree, I do like it here on the forum, and am glad this resource is available, but am also very happy there are parishes near my house. I have about 4 or 5 that are within 10 miles of me.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Offline orthodox4life

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2014, 05:29:07 PM »
I"m in OCA and I didn't have a sponsors until the time of my Baptism. I got to choose who they would be as well. I had to ask them to but the choice of who I wanted was up to me. I liked it that way because I had time to get to know people in my church and pick someone I connected with.
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Offline CharalambisMakarios

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Re: Sponsor/Godparent for an Orthodox-poor Protestant
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2014, 05:49:25 PM »
Well spoken from everyone. I will definitely take this advice. Antonious, I definitely agree about wanting to be sure about the decision before committing. That's why I'm taking things slowly. I'm currently in college, don't have a car, and am an hour away from the nearest Orthodox parish, hence my not yet being able to connect. I've tried to sound out if anyone would be able to carpool, but I haven't met any Orthodox Christians, or non-Orthodox who would be interested. So hopefully that will be resolved in due time. Thanks everyone for your continued advice!  :)