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Author Topic: Orthodox Youth: Future or the Now of the Church???  (Read 1861 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timos
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« on: June 12, 2005, 10:13:09 PM »

Hi, well, lately I was looking around me in my parish and I noticed that compared to the Wednesdays Greek dance practise (of which I am part of), there seems to be very few youth who come to church regularly on Sundays. And this really bothered me because as a youth I look around t the older greek generations who are slowly dying off and I wonder...who will come every sunday to pray, to chant, to light the candles, to usher, and to be the priest  in the future if they are nto used to coming to church now?? I see our church attendance declining like Catholic churches.

I mean what happened from just one generation who's verylives were part of the church to now where the younger generations don't even know what is going on in church?

I beleive part of it is because of the Greek church's insistence on holding on to the greek language. It's like the language will save them insetad of our faith!
So many youth come on Wednesday in the mdidle of their busy week schedules to dance for an hour or two yet cannot come to chruch on sundays once a week. And most of the teens or young adults think im weird or different because I do go to church regularly.

I really have to commend the OCA and Antiochians because they didn't stay in their cozy Russian or Arab shells but took on America headstrong with the Faith.

I love the Greek Orthodox Church but I am ashamed that now our churches are not so full, our chanting is no more, our parishes are run by one or two rich families and the parish councils who think they own the church, and most of all the destroying ethnocentrism.

Seriously, nationalism and ethnocentrism had its place in our church's history for every nationality, Greeks in the 1800's, Serbs up til this day...but if we don't change our attitudes we will never go anywhere.

Many visitors are interested in our church and when they pop in on a Sunday I never see them again..go figure the entire service is in Greek except for a "in peace let us pray to the lord" here and there as well as the our father, creed, gospel, and half of the homily. And the old grandparent's are yelling "there's too much english!"

Our GOYA youth group has about 6-10 active members out of about 500+ Greek Orthodox youth in my city.

What do you think we can do to save our ethnic parishes from dying as well as save our youth?

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SeanMc
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2005, 11:30:34 PM »

I don't know the particulars of the Greek Orthodox in Vancouver, but I do know that St. George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral has been here since the 1920's and it still does not have a single Divine Liturgy completely in English (I've complained a few times here about that  Wink). The OCA usually has it in half-Russian and the Antiochians have it in half-Arabic, but I think this is mainly due to the fact that most of the Orthodox in the OCA and Antiochian are immigrants.

The youths faith is based upon that of their parents. But this faith should never be forced upon one's children, but cultivated in charity.

Sometimes we confuse the traditions of men with Sacred Tradition. Take, for example, the use of Latin in the Catholic Church. Many of the traditionalists think that the use of the vernacular in the liturgy is an abomination. Why? The best reason I have heard is that it is the language of the Roman rite and that its a sacred language, like Hebrew in the synagogue or Arabic in the mosque. The only problem is, such an idea is foreign to Christianity and Sacred Tradition ("for we are neither Jew nor Greek..."; Christ transcends all languages and cultures). 
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Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2005, 01:04:48 AM »

Christ is Risen!

What will happen is what has always happened, the youth get married, have children, and assure their children are Baptised.  They become more active in seeking to give their children the spiritual upbringing or better upbringing than they have.  As they age they become the older members of the parish who faithfully  attend church and as they prepare for death they are remembered as "founders of the Temple" by those who are younger.

I can not help but remember that the Communists in Russia were always predicting the death of the Orthodox Church and its members.  They always pointed to the elderly who faithfully attended church, secretly baptised their grandchildren, taught the children the faith by example, as a sign of the church dying---the interesting thing was that when all the Babushkas dies that were elderly during the revolution they were replaced by the next generation, when they grew very old and churches were being closed  a new generation of Babushkas arose, and so on.

In the United States, you will find new parishes or missions being established away from the old cultural centers as the younger  people seek to establish churches where they live. It may mean the closing of old  Downtown churches but they are replaced by churches where the members live.  This is the way of Churches in the United States.  These new parishes will start demanding the use of more English and soon you will find many churches that use English as the primary Language. 

In the town that I go to Church in there are 4 Orthodox ( 2 Antiochian, 1 Greek, and 1 ROCOR) all use English primarily at various levels some intermingle the old country language for their older members---the newer parishes with young families use English solely. I don't see how this has affected for the better or worse the participation of the youth in the church, however, definitely those young families are gathering at the all English service parishes.

In Christ,
Thomas
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Elisha
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2005, 02:49:39 AM »

Christ is Risen!

What will happen is what has always happened, the youth get married, have children, and assure their children are Baptised.  They become more active in seeking to give their children the spiritual upbringing or better upbringing than they have. 

I'd like to think that, but it sounds somewhat wishful thinking.  I guess I should have faith, but Timos has a good point.
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Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2005, 04:52:57 AM »

Elisha, Christ is Risen!

I have been Orthodox about 18 years now and I have noticed that when there is a church in the town or city, the pattern reported above is the one that is most likely to occur.  THe real problem is not where there is a church but actually where there is no church, we moved to an area of Texas where the closest Church is 50 miles away, after being here for about 3 years, we discovered that there were about 6  Orthodox families in the area---they observe private orthodox practices and go the distance for special /major feats but do not attend Orthodox services regularly. Their children have adopted these lax practices and while quick to say they are Orthodox they would best be described as an inactive Orthodox member. The problem with these folks is they will get used to the lax standard and if a mission is started in the area will not likely be any more active than they are at present.

In Christ,
Thomas
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Timos
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2005, 08:56:52 AM »

Thomas, while I see your point I think we can still make a strong effort to bring the youth to church by having avtive youth groups etc. Then again, my parish is only 10 years old so go figure if at first our church may seem slowly growing. In my city we have about 20 different orthodox churches and as far as I know there are not too many youth who actively participateon a regular basis at most of them. The saying is correct which goes "The first church is the home."
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ania
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2005, 10:16:16 AM »

Our Russian/Slavonic parish is sadly not much into youth or young adults.  I see people my age or a little older at parties several times a year, but at church maybe for a random funeral or wedding.  There aren't too many people my age there on a regular basis (there are about 10 people around my age who show on a regular basis, most of them are in choir or serve in the alter.  For such a supposedly healthy parish it makes me very sad that this age group is being overlooked. 
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2005, 11:09:01 AM »

Elisha, Christ is Risen!

I have been Orthodox about 18 years now and I have noticed that when there is a church in the town or city, the pattern reported above is the one that is most likely to occur.ÂÂ  THe real problem is not where there is a church but actually where there is no church, we moved to an area of Texas where the closest Church is 50 miles away, after being here for about 3 years, we discovered that there were about 6ÂÂ  Orthodox families in the area---they observe private orthodox practices and go the distance for special /major feats but do not attend Orthodox services regularly. Their children have adopted these lax practices and while quick to say they are Orthodox they would best be described as an inactive Orthodox member. The problem with these folks is they will get used to the lax standard and if a mission is started in the area will not likely be any more active than they are at present.

In Christ,
Thomas

Ditto for me as well.  Say, you say you are Antiochian - were you a former EOCer received back in 87?  I was.

My only issue is with your assumption that as the youth grow, get married and have children, that they will actually step up their attendence (come back to the church if you will in certain situations).  We have one family, where the husband is an african immigrant and was raised in a Greek convent.  After his marriage in our church, we've hardly seen him except for getting his two sons baptized.  I don't think this is the only case where (cradle) immigrants take American worldliness/opportunities at the expense of their faith.
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emmanuelmelo
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2005, 04:16:26 PM »

Hey buddy !

The answer to your questions is YOU!  You will be the future of Greek Orthodoxy in the United States.  As an Orthodox Christian of Greek descent I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.  I am currently a college student and I have come back to Orthodoxy because I know it is the true faith.  Unfortunately our youth in our parishes don't know about it.

We have an obligation to spread knowledge of our Orthodox Faith to other people even if our friends, relatives, even PARENTS think it is uncool to do so.

Our spirituality in the Greek tradition runs VERY deep.  Read the lives of St. Paisios the New.  Amazing Guy !  One book that I must recommend is Vessels of the Holy Spirit!  This is the Orthodoxy we must cultivate in the United States.

In closing I must say that I am a very unworthy person.  I do beleive, however, that God blesses the weakest people to carry his truth to other people.  It is up to YOU and I to break Holy Orthodoxy back into the Greek Tradition.  Don't worry about people leaving- they will.  With God's grace though we shall persevere in the end.  After all, there is nowhere that people can go in this country to get REAL Christianity except the Orthodox Church.  Don't be afraid to stand up for our Holy Faith.  the Greek Church of "My big fat Greek wedding" is a farce and will never succeed.  However authentic Orthodoxy will blossom as it has in many parts of this country!

May God bless you in your struggle, and the Theotokos guide you !

If you have any questions- feel free to IM me at Greekhotshot01

-Emmanuelmelo
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2005, 10:37:54 PM »

We have a youth group for college age students to age 30 and I really enjoy it. We learn about Christian theology and our place in the Church as youth.
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Timos
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2005, 09:25:03 AM »

Thanks everyone and especially Emmanuelmelo for that wonderful reply. It's great to see some college kids in the church too. I'm going to university next year and I hope that I can continue going to church and not letting my already slack Orthodoxy become even more slack. Around January or February, I might be going to St. Anthony's Monastery for a retreat and to gainsome spiritual advice from Geronda.
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2005, 10:03:18 AM »

If it makes you feel any better, I know what you mean.  The parents of the young adults at my parish tell me how great it is that I come so often.  And I think, "Yeah, it isn't that great of a feat- why aren't more people doing it?"
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Timos
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2005, 07:07:55 PM »

Exactly! If we can wake up every morning at 6 or 7 am for school or work why can't we wake up at 9o clock??? (Most churches have liturgy start at 10:00 pm).

Yes, it does tkae some willpower to get up in the morning, but how more fulfilled and joyous a person is when they come back with their spiritual battery recharged on Sundays.
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Thomas
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« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2005, 10:20:01 PM »

Christ is Risen!
Dear Elisha,

I am a former Mormon who came to the Orthodox Church after having a short deprograming period of 4 years in Episcopal Church prior to finding the Orthodox Church.

In Christ,
Thomas.
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2005, 02:40:57 PM »

From personal experience, I know how easy to fall off the wagon as far as church goes.  When I was living with my sister (who is gone for the summer) its easier for us... If one is sleepy, the other makes a lot of noise to wake her up.  If one doesn't feel like going, we literally drag each other out of bed. If one doesn't go to church, she can expect a guilt trip when the other gets home.  Now with school, I find myself hanging out with my Orthodox friends who go to church even less.
I find myself running late on errands on Saturdays and procrastinating Sunday mornings.
For Orthodox youth who live among non-Orthodox, it is probably even worse. 
Anna
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Timos
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2005, 06:30:30 PM »

Ania, so much for Orthodox "community" (koinonia). It's good that you and sister keep track of each other. As for Orthodox youth who live among non orthodox thats the majority of people. In my case, my city has tons of orthodox people but from different jurisdictions and from both Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox and to top it off, we've got quite a few Eastern Catholic parishes. So of course, we're like little tribes fighting each other and who's nationality is better and "more" Orthodox than the other and that sort of thing. I know this is bad but when i go out I barely want to say I'm Orthodox- NOT because of shame but because I don't want to start a jurisdictional/ethnic war!
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Arystarcus
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2005, 02:14:11 AM »

Quote
Our Russian/Slavonic parish is sadly not much into youth or young adults.  I see people my age or a little older at parties several times a year, but at church maybe for a random funeral or wedding.  There aren't too many people my age there on a regular basis (there are about 10 people around my age who show on a regular basis, most of them are in choir or serve in the alter.  For such a supposedly healthy parish it makes me very sad that this age group is being overlooked.

Ania,

The situation is the same at my church, it's quite discouraging because I am the only one in my age group who regularly attends service. The age groups at my church are infants through teens, then it skips anyone in their 20's and 30's and jumps right to the 40-90 year olds. I am thinking about visiting some other churches in the area and see if it's widespread throughout the area. I may have to bail from my church for this reason and several others.  Undecided

On a side note, the Coptic church seems to have many youths who are quite dedicated and attend church frequently. How is this situation throughout the rest of the Oriental Churches?

In Christ,
Aaron
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Timos
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2005, 09:44:26 AM »

Hi, when I was younger I used to frequent a coptic parish not too far from me (before there was a Greek Orthodox parish built) and their youth were very involved in church life. The reason for this is because they are mostly 1st ot 2nd generation at large and so it's the same like in the little villages or cities, the church is the centre of their lives because that is what holds them together in the face of Islamic oppression. The coming generations won't be as pious which is the situation in other juisdictions. Also, I don't want to bash any Copts or anything like that but I found that many (atthis particular parish) were very disorganized, and closed-minded. For example, everything was a sin, from music, to dancing (and by this i do not mean dirty dancin') etc. When I would not come to church for one sunday or so the priest would get al concerned and call me up and have a meeting with my parents and give me lectures. I know it was out of genuine concern and love but this way of dealing with people is just not for me. As for the coptic liturgy, it is very beautiful, and would be even more so if some organization and planning was put in to it.

The Armenians and Syriacs are not so great in number but are ever increasing as they emmigrate here. I'm not too sure about the Ethiopians and the Indians but they have cool traditions too.
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