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StBrigid
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« on: January 25, 2006, 10:34:54 PM »

Recently I heard an interview on Ancient Faith Radio about two Orthodox men who were kicked off a college campus in Chicago for preaching.  I was interested in the interview on many levels- I went to the same university they did, very much remember the campus preacher who inspired them, and I was in full-time campus ministry for nine years.

The preacher who inspired them was a real fire and brimstone type and honestly I was shocked that they looked back on his preaching in a positive way.  Judging from the interview, they weren't calling down hail on the sodomites in their campus preaching.  The apostles obviously preached this way, out in the public sphere, but it seems unusual in what I've seen of the Orthodox experience, where there seems to be a greater emphasis on witness through service and worship.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2006, 12:13:26 AM »

I heard from a priest down in Fla of a priest who preaches at Univ. of Penn, or somewhere around there.  Intriguing.

I honestly have no idea what to make of this; you're right, it does seem to be without much precedent in the contemporary Orthodox experience.  My first reaction is that anyone who does somethign like this had better be bathed in prayer and the peace of the Holy Spirit, otherwise he'd be (imo) a jerk who'd just be there (or who'd be seen as being there) to "tell people off."  God can move through any sort of ministry, but the minister needs to be firmly rooted in Christ first.
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2006, 02:09:44 AM »


The preacher who inspired them was a real fire and brimstone type and honestly I was shocked that they looked back on his preaching in a positive way.  Judging from the interview, they weren't calling down hail on the sodomites in their campus preaching.  The apostles obviously preached this way, out in the public sphere, but it seems unusual in what I've seen of the Orthodox experience, where there seems to be a greater emphasis on witness through service and worship.

Thoughts?


Hi. I go to PSU, and those two guys are friends of mine. So is the preacher who inspired them, Gary. When did you go to PSU? Gary converted to Orthodoxy about 7 years ago. If you saw him before that, he was preaching as a non-denominational charismatic. He's been preaching for 22 years, and his message certainy has changed in his time in Orthodoxy. If you never actually sat and listened for a full hour or two, you also never heard anything he really said. His declamatory, louder statements when classes change (He likes to remind everyone that he's pro-choice about going to hell, and remind people that it is a possibility--but this hardly makes up the majority of what he talks about/discusses with the students who sit and listen daily) are nothing like the discussions, debates, and lecturing that arises when things settle down and there are a dozen or so sitting on the steps instead of several hundred passing by. My own determination is that he says a lot of things that sound shocking as attention getting. He also has a point when he says that those who never stop to listen to more are not the types to stop and listen ever, no matter if he was getting their attention (and possibly tempers) riled by referring to sex outside marriage as fornication, practicing homosexuals as sodomites, and abortion as killing babies.

His main message is to seek Truth and to seek God. He says that if God loves the creation He made (and who would want to get to know another kind of God?) then ask Him to reveal Himself to you in earnest, and sooner or later, He will.

He now has apologetics days posed against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The rest of his talking consists of discussing fornication, sodomy/homosexuality, abortion, and drunkenness. These topics are common ones to the College life.

I agree there's not much precedent in modern American Orthodoxy. The old countries were missionized centuries ago. But what Gary does is valuable. In a country/place where God is often not welcomed, and if He is, it's a relativistic sort of god, Gary is reaching a lot of people. Those who sit and listen with an open mind come away with a greater respect for what Gary actually SAYS when he's 'preaching,' his message to seek God, his YEARS of practice of logical and rational debate on major issues tempered by his experiential statement to ask God to reveal Himself. I see it every day. I see it in my church, where we currently have 5 catechumens and a half a dozen inquirers who have been exposed to Orthodoxy through Gary, and there are now somewhere between 1-2 dozen people who have entered the Church in the last 7 years because of Gary's work.

As someone who is personally very intimately acquainted with Gary, his wife, and his children (I have lived with his oldest daughter), by attending the same parish for the last 7 years, I have to say that, while I don’t always agree with every "shock tactic" that come into play at times, Gary is making Orthodoxy known to hundreds if not thousands every year, from atheist/agnostics to Roman Catholics to African paganists to Evangelical Nondenominationals, who have all entered the Church. What Gary preaches is Truth, and that is always Orthodox.

If you want to see some of the things he discusses daily, I invite you to visit http://www.thewillardpreacher.com
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2006, 02:10:32 AM »

My observations and random thoughts after a week of being a college student...

OCF isn't a bad organization in general, but I don't think there is much emphasis on moving outwards.  But I don't know if there should be either... it is nice to be able to hang out with other Orthodox people just for the sake of hanging out rather than being a hyper active missionary organization. ÂÂ

Therer are a lot of people searching for something solid out there - a good presentation of Orthodoxy for them to find is not there.

Every cause and fad is handing out pamplets and has a booth in front of the MU.  It would be sad to present Orthodoxy as just another "cause."

It would have been amazing to see Fr. Seraphim Rose's lecture (recorded in the book "God's Revelation to the Human Heart") that he gave to a religious studies class.  Considering several of the students went on to become priets...

The SCOBA jurisdictions and those in communion with SCOBA jurisdictions (i.e JP and ROCOR) are mostly caught up in themselves, in justifying their mediocracy, in phyletism, in legalism etc. to really be taken seriously by many people. ÂÂ

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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2006, 02:35:58 AM »

Quote
The SCOBA jurisdictions and those in communion with SCOBA jurisdictions (i.e JP and ROCOR) are mostly caught up in themselves, in justifying their mediocracy, in phyletism, in legalism etc. to really be taken seriously by many people. 

While I think some groups do better at evangelizing at the grass-roots level (e.g,. Antiochians), and other groups do better at attracting people because of a faithfulness to traditional principles, and stability (e.g., ROCOR), I think you are unfortunately correct with what you said in your last paragraph. I would add two other things. Some jurisdictions are unfortunately being overly-cautious because they are afraid to stretch their resources too thin, and thus even when you do get a group of a dozen or two people together you still might not be able to get a parish established. The other problem is that people on the grass-roots level in Orthodoxy just aren't motivated to do missionary activity. Most people in the local parish haven't even read an Orthodox book (I say that only after having actually seen a priest ask that question of his parish, and 5-10% of the people say that they have), let alone thought about "witnessing" or "sharing the Gospel". I think things will improve in time though, as we start to get our feet more firmly under us in America, and hopefully do away with some of the unimportant disputes/issues.
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2006, 10:10:27 AM »

Choirfriend:

Has the Willard Preacher received the blessing of a priest or is he itinerant. If the latter then he is flirting with heresy. His site seems to be dominated by topics on Hell, similar to fundamentalist who believe everyone is going their except their select little group.

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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2006, 10:23:59 AM »

When did you go to PSU? Gary converted to Orthodoxy about 7 years ago. If you saw him before that, he was preaching as a non-denominational charismatic. He's been preaching for 22 years, and his message certainy has changed in his time in Orthodoxy. If you never actually sat and listened for a full hour or two, you also never heard anything he really said.
Well, I wasn't going to name names, but alright.  Smiley  The topic generally intrigues me, along with this specific instance. 

I graduated some 13 years ago, well before his conversion.  I did sit and listen to him at times.  Some other Christians on campus would hang out there so as to start up conversations with people listening- for "damage control" as much as anything.  Sorry, but that's how we saw it.

Honestly, I'm not thrilled to hear that his preaching now includes apologetic against Protestants and Catholics.  I'm not trying to slander Gary or the other men- I was a "campus preacher" of a different sort for quite a few years, and am trying to sort out my thoughts on the issue of evangelism, particularly confrontational evangelism.
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2006, 01:14:35 PM »

Well,I gotta say that he doesnt really confront anyone. He stands and talks and anyone who wants to listen or debate does so. He's Orthodox, so he teaches that which he has learned concerning the Church. He teaches against the supremacy of the Pope, against the Filioque, against "rock-n-roll worship," against sola scriptura....nothing different than what the Church teaches. I'd say it;s time for you to come visit for a while. Seminarians who are interested in campus ministry come to stay and observe Gary and our OCF because they are examples of what can happen in a good way.

While I know his style is not for everyone (he definitely appeals to men more than women in terms of discussion and debate and references to how easy it is for anyone at PSU to "get laid,") he seems to draw a lot of the social misfits as well as any of those who are truly searching, or who are open to hearing the truth.

Since he's Orthodox now, his message has changed, so I venture to say that you bascially cannot know anything about his preaching til you come hear it anew.
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2006, 01:31:53 PM »

Gary does something interesting. He stands there and asks "Who thinks they're going to hell, by my definition?" After asking a few more times, usually a whole bunch of people will raise their hands defiantly, with some laughter and fully expecting Gary to condemn them to hell. Gary then says,, "These people are probably farther along the path of salvation than the rest of us who didnt raise our hands, for at least they're acknowleging that they're not choosing heaven in their lives yet." or something similar. The laughter dies down and people start to listen to what he has to say.

He preaches with what I can only assume is full blessing and support from our local priest (the church is 10 minutes walking from where Gary preaches). Though I have never inquired specifically, if the priest had not allowed Gary to continue this, Gary would not have continued, because Gary would be obedient to the wishes of his spiritual father, and as it is, the priest fully supports him (though not financially, as private donors is how Gary's family has made their living.) Our priest has been head of evangelism for the OCA, so he knows something about this topic.

I think you have to know Gary, as well, to even try to imagine what this is like. I knew him for several years as just Gary, without ever seeing him on campus preaching. He is the most shy, retiring, quiet person. I hardly ever heard him speak. His younger daughter last night was commenting that he has never raised his voice to her, so if he does speak a little louder than normal, she knows she's in trouble.  He hates crowds, and he doesn't do well when he has to meet a lot of new people in social situations on his own. But he feels called to do what he does. The first time I heard him, I was walking along campus, and wondered who was talking so loudly (its not shouting, but the man can project his voice). When I turned the corner and saw Gary, I was amazed. There is no way he could stand out there and do what he does every day if the Holy Spirit was not helping him. He's not the first willard preaching, even. There was another before him who actually helped Gary convert to Christianity when he was younger.

Trust me, he is hardly some wacko. Those who dislike what he says dont even really hear what he says, but have already closed their minds. I was siitting out there last week, and Gary was taking about God and Church (the existence of one, the importance of the other.) He was answering questions from a young man who started off defensive (planning to trip Gary up, or expecting that he would get hateful answers back) who slowly started to listen more carefully, ask more meaningful questions, and eventually left looking like he was impressed with what Gary said his stated mission out here was and how the search for Truth led him to the Church.  There were two girls sitting next to me, half-listening (there are lots of ppl who sit there and talk amongst themselves about non-religious things, too) and the one, on hearing Gary talk about the teaching of the Church, said to her friend, "I dont need some priests who molest little boys to tell me what to believe." She wasn;t listening at all, nor did she realize that Gary wasnt even talking about Catholicism, and especially wasn't discussing any priests, child-molesters or otherwise.  She heard with a closed mind, and so she heard what she wanted to hear.

Maybe, St. Brigid, you should come back to happy valley for a while! If you are interested in campus ministry as an Orthodox, now, you have to come see our OCF (one of the largest and most active in the nation) and you should really come spend a while getting to know Gary. You're welcome anytime; we will house and feed you:)
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2006, 01:38:51 PM »

This is an article from before Orthodoxy.
http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/1997/01/01-23-97cm/01-23-97cm01-001.htm
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2006, 01:40:03 PM »

With the arrestee

http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2003/08/08-04-03tdc/08-04-03dnews-05.asp
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2006, 01:41:15 PM »

Some personal commentary

http://anduril.ca/blog/2004/09/willard-preacher.html
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2006, 04:33:41 PM »

He teaches against the supremacy of the Pope, against the Filioque, against "rock-n-roll worship," against sola scriptura....nothing different than what the Church teaches. I'd say it;s time for you to come visit for a while. Seminarians who are interested in campus ministry come to stay and observe Gary and our OCF because they are examples of what can happen in a good way.

Since he's Orthodox now, his message has changed, so I venture to say that you bascially cannot know anything about his preaching til you come hear it anew.
Is that the proper forum to declare the church's teachings about the Pope and the Scriptures?  I don't know...

I was back for a visit last year and attended a liturgy at your parish.  Very exciting, I believe the church didn't exist when I was a student and I'm pretty certain there was no OCF either.  It was only a brief stay, though, so I didn't go on campus much.  Honestly, when I saw Gary at the liturgy (what a shock Smiley ) I assumed he wouldn't be preaching on campus any longer- didn't seem the "Orthodox" thing to do, so I guess that reveals my assumptions and why I'm asking the questions.  I would definitely have gone to listen in if I'd known.  I've relocated to the West Coast now, so no clue as to when I'd get back that way.

My own priest has warned me against apologetic debates with Protestants, though if no one had ever debated me (gently) I might never have taken Orthodoxy seriously.  It's hard to know where the line is between a profitable and unprofitable discussion.  If you're on a street corner or in front of a busy classroom, how are you to judge that line?
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2006, 06:12:11 PM »

Well, I think that's why he's been doing it so long. You gotta enter into something like this with a lot of humility, patience, and love for those who will be listening and arguing with you. He's very awfully good at presenting his arguments, and when someone keeps insisting on their opinion (when it is illogical, such as saying that life doesnt begin at conception) then it will get steered into another direction, or the antagonish leaves. After 22 years of preaching, debate, and discussion, he pretty much has his arguments formulated.

I think it is an appropriate forum to be discussing the creation of the RCC and Protestant churches and contradicting their teachings. Currently, we have a non-denominational, a Catholic, and an Episcopalian as catechumens who have all been convinced of the truth of Orthodoxy via introduction by Gary (plus several other collegiate catechumens who have also been exposed to Orthodoxy first through Gary.) As they would tell you, they only began to know about Orthodoxy or to see the problem with their traditions when Gary made them think about it.
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2006, 06:19:23 PM »

PS. Apologetic debates with protestants probably wouldnt be the best thing for you as a new Orthodox Christian. You DO have to know where to draw the line. For Gary, whose lifetime has been spent doing this and for whom it is his calling from God, things are different. He's never delved into arguments in the negative sense of the word, shouting, or somehow debasing his opponent in his preaching.

I admit that Gary's methods are not equally benefitial for everyone. Women are noticeably less attracted to discussion with him, and the women that have entered the Church since I have lived here have Gary as only one of the ways they discovered the Church.  But what Gary does is very valuable, because it makes people think, and he has done a LOT of good that I myself have observed as it happens. It's not for everyone, but in a country where no one knows who we are, he gets the word out.

Just today, OCF had an information table at the HUB. A student came by who said he was raised Catholic, now attended non-denominational fellowship, and wanted to know how Orthodoxy was different from other denominations. He said he was interested because the Willard Preacher had said this was the group that was the true Christian Church, so he was curious about it.

You never know what seeds he's planting that may come into fruition decades from now. Atheists are now deacons. It is the working of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2006, 07:59:52 PM »

My own priest has warned me against apologetic debates with Protestants, though if no one had ever debated me (gently) I might never have taken Orthodoxy seriously.

It's not for everyone, but in a country where no one knows who we are, he gets the word out.

Man, choirfiend, I really appreciate your taking the time to contribute to this thread; I have to admit that, reluctant as I am to make bedfellows out of Orthodox Christianity and street preaching--I guess my experiences with "street preachers" and "street evangelism" had been so superficial and meanspirited that I had been hesitant to admit that aggressive preaching and loving, humble spirit don't need to be mutually exclusive--I have to admit that St. Paul's words are true, that they won't hear unless someone preaches, and some folks just aren't going to go into a church to look.  The Church has to go find them, and She must be full of love, humility, and grace when She does so...  Gary may not be the "perfect preacher"--sounds like he himself would quickly agree with that--but his work seems to be bearing fruit.  People who would have never found out about Christianity in general, much less Orthodoxy specifically, are coming into the Ark of Salvation.  May the fruit that he's borne remain.

God be praised, and God bless him.
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2006, 08:00:59 PM »

I'm glad to hear of all that's happening at PSU. ÂÂ It reminds me to keep praying for my alma mater, as I used to so fervently do.  I will also add Gary to my prayers.

As for his preaching, I will take your word for its efficacy.  I would not go so far as to say that he never debased anyone in his preaching ever, but I recognize that my memories of his preaching are just that- memories of things past.  Nor is a burned-out campus minister and new convert the best to make a judgment on the matter.  Wink

I wonder if Fr. Gillquist and the old Becoming Orthodox crowd still have ties to campus ministry?
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2006, 08:01:13 PM »

This is not directed at anyone in particular on this thread, but it's what came to mind when I first went to Gary's website. It's a common interpretation (and a good one) to consider "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit," which cannot be forgiven, to mean refusing to repent. But, fwiw, St. Symeon the New Theologian said that it meant attacking and denying someone's ministry and actions when that person's words and deeds were really from God. In other words, if God has blessed someone to do something, even something maybe a little strange, and you condemn them, then you are (according to St. Symeon) blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I don't know that such a belief can be pushed too far, but it's interesting to think about when considering some of the more "unique" ministries of others. I suppose if we can have an entire classification of saints known as "Fools for Christ,"  we should be ready to accept many peculiar things done through God's grace.
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2006, 11:58:24 PM »

I wonder if Fr. Gillquist and the old Becoming Orthodox crowd still have ties to campus ministry?

In a way, yes.  Fr. Jon Stephen Hedges is a regular on the UCSB and Westmont College campuses, even guest teaching a few lectures in certain religious classes at Westmont (don't know/remember which classes - I think they were general Christian/Christian History classes).
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