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Author Topic: To GOA or not to GOA, that is the question  (Read 17049 times) Average Rating: 0
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amnesiac99
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« Reply #90 on: April 11, 2006, 04:55:15 PM »

So my family is in the process of converting, as is another couple we know, but we're not fully decided on jurisdiction.  There isn't an Orthodox parish that is precisely convenient to our house.  I'm leaning toward the GOA parish, as it is closest.  Downside is that part of the liturgy is still in Greek.  OTOH, the closest OCA is 30 minutes away in good weather, and the liturgy begins at 9 am, which would require having the troops up and moving fairly early.

At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism.  My intention is decidedly not to start a jurisdiction bashing contest, but would be interested in the perspectives of folks from different jurisdictions as to the state of their own jurisdictions.  Thanks!

I realize I'm coming to this thread rather late, but having spent most of my early time in the Church at a GOA parish I have an definite opinion on this. With regard to ecumenism, GiC is absolutely correct -- the OCA is basically on the same page with GOA in terms of ecumenical activity. My problem with GOA is not its "liberalsim" with respect to ecumenism, but its liberalism with respect to Orthodoxy. The priest who catechized and baptized me (though a lovely and God-fearing man) left me unprepared to live a thoroughly Orthodox life. I was taught that fasting was a nominal and, more or less, optional part of the faith, and that confession was something I only needed perhaps once a year, if that. I initially chalked this up to a priest who was either disillusioned with the faith or simply derelict in his pastoral duties, but the more people I spoke to about GOA, the more similar stories I heard. Most of the liturgy was performed in Greek, which is contrary to the Orthodox custom of celebrating divine services in the vernacular, and the annual Greek Festival seemed to gain more attention than any substantive Orthodox services.

I don't mean to cast aspersions on everyone (whether clergy or laity) in the Greek Archdiocese, but it seems common knowledge among many that the GOA tends too often to emphasize Hellenism and ethnic pride over the Orthodox Catholic faith. I currently attend a vibrant Antiochian parish, and my fiancee is coming into the Church via the OCA, which is where we will be together and raise our family. I cannot tell anyone what to do in such a situation (no one online really can), but my experiences took me away from GOA and I would not return unless I had no other option.
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« Reply #91 on: April 11, 2006, 05:48:06 PM »

My problem with GOA is not its "liberalsim" with respect to ecumenism, but its liberalism with respect to Orthodoxy. The priest who catechized and baptized me (though a lovely and God-fearing man) left me unprepared to live a thoroughly Orthodox life. I was taught that fasting was a nominal and, more or less, optional part of the faith, and that confession was something I only needed perhaps once a year, if that. I initially chalked this up to a priest who was either disillusioned with the faith or simply derelict in his pastoral duties, but the more people I spoke to about GOA, the more similar stories I heard...

So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?
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« Reply #92 on: April 11, 2006, 06:27:34 PM »

So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?

Yeah, nice hyperbole.   Roll Eyes No, that they are essentially undisciplined liturgically and pietistically and out of touch with the local community that they OUGHT to be MINISTERING to as opposed to the the current "faithful" that they are PANDERING to. THAT is how I interpret amnesiac's statement.
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« Reply #93 on: April 11, 2006, 06:42:55 PM »

So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?

A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
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« Reply #94 on: April 11, 2006, 08:28:03 PM »

A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.

In order to lead them to where they need to be he must go to where the people are. There is no one size fits all approach to anything and different approaches are needed for different people.  
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« Reply #95 on: April 19, 2006, 02:41:21 PM »

A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.

Don't expect reasonability from GiC. He regards any sign of traditional Orthodox piety as "cultish" and those who practice such piety as fanatics and Pharisees. I suspect that given his way, Orthodox worship would not be discernible from low-church Protestantism.
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« Reply #96 on: April 19, 2006, 05:21:18 PM »

Peter

Quote
A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.

Isn't it sort of both?

Quote
As then the same medicine and the same food are not in every case administered to men's bodies, but a difference is made according to their degree of health or infirmity; so also are souls treated with varying instruction and guidance. To this treatment witness is borne by those who have had experience of it. Some are led by doctrine, others trained by example; some need the spur, others the curb; some are sluggish and hard to rouse to the good, and must be stirred up by being smitten with the word; others are immoderately fervent in spirit, with impulses difficult to restrain, like thoroughbred colts, who run wide of the turning post, and to improve them the word must have a restraining and checking influence.

Some are benefited by praise, others by blame, both being applied in season; while if out of season, or unreasonable, they are injurious; some are set right by encouragement, others by rebuke; some, when taken to task in public, others, when privately corrected. For some are wont to despise private admonitions, but are recalled to their senses by the condemnation of a number of people, while others, who would grow reckless under reproof openly given, accept rebuke because it is in secret, and yield obedience in return for sympathy.

Upon some it is needful to keep a close watch, even in the minutest details, because if they think they are unperceived (as they would contrive to be), they are puffed up with the idea of their own wisdom: Of others it is better to take no notice, but seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear them, according to the proverb, that we may not drive them to despair, under the depressing influence of repeated reproofs, and at last to utter recklessness, when they have lost the sense of self-respect, the source of persuasiveness. In some cases we must even be angry, without feeling angry, or treat them with a disdain we do not feel, or manifest despair, though we do not really despair of them, according to the needs of their nature. Others again we must treat with condescension and lowliness, aiding them readily to conceive a hope of better things. Some it is often more advantageous to conquer-by others to be overcome, and to praise or deprecate, in one case wealth and power, in another poverty and failure. - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 2, 30-32
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« Reply #97 on: April 19, 2006, 05:44:09 PM »



So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?

A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.

Peter

Isn't it sort of both?

Within the context of my original post, I said what I meant to say.  I wanted to address GiC's statement with a contrasting pov that I believe is more Orthodox.

In answer to your question, I always have recognized that the priest needs to meet each person where he/she is AND lead the person to where he/she needs to be.  You are right.
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« Reply #98 on: April 20, 2006, 09:53:13 AM »

Greeting all,

As others have pointed out, no jurisdiction is monolithic. A Greek parish in any given city may be more or less "American" or "Orthodox" or "ethnic" than a neighboring "Serbian" or "Antiochian" or "OCA" parish. Every parish -- of all jurisdictions -- has its own history, its own ethos, its own mix of communicants and, above all, its own type of priest. Thus, especially when a parish is a decent drive outside of any major metropolitan area (and thus relatively isolated from external influence or oversight), there is plenty of room for diversity, particularly in regards to things like catechetical practices, frequency of services, style of iconography/architecture, quality of chanting, homiletic excellence (or lack thereof), spiritual awareness, outreach and ministry, etc.

While there are certain jurisdictional trends, I think we should be quite hesitant to universalize our experience of one or two -- or 20 -- parishes of a certain jurisdiction and, instead, look at the individual parish.

Furthermore, a certain jurisdictional trend may or may not be a good thing. It all depends on how it is instantiated in a particular parish.

For example, I know certain Greek parishes that are fairly ethnic, but whose ethnic identity is generally a very positive thing, in so far as it is subordinated to the people's (and the priest's!) Christian identity and mission. In these cases, ethnic ties serve to root the faith in deep experience, familial history and day-to-day life.

I also know of other Orthodox parishes, of various jurisdictions, whose high number of converts have caused schism, strife and liturgical/spiritual innovation. (In one OCA parish where many, including the priest, come from a Lutheran background, there have been some rather strange Lutheran influences...and other innovations, whose origins I do not know, such as processing with the offering box during the Great Entrance).

Thus, while the convert-friendliness or convert-ratio of a given jurisdiction or parish could be an important indicator of that jurisdiction's or parish's commitment to missions and evangelism, it could also have unfortunate consequences in a particular parish setting.

Neither "ethnicity" nor "convertiness" is bad, but both are subject to abuse. Ethnicity can support the faith...or it can replace, hinder and obscure the faith. A parish made up of neophytes could be one strongly committed to a zealous life in Christ, or it could be susceptible to passing fancy, intellectualized spirituality and book-based Orthodoxy.

It all depends on the particular parish and, above all, the leadership of the local clergy.

(As for the other canonical questions regarding unity and autocephaly in America: Is there a unique thread for it?)

Kalo Pascha, everyone!

Best wishes,
Seraphim
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« Reply #99 on: April 20, 2006, 10:00:29 AM »

Pensateomnia,

Excellent post! I also hope to see more such well thought postings from you in the future!

All too often people look at the GOA as some sort of Vast Machine cranking out Hellenized individuals, instead of the diverse group of people that it actually is.
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« Reply #100 on: April 20, 2006, 11:13:55 AM »

(In one OCA parish where many, including the priest, come from a Lutheran background, there have been some rather strange Lutheran influences...and other innovations, whose origins I do not know, such as processing with the offering box during the Great Entrance).

Woa.  That is weird...and stupid.

Great post, btw.
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« Reply #101 on: April 20, 2006, 11:15:29 AM »

All too often people look at the GOA as some sort of Vast Machine cranking out Hellenized individuals, instead of the diverse group of people that it actually is.

While it is better (and I WANT to feel this way) to concentrate on the latter, there are a lot of vibes still given off of the former.
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« Reply #102 on: April 20, 2006, 01:24:28 PM »

While it is better (and I WANT to feel this way) to concentrate on the latter, there are a lot of vibes still given off of the former.

Please define "a lot"....

Of the 12 HCHCers who post here, two are cradles, and only one is Greek.

While chanting in my local parish for this Holy Week, we have been instructed by the priest to use Greek only very, very sparingly. This is because of the diverse group of people within my very typical, middle sized GOA hometown parish.

Perhaps you may have come across the individual parishes that may be very close to their ethnic roots. However, any large ship takes a while to make a course correction. So, while you may find some parishes that still use about half Greek nowadays, think of what the percentage of Greek use was 10-15 years ago.

What's intriguing to me is that many more people are able to either not be bothered by those claiming the GOA is trying to 'Hellenize' them, or else do not see the culture of the GOA as being very different from what they experience outside of church.

So, really, I want to know your definitions of what "a lot of vibes" are. Please indicate to me who you measured them, and how you are aware of these 'vibes' while the majority of posters here going to the GOA seminary are not bothered by these invisible "vibes" that only you perceive...

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« Reply #103 on: April 20, 2006, 01:49:43 PM »

Of the 12 HCHCers who post here, two are cradles, and only one is Greek.

Bravo Chris and Seraphim.  As the 1 "cradle" Greek, I have little perspective on your struggles, but I do know that you both are fine ambassadors of Orthodoxy (and true Christian Hellenism) to the world.
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« Reply #104 on: April 20, 2006, 11:03:29 PM »

While chanting in my local parish for this Holy Week, we have been instructed by the priest to use Greek only very, very sparingly. This is because of the diverse group of people within my very typical, middle sized GOA hometown parish.

Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and  the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.

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« Reply #105 on: April 21, 2006, 02:41:45 AM »

Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and  the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.



Chris,
As my first counter example, I present you Timos's post....

Hmmm, how about....the GOA parish in Vallejo is mostly Greeks and does at least 50% Greek.  The GOA parish in Novato about the same, ditto Annunciation on Valencia St. in San Francisco, St. Demetrios in Concord as well, I've been told Holy Trinity in SF is uses a lot of Greek too, St. Barbara's in Santa Barbara as well....now St. George's in Redding, CA didn't really use any and was very mixed, but they imploded 2 years ago and were reincarnated as an OCA mission.....not that I don't like these parishes, but that's them facts.

So....how do you think I get these vibes?  Many posts from other regulars on this forum seem to corroborate my impressions too.

Yes, maybe you and your fellow HCHC seminarians are different...great!  I wish more were!
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« Reply #106 on: April 21, 2006, 07:46:01 AM »

Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and  the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.  

I'm sorry your experience is different, but don't question the validity of Chris' statement... just as I won't question the validity of your experience, either.

It should be noted that your Archdiocese (Canada, eh?) is more conservative - a bit like where the US GOA was about 10-15 years ago.  I've had this conversation with Fr. Stavros Chadzis, who is in a Canadian parish now, but also attended HC.  (Great guy, BTW)
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« Reply #107 on: April 21, 2006, 09:44:58 AM »

Chris,
As my first counter example, I present you Timos's post....

Hmmm, how about....the GOA parish in Vallejo is mostly Greeks and does at least 50% Greek.  The GOA parish in Novato about the same, ditto Annunciation on Valencia St. in San Francisco, St. Demetrios in Concord as well, I've been told Holy Trinity in SF is uses a lot of Greek too, St. Barbara's in Santa Barbara as well....now St. George's in Redding, CA didn't really use any and was very mixed, but they imploded 2 years ago and were reincarnated as an OCA mission.....not that I don't like these parishes, but that's them facts.

So....how do you think I get these vibes?  Many posts from other regulars on this forum seem to corroborate my impressions too.

Yes, maybe you and your fellow HCHC seminarians are different...great!  I wish more were!

Timos and Elisha,

Well, at my home parish last night in the 12 Gospels service, Greek was only used at one occaison, and that was followed immediately by English...the person messed up at the chanter's stand and read it in Greek, and then corrected his mistake.

Btw--there was no choir. Only three chanters.

The two neighboring GOA parishes are in the same boat, except they used more Greek...up to 10% of all that was spoken in one case!

What I find interesting, Elisha and Timos, is that your own posts support my contention more than your own. The GOA is a large group of people, with many parishes that have different needs. The priest should be able to exercise a pastoral decision to use whatever language suits the parish at that time.

You may dispute the decision made by the priest, but as soon as you are able to know all the factors involved in that preist's decision, let me know. Your powers of clairvoyance are quite remarkable indeed.

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« Reply #108 on: April 21, 2006, 11:02:06 AM »

Woah. Stavros was ordained? Axios!

Some thoughts:

Liturgical language is part of, but not coterminous with, the larger questions of ethnicity, identity and ecclesial mission. And like so many pastoral issues, these questions (especially the particular question of liturgical language) are at least as much about perception as they are about the “facts.” Converts, especially after having bad experiences with particular people or parishes whom they perceive to be ethnocentric, also perceive “a lot” of Greek to be bad thing; and yet, after experiencing the same service or parish, other people, including ethnic parishioners who may have grown up in that community, may perceive things very differently.

We have to have some Christian sensitivity for both perspectives. And while I have encountered the occasional hard-line Greek who simply can’t understand why Americans call for English in the Greek Orthodox Church — such people are few and far between — I also have a hard time finding a charitable convert who has taken the time to understand ethnic people’s perspectives.

It’s very easy for us as individuals to reify or universalize our own experience and understanding of what the “facts” of the matter are — not to mention our own expectations of what the Church should be. You see, we, as converts, have a substantial personal investment in the Church as Apostolic and Catholic. We may have sacrificed family, friend and money in order to pursue what we felt was God’s will; and we cannot understand why anyone would try to run a Church — especially its worship services! — on principles other than those derived from Scripture and Tradition.

That’s our story. But what about those people who have been in the Church for years? They too have a substantial personal investment in the Church as part of their broader religious, social and cultural story. The Church, perhaps even the particular parish in question, is where they grew up, where they went to Church every Sunday, where they went to Greek School and GOYA and played basketball as a kid. Even in cases where such a person may also understand the ecclesial nature of their parish, they may not want to jettison the ethnic and linguistic trappings that remind them of the other aspects of their Church-related experience. They may not be hostile to change, but change is difficult and painful nonetheless. It requires a sacrifice. Do we honor that sacrifice? Do we even recognize it as real and meaningful?

Thus, we see that the “language” issue is more complex than definitions and doctrine. Beneath the typical lines of argument, resides a deeper emotional struggle. The convert, or the person who married into the Church, may feel isolated by what he perceives as an un-Christian — or at least unwelcoming — culture of ethnically-based cliques; while the ethnic parishioner may fear that change will alter the character of a place he finds familiar and comforting.

Is it wrong to feel nostalgia for the familiar — to feel confused by change, or even threatened? No. These are natural human feelings.

Consider this true story: A 25-year-old Greek guy came to the US from Greece with no money, worked 12-hour shifts for 38 years, helped build his parish with his own hands, has been getting up early on Sunday mornings to come chant Orthros for 30 years, and now people are telling him that he’s ethnocentric or not really Orthodox or should stop chanting because he doesn’t chant enough in English.

Naturally, he’s feeling a bit confused and threatened.

Is the Christian response to people who have these feelings to condemn them? To declare that they don’t “understand” what Orthodoxy is really about? To ignore their pastoral and spiritual needs?

More real-life case studies: Many old Greeks, who don’t even really speak English, have told me (in Greek) that they’ll come to whatever service the Church offers in whatever language. Still others, including another extremely old Greek chanter I know, have been inspired to try to chant in English. He’s doing quite well. Until very recently, chanting in a proper Byzantine style in English was actually quite difficult, given the lack of proper musical settings, translations and publications. Now that such is beginning to change, so too are people whom others labeled “ethnocentric” or “out of touch” or not really Orthodox.

Of course, most cases are not so black and white. Consider, for example, these things in light of theories of ritual language, e.g. Catherine Bell, Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). According to this line of thinking, some parts of liturgical services are intended to educate (e.g. the sermon), but other portions, especially prayers, are more concerned with “expressional forms.” This is most certainly the case in many Greek parishes, so clearly evident when hymns like “O Champion General” are chanted in Greek — one of the few instances when almost everyone will join in. Even though some parishioners may not understand the words, the very act of signing a familiar hymn as a group supports a certain kind of communal identity and provides a sense of historical continuity. Again, the emotional significance of the language, which provides a connection to an imagined past, is paramount.

Don’t understand what I mean? One particular priest in the Greek Archdiocese insists on 100 percent English. A good seminarian friend of mine, who was recently acting as the visiting chanter at this parish, chanted the whole service in English, as the priest adamantly demanded, but, after the dismissal, repeated the well-known apolytikion in Greek. Several older parishioners came up to him in tears and told him how touched they were to hear a hymn they recognized from their childhood after so many years.

I deal with this problem regularly, since I help a certain priest in the area when he goes to local nursing homes. Whenever we celebrate a Divine Liturgy in a nursing home, I have to decide which language to use and in what proportion. On the one hand, there are usually a number of Catholics who decide to attend the Liturgy, as well as some younger family members of the elderly Greek Orthodox people. Thus, for them, I try to use as much English as possible. But the only time *anyone* ever sings along is when I chant in Greek. Thus, I’ll usually chant all of the well-known parts of the Liturgy in Greek, since all of the elderly Greeks respond immediately and joyously. While they would be happy if I did *everything* in English — they are just thrilled to be able to attend a Liturgy — the Greek is familiar to them. It speaks to their heart in a special way. It reminds them of fonder memories from younger days, and it allows them to participate in the Liturgy itself.

Are these people not really Orthodox because they can’t let go of their ethnic heritage for the sake of the universality and accessibility of the Church?

Anyway, without knowing the particular makeup of any given parish — nor the attitudes and actions of the people therein — I would be very hesitant to conclude that a parish that uses 50 percent Greek in its services was somehow falling short of the mark. In fact, 50 percent Greek/English sounds rather progressive to me, given all of the things mentioned above. Some parishes can and should use more English, but, in general, I would consider 50 percent to be a hopeful sign of the parish’s openness to change, flexibility and compromise.

In the end, these attitudes are what matter most. Only as we respond to all people — American or Greek — with love and understanding (not to mention catechetical and mystagogical initiation) will the inner man, with all his sinful preoccupations, be transformed in the eschatological experience of Liturgy. Externals, such as language, will follow thereafter.
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« Reply #109 on: April 21, 2006, 11:45:36 AM »

What I find interesting, Elisha and Timos, is that your own posts support my contention more than your own. The GOA is a large group of people, with many parishes that have different needs. The priest should be able to exercise a pastoral decision to use whatever language suits the parish at that time.


And why do you say this?  All my examples point to a large portion or even majority of Greek used.  That gives off "Greek Vibes" from my impression.
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« Reply #110 on: April 21, 2006, 12:27:02 PM »

Prior to Vatican II all Catholic Churches used around 100% Latin...does that mean that they were all culturally very Italic?
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« Reply #111 on: April 21, 2006, 01:14:05 PM »

And why do you say this?  All my examples point to a large portion or even majority of Greek used.  That gives off "Greek Vibes" from my impression.

Elisha,

The original point that I made, which apparently you did not pick up or otherwise ignored, is that the GOA is changing. Then, I also pointed out that these converts apparently do not 'pick up' on these vibes that you and perhaos a few others perceive.

To cite this, I recited stats indicating the large number of converts at the seminary as well as the proportion of Greek used in my home parish last night along with the predominance of English in neighboring parishes.

Not one to let facts sway your opinion, you gave out anecdotes indicating that parishes with Greeks in the majority used Greek in their liturgy. This is an amazing revelation! I suppose next thing you'll tell me is that the GOA should have Spanish-speaking priests to evangelize Hispanics (which the GOA does, btw).

Then, a poster from Canada indicates that they use a lot of Greek in a Greek-majority parish that is not in the GOA. This you somehow believe supports your opinion, even though he is not in the GOA to begin with.

However, it is noted that the Greek chuch in Canada is like the GOA was 10-15 years ago. So, Timos' post is most useful in showing how much the GOA has changed, not how it currently is.

Regarding the 'vibes'---again, if the 'vibes' you report are so everpresent, then please explain the large number of converts in the GOA on this board. If these 'vibes' are there, why do we not seem to be bothered by them?

Could it be that, if in fact these 'vibes' exist, that they do not seem to be the obstacle your blanket statement presents them to be?
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« Reply #112 on: April 21, 2006, 02:34:45 PM »

chris,
Sure it is changing and it is great!  But the representation of several GOA converts on a message board doesn't necessarily prove anything except self-selection regarding internet message board usage.


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« Reply #113 on: April 21, 2006, 02:36:19 PM »

chris,
Sure it is changing and it is great!  But the representation of several GOA converts on a message board doesn't necessarily prove anything except self-selection regarding internet message board usage.




Indeed! That is why I gave examples of what was going on in my parish, the parishes around me, as well as a reference to the GOA using Spanish speaking priests in Hispanic missions.
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« Reply #114 on: April 21, 2006, 02:37:18 PM »

Prior to Vatican II all Catholic Churches used around 100% Latin...does that mean that they were all culturally very Italic?

That's make about as valid a comparison as Pieroshki vs Spanikopita or Beer vs Wine - it doesn't work.
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« Reply #115 on: April 21, 2006, 02:40:17 PM »

That's make about as valid a comparison as Pieroshki vs Spanikopita or Beer vs Wine - it doesn't work.

I know for this GOA guy...I choose pieroshki/pierogis and beer over spanokopita (shudder...) and wine any day! Cheesy
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« Reply #116 on: April 21, 2006, 04:12:07 PM »

I know for this GOA guy...I choose pieroshki/pierogis and beer over spanokopita (shudder...) and wine any day! Cheesy

Me too...although the beverages were necessarily meant to be paired... Wink...just got home from a haircut, picking up rich tasting goodies for Pascha basket and then get to go back to church (after Royal Hours this morning) for Vespers when the Burialplaschataphios is brought out (how's that for a hybrid word).
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« Reply #117 on: April 21, 2006, 05:31:10 PM »

Me too...although the beverages were necessarily meant to be paired... Wink...just got home from a haircut, picking up rich tasting goodies for Pascha basket and then get to go back to church (after Royal Hours this morning) for Vespers when the Burialplaschataphios is brought out (how's that for a hybrid word).

mmmm...rich tasting goodies...mmmm

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« Reply #118 on: April 24, 2006, 02:51:57 AM »

A good article to read regarding the relationship between Orthodoxy and ethnicity:

http://www.jacwell.org/Fall_Winter99/Fr_Schmemann_The_canonical_problem.htm#NationalPluralismandCanonicalUnity
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« Reply #119 on: May 10, 2006, 05:05:37 PM »

To return to the original question, AF wrote: "At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism."

Ecumenism...how might you define that? Like, for example, welcoming non-Greeks to their church? Smiley

The Greek Orthodox Church that I attend in the upper Midwest might engage in some activities that some might define as "ecumenist." For instance, our church gives church tours to confirmation classes from other churches. We have an agreement with a Methodist church a block away that they will let us use their parking lot during our Greek Food Fair. And when an arsonist damaged that church, our priest encouraged us to attend a benefit concert whose funds will go to repair that church.

If by ecumenist you mean whether we intercommune with those of other faiths...no, we do not. But when I was considering whether to convert, I noticed that my Orthodox friends would sometimes take an extra piece of blessed bread (which is NOT considered part of the communion), and would offer it to me. That simple act convinced me that the GOA was where I belonged...even if I still find it hard to say "ek to pnevmati sou" (and with your spirit).
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« Reply #120 on: May 10, 2006, 08:33:13 PM »

Not to be a nitpick but I'm going to be.  It's "kai to pnevmati sou" not "ek"  sorry.. Grin

I don't think the examples you mentioned are the type of ecumenism that the GOA or EP are being accused of.  Its much more technical and breaching on what some would consider heresy or trespasing of faith.  Some bishops have served or partook in services with other faiths, which is (i'm pretty sure) expressly forbidden. 

The examples you gave are much more along the lines with, hey lets all help each other out since we believe (generally) in the same God.  Just some thoughts...
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« Reply #121 on: June 18, 2006, 02:09:35 AM »

Here is a good Question. Now where I live inÂÂ California, I live in the Subs of Los Angeles called the San Fernando Valley.ÂÂ  there are two GOA and one OCA. I would think that since the OCA is growing that they would have more Churches where I live. I have heard a lot of comments from Saint Innocent's Orthodox Church which is OCA were I go some times. some of the people live in the same area as I do and have to travel to Saint Innocents which is about 20 mins from where we live. They would like to see an another Orthodox Church in our area besides the GOA Churches.
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« Reply #122 on: June 18, 2006, 08:31:34 AM »

I would think that all three parishes are growing. Given your follow-up, I'm not sure exactly what your question is; why not visit all three and decide for yourself?
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« Reply #123 on: June 18, 2006, 01:52:18 PM »

I would think that since the OCA is growing that they would have more Churches where I live.

According to what report is the OCA growing (especially in relation to other jurisdictions)? I'm actually quite curious, since all sources have been reporting OCA membership at surprisingly low levels for some time now. When I was a member of the OCA, I certainly wouldn't have assumed such was the case simply based on my personal experience -- everyone seems to unduly universalize their personal experience! -- but that's what the actual numbers indicate.

Regardless, rate of growth itself is hardly a legitimate means of determining prevalence or size. Many "fastest growing" groups are actually groups that are very tiny in a particular region, since everyone likes to jump on new band wagons. (That applies to all things, not just religions).
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« Reply #124 on: June 18, 2006, 10:21:17 PM »

My belief is that the GOA will eventually lean towards a English liturgy. Fact being that no more Greeks really come to America. They now have it to good in the EU. Most Greeks in America now are 2nd and 3rd generation. Some don't even speak Greek. Eventually this will shift the liturgy over to English. Personally for me there would be much loss without Greek hyms. As they send chills down my spine and tears from my eye's. I always wonder if the Ottomen empire never came about how much of the world would know Greek. In any event. Time will surely change the language used in the GOA church.
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« Reply #125 on: June 18, 2006, 10:48:49 PM »

According to what report is the OCA growing (especially in relation to other jurisdictions)? I'm actually quite curious, since all sources have been reporting OCA membership at surprisingly low levels for some time now. When I was a member of the OCA, I certainly wouldn't have assumed such was the case simply based on my personal experience -- everyone seems to unduly universalize their personal experience! -- but that's what the actual numbers indicate.

Regardless, rate of growth itself is hardly a legitimate means of determining prevalence or size. Many "fastest growing" groups are actually groups that are very tiny in a particular region, since everyone likes to jump on new band wagons. (That applies to all things, not just religions).

I think someone here posted in the past that OCA parishes in the West and Midwest are growing, but in the east coast they are shrinking...and at a faster rate than the others are growing.
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« Reply #126 on: June 19, 2006, 10:30:19 AM »

I think someone here posted in the past that OCA parishes in the West and Midwest are growing, but in the east coast they are shrinking...and at a faster rate than the others are growing.

Perhaps like the ACROD - rust belt parishes are dwindling, those in sun belt are growing.
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« Reply #127 on: June 19, 2006, 11:13:45 AM »

I think someone here posted in the past that OCA parishes in the West and Midwest are growing, but in the east coast they are shrinking...and at a faster rate than the others are growing.

Interesting, especially since the rust belt is THE traditional stronghold of the OCA. Perhaps this is simply the result of demographics: Carpatho-Russian communities are dwindling/dying out/going to other churches, and, thus, the OCA's overall numbers are dropping.

I'm rather curious about what is causing the trend. Are these traditional communities failing because of population migration, or because they haven't been bringing in converts for years? Or both?

If it's because of population migration, then perhaps the growth in the sun belt and West is not so much the result of mass conversion as it is the result of a population shift. It's certainly possible, considering the fact that the overall numbers are dropping despite growth in one area. (10 OCA communicants leave the rust belt for the West; 5 never attend an OCA parish again, perhaps because there isn't one nearby, perhaps because of conviction, perhaps because they only cared about their home/ethnic parish; 5 find a new Western OCA parish; 2 previously non-Orthodox Christians enter the OCA in the West. The end result is a drop in 3 communicants overall, despite the fact that the West has "grown" by 7 members).
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« Reply #128 on: June 19, 2006, 05:37:28 PM »

I'm generally against parish-shopping, but if there is something truly wrong with the close one, then you need to go where you're family will be able to grow in Christ.

I'd say to give the local church a shot (the GOA parish) and see how it goes.  If only part of the Liturgy is in Greek, you should be fine - the books are normally pretty good to follow along in.

My wife and I tried that (going to the closer, Antiochian church) about 7  years after moving here.  After getting tired of all the squabbling and priest shopping by those with ITBS, I'm The Boss Syndrome, (and there were many) we left.  The only closer churches are about 100+ miles roundtrip. Greek, OCA and a monestary, So we try to get to one of them on the major feasts and home church the rest of the year.  That's why I was looking for reader services online.  I'd like to take a trip to HC bookstore soon to get what we need.
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« Reply #129 on: June 19, 2006, 07:40:01 PM »

Interesting, especially since the rust belt is THE traditional stronghold of the OCA. Perhaps this is simply the result of demographics: Carpatho-Russian communities are dwindling/dying out/going to other churches, and, thus, the OCA's overall numbers are dropping.

I'm rather curious about what is causing the trend. Are these traditional communities failing because of population migration, or because they haven't been bringing in converts for years? Or both?

If it's because of population migration, then perhaps the growth in the sun belt and West is not so much the result of mass conversion as it is the result of a population shift. It's certainly possible, considering the fact that the overall numbers are dropping despite growth in one area. (10 OCA communicants leave the rust belt for the West; 5 never attend an OCA parish again, perhaps because there isn't one nearby, perhaps because of conviction, perhaps because they only cared about their home/ethnic parish; 5 find a new Western OCA parish; 2 previously non-Orthodox Christians enter the OCA in the West. The end result is a drop in 3 communicants overall, despite the fact that the West has "grown" by 7 members).

Warning:  this is pure speculation.

I think what may be happening is a) failure to keep the younger generation attending church and b) inability to attract enough converts.  From my impression of "the rust belt", people tend to be more clanish and less open to those outside of their ethnic group.  I'm guessing that those in "the rust belt" want to hang on to being "Russian"/"Greek"/etc. and unwilling to see things from a broader perspective.  Of course, I could be completely wrong. Smiley
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« Reply #130 on: June 19, 2006, 08:02:36 PM »

people tend to be more clanish and less open to those outside of their ethnic group.ÂÂ  

I have that to be true in both some Greek and Antiochian parishes I have been to, not just as a visitor, but as a prospective parishioner.  And not only being outside of the ethnic group, but in some Greek parishes (I am Greek) I don't feel welcome (no one approaches to introduce themselves or to welcome you) and my wife not being Greek, and blonde, has never been approached by any ladies.
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« Reply #131 on: June 20, 2006, 08:33:44 AM »

I have that to be true in both some Greek and Antiochian parishes I have been to, not just as a visitor, but as a prospective parishioner.  And not only being outside of the ethnic group, but in some Greek parishes (I am Greek) I don't feel welcome (no one approaches to introduce themselves or to welcome you) and my wife not being Greek, and blonde, has never been approached by any ladies.

And I've seen this clannish attitude in some Carpatho-Russian 'rust-belt' parishes as well. However, I am not sure there are hard and fast rules here. We have been to parishes from all three noted above and had totally opposite experiences within jurisdictions also. Not only the laity affect this, but clergy as well. Being 'Hellenic-American' with a blonde 'American' convert wife, I understand the comment above from experience in a couple Greek parishes - and then in others quite the opposite.
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« Reply #132 on: June 20, 2006, 09:39:39 AM »

I'm guessing that those in "the rust belt" want to hang on to being "Russian"/"Greek"/etc. and unwilling to see things from a broader perspective.  Of course, I could be completely wrong. Smiley

I would imagine you most certainly are, at least if you mean that such an "unwillingness" explains what has become a full-fledged demographic shift in the Church's numbers. It's far too subjective, not to mention the fact that it ignores the obvious (which is what I was hinting at in my previous post):

The "rust belt" states have been shrinking in comparative population quite dramatically for some time now. In fact, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, the areas of traditional OCA strength (especially Pennsylvania) are at the very bottom of the heap (Pennsylvania was 48th in population growth, followed only by West Virginia, North Dakota and D.C. -- the former two of which had almost zero growth and the latter of which had 6 percent FEWER residents!!!). Basically, people are either dying and not being replaced, or they are moving away. Kids go to college and never return. Seniors leave for Florida. Middle-aged businessmen decide to jump ship and go where things are hot.

And where are all these people going (including no small number of Orthodox Christians)? To the very states where the Church is "growing." Florida and Texas both grew about 23 percent in the 90s alone! Oregon grew 20 percent. California grew 13.8 percent, etc. Some of that growth is obviously through immigration, but not all of it.

Anyway, that seems to account for a good deal of what's going on. Anecdotally, I know of several parishes in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania (some Russian, some OCA, some Carpatho-Russian, some Romanian), which have withered away to nothing in the last 50 years because the entire original immigrant population has literally disappeared. The first generation of kids moved away immediately to bigger and better places and, eventually, the local plant closed down, so the immigrants either retired to Florida or moved to wherever their kids are (NOT the rust belt, in general). Sure, those rust belt parishes should have been attracting converts but (a) hardly anyone was doing that in the 60s and 70s and (b) even 20 or 30 people ain't enough for a parish to survive. At any rate, once the downward spiral of population migration starts, it's tough to reverse the momentum of the parish.

Certainly ethnicity plays a role in particular places, but, in general, I haven't seen many parishes that suffer over-much because of that reason exclusively (even if they are very "ethnic"), as long as the population itself sticks around. In my hometown, for example, my parish is quite "ethnic," and it was even more so when it started out in the 50s and 60s, but because most of the original families (now quite extended families) stayed in town, the parish is doing well. Some of the original kids married all kinds of Americans, many of whom converted; others married within the Greek community. Yiayia and Papou are still around -- even great-grandma comes to Church! And, of course, a good number of people converted out of conviction (my family included). My wife, for example, is a born-and-bread sausage-loving southern German (blonde hair, et al.), and yet she always wants to go back to our home parish so she can visit with all the old (and largely illiterate) Greek yiayiades, who coo over her like nothing you've ever seen! In my experience, the largest barrier in these kinds of parishes is not actually ethnic or even language-based, but more generational. Some young women, unlike my wife, don't "get along" with the established women in the parish because they don't share any of the same values (cooking TONS of food, raising their families in the Church, etc.). My wife, however, is a baker's daughter and took to making koliva, Greek sweets, food, etc. immediately in the Church kitchen. And the women just LOVE a "young, beautiful girl who like to cook." Is good girl, as they say. (But that's another story!)
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« Reply #133 on: June 20, 2006, 05:37:02 PM »

Personally for me there would be much loss without Greek hyms. As they send chills down my spine and tears from my eye's. . . . Time will surely change the language used in the GOA church.

Although I was never fluent in church Greek, but since a child, hearing the hymns chanted in Greek always gave me goose bumps, and still do.  It's just not the same in English and hearing them in Arabic triggers other emotions.  Every Holy Week, as far back as I can remember, I start crying during the hymns.  Sad tears, joyful tears.  I truly believe that the Orthodox churches, all jurisdictions, have to go to English in this country if they want to attract and keep the youth and young adults in the church.  The ancient church has to somehow, and I hate using this word, 'compete' with other modern English speaking denominations (another word I don't particularly care for).  Because operate as we did back in the day, the young converts, and even the cradle Orthodox who have not been raised in the church, just don't have the patience to learn the history behind it.  They seem to want everything, including knowledge, given to them pre-packaged with little or no effort on their part.
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« Reply #134 on: June 26, 2006, 09:13:33 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=8406.msg124900#msg124900 date=1150727419]
Perhaps like the ACROD - rust belt parishes are dwindling, those in sun belt are growing.
[/quote]

I disagree with this. 90% of the ACROD parishes are located in areas from Ohio eastward. The heaviest concentrations are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The Deaneries of Chicago and Florida are dwindling in membership almost if not worse than the churches in the other deaneries, but the seat of ACROD is located in Johnstown, PA. However, with Met. Nicholas in charge, who knows where this might go. I can certainly see people fleeing ACROD as many already have. The big problem with ACROD is that the birth rate and retention rate are growing at a much slower rate than the death rate, as ACROD is made up of alot of Elderly members. The children, however, are not really staying in the church as ACROD has developed a very liberal view of orthodoxy (in my opinion of course).

-Nick
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