Author Topic: Where are the younger Orthodox?  (Read 1888 times)

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Offline StGeorge

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Where are the younger Orthodox?
« on: October 22, 2006, 05:33:50 PM »
I went to my first Orthodox Divine Liturgy this morning. (Although, I've been to Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy at least 40 times, so I'm somewhat familiar with the Liturgy.)  The people in the parish really noticed me.  In fact, the priest pointed me out at the end of the Liturgy!  Everyone was friendly, and one gentleman even gave me a piece of blessed bread.  Overall, I was surprised at how welcoming the Orthodox parishoners were, since I had heard from some that parishes can be very ethnic. 

One thing that disturbed me, however, was that 90%+ of the parishoners were senior citizens.  I saw a few really young children but near nobody in their late teens or early twenties.  Besides not being Orthodox, I felt out of place because of the vast age difference.  I'm wondering if this is common in Orthodox parishes.  I went to an OCA parish, btw.

I'm not sure when I'll go back next.  I think the parish is great, but I'm not certain yet if Orthodoxy is where God wants me.  Right now I'm Latin Rite Catholic, but I can't attend Novus Ordo services, and I haven't been to traditional Masses long enough.  So, please pray that God reveal to me the Truth in a clear way!  Thanks!  :)   
« Last Edit: October 22, 2006, 05:37:50 PM by StGeorge »

Offline Anastasios

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2006, 06:01:43 PM »
there are lots of Orthodox young people--our diocese recently formed a youth group and it has a lot of members.  But the thing is, there are serious demographic changes that are affecting Orthodox moreso than others--so in some areas of the country there literally are no young people left. Go to other areas, and there are tons of them because that is where the jobs are. Not knowing where you live, I am not sure what applies to you.
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Offline CRCulver

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2006, 06:08:45 PM »
It differs wildly from parish to parish. In the OCA church I attended when I lived in the U.S., we were mostly young people.

Offline KATHXOYMENOC

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Offline Simayan

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2006, 07:53:33 PM »
Well, Im 16, and we only have about 2-3 'regular' teens in our church. We have a lot of young parents in their 30s, then a LOT of senior citizens. I felt out of place at first, but theyre so friendly I really dont notice the age difference anymore.

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Offline FrChris

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2006, 08:15:41 PM »
In my parish, we have just over 120 kids 18 years or younger enrolled in Sunday School (being the Youth Minister, I know this close to off the top of my head). Some parents will not enroll their kids in the Sunday School, so actually that number I used is a little bit low regarding the number of minors in the parish.

This parish is 'typical' to other GOA parishes I've been to, where it is rare to find anyone in their 20s, and then as people have children they start to attend more regularly. Demographically, we have more of an hourglass with a broad base and broad crown due to those with some (or a lot!) of gray in their hair, but reasonably few young adults making a narrow waist...but I'm working on it!

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Offline Thomas

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 08:31:39 AM »
In my convert parish, we have only 5 people out of 100 who are over 60, however we have about 50 + people in the parish who are under 21. We are just beginning to have  "cradle Orthodox" grandchildren born to those who are now 45-60y.o. in the parish.  I would assume the initial posted found one of the inner city or rustbelt parishes rather than the newer parishes in the demographically growth areas of the Orthodox Church.  Lets face it, as people move on for financial and personal growth, many of our older parishes in the inner cities, manufacturing/mining centers will close just as the  protestant and Roman Catholic Churches have discovered. The metropolitan area that my parish falls in has gone from 1 large Orthodox Parish to 2 Very large parishes, as well as, 1 parish that has come up from a mission to parish status and 2 additional missions in the last 15 years---that is growth!

In Christ,
Thomas
« Last Edit: October 24, 2006, 08:32:53 AM by Thomas »
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Offline aserb

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2006, 09:55:08 AM »
It could just be the demographics of the area that you live in. I see you are from Pennsylvania. Many parts of NE PA are still struggling economically and many young people have left for economic reasons.
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Offline StGeorge

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2006, 11:50:42 AM »
Thanks for your answers!  Yeah, I'm going to school in an area known as the Rust Belt.  Very few jobs left around here.  Most of the people are very old who remain.  I was just surprised that it's that bad!  Well, maybe once I move out of this area I'll take a look at the Orthodox Churches elsewhere.  Thanks again!  :)

Offline PhosZoe

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2006, 01:47:51 PM »
Thanks for your answers!  Yeah, I'm going to school in an area known as the Rust Belt.  Very few jobs left around here.  Most of the people are very old who remain.  I was just surprised that it's that bad!  Well, maybe once I move out of this area I'll take a look at the Orthodox Churches elsewhere.  Thanks again!  :)

Yes, it's purely demographics. My husband and I were chrismated at an all convert parish near where my husband was completing his Masters degree--- Being in a college town it had lots of younger people. My current parish is in a medium sized city, it has a good mix of all ages.  The Byzantine Catholic church my husband and I were married at was mostly senior citizens, we were the first couple to marry in that church in 5 years.

Since you're in the rust belt, your school may have an Orthodox Christian Youth Group?  Also, there has to be more than one Orthodox church where you are located? 

Offline Hladna

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2006, 11:54:57 PM »
Forgive me, I do not want to sound "preachy" but here you have a great opportunity.  One joins the Church to serve God....where is God?  With his people, there in that parish.  They are old, yes, but you have much to offer them as you grow in knowledge of God and Orthodoxy.  What can you offer? 

First, you give the hope of the continued future instead of another parish "dying off" or "going under".  With a young person comes another, and another, just as one Orthodox anywhere brings another.  Next, you give life, energy, vitality, a newness.  I have noticed that many of the aged measure life by their health complaints..."no, no, it was a year after Gertrude's gallbladder..."  or  "well, let's see, I'd already had my heart attack, but it was before that last hospital visit, oh yoy, the stories about that doctor!"  etc.  You offer a vision of life that shows a different perspective.  You offer a vision of the world today, with its problems, concerns, and in that way you offer a third gift of involvement, something that the aged often miss. 

What do you get?  First you get wisdom.  These people have seen so much, so much that you have not arrived at yet.  Second you get Orthodoxy as lived through all the trials, questions, problems, and other temptations that vex us.  How did they get through?  What is Orthodoxy at home, at work, after the nice coffee hour?  Third you get our history.  You maintain connection with our past while you offer them your future.

This does not mean it will be easy.  No, absolutely no.  It will be one of the hardest things you do.  You will know the loneliness of not having many of those your own age.  But your Orthodoxy must learn to accept the challenge of being lived out amongst wherever God sends you.  God will be inside you; guess who's at the outside of you...?   :)

I was going to say I am offering my two cents, but maybe it's only worth one!   :D




Offline bripat22

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2006, 12:56:15 AM »
St George,
     I understand wanting to relate to and have younger people in your parish but my heart is with Hladna here.  The older people in the parish especially the Babushkas will teach you more about being an Orthodox Christian then many others. They have wisdom and they have heart and indeed, they are often the heart and soul of our parishes.  LEARN from them and you wil not stray!
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Where are the younger Orthodox?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2006, 09:44:12 AM »
How True!

I remember when we first became Orthodox that the Ya-yas of the parish took my young daughters under their wing to teach them Greek Cooking to get their Greek Man when they were old enough to get married (none married Greek but they  really know how to knock the socks of their non-Greek Husbands when they cook the full Greek dinner---the husbands and inlaws love it.) They took my wife and myself aside to teach us the Orthopraxis (orthodox practices) that enriched our home as a domestic church and helped us integrate ourselves into the Orthodox Church.  Variously over the years and moving from city to city and  thru the Russian and now Antiochian jurisdictions, we have learned the richness of the cultures  thru our  " adopted grandmothers" and the orthopraxis taught by each of them incorporating it into our own "American"  Orthodox ---this we are passing onto new converts and our own grandchildren providing them with  a culturally rich and diversified Orthodoxy that we hope they will be able to pass on to their next generation of "American" Orthodox Christians.

Thanks to the Ya-yas, Babushkas, and adopted grandmothers for helping us integrate into Orthodoxy over the years, their efforts we hope will continue to help Orthodoxy to grow in America!

In Christ,
Thomas
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