I have a former friend who converted to Catholicism, then, only a couple years later became Orthodox. The parish of which he is a member is either a part of, or a break off of the Evangelical Orthodox Church. I attended a liturgy of theirs once, and while I really liked the reverence and the music, the whole affair struck me as a bit cultish. There seemed to be a strong cult of personality around their aging priest and his wife (whom they all call “mother”), with lots of robe kissing and “sitting at the feet” behaviors during the Liturgy. Perhaps this is normal, as I’ve never been to a “standard” orthodox or Eastern Catholic Liturgy. This individual and his family has broken off all ties with his Catholic former friends, and his online persona has also become quite aggressive as of late, at least in his role as a “defender of the faith.” Can anyone shed any insight into this group?
The Evangelical Orthodox Church was formed from a para-church movement started by several men from the Campus Crusade for Christ organization. The larger portion of that Church came to believe Orthodoxy to be Christ’s Church and so, in accordance with our ecclesiology, recognized the importance of being in communion with the Orthodox Church and joined via the Antiochians. This was years ago.
Some members however did not approve of joining The Orthodox Church and remained “Evangelical Orthodox.” Why they didn’t want to join I do not know, their reasons may be as diverse as their members. I have heard that some issues with EvOC parishes is a cult of personality around their priest which has mostly been dealt with, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this issue remained among those who did not become Orthodox.
Some of what you said, however, isn’t too unusual for authentic Orthodoxy. In the Russian tradition we call our priest’s wife “Matushka” which means “little mother” the same as we call our priest “Bathyuska” which means “little father” and the bishops “Vladyka” which means “Little grandfather” or something. It is unusual though to use the English “Mother” but it’s not technically wrong. There are times, in certain parishes, where the robe of the priest will be kissed. During the sermon, if there are no pews, it’s not uncommon for people to sit on the ground (but I’ve never heard it called “sitting at the feet of”)
Interesting. I had never heard of this church before.
I don’t really know anything about the EvOC beyond what has already been posted, but I find this nomenclature thing really interesting.
In the Coptic Church, the term we use for the priest’s wife is “Tasoni”, which literally means “my sister” in Coptic. I’m not really sure how it developed, but the Coptic word for mother, “mav”, is as far as I know used in the same form (“tamav”) only for the head mother of a convent, like the famous modern Coptic abbess Tamav Irini of the Monastery of St. Philopateer/Abu Seifein in Old Cairo.
In the Chalcedonian Antiochian tradition, being Arab-identifying, the term that is used for the priest’s wife is “Khouria”, which is the feminine version of the Arabic word for “priest” (khoury), though they are of course not actual priests. I’m not sure what the Syriac Orthodox call them. I know that the Syriac form used for priests is “Qashisho” (at least among the Indian Orthodox; I’m assuming it’s the same for others, since it’s the same language), but I don’t think I’ve heard a female form (Qashisha?).
Well, I think the Russian tradition is different even among Orthodox. The Greek term is “Presbytera” which means “Priestess” basically, and the Serbian is “Popadija” or “Protonicjia” (depending on the rank of the priest) which are the feminized versions of “married priest” or “Protopriest.” The most common thing is to just feminize the word being used for the priest.
What the Western equivalent would’ve been I don’t know that I’ve ever heard. I mean, what priest’s wives were called way back when. In the Western Orthodox parish I’ve been to they called their priest’s wife Khouria, which is just the standard Arabic term.
Hmm. So I guess the Copts and the Russians are the odd people out.
And Armenians, but I can’t tell what any of their words mean, so… :o (Single priest: Vartabed; Married priest: Der Hayr; Priest’s wife: Yeritzkeen)
I am pretty sure the parish in question IS part of an official Orthodox group, although I can’t remember which it is. Their Liturgy is all in English, and I believe that very close to 100% of the parishioners are all former Evangelicals.
In regards to “sitting at the feet”, that’s not their words, but mine. I, myself used to be a disciple of an Indian guru before becoming Catholic, and the posture and behavior just reminded me of that.
Just as there are fake Catholic groups there are fake Orthodox groups. We call them Poserdox. Just because someone slaps “Orthodox” on their sign doesn’t make them Orthodox. I know of a “Celtic Orthodox Church” who ordains women, and there’s a “St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church” which even has an icon of the musician. We also say they are “under Bishop Draperod” meaning their “bishop” is a man dressed in a window dressing with a curtain rod for a staff and no legitimate Apostolic Succession.
That being said they could be legitimately Orthodox, but if so they’ll happily tell you who their bishop is, and he will be in obvious open communion with the other Orthodox bishops. They’ll be members in one of the canonical Jurisdictions.
In general, the more people are vague about their Apostolic Succession, who their bishop is in communion with, or the longer their name (some call themselves things like “The One Authentic Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the Holy Synod in Exile of Jesus Christ”) the less likely it is that they are truly Orthodox.
It is in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Not directly relevant, but as another poster said, the word “orthodox” on the sign up front isn’t necessarily true. I once met through a friend someone who belonged to a “non-canonical orthodox chuch” (yeah, I had the same reaction ). I managed to be polite at the time, but later found out that they had done just enough homework to like the liturgy and idea of the sacraments, but hadn’t yet realized the absurdity of slef - ordination to the priesthood.
There’s all kinds out there.
In my small town there is a St Athanaisus Orthodox church so called. I stopped by once to see what it was all about, and they have a CW BAND!
They have their very own “bishop” who vests in cboy boots and 10 gallon hats. Needless to say they are in communion with no one but themseves.
These are fake orthodox, and I go 40 miles to a real Orthodox church.
Actually there was a group called Evangelical Orthodox and most of them entered the Antiochian jurisdiction.
But not all did, there were individual parishes (congregations?) who stayed Protestants with liturgy retaining the name Evangelical Orthodox.
Where I live it has always Baptist country and any Orthodox church is hard come by. This parish Holy Cross is the only Orthodox church within 150 miles and except for 1 Ukranian and 2 Arab families they are all originally Evanglelicals coming from Baptist to church of Christ to Methodist.
We only have a deacon and the mission priest that comes every month or so was originally Episcopal as was I.
I used to attend a parish with a priest who had been part of the Evangelical Orthodox movement. We did indeed use the term mother there. I’ve never been in another parish that uses that term though.
The opposite also tends to be true, if they are really out about their Apostolic Succession they can be fake, they’ll force it on you and tell you how, see, this priest was ordained by this bishop who once met this bishop, who is real Orthodox! and therefore they are too.
This is fascinating, I didn’t think there were evangelicals posing as orthodox!
Apparently it’s a tactic sometimes employed by Protestants in Orthodox countries, who try to poach the native Orthodox Christians. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, if you will.
Yep. I’ve seen pictures (they’re fairly infamous now) of Georgian Baptists dressed in Priest’s vestments, including a woman. They have pseudo-icons where the faces of the Holy Ones are rubbed out (or not painted, but it looks as if they took real icons and desecrated them). They do this to poach Orthodox.
The same thing sometimes happens in Ethiopia, where the Protestants from the local churches (a lot of those churches, particularly in the southern and Oromo/Muslim-majority eastern parts of the country, are natively-run, albeit the result of foreign missionary activity) will sometimes dress up like Orthodox priests or monks and then preach all about the “errors” of Orthodoxy, hence giving their false critiques the appearance of authority and knowledge they do not actually have. It’s disgusting.
You shall know them by their fruits.