Issues regarding Orthodoxy

If anyone who is Orthodoxy can maybe explain a few issues I have found with this church

Around my area there are a number of Orthodoxy churches but none of them are in English
for example, all the ones near me are Russian, Greek, Romanian and so on how does one find an English version church ? Seems to me I have to learn the language to visit any of these churches. Also a few of the churches are charging a 150 dollar a year fee to be a member, is this common ?

Second, since Orthodoxy claims apostolic succession, how do the various Orthodoxy denominations agree to matter of faith ?

Does the church of Greece have a say what goes on in the Russian church and vise versa ?

Just because a church says Russian, Greek, or Romanian doesn’t mean that the services are in those languages. My parish has “Serbian” on the sign and the entire thing is done in English. The Greek parish down the street does almost the entire thing in English. The ethnicity refers to which council or synod their bishop sits on; The Council of Greece, the Council of Russia, etc.

Eventually there will be an American Orthodox Church. We’re not there yet.

Also a few of the churches are charging a 150 dollar a year fee to be a member, is this common ?

That’s would be to be a voting member on their council probably. I’ve heard of it but never seen it in practice. Jews have the same practice, called Temple Fees. Sacraments wouldn’t cost money, just to be an official member. It’s actually pretty common in various churches, synagogues, temples or what have you.

Second, since Orthodoxy claims apostolic succession, how do the various Orthodoxy denominations agree to matter of faith ?

They are not denominations. They are called “Jurisdictions” and we don’t disagree on matters of faith because the faith is what unites us. We’re the same church, united by faith. We agree because we only believe what the faith has always been. We don’t change the faith. If we need more than that we have a council.

Does the church of Greece have a say what goes on in the Russian church and vise versa ?

No.

[quote=. Also a few of the churches are charging a 150 dollar a year fee to be a member, is this common ?
[/QUOTE]

I have not heard of this ever and our church may say russian orthodox but all of our services our in english :byzsoc::highprayer: I hope this helps:thumbsup:
[/quote]

Parishes seem also to be moving away from a membership-fee based model of staying afloat. My parish, for example, uses donations only. But one will still encounter the older model in other areas of the United States.

My parish has a mandatory fee of $40 for parish membership. This is clearly stated that it is for the church cleaning fund. We have a small membership and thus cannot rely on merely Sunday envelopes to ensure certain necessary programs are funded. I think this is how many ethnic parishes with limited membership try to ensure their funding. I mean, we’re not stopping someone from attending Divine Liturgy every Sunday and never register as a parishioner.

I found a Russian Orthodox church near my house and it seems everyone there is of Russian decent(checked out its website), is it fair to assume that this particular Orthodox church does not reach out very well to “others” in this regard ?

me being non Russian would feel awkward being there, I understand there’s nothing I can do but I’d like to just point that out as something as a draw back to joining Orthodoxy.

This is in sharp contrast from other protestant churches I’ve been to and even some Roman Catholic churches I’ve attended they seem to be much more diverse in terms of nationalities

No, that is not a fair assumption.

me being non Russian would feel awkward being there, I understand there’s nothing I can do but I’d like to just point that out as something as a draw back to joining Orthodoxy.

I joined at a parish that was mostly Romanian. My present parish is mostly Ukrainian. I don’t understand why this matters.

This is in sharp contrast from other protestant churches I’ve been to and even some Roman Catholic churches I’ve attended they seem to be much more diverse in terms of nationalities

Are you talking about actual nationalities, or just ethnic background? If you think it will be an issue I assume you are talking about actual nationalities, in which case I’m sure those Protestant and Catholic Churches just happened to be of your own nationality.
Diversity is worthless if you can’t function as part of the minority.

Now if the issue is language, that’s different.

Truest statement of this thread, or any thread like it. At my church, I am the only non-Arabphone now that the Ethiopians who used to commune with us have moved away. This actually came up yesterday after liturgy, when one of the laypeople apparently asked that Father pray over the food in Arabic, not in English. He said he didn’t want to do that because he didn’t feel that it would be very considerate, but then he also asked me what I thought. I told him it was more than enough that our entire liturgy is in English (the parts that are in Arabic are generally repeats of things that we’ve already said in English, and English translations are provided for everything no matter what language it is actually said in), especially considering that I am the only native English-speaker in the church. It would be downright rude of me to insist that everyone also talk only in English AFTER the liturgy, too (and besides, father starts out the blessing audibly in Arabic, then prays the rest inaudibly so that the people can join in in whichever language they want to use without feeling self-conscious for not using the “right” language: “Abana ilathy fi al-samawat…”, then I continue in English, and even some of the Egyptians do sometimes, too). I think this works out just fine. But the Egyptians are sensitive to this, so later one of the aunties pulled me aside and asked me “You don’t feel bad that you sit at the table with abouna and everybody speaks Arabic around you?” I told her, no, why would I? They’re Egyptians – what should I expect them to speak among themselves? Besides, anything they want to include me in they’ll translate into English or just say in English in the first place.

Maybe it’s because I grew up bilingual, but the only way I could even conceive of having a problem with being a minority (linguistically/culturally/whatever) is if I thought that other people spoke their own languages just to spite me or in order to talk badly about me without my knowing it…but I know that isn’t the case (and the exceptions where it might be do not include church, of all places), and it’s kind of ridiculous to be that self-centered to think that it might be. (Note to OP: I’m NOT saying or even meaning to imply that you think like that; I’m saying that’s what a lot of people I grew up around seemed to think when people spoke Spanish around them in public: “What are they saying? Are they talking about me?”, etc. That got old fast!)

If you’re looking for the Truth, the culture/ethnicity/language of the church in which you find the Truth should mean diddly-squat to you. I’d much sooner go to a Church that had a foreign culture/ethnicity/language AND the true Faith, than go to a Church with a familiar culture/ethnicity/language but didn’t have the true Faith.

Anyway, with that out of the way, have you actually popped in and said hi at any of these Orthodox churches? Have you so much as emailed the parish priests to ask them some questions before you drew these conclusions?

But if one is to make the claim of one true church, yet there are various forms of Orthodoxy in terms of nationalities, explain why it needs to be called “Russian” Orthodox did not the early church use the term “Catholic” when they discussed the early church ?

To me this implies its “Russian” therefore I’m not Russian so I don’t see the point of attending to make my point I have seen some protestant churches do the same they use the name of a certain nationality as the name of their church this doesn’t work well if we are living in an English speaking country

Why do I get the impression that the Orthodox churches not reach out to other people outside of their nationality, I live in an area where Russians are the majority and there is no outreach attempt

This I find quite the contrary with protestant and some what catholic churches in that they seem to do a better job at reaching out to the community

We should distinguish “Russian” as a matter of historical circumstance, e.g., a church that practices according to the traditions developed in the native churches of the Russian people, and some kind of existentially “Russian” character of Orthodoxy. The first is not a problem (as everyone comes from somewhere, and brings their faith with them wherever they go), and the second, though some Russians may disagree, isn’t even a real thing, but likely the WRONG (heretical) conflation of national origin with Orthodoxy itself. That is actually a recognized heresy in the EO church (called phyletism), though it can be argued by people other than me (as I’m not EO) to still infect certain individual churches, or political parties, or whoever finds it convenient to conflate faith and nationhood.

For instance, I am a member of the Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church. I am not now and nor will I ever be an Egyptian. When I say I go to a Coptic Church, it is shorthand for saying “the form of Orthodoxy practiced here, in terms of the chant forms and certain specific prayers, grew up on Egyptian soil”, NOT “it is Orthodox because it is Egyptian”. Indeed, the vast majority of Egyptians aren’t even Orthodox or any kind of Christian; they’re Muslim.

The tradition came about through Russia, much as Roman Catholic tradition came about through Rome, and Anglican tradition came about through England. I never hear of people having an issue with those because they aren’t the correct ethnicity, why should they have a problem with Russian formed tradition?

And Orthodox Churches do quite a bit of outreach to those outside their ethnic group. Speaking personally I know what my own parish does. It does have outreach programs aimed at people from Ukraine and Russia, but it also has programs aimed at the general populous.
That you may not be aware of these doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The only reason I’m aware of Protestant outreach is because they interact with our own, the only reason I know of any Catholic outreach is because I have a friend who volunteers with them.
Unless you happen to be from the subset of the population a specific program targets, you aren’t going to know about them, and with a small number of Orthodox Churches, that means most people won’t know.

It’s all one big Orthodox Church, consisting of particular Churches that correspond to certain peoples who have taken Orthodoxy and made it their own. Orthodoxy is not monolithic; its “flavor” varies based on the experiences and traditions of the various peoples that have accepted it. Russian, Greek, Carpatho-Rusyn, Georgian, Ukrainian, Antiochian, Romanian, etc… All these are simply different expressions of the same Orthodox faith, united in doctrine, communion and faith. Chants and art styles may differ, but it’s all still Orthodox. The “Russian” or “Greek” on the front just tells you the specific “flavor” of Orthodoxy you’re getting.

The early Church did indeed use the term Catholic, and the Orthodox Church understands itself to be the very same Catholic Church that it always has been and always will be.

To me this implies its “Russian” therefore I’m not Russian so I don’t see the point of attending to make my point I have seen some protestant churches do the same they use the name of a certain nationality as the name of their church this doesn’t work well if we are living in an English speaking country

It’s not the “Russian” that’s important, it’s the “Orthodox.” A Russian can go to a Greek church and vice-versa and no one has a problem with it. I was certainly not turned away from my Carpatho-Rusyn parish for being a non-Carpatho-Rusyn, nor was I turned away from an Antiochian Orthodox parish for being non-Arab. In fact, I was warmly welcomed and encouraged to come back, and found many people in both places who came from non-Orthodox backgrounds. At my Carpatho-Rusyn parish, just by looking at the people, you wouldn’t even know you were at a church that traces its heritage to the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe. We look for all the world like any other group of parishioners you’d find at any other church. And we certainly won’t chase you away. Rather, we would love to hear about how you came to be at our church today and what your background is, any questions or comments you have, and would be delighted if you stayed a while for coffee hour, and welcome you to come again anytime.

Heck, at my Carpatho-Rusyn parish back home, both priests were converts; one is a former Roman Catholic priest, and the other is a former Episcopalian. Your nationality does not mean a thing to the Orthodox; we want you to feel at home all the same.

Why do I get the impression that the Orthodox churches not reach out to other people outside of their nationality, I live in an area where Russians are the majority and there is no outreach attempt

This I find quite the contrary with protestant and some what catholic churches in that they seem to do a better job at reaching out to the community

Well, there is the fact that Orthodoxy in America is a very new thing. We have a lot to worry about just getting on our feet and getting organized. However, there is plenty of outreach to the non-Orthodox.

Just today, I attended an Antiochian Orthodox parish. The Antiochian Orthodox Church is historically Middle Eastern. At the Antiochian parish I attended, any members are ethnic Arabs, and the service includes a wee bit of Arabic. However, despite the fact that it’sAntiochian, the parish itself is 50% converts from the “American” population. Orthodoxy certainly does reach out.

The specific parish in your area might not preach on street corners or on college campuses, but Orthodoxy is spreading in America, one way or another. People are coming to the Church in large numbers. In fact, many Orthodox parishes (INCLUDING Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, etc. Orthodox), most of the parish population consists of converts who come from families without any Orthodox background whatsoever, and have absolutely no ties to Russia, Greece, Syria, etc. In fact, I think Orthodox not preaching on street corners is a GOOD thing; no one likes street preachers anyway. I’ve seen more than one petition circulating around campus here to kick out the campus preachers.

The more common approach in Orthodoxy is “This is who we are and what we believe. If you’re curious and want to check us out, then by all means, come and see. If not, then that’s your choice, and God bless you.” Many Orthodox choose not to preach to others about Orthodoxy; rather, they let their lives as Christians testify to the beauty and truth of the Orthodox Faith. People eventually get curious and ask some questions. For those who are dissatisfied with their current denomination, they may find that neither Protestantism nor Catholicism can meet their needs, and when they look to see where God is calling them… Orthodoxy comes up. For those who are willing to learn, there are dozens of books and countless resources about all parts of Orthodox Christianity, and classes are available for inquirers and those who wish to become Orthodox.

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