October 31, 2014

Church of Russia to host Metropolitan Jonah April 25-May 4

Does the concelebration indicate tacit affirmation that the standing of Met. Jonah is equal to Met. Kirill in the eyes of the Russian Orthodox Church?

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — At the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah will be the guest of the Church of Russia from April 25 through May 4, 2009.

The visit marks Metropolitan Jonah’s first official visit to a sister Orthodox Church since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2008.

During his visit, Metropolitan Jonah will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Kirill at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral and at the 15th century Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin. He also will visit the OCA’s Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine in central Moscow and the Valaam Monastery in northern Russia, where he began his life and ministry as a monastic.

Accompanying Metropolitan Jonah will be His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; the Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor; the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations; and Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov.

Comments

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Fr Hans, I’ve been told that when two primates “concelebrate” that means that they and their churches are equal in each others’ eyes. This is evidenced by both (or more) primates standing before the Holy Table in an ad orientam position (i.e. facing the East).

    That is why Mets. Herman and Methodius were not allowed to stand at the Altar facing ad orientam but standing to the sides of the Altar whenever they visited the Phanar. Under those circumstances, concelebration did not happen but neither was their Church (OCA) viewed as “barely canonical” as so horribly and uncharitably stated by that boob from Istanbul who spoke at Holy Cross. If the canonicity of the OCA was suspect, then they wouldn’t even have been allowed behind the icon screen.

    Please feel free to corret me if I’m wrong.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Thanks George. That’s the way I understand it too. I’ve never been up on ecclesiastical protocol, but it might be time to polish up.

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    Joe says:

    It’s funny how the OCA press release descirbes their own: “Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations.” Usually he is referred to as the “Ecumenical Officer” of the OCA. Perhaps the “E” word is verboten in OCA circles nowadays.

    Anyway, it will be very interesting to see if anything will pan out in the OCA’s favor during this meeting that will have any effect on the negotiations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The last time Rev. Leonid Kishovsky turned up in Moscow with hat in hand was when he, on behalf of the OCA tried to insert himself into the MP-ROCOR rapprochement process, pleading-demanding that the ROCOR come under the OCA’s jurisdiction. He was shown the door.

    Seeking to capitalize on the current tensions between the MP and the EP, the OCA perhaps feels that this is its last big chance to get the Mother Church to finally and fully acknowledge its autocephaly in the U.S. Remembering how the OCA was fully rebuffed during the MP-ROCOR reconciliation should give one pause about expecting too much effort on the part of the MP on behalf of the OCA.

    I wonder if it will be possible for the MP to officially recognize its faithful Russian daughter churches the Patriarchal parishes and the ROCOR as the true surviving heirs of the Russian Orthodox missionary efforts in America. After all St. Herman (et. al.) were Russians and not proto-Americans. If indeed the jurisidictional claim on American territory is staked on the works of the Russian Orthodox Church, then it makes sense for the extant Russian Orthodox in America to make its claim. Will the MP then rescind the autocephalous status of the former Metropolia?

    I for one would be happy if the MP reasserts itself in America, either by boosting the MP-ROCOR or by coming to some agreement with the EP that satisfies both Patriarchates.

    It would be a lesson in humility, much like the MP-ROCOR rapprochement for the OCA. A strong Russian Orthodox face in America is a much better witness to the True Faith than the reformed-former-Greek-Catholic–ex-Uniate little “t” tradition of Orthodoxy that the OCA has been trying to sell to the rest of the world as THE “truly American Expression of Orthodoxy.”

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    George,

    Your arguments don’t have the impact that they could have because you didn’t constantly use childish tactics like name-calling. “That boob from Istanbul”? You make yourself look foolish. Is that what you have learned in the OCA?

    Buffoons, boobs, clowns? With all of your supposed knowledge of the Church and dedication to Christ, did you never learn about respect for the clergy? Let’s assume that the philosophy of this site is correct and the EP/GOA is to blame for all the problems we face in the US, and that all of the hierarchs of the EP/GOA are of poor quality and ability. Do you have no respect for the Holy Spirit and the grace of their ordination? I mean I know you are OCL and that OCL does not have respect for clergy/hierarchs unless they agree with them, but come on, didn’t your parents teach you better than that?

    I have left the discussion for many reasons, but I feel the need to address this issue because people with your attitude and the tone you bring to the discussion, are an obstacle to unity.

    I am not saying that one has to agree with whatever a hierarch or priest says, Lord knows I disagree with Met. Jonah’s comments, Met. Philips comments, Abp Demetrios handling of things like the White House visit and comments and actions of many other hierarchs and clergy both in the EP/GOA and in other jurisdictions. But I don’t think I have ever had to resort to calling them names to make my point.

    I have never heard the kind of animosity from my friends in the OCA (AOCA yes, but not the OCA) except the former GOA people who join the OCA. Instead of being happy where they are, continuing to grow in Christ and work constructively for unity, they all spend so much time worrying about the “Greeks” and what the EP and the GOA are doing. I used to think it was kind of a Clintonesque “Wag the Dog” kind of thing,

    I think you have a better chance of engaging those who disagree with you if you would just let it go and to use Fr. Gregory’s phrase “Get over it”.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom, Joe,

    all I did was mention that +Kirill and +Jonah were concelebrating the Divine Liturgy. I didn’t realize that two primates doing this was such a threat to the EP and the OCA-haters. I’m sorry.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Nice try George!

    Find a negative comment about the OCA from me. Find one place where I called a hierarch from the OCA a buffoon. Find one place where I called a priest from the OCA a “boob”. Find one place where I degenerated to name-calling. With all the crises and scandals facing the OCA and the AOCA now and in the past (though one would not know there are problems in the other jurisdictions based upon the comments on this site), MOST people have still been able to keep the discussion free of name-calling. I guess we can’t expect everyone to play nice.

    Although, I expected a better argument from you George. I guess you’re just like the other former GOA who have joined the OCA and do not seem to be satisfied there (at least not based upon how fixated they are with the EP and the GOA).

    Too bad, I would hope you could find some peace there in the OCA. There are a lot of very fine, humble, constructive, pious and faithful clergy, hierarchs and laity in the OCA. In fact one of the finest bishops in the US today is Abp. Job (true man of great courage).

    As you know, my comment was not about the “autocephaly” of the OCA, but rather your persistent name-calling and its impact on the entire discussion.

    So you can call me “OCA hating” if you like, but it would not be true just as your assessment of various priests and hierarchs of the EP is not true.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom, forgive me. I confused your criticisms with the viterperatives slanders of Joe and for that I’m truly sorry. I meant no disrespect to you and I should have been more careful.

    As for my “name-calling” of GOA bishops, the only one who stood out for such criticism was Bishop “Jerry” of “Desparate Housewives/I’m ok with gay marriage/but now I’m for Prop 8/etc.” tomfoolery. Perhaps “buffoonish” is too strong a word, but “fecless,” “timorous,” and “ecumenist” would be more apt descriptions. As far as Rev Labrianides, “boob,” and “minion” stand. To which I would add “slanderer.” (I won’t tell you what the professors at Holy Cross called him. I can only guess what all those fine women who serve in choirs in the GOA think about him.)

    I have found tremendous peace within the OCA. I will not however back down to slanders against my bishops. And that is not too strong a word, besides what +Gerasimus said, please consider the words and actions of Methodius of Boston. In both instances we are talking about an appalling lack of Christian charity which has not gone unnoticed to many genuinely Christian people.

    This has led me to ask: “why is this?” Why is the GOAA in particular (and +Philip as well) behaving so terribly? The only answer I can give is that these men feel threatened.

    p.s. OK, I forgot, I called Arb Demetrius a “toady” in another post and I do regret that, he’s a genuinely pious and holy man, yet that does not erase the sycophantic actions which he displayed on Greek “Independence” Day. (The quotation marks are in reference to the irony of free men who celebrate freedom by groveling before secular potentates.)

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    George,

    While I disagree with many of his other comments, Met. Gerasimos DID NOT say he was “ok with gay marriage”, and I think you know that. It is those kinds of little, how shal I say it, mis-representations which are made specifically to paint someone with a broad brush and leave an innacurat impression.

    As far as the “professors” at Holy Cross are concerned, I wouldn’t give you two cents for the opinions of some of them.

    Especially if they agree that your type of response is an appropriate one.

    I don’t really care much whether you meant me disrespect or not. It is not about me. There are many people who don’t like my opinions, I would hope they respect me, but I do not care whether they do or not.

    It is just that, when you show your kind of disrespect towards the clergy and hierarchy of the Church, you show a great lack of understanding of Orthodoxy. When you only do it towards clergy and hierarchs from one jurisdiction, you also show that you are biased and your opinions shold be taken with a grain of salt.

    As I said, disagree all you want with clergy, hierarchs, laity. God gave you a brain and free will to use and even to be wrong sometimes. You will get no beef from me regarding disagreeing with anyone. When you attack the EP and GOA and call names and write things which are not completely accurate, then I am bothered and you should be called on it.

    Especially when you totally ignore all the funny business going on in the OCA and the AOCA.

    Look at what is going on with the AOCA. Their local synod met (is it still really a local synod????) just a couple of days ago and Met. Philip tried to strong arm them into signing a joint agreement. Any discussion of that here? I doubt it.

    I also find it ironic that you have the chutzbah to call Met. Methodios’ and Met. Gerasimos’ actions “unChristian”. Yet calling GOA hierarchs buffoons or toadies, and calling a priest a “boob”, I suppose that is “speaking the truth in love”. Come on George. Met. Methodios is by no means perfect, but at least he has a valid argument for his concern. I don’t agree with breaking off ties with the OCA, but the issue needed to be addressed.

    You have to realize, in many places in the US, even here in the Metropolis of Chicago (though not so much these days), the OCA has had a long standing habit of setting up “mission” parishes right around the corner from GOA parishes which were having difficulties. The AOCA has now picked up the habit. Is peeling off souls from a neigbooring parish your idea of appropriate behavior? So just realize there are long standing issues, and the EP/GOA has stood by silently for years as the OCA and the AOCA have taken their pot shots at her. Now you don’t like it when the EP/GOA fires back a little bit.

    You talk about Mets Methodios and Gerasioms “slandering” your bishops. What slander have the leveled against your bishops?

    I sure hope the unity movement does not take a lesson from your actions and those of the other EP/GOA haters.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom,

    the “funny business” within the AOCA is to be deplored. I’m not a member of it however. As for similar such business in the OCA, I think we can safely say that with the accession of +Jonah, that it’s in the past. As for my statement regarding +Gerasimos and gay marriage, please look it up for yourself (I believe it’s on Andrew’s posting).

    You complain about “disrespect” but your own derision for the professors at Holy Cross is anything but respectful. I’ve known some fine men who’ve graduated from there. But let us concede your point: if HC is such a terrible place, then what does it say about the jurisdiction which sponsors it. To psari mirize apo to kephali.

    As for the OCA opening up mission parishes “right around the corner from GOA churches,” I’ll accept your characterization. But so what? Are the GOA parishes scared? Why?

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    George,

    Your tactics of putting words in my mouth (as you did with Met. Gerasimos) won’t work.

    I didn’t say that HCHC was such a horrible place. What I said (and you know it) is “As far as the “professors” at Holy Cross are concerned, I wouldn’t give you two cents for the opinions of some of them.”

    I too have known many fine men (and women) who have graduated from HCHC. I have been a member of a scholarship committee for 20 years which has helped some of them. Try to pay attention to what I say.

    Also, regarding my comment about some OCA and AOCA Parishes setting up shop near GOA parishes, just keep in mind, peeling off dissatisfied members of another Orthodox Church is not “missionary work”.

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    You wrote: Also, regarding my comment about some OCA and AOCA Parishes setting up shop near GOA parishes, just keep in mind, peeling off dissatisfied members of another Orthodox Church is not “missionary work”.

    Look, no one forces anyone to leave a parish. People leave a parish community because they are unhappy or their families needs are not be met by that particular community. Better that dissatisfied Greek-Americans leave the GOA for the OCA or AOCA than leave Orthodoxy all together. As a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, I would rather see unhappy Antiochians go to any Orthodox jurisdiction rather than leave the faith because of problems within our jurisdiction.

    Anyway, it is healthy for a mission to have members from a variety of jurisdictions along with people who are new to the faith. Staying segregated, in large mono-ethnic parish communities, is not a great way to spread the faith. More of us who were born into the faith need to get out there and do missionary work in small accessible, non-intimidating, missionary parishes.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Hello Tamara. Long time no hear!? Hope you are doing well.

    You are correct to a certain extent. I have taught my daughters that if they get married and find themselves in an area where the local GOA parish does not meet their needs then they have a responsibility top find another GOA parish or parish of another Orthodox jurisdiction. Period. we have often taken them to parishes of other jurisdictions and have taught them that the Church is one in faith and if they need to, they can join a parish of another jurisdiction.

    However, lets not call that kind of “setting up shop near a wounded parish” a “mission parish”. Lets at least be honest about what it is.

    Best Regards,
    Tom K

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    I forgot the best part of your post. The last paragraph. I agree. That is why we need a coordinated effort in areas where there is NO Orthodox Church. I understand in some areas this occurs. The Hierarchs of different jurisdictions communicate and see who will set up a parish here and who will set one up there. I wish it would occur everywhere, but I guess a little is better than none.

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Truly He is Risen!

    Hi Tom,

    I am doing well. Thank you for asking.

    I am afraid you didn’t get my point. Some folks leave parishes because their needs are not being met in those parishes. Would you force a family to stay in a parish if it wasn’t a good fit for them? What if the mission parish was just perfect for their family? Would you tell them not to leave the first parish?

    We just celebrated Pascha at my brother-in-law’s house. He grew up in a Greek Orthodox parish in San Francisco and he invited some of his Greek-American friends to the party. Years earlier his friends had married Italian-American ladies. Because the parish these guys had grown up in was still using mostly Greek and wasn’t friendly to non-Greeks, these men gave in to their wives’ pleadings and became Roman Catholic. If only there had been an OCA mission parish in their neighborhood, it is likely both families would now be Orthodox instead of Roman Catholic. My cousins also had similar situations in western PA. They both married Christians who weren’t Orthodox and ended up becoming Lutheran and evangelical because the nearest parish to their home in western PA used Slavonic. It wasn’t until my uncle’s illness that my cousins were reintroduced to Orthodoxy when my sister and I found an OCA priest who was willing to spend time with the four of us to discuss my uncle’s imminent death. Both of our cousins described how growing up in a church that used a foreign language kept them from understanding their faith. They had no idea what they had given up because it was locked away from them in a foreign tongue. But this OCA priest, who was a former evangelical, knew just what to say to meet their spiritual needs. By the end of our week long visit, my one cousin was seriously considering returning to the faith. The priest told her he would be waiting for her and praying for her if she ever needed him.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Hi Tamara,

    I don’t think we disagree too much, as my coments to my daughters suggest.

    Bringing people (lapsed Orthodox or those who have left the Church) back to the faith is mission work. Evangelizing non Christians id mission work. Reaching out to Christians from other faith traditions can be mission work.

    All I am saying is setting up shop next to another parish which is perhaps wounded (or going through difficult changes and growing pains) and peeling off current members is not mission work. It is, in a way, opportunistic and not appropriate.

    Tom K

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    If an older, ethnic parish is losing members because it refuses to meet the needs of younger families then I see nothing wrong with a small mission parish taking in those families. Would you agree with that?

    My brother-in-law’s friends weren’t lapsed Orthodox at the time they left the church. They left because their wives’ needs were not being met. An English-speaking Orthodox mission would have kept them from becoming lapsed Orthodox. In other words, the mission would have kept them from leaving Orthodoxy.

    Do you understand my point now?

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    I have always understood my point. I think mine is escaping you. You stated that your cousins left the Church and became Lutheran. I don’t know how else to describe it, but they were lapsed Orthodox (schismatic, apostate etc). If a new parish in the area brought them back to the Church, then great! That is missionary work.

    If an existing parish is experiencing a division (think of a family or a married couple on a rocky road) for anyone of a number of reasons (not just language) and another parish targets that area to set up a “mission” parish (with the idea of peeling off members from the existing parish) THAT is not missionary work. It is opportunism and it is a bad thing.

    If a husband and wife are having difficulty, should they try to work it out? Would it be fine for another man or woman to come into the picture and try to woo away one of the parties? Of course not.

    If a husband and wife try to work things out and it does not work and they have divorced, then one finds happiness with another, that is a different story.

    Hopefully this analogy (as imperfect as it is) helps you understand my point.

    Regards,
    Tom K

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    We are all one Orthodox church regardless of our current jurisdictional mess, so your analogy of a husband leaving a wife doesn’t work. Changing parish communities still keeps us wedded to same Orthodox Church. Your analogy would be a better description of what happens when people leave Orthodoxy for other Christian faiths like Catholicism.

    Some of our communities are not doing a good job of retaining their members because they refuse to serve the needs of their people. If smaller missions are there, in the same neighborhood, and can meet the needs of these families, then they are doing missionary work, because they are keeping people from leaving the Orthodox Church and evangelizing the non-Orthodox family members.

    Anyway, in the case of the Greek brothers, they didn’t have that choice so they ended up leaving the Orthodoxy altogether and their wives and children were never evangelized.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    I think my analogy is quite appropriate. Peeling off existing members of another parish is not missioanry work.

    But lets look at it on a larger scale.

    If it is true (an it is not an absolute truth) that all the Orthodox were united under the Russian bishop during the period prior to the Bolshevik revolution, was it acceptable for various other jurisdictions to “set up shop” in the US?

    If the Russian administration in the US was not meeting the needs of the Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukranians, Arabs, Carpatho-Rusyns etc. was it OK that the “Old World Churches” set up their jurisdictions in the US as well to meet the needs of the people?

    As far as the Greek brothers are concerned, I don’t buy the argument. I would imagine that their faith was weak to begin with. I don’t mean that as a slam, but rather a very sad reality in many Orthodox homes today. We certainly need to be welcoming and speak to people in a way they understand, but if one has strong Faith, how could one give that up over language?

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Tom, Tamara has a point. In the GOA, 80% of the marriages are inter-Christian (Orthodox to non-Orthodox), yet out of the 80%, only 20% of the families are retained.

    This article looks at the stats in more detail: For Us and the Church We Love: The Time is Now. (I don’t know the stats in other jurisdictions.)

    Anecdotally, I ran into people like Tamara described at family events like baptisms or weddings often enough to notice the problem was part of a larger trend.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Hello Fr.,

    The point I am trying to make was about opportunistic “mission parishes” being set up just around the corner from existing GOA parishes who are having problems are not really mission parishes.

    Pretty simple point.

    The most recently published statistics in the GOA are that 57.85% of marriages in the GOA are between Orthodox and non-Orthodox. I am not sure where the 80% number came from, nonetheless it is still a high number. I suspect that we do lose many of them (or at least never see them until they have kids) but again I don’t know where the figure of 20% retention came from.

    That being said I have seen this all too close up in my own extended family. People leaving the Church and joining other Churches or no church at all (about 17 out of 27 first cousins). It breaks my heart, but I have seen first hand that the problem is usually in their home when they were growing up. The Church is not central in their homes.

    Anyhow, I stand by my comments about the type of “mission” parish I described.

    Regards,
    Tom K

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Fr. Hans,

    Just read (briefly) through the beginning of Fr. Charles article. I see where you got your statistics. Thanks. We certainly do have our work cut out for us.

    However, I still do not think that this contradicts my points to Tamara.

    Regards,
    Tom K

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Dear Fr. Hans,

    Oh, I have many more examples from real life of Greek-Americans who are no longer Orthodox mostly due to the church not meeting the needs of younger generation (foreign language and intermarriage being chief reasons for leaving Orthodoxy). Your figures are proof that my anecdotes are today’s reality in our church. It is sad that people like Tom are living in a state of denial and are willing to sacrifice future generations to other denominations rather than have families find an Orthodox home in another jurisdiction due to misplaced loyalty to failing, large ethnic churches.

    In regard to the Greek brothers I mentioned: they grew up in the Orthodox church, attended Divine Liturgy on Sundays, attended Sunday school as children and GOYA events as teenagers and their dear mother is still a member of this dying parish. But I don’t think these men were willing to sacrifice their marriages and families for a church that refused to meet their families needs.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tamara,

    your numbers are closer to the mark. The statistic Tom sites is true as far as it goes, but very misleading.

    Let me explain: there is a growing percentage of Americans who have never been baptized, hence they are non-Christian (by any definition of the term). When they and an Orthodox Christian meet and fall in love, the only way for a valid sacramental marriage to take place is if the non-Christian gets converted to Orthodoxy. (I supposed they could convert to some Trinitarian Christian denomination, but that would be superfluous since their intended is Orthodox.) Anyway, since they’re already not a Christian but they want to marry the Orthodox partner, they go ahead and get baptized, chrismated, and communed in the Orthodox faith before marriage. Hence this is not a “mixed” marriage but one between two Orthodox people, albeit one a cradle and one a recent convert.

    To be honest, I don’t know how many of the “58%” mentioned is made up of this subset (i.e. recent convert/cradle Orthodox) but anecdotal evidence supports this dynamic. I can say that in all my travels, I’ve never seen an ethnic Greek parish that has more than 30% of its couples coming from the same ethnic background. This was different 50 years ago (before I was born) but certainly not now.

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Hi George,

    Actually, Fr. Hans provided the statistics from the GOA article, “FOR US AND THE CHURCH WE LOVE: THE TIME IS NOW,” by Peter S. Kehayes. Thank God there are some people in the GOA who are looking at the statistics and are beginning to ask the hard questions as seen in the second paragraph I pulled from this article below. Look at that last question, wow, they are actually becoming introspective and wondering if the church is doing enough to stop the losses. Thank God for small miracles.

    The current statistics and the trends they portend are very compelling. The Orthodox Yearbook (2003) statistics show that intermarriages comprise two of every three (65%) marriages that occur within the Church. Within the same report, adding those that occur outside its aegis, the estimate climbs to 75 – 80%. At this attrition rate, within three generations, less than 2% non-intermarried Greek Orthodox Christian families remain. With intermarriages becoming the norm, the need to address this concern becomes immediate.

    If more evidence is needed, young families, the building blocks of the Church, are less prominent in our religious communities. Supporting organizations such as choirs, Sunday school teachers and parish councils are most often comprised of senior members of the community. The average age seems to be increasing disproportionately in established communities. In many, we see seniors the majority of active communicants, and though their presence is essential for stability, it is the young who assure its future. Yes, youth programs are effective in enabling the young to become active in church activities, but will they as adults, when it is their time, continue to grace the Church, bringing their own gifts while benefiting from its treasures twenty years hence? In a drastically decreasing Church population, one must question, Are we doing enough to ensure this legacy for future generations?

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tamara,

    thanks for the info. I’m gratified that there are people in the GOA who are taking this seriously. We need to pray for them in their ministry.

  27. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tamara Northway says:

    George,

    I can’t imagine an Orthodox Church without Greeks. My sister and I did our own part to insure another Greek-American family didn’t give up on Orthodoxy. My brother-in-law’s brother married a non-Orthodox Christian. She tried to get her husband to attend a Protestant church with their three children. But over time, my sister and I started working on her by encouraging her to attend our Antiochian women’s retreat. Fr. Tom Hopko, Mother Gabriella (OCA), and Fr. Patrick Reardon were speakers at three of these events. Mother Gabriella cinched the deal and evangelized our sister-in-law. She was chrismated later that year. Fr. Tom and Fr. Pat sealed her completely within the church with their words and now the whole family attends an Antiochian Orthodox parish. This family did try to attend a Greek Orthodox parish for about a month because the church was closer to their home but gave up because the parish used too much Byzantine Greek in the Divine Liturgy. So while my brother-in-law’s parents still attend a Greek Orthodox Church, the younger members of the family attend the Antiochian Orthodox Church because the Divine Liturgy is in English.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    Where do you get the impression that I am living in a state of denial?

    How about answering my question regarding whether or not was OK that “old world churches” set up their jurisdictions in the US because the Russian jurisdiction was not meeting theor needs?

    This whole line got started because I mentioned the opportinistic behavior of SOME “mission parishes”. It has nothing to do with me being willing to sacrifice future generations. That comment is not true. You are unwilling to accept the fact of my initial premise. That is your perogative. But don’t put words in my mouth to try and make your argument.

    Can you answer my question please? Was the GOA set up as a “missionary archdiocese” because it came to serve the needs of faithful who’s needs were not being met by the Russian jurisdiction? How about the other various archdioceses which were set up here? Serbian, Bulgarian, Antiochian etc. Were they “missionary archdiocese” for the same reason as the GOA?

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tamara, God bless you for your efforts. I too look aghast at the number of Greeks I grew up with who no longer attend church. Some have started to come to the mission where I worship. Nothing firm yet but prayer helps.

  30. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom, I’ll answer this question: The Russian archdiocese set up a missionary vicariate for the Arabs (hence St Raphael). It had every intention of setting up one for the Serbs but WWI intervened then the Bolshevik revolution. Anecdotal evidence suggests they wanted to do so for the Greeks as well.

    Be merciful to them, this was uncharted territory. The idea of an ethnic missionary vicariate was novel. Plus, it came mightily close to heresy, don’t forget, the Council of 1872 in Constantinople repudiated the idea of ethnic bishops.

    As far as Tamara’s contention of AOCA and OCA missions not being “opportunistic,” I think her original critique stands. We live in a free country. Nobody forces anybody to go to church. Just the fact that you feel these missions may be “opportunistic” upon the GOA parishes shows me that you believe that these same GOA parishes have evangelistic deficits. Otherwise, why would anybody leave?

  31. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 22. Tom, it sounds like you are referencing a particular case in your complaint about a mission parish poaching members from a troubled GOA parish. If this is the case, you are probably correct.

    Nevertheless, the GOA faces an acute sociological problem, and its response seems to be that wishful thinking will correct it. Mostly it deals with keeping the trappings of ethnic affiliation in ways that have little to do with authentic ethnic identity. The result is a muting of the apostolic calling to preach and baptize, which in due course drives non-Greek spouses (and in some parishes non-Greeks altogether) out of the Church.

    What I mean by this is that most members of the GOA are more American than they are Greek. Put another way, the Greek dimension of ethnic identity reaches down to the level of folklore, but not much more. Nothing wrong with that of course, but when folklore becomes the measure of ethnic self-identification, all too often the measure of true Orthodoxy — of real faith in Christ — is determined by one’s ability to Greek dance, bake baklava, or even speak Greek.

    I have nothing against Greek dancing. My daughter loves it and is quite good at it. Baklava is great (Greek-Americans make it better than the kind you get in Greece though.) The Greek language is beautiful and rich and even a cursory knowledge opens the scriptures and written tradition in ways unavailable without hours of study. (My daughter is the only student in our section of the state taking Greek for credit in the public schools.)

    Remember “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” When I was watching it (I went to a special showing held only for Greeks), I saw that the Greeks who where laughing at it were culturally American. If they were culturally Greek, the scenes would have come across as offensive because the entire movie was a send-up of Greek culture. This was confirmed later when I read that Greeks in Greece were offended by the movie because viewers felt they were being made fun of. At the same time, the sociological reality revealed by the popularity of the movie among Greek Americans was totally lost on them.

    The upshot is this: the GOA is in sociological turmoil. It does not know where it is going. On the one hand you have some outstanding priests who do indeed minister the Gospel of Christ and attempt — sometimes at great cost to themselves — to reach out and stabilize their people. On the other hand, the internal conflict about self-identity introduces factors that end up muting the Church’s mission.

    Tamara’s situation with the persons leaving the Orthodox Church is one example. Another is one that troubled me for a long time: the YAL conferences that were meat-markets (that what we priests would call them) on the one hand, and attempts to teach the faith on the other. I attended several of them. We would hold classes on the faith for interested attendees (a good number of people were interested), but also see the bikini bodies, inappropriate dancing, bodies on parade, etc. on the other — obviously a conflicted situation for a Church sponsored event.

    You see the conflict in parishes as well. Some of our parishes are war zones, and pity the poor priest who tries to reestablish the Gospel in his parish. If he does, his parish grows. That formula is pretty simple. But if this causes conflict with the secular Greeks in the parish, the Metropolitan will more likely than not side with the secular faction when he is called to adjudicate the conflict. Why? Because he too is conflicted between the folkloric self-identity and his true apostolic responsibility. Better to keep the machine running, then endure the wrenching change that more faithful adherence to the Gospel would require.

    This is particularly acute with the recent political moves by the EP. It has exacerbated the fault lines to the point where they are becoming more visible. A question I ask myself is this: Would the leadership of the GOA accept increasing attrition in order to preserve ethnic self-identity, even the weakened folkloric identity? My answer increasingly is yes, unfortunately. It explains too I think the political missteps (grave blunders really) of Abp. Demetrios’ visit with Pres. Obama among other things. I wonder if those fault lines with open to the extent that even more people will fall through. Listening to Tamara (which is confirmed in my own experience), it looks like that is almost assured, unfortunately.

    I don’t say any of this with any glee. Most of my priest friends are GOA priests, and many of them are solid, faithful, men. The pressure on them is increasing though, especially as the sociological divide becomes increasingly politicized and the Metropolitans become increasingly heavy-handed in enforcing the Constantinopolitan view. This internal conflict in the larger GOA is also taking a great toll on the stability of priestly families as well, as I am sure you know. It’s one reason for the increasing divorce rates among priests — a development largely incomprehensible a few short decades ago.

    I’m not picking on the GOA. I am sure other jurisdictions have problems but I don’t really know their culture. Still, from my vantage point, the GOA is lurching into acute crisis (it might already be there), but does not see it.

  32. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    You know, all of these strange theories and opinions coming out of GOA these days bespeak of a great deal of insecurity. The idea that the MP is going to somehow “revoke” the autocephaly of the OCA in June (as if it 1. could be done and 2. would be honored by the OCA), the wishful thinking of reading too much in Patriarch Kirill’s words (especially when he recently referred to Met. Jonah as “Your Beatitude” in his letter of support), the strange opinion that ROCOR’s reunion with the MP somehow negates the autocephaly of the OCA (which was granted 37 years prior and seems to be in no discernable danger judging from the statements of the last and the present Patriarch of Moscow), the remarks of Fr. Elpidophoros, etc.

    It is almost as if they are using wild assertions and speculation as a pathetic kind of tactic, the theory being that if you just keep saying these things long enough, they will somehow come true. From a sane vantage point, this appears delusional.

    I think June is going to be a serious disappointment to them.

  33. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I think you are on to something Scott. Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech was a tactical blunder in my estimation. So why did they do it? The only answer I can come up with is that it was a defensive reaction, probably to Met. Philip’s very public critique of Constantinople’s reading of Canon 28, and Met. Jonah’s very public push for a unified American Orthodox Church.

    Again, it makes me wonder who is giving Constantinople advice about the American situation. All the moves are so obviously defensive (as you point out), that they only thing that explains it is inculcated insecurity (a vestige of Muslim domination, perhaps?). There seems to be no understanding whatsoever that if the Ecumenical Patriarchate would lead in his capacity as first Bishop rather than the contrived role of first Ethnarch (a role Americans simply will never accept), the American Orthodox would become his strongest supporters.

  34. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christb is Risen!

    Hi Father Hans,

    Actually, I am referring to several specific cases, though certainly not all mission parishes fall into tjhis category. Thank you for understanding the problem.

    I really do not disagree witht he bulk of the rest of your post, though I do think it is a bit of an over generalization. Though it is clearly not as you say everywhere in the GOA, it is indeed that way in some (perhaps many) areas.

    I have often said that one of the biggest drawbacks which happened to the GOA was the large wave of immigration in the 60’s and early 70’s. The people came, found the table (as a very wise friend told me his father would say) fully laden, and proceeded to take us back a generation.

    That being said, unity cannot occur as long as we keep looking at the biggest and most resourcefull kid on the block and contantly criticise them (not that you did that).

    Regards,

    Tom K

  35. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    I assume that Tamara is capable of answering for herself. If she chooses not to then so be it.

    Your response to my question, however, does not answer it. Clearly the Russian administration was not meeting the needs of the faithfull of different backgrounds so they sent back to the “old world” for bishops and priests and formed archdiocese. This OK? Yes or no.

    It is the same situation as setting up of “mission” parishes in the way I explained.

    Also, please emember that I did not say or imply that all of the missionary parishes were opportunistic, rather that some, who function in the way I explained were opprotunistic and not “mission parishes”.

    I look forward to answer to my question.

  36. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    my bad… (cont).

    The irony is that as long as most GOA parishes felt that they were conducting the liturgies in Greek (primarily) that they were still somehow conservative.

    It is not set in stone however that massive waves of immigration are going to somehow lead to continued folklorism and secularism. The Russian/Ukrainian wave in Great Britain seems to be pulling the native church back into a more conservative (albeit ethnic Slavic) direction. So my earlier point about massive waves of immigration leading to liberalism (as happened in America in the GOA and will do so w/ the Romanians and Palestinian/Jordanian waves) will probably not hold true in England.

  37. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 34. Tom, yes, it is a generalization and yes, there are some shining exceptions. No doubt about that.

  38. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    Fr. Johannes is note 31 makes some highly accurate observations. His emphasis on the lack of modesty in some circles is indeed correct. Sometimes, I walk into my GOA parish on a Sunday and the lack of common sense modesty is simply stunning. The Greek Orthodox Community has truly failed its young women (and men) by not offering an Orthodox response to the popular culture of disposable sexuality.

    One thing I have noticed also is that a large part of the parish youth as a result of mix marriages and parental choices are receiving their religious education elsewhere. Sunday school has deteriorated into daycare and a feeding group for Greek Dancing. In the meantime, many children are going to Catholic and Protestant Private Schools and are absorbing the culture there. The GOA Parish -when not a warzone- is a nostalgic footnote and not a vehicle of formation in the Orthodox Faith.

    Of course to question any of this results in condemnation and the traditonal scolding of “you do not understand the Greek Orthodox Ethos”.

    Fr. Johannes is right about one thing. It is more clear to me than ever that the GOA will do anything to keep the omogenia folklore going. They are willing to sacrifice a myriad of souls and create a multitude of spiritual orphans for their version of omogenia before Orthodoxy.

    The folklore can only last so long though and demography is destiny. Years of neglect have hollowed out the GOA for the foreseeable future. Buildings may be built and the GOA can celebrate the material wealth of its people but all the buildings and renovations do not translate into fidelity to the Gospel and the gift of the Orthodox Faith.

  39. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Andrew,

    It is very unfortunate that you are having such a negative parish experience. While I can probably safely assume that your parish experience is not the only one like it in the GOA, it is also important to make the logical assumption that not all parishes (in fact perhaps most, though that is speculation based upon my experience) in the GOA are like that.

    True, thhere are many parishes which use too much Greek for my taste (my own parish for example) but that does not neccessarily mean that they have the same outlook as your parish. In fact in my parish, as well as the parish in which I grew up and the parish I attended while in college (all GOA parishes) as well as many of the neighbooring parishes in my area, this is not the case.

    The parishes I mention, though drastically different in demographic makeup, have all plsed the Gospel first. Quite simple. I pray that your parish wakes up before it is too late, but please don’t make the assumption that all parishes and metropolises in the GOA are like your parish. Most are not.

    We need to do a much better job in the GOA (as do all the other jurisdictions) no doubt, but things are not as sinsiter as you may think.

  40. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    Tom,

    I will concede things are not as sinister as they seem but it is clear there is a profound crisis in apathy in the GOA that is slowly robbing the GOA of its ability to communicate the Orthodox Faith. The examples of failed leadership from coast to coast in the past few months have shown this is clear.

    I am happy to hear about your positive experience but I have to ask if such experiences are the norm why are all these positive experiences kept in the dark and not shared through the webpages and media outlets of the GOA and various Metropolises? Why not celebrate the success stories when Orthodoxy comes before Omogenia?

  41. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    St. Tikhon tried to find a way to meet the needs of the various ethnic Orthodox groups who came to North America. St. Raphael was working him with him in order to meet the needs of those who came from the middle east. Unfortunately, we will never know how different things might have been if we would have had one multi-ethnic synod of Orthodox bishops in North America because the rise of communism in Russia put a stop to the beginning of a united Orthodox Church here. Jurisdictions are an unfortunate side effect of the Russian Revolution.

    Anyway, it is my opinion that none of the jurisdictions, except for the Russian effort in Alaska was originally mission oriented. The various clergy who came here, came to serve the needs of immigrants who were Orthodox Christians. A more accurate description of their service can be described as chaplaincy. Establishing parishes for those already of the faith is not “missionary” work, but chaplaincy. We are expected to do both mission and chaplaincy, but they are not the same. Chaplaincy does not expand the Body of Christ, it maintains it. Mission expands it, makes it grow.

    We have two imperatives to attend to in the Church. Keep the current faithful living an Orthodox Christian life, and spread the faith to those around us. Chaplaincy is not evangelization, it is retention. We must be careful not to confuse this with Church growth. Church growth is when the total of the Body of Christ is increased.

  42. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    I will take that as a no. In other words, you make the assumption that the Russian administration was trying to meet the needs of the people so therefore it was wrong for the other jurisdictions to come here and establish themselves.

    I can accept that as your argument.

    My point is that the exact same thing is happening with SOME of the situations I described in the original comment about SOME “mission” parishes. Thats all.

    In order to be fair and accurate, you must apply the same standard to both situations. You cannot have it both ways.

    One correction I would make is that it has become pretty clear that it was not the rise of communism which caused the various splits to occur resulting inmultiple jurisdictions in America. That argument is part of what has been called the myth of a unified Church in America. According to the OCA website in its very interesting History of Orthodox Christians in North America, in the section labeled “Immigration and Conversion” by 1916 (a year before the Bolshevik revolution) there were already 140 independant Greek Orthodox Parishes (plus many other independant parishes of various backgrounds).

    By your reasoning, clearly since these faithful people were not having their needs met by the Russian administration, they chose to look towards the Mother Churches for leadership and guidance. Thus the establishement of the various jurisdictions.

    “Establishing parishes for those already of the faith is not “missionary” work, but chaplaincy.”

    I agree with your comment which is exactly what some of the “mission” parishes are doing when they peel off existing faithful. Quite simple.

    “We have two imperatives to attend to in the Church. Keep the current faithful living an Orthodox Christian life, and spread the faith to those around us. Chaplaincy is not evangelization, it is retention. We must be careful not to confuse this with Church growth. Church growth is when the total of the Body of Christ is increased.”

    On this point we are in total agreement. That is what many parishes are trying to do (some more successfully than others) when they continue to have bi-lingual services.

    Hopefully you can see my point now.

    Regards,
    Tom K

  43. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tamara Northway says:

    Hi Tom,

    There is no assumption about it. St. Tikhon provided Arab Christians with an Arab bishop in the form of St. Raphael. He wrote letters to Greece asking them to send clergy so he could help address the needs of the Greek immigrants. It was the Russian Revolution that resulted in St. Tikhon being summoned back to Russia which stopped the beginnings of what could have been a united synod of ethnic bishops working together to form an American Orthodox Church.

    It is now over 100 years later and we are beyond the simple task of only servicing the needs of Orthodox immigrants. We now have third and fourth generation Orthodox Christians who have mixed ethnicities and American perspectives. We have the needs of heterodox spouses who need to be evangelized. And finally, we have so many people who have found Orthodoxy on their own, who need to be thoroughly catechized into the faith. Beyond that, we need to be doing the other half of the job we are called to do, evangelize North America.

    Mission parishes are not peeling anyone off. They are serving needs which have changed from what the chaplaincy parishes were set-up to do, serve the needs of immigrants. Mission parishes serve the needs of younger generations who have been ignored by the large ethnic churches. If those large ethnic parishes would had the vision to move on from just the chaplaincy stage, and taken on both imperatives, they would not be in the position of losing younger generations. But, we will probably see this type of stubborn thinking in our large parishes end up being the reason they die. Living in denial only leads to more losses. And blaming families or our secular culture won’t stop the losses. Thank God a few people in the GOA have begun to chart the losses and recognize that fact.

  44. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    You are making erroneous assumptions based upon your own predjudices and upon your experience with some parishes.

    You are ignoring the facts that I point out in my post, especially that the disorganization started in the US long before the Boleshevik revolution. Clearly, by that time, various ethnic groups who were not having their needs met bt the Russian administration had already started froming independant parishes and looking to the old world for leadeship which would meet their needs. There wee already hundreds of parishes not under the Russian administration.

    Why do you refuse to answer my question regarding the parallels between the establishment of other jurusdictions in the US and te establishment of SOME of the mission parishes in question? One cannot be acceptable while the other is not. You cannot have it both ways.

    In fact,most parishes in the GOA are trying to do exactly what you are saying, serve the needs of the existing (chaplaincy) and reach out to new and unchurched individuals. Clearly, some are doing a better job than others and SOME may not be doing anything at all. Those who are not functioning in this way, will indeed fail, in my opinion.

    Hopefully, the hierarchs of differing jurisdictions will coordinate the planting of new churches (as I understand happens in some areas) so that we can have more REAL mission parishes in areas not served by a church and fewer of the opportunistic type of “mission” parises, just peeling off existing faithful.

  45. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Andrew,

    40.

    “The examples of failed leadership from coast to coast in the past few months have shown this is clear.”

    To what examples are you referring?

    “I am happy to hear about your positive experience but I have to ask if such experiences are the norm why are all these positive experiences kept in the dark and not shared through the webpages and media outlets of the GOA and various Metropolises? Why not celebrate the success stories when Orthodoxy comes before Omogenia?”

    The things I decribed in my post 39 are routine occurances in most of the parishes. They are on websites, newsletters. buletins etc. all around the country every day, week, month. Start browsing through parish websites (you can find links to those that have them in the parish listings on the GOA website) and you will see what I am talking about.

    Too often we are willing to make broad generalizations based upon our ow narrow experience (which is perhaps a normal behavior). But that does not mean we are correct, only that based upon what we have seen in our area we MAY be correct.

  46. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom,

    Tamara’s right on this. Not only did Tikhon ask for Greek priests to serve the needs of the exploding Greek population, but he specifically asked the Serbian church for a Serbian bishop. And this was after St Raphael was already here.

    I’ll concede that “disintegration” started before the Bolshevik revolution but your position isn’t strengthened. Much of this disintegration was due to outright schism. That’s like saying marriage is the leading cause of divorce. Also, in the interests of being charitable, I’ll grant that there was another reason for such disintegration, and that’s just ordinary Orthodox disorganization. Happens all the time, even in countries that have established churches.

  47. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    As usual, you are missing the point and neither you nor Tamara answer the question. I understand why you CANNOT answer the question, (because the answer proves my point). I guess I held out a little hope that you would be willing to honestly accept the clear similarity of the two situations. So much for whishfull thinking.

  48. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    post 47 is to George

  49. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    No erroneous assumptions. George confirmed that St. Tikhon tried to meet the needs of other Orthodox immigrant groups. He further expanded that some were in schism to these advances toward working together. But he then said some of the disunity was just due to the disorganized nature of most of the Orthodox world. I think we can all agree on that one. (smile)

    In my experience, most mission churches are set-up by people who are new to the faith, want to hear the Divine Liturgy in English, and do not want any one ethnic flavor to pervade the parish. If unhappy Orthodox Christians from large ethnic churches find their way to these mission parishes, well thank God! Needs are being met.

    So in summary in order to answer your question, in the case of the Russian mission to America, St. TIkhon ACTIVELY TRIED to meet the needs of other ethnic groups but was unable to due to politics, disorganization and more importantly, he was pulled from North America during a critical time in the formation of the churches. Drawing a parallel to his mission and the failure of the large ethnic churches is wrong. Most large ethnic churches are failing because they have NOT tried to meet needs of the younger generations and their hetereodox spouses. So no, I don’t think these two situations correspond to one another.

  50. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Tamara,

    It’s quite true that large or established ethnic parishes cannot meet the needs of the people. In this, I see a direct parallel with the Russian mission. The difference of course is that the Russian mission tried to meet the needs of the Serbs and Greeks but because of resources, etc. was unable to.

    At the end of the day, the only way any parish at all is going to meet the needs of the people is to ally itself with an American church, one that is not dependent or nostalgic for the Old World. I just got back from Vespers tonight and there were several hymns sung in honor of St Alexis Toth. The one word that kept sticking in my mind was “America.” It was incessant. I looked around and saw at least 30 people there, all Americans (even though some of us were Greek and Russian).

    These hymns penetrated our consciousness. Plus, the news that +Jonah wants to evangelize the Maya set us ablaze with Christian zeal! Sometimes my Greek-American friends and relatives ask me if I miss going to “the Greek church,” and all I can answer them is this way: “I’ve never felt more Greek in my life than I do when I attend our mission parish.”

    I don’t feel that we Greeks squandered our ancient legacy (that would be too harsh, after all the Turks really did a number on us), but rediscovering it has been a blessing to those of us who have come into the OCA. All of the ethnic people I know in the OCA (Arab, Bulgarian, etc.) have brought the best of their respective customs. I know American Orthodoxy will create its own “little T” traditions that are grating, but that is up to the natives of this land to do what they will. We have no right to subjugate this mission to Old World paradigms that have failed or are in the process of failing. (The more I read Lambrianides’ critique, the more I realize that he doesn’t get it.) I see examples of this nostalgia-worship all around.

  51. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    “Drawing a parallel to his mission and the failure of the large ethnic churches is wrong. Most large ethnic churches are failing because they have NOT tried to meet needs of the younger generations and their hetereodox spouses. So no, I don’t think these two situations correspond to one another.”

    And herein lies my major disagreement and the reason that you are wrong in this point.

    In all honesty, how do you know what “Most large ethnic churches…” are doing to try to try to meet the needs of the younger generations and heterodox spouses?

    I know of several situations where a parish was struggling but trying very hard to meet the needs of ALL of its parishioners when one of the opportunistic “mission parishes” set up shop in the area and started peeling off parishioners. That is wrong.

    I also know of many true mission parishes which are set up where there is no church, or where the local church is doing nothing to try to meet the needs of a segment of its population. In those cases I thank God the people had an alternative.

  52. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom, in Tamara’s defense that’s a generalization. You are right, there probably was one or two parishes that “tried to meet the needs of all,” but like all generalizations, her observation can’t be right in all particulars. (This is like my earlier post that the NBA is 75% black, this doesn’t mean that all black men can play basketball but that they have a greater affinity/talent/etc. for the sport.) In order to believe a stereotype, there must be more than a grain of truth to it. The stereotype of the ethnic jurisdictions (Serb/Bulgar/Greek/etc.) is that they’re not evangelistic in outlook. Even the one ethnic jurisdiction that is (was?), the AOCA, appears to be reverting to type. So this exception helps prove the rule.

  53. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Could someone enlighten me what is meant by the phrase “meet the needs”?

  54. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Some sociology: A priest can adequately care of the needs of about 125 families. This means personal contact is frequent, minor needs can be met along major ones, etc. Above that something has got to give, either some minor needs need to be left undone, or the priest starts a cycle of working over 40 hours (which many do anyway).

    When the count gets to 250 and above, the focus is mainly on the sacramental responsibilities (services, baptisms, weddings, etc.), administrative tasks (meetings mostly, which increase as the ministries in the parish grow), and crisis situations. He is usually over-worked at this point (60+ hours a week, home only 2 or 3 evenings a week, if that), and personal contact with all parishioners, as well as the necessary time for creative reflection greatly diminishes.

  55. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Re: 52

    “…like all generalizations, her observation can’t be right in all particulars.”

    George, this clause is exactly why I tried to be very specific in stating that I was speaking about “some” of the mission parishes.

    Sadly, no matter how narrowly I tried to define my point, there was no give and take. No acknowledgement that a problem exists and that the situation I described was in its very essence, the same situation which occurred in the US which led to the establishment of various jurisdictions.

    The problem with stereotypes is that they are just as often not true. When you say that 75% of the NBA players are black, that is not a sterotype. It is a quantifiable statistic (though I do not know if the percentage is exactly 75% but you get the point). Whe you say “So and so ia black so he must be a good basketball player” that is a stereotype.

    There may be a perception that “ethnic parishes” (i.e. Serb/Greek/Arab/Ukrainian/Bulgarian/Russian etc, and even many OCA parishes are ethnically Russian) are not evangelistic in outlook, it will be true in some instances and not true in others. Neither you, nor Tamara nor I can be sure nor should we make generalizations like this or be so willing to assume the worst.

    The problem I described is a reality in SEVERAL areas I know of personally, and it is a stumbling block. When we show a lack of concern for issues like this, or write them off out of hand, we are not doing something which imptoves the chances of unity in the US.

  56. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    The “erroneous assumption” I was referring to in 44 refer to your assumptions that large ethnic parishes are not trying to meet the needs of their parishioners. All of their parishioners.

    That is an erroneous assumption based upon your own predjudices and experiences at some parishes.

  57. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Michael,

    Fathers point is very well made about what it takes to meet th needs of a parish. I wish we could have more parishes of that size. My parish should be 4 or 5 parishes according to fathers point, and I think he is correct.

    However, I believe that in the context of this discussion, when people say that a parishe isn’t meeting the needs of its parishioners, I think it is a pretty safe bet that they mean that language and cultural events are an issue. Too much Greek/Arabic/Romanian/Slavonic etc.

    I am not agreeing with that yardstick, rather I am just pointing that I believe this is what is meant. I could be wrong.

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom, Tom, Tom,

    This unwillingness on your part to face the facts is what I mentioned earlier. You are arguing with the GOA numbers not with me. Most Greek Orthodox Churches are large (over 250 families). Whatever the majority of these churches may or may not be doing, they are not meeting the needs of their people because if they were, they would not be reporting losses as noted below from the article by Peter Kehayes.

    Fr. Hans provided the statistics from the GOA article, “FOR US AND THE CHURCH WE LOVE: THE TIME IS NOW,” by Peter S. Kehayes.

    The current statistics and the trends they portend are very compelling. The Orthodox Yearbook (2003) statistics show that intermarriages comprise two of every three (65%) marriages that occur within the Church. Within the same report, adding those that occur outside its aegis, the estimate climbs to 75 – 80%. At this attrition rate, within three generations, less than 2% non-intermarried Greek Orthodox Christian families remain. With intermarriages becoming the norm, the need to address this concern becomes immediate.

    If more evidence is needed, young families, the building blocks of the Church, are less prominent in our religious communities. Supporting organizations such as choirs, Sunday school teachers and parish councils are most often comprised of senior members of the community. The average age seems to be increasing disproportionately in established communities. In many, we see seniors the majority of active communicants, and though their presence is essential for stability, it is the young who assure its future. Yes, youth programs are effective in enabling the young to become active in church activities, but will they as adults, when it is their time, continue to grace the Church, bringing their own gifts while benefiting from its treasures twenty years hence? In a drastically decreasing Church population, one must question, Are we doing enough to ensure this legacy for future generations?

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I think a lot of this is totally unimportant and out of our control in any case. I am in the Church for two reasons, Jesus called me and I responded. I don’t say that with any degree of arrogance, it continues to be amazing to me that He wants me, but He does.

    That is the reason for the Church to be a vehicle for the call and to receive those who respond, nuturing their growth in the Kingdom. Its that simple and that hard. Until we decide to really follow our calling (individually and corporately) no number of debates on ecclesiology, churgh growth and dynamics, theology, etc. will bear the fruit we want.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    BTW, I came to the Church by the backest of back doors through nihilism and heresy. So, if Jesus wants folks in His Church, He’ll get them there.

    For us to decide which people those are based upon such artificial and meaningless criteria as language, ethnicity, material wealth, etc. is IMO approaching blasphemy. Conciliar means just that, it has to be dynamic and pastoral, anything else is just stupid.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Michael, your point is of course correct. The point of the Church is to impart holiness, all other aspects of it –though important–are secondary. We must be steadfast and faithful to the end.

    Tamara’s point (and by extension, mine) is that regardless of our inherent sinfulness (mine worst of all), it is incumbent upon the Church to be the Church. The article that Tamara quoted an important part of the prophetic witness of the Church, the ability to be humble and introspective. I was gratified to read it because for all too often, all we get out of many churches is nothing but triumphalism and arrogance.

    Forgive me if I misunderstood. BTW, how is Bishop +Basil doing? We would love to have him as Bishop of Dallas since there’s still a vacancy and I don’t know what the ultimate situation regarding the whole “auxiliary” bishop status is.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    I am not arguing with numbers at all. I don’t dispute those numbers.

    I merely pointed out that you are making erroneous assumptions based upon your own predjudices and your experience with parishes in your area.

    I will add that those erroneous assumptions have clouded your ability or willingness to accept the fact that the instances I describe and the history of the establishment of multiple jurisdictions are analagous.

    As a matter of fact I agree with the article by Peter Keheyes. Nothing in the article contradicts my point about the “mission parishes” to which I refer in my specific examples.

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    Tamara Northway says:

    Tom,

    If my assumptions are not correct, then the GOA numbers wouldn’t agree with my anecdotal experience (parishes are not meeting the needs of its people). And if your anecdotal experiences are correct (large parishes are trying to meet the needs) and the GOA is still losing members, then someone needs to revisit the true needs of its members.

    Stomata! This discussion is going nowhere and we are wasting time arguing with one another.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I am sure +Basil is doing just fine by the grace of God whatever struggles he may be faced with. I would certainly not get your hopes up about any transfer by him to the OCA. If he is not allowed to serve the Antiochian Archdiocese in Wichita, he will likely retire to St. John’s Monastary in England where he was tonsured a monk sometime ago.

    Of course if he did that, the need for a good bishop in Dallas would be greatly magnified plus +Job would likely have a bunch of new folks on his hands.

    If Met. Philip has ANY sense at all he will leave +Basil alone.

    God forgive us all, we appear to be a stiff-necked people.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Tamara,

    FYI it’s stamata not stomata.

    If you do not want to argue, why must you continually ignore my point and try to get the last word in with your erroneous assumptions.

    So stop arguing.

    Stop putting forward your erroneous assumptions.

    Stop making the GOA the problem behind everything.

    Try to be open minded to facts and opiniosn which differ from your own beliefs.

    Stop making this about loss of membership in the GOA (and you must certainly realize in other jurisdictions as well). We are not in disagreement about those things.

    In order to really be sincere about wanting the Church to be unified in the US, you must stop ignoring the fact that the “opportunistic mission parishes” which do what I explained NUMEROUS times are not real mission parishes and they cause a problem in inter jurisdictional relations. They thus become a stumbling block to unity. Your stubborness and unwillingness to see this fact is making the problem worse.

    Read Fr. Hans comments on this issue and perhaps you will begin to understand the problem.

Care to comment?

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