Family leaving Church

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SeraphimShott said:
Hello All and God Bless,

Recently a few families in the Church I attend have left. They wrote a nasty letter to the Bishop and they have also encouraged other families to leave. Have any of you experienced such a thing. Do you reach out to these families or just let them go? It all seems so crazy to me. The families that left are recent converts. It is sad to see them leave. At the same time I am frustrated as they have made many misleading comments about our Church and Priest. They have also began looking into starting a new Orthodox Church in the same area. It just seems so unChristian. Thank you for any help. Lord Have Mercy! Terry
Could you please transcribe the written complaints contained in the letter to the Bishop, enlarge upon the comments that have been about your Church and Priest, and also state in detail the reasons that are being adduced to encourage other families to leave?
 

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This is my first post. I am learning that it easy to get off topic on a discussion board. In hindsight I should have worded things better. Basically I wanted to know your opinions on whether or not I should reach out to some dissatisfied families who have left the Church. I realize that the families that have left from their point of view feel they are doing the right thing. From my end I am saddened to see them leave and I am hurt and to some degree angry in how they left the Church. I am grateful for the people willing to take time to leave input on this topic. It was not my desire to gossip or slander the families that have left. It seems that my entry on the Bees and Flies did more to distract than to help as well. I think the Priest was trying to say that sometimes people get so focused on the negative things they see that they cannot see the positive things that are happening around them. It would have been better may be to have kept this to myself. As for myself sometimes I am like the fly and sometimes I am like the bee. With Gods Grace I hope to be more like the bee. I will take the advice of the entry that said to send a letter wishing the leaving families well. I am not planning on making more entries on this post as I feel like I now know what I need to do. Thank you all for your help!
 

blessedbeggar

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To stay on topic..my family and I left our charismatic Church of God after being there for approximately 4 years. We left because we have found the Truth in Orthodoxy. My experience has been overall a good one. What we found most appreciative were the people that have continued to love us, speak to us when we see them, or have reached out to us on social networks such as Facebook, etc. I think your idea to write them is very good, and commendable. Even better, is that if you were usually cordial with them...or spending time with them outside of the parish setting....to continue doing so. We have dear friends still attending the church we left, and they have not changed their actions or attitude with us since leaving. This has been the greatest experience I could have expected. However, there have been some unpleasantries in the situation...including finding that for several sermons following our departure, the pastor 1) asked for the church to pray for an "anonymous" couple that had left the church to follow after false doctrine, and 2)began a series about the evils of "praying to idols," worshipping Mary, and how the "Devil can get hold of the saints and lead them to destruction( read that to say, disagree with the pastor on doctrine or theology)". I will pray for your situation and parish brother...as well as the families that have left.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar
 
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So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
 

Second Chance

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UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
 
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Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?
 

pupacios

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UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
that man is flawed but we have shown a way to improve and gossip is not one of them
 

Second Chance

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UniversalistGuy said:
Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?
I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.

 

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UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That at the same time that Orthodoxy is the religion that Christ founded, faithfully preserved and upheld through the centuries...well, parish life can sometimes be challenging or difficult because we're dealing with people who are not all perfect.

We must love other people, pray for other people and have patience for the failings of other people.  For it's own sake, yes; and also so that when we make a fool of ourselves, they'll be patient with us.

$0.02
 

podkarpatska

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Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?
I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.
Thanks, Second Chance, you saved me a lot of time as you expressed my feelings on the question. I remember many years ago that SCOBA, the standing conference of canonical Bishops, had a slogan for their 'Pan-Orthodox' activities. It was 'Unity in Diversity'. Sounds trite, but as I have learned over the years it speaks to the real truths that unite us - not the petty stuff. One person's petty stuff is another person's boulder. Go figure.
 
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Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
Second Chance said:
UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That Orthodox Christians are human after all? Also, I would point out that any disciple of the Lord must discern (learn and pray for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit) what is right or wrong, what is essential and what is peripheral, and what is loving and what is selfish. Now, as Orthodox we have a propensity to defer to the Church because we are saved as members of the Body and not really by ourselves. On the other hand, Orthodox laity throughout history have not been reticent in being defenders of the faith, as Saint Paul demands in his letters. So, if you choose a congregation for petty reasons, you will be judged differently than if you do so for serious reasons. I do not know what happened in OP's church, but some families left my OCA church for a slightly more conservative ROCOR church (men and women separated, etc...). The interesting thing is that these brethren were all converts while we still have the ethnic Russians. The relations between our congregations are just fine as we realize that they were not frivolous but serious in their reasons, even if we may not fully understand them.

My personal advice to converts would be to attend any Orthodox church but, if they have a choice, to choose one that is a praying Church family.
What do you mean by “petty reasons” and what do you mean by “serious reasons” and who is doing the judging?  And would you care to go into a little more detail regarding what “slightly more conservative” means in the Orthodox context?  So men and women are separated in some Orthodox churches?  Why?  And what causes “apprehension for converts” amongst Orthodox Christians?
I meant to point the impulse behind their decision. By serious, I mean that their impulse is to worship God truly, a contrary impulse may be to attend a church where the rich and famous go, for example--not terribly well connected to going to church, but more akin to choosing a country club. As for judging, we judge our own impulses and conduct.

"Slightly more conservative," at least to me who is a conservative, is not at all pejorative. Let me try to put this in a continuum, let's say in the matter of laity taking communion: The frequency ranges from once a year, to four times a year, to monthly, to weekly, to every time liturgy is offered. So, please do not pay too much attention to my use of the word "conservative" as for me this means reliance on God and not on man ( I know I am somewhat in a minority on this). So, it is better, for me at least, if folks are more to the right of the continuum as to the left. Now, this matter is quite serious as it is at the heart of Orthodoxy. We also have a continuum in what men and women wear in church: for the ladies the range may be from party dresses and overly tight jeans, to modest dresses and pants (and no head coverings), to ankle length dresses and head coverings. Anyway, for me at least, I like the ones to the right more than the ones at the left. But, this matter, although it touches modesty (an important attribute) is not nearly as important as frequency of communion.

All of this is quite natural to humans in general; Mennonites for example have schismed over the color of car bumpers (a matter of modesty). Folks attend church for family and social reasons. It is of course better that they attend church than not attend at all but is it not vastly better that they attend to truly worship? So, it is that some congregations may have men worshiping on one side and women on the other; some churches have pews and others do not; some churches tithe and others do not; some churches use the vernacular and others do not; some use Byzantine rites while others use Western ones; some use Byzantine chants throughout, others use Byzantine chanting coupled to four-part harmony choir/congregational singing, yet others use Slavic melodies that are sung by everybody. In such small matters, there is diversity indeed. But, I would submit to you that in the vast majority of matters that count, Orthodox churches are all the same.

As for "apprehension for converts," I am very fond of our converts as I am also one, even though I am cradle. I have heard some folks put down converts as not having true Orthodox piety but I do not agree with such attitude. Reminds me of the issue decided at the Council of Jerusalem.
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.
 
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smithakd said:
UniversalistGuy said:
So let me ask this question.  Is there any lesson that an inquirer into Orthodoxy might take away from this thread?
That at the same time that Orthodoxy is the religion that Christ founded, faithfully preserved and upheld through the centuries...well, parish life can sometimes be challenging or difficult because we're dealing with people who are not all perfect.

We must love other people, pray for other people and have patience for the failings of other people.  For it's own sake, yes; and also so that when we make a fool of ourselves, they'll be patient with us.

$0.02
Very thoughtful post.  Thank you.
 

orthonorm

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Ortho_cat said:
Ah, the American pioneering spirit in full-force...  ::)
As it is said in the rooms of America's pioneering religion par excellence, AA:

All that is needed for a new meeting is two drunks, a coffee pot, and a resentment.
 
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