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Moral Dilemma: Which Church to Attend?

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Simayan

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I've thought about this for 48 hours, and after much prayer, still have no clear answer. I'm hoping you folks can help:

I just got back from visiting my college campus in Vermont which I'll be attending in less than a month. There are three Orthodox churches in the state, one in Burlington (GOA, 1 hour drive), one in Springfield (GOA, 2 hour drive), and one in Northfield (OCA).

Now, my college is in Northfield, so the OCA church is literally a 2 minute drive from school, and the deacon has kindly offered to give me a ride each Sunday. It's a military school, so as a freshman, I can only leave campus on Sundays, cannot have a car, and must wear a full dress-grey uniform wherever I go.

My mom and I went to visit the OCA church, and were immediately taken aback by a few things.  Even though Bishop Nikon had come to visit, everyone was in shorts and t-shirts, and some smelled as if they hadn't bathed in days. Looked a lot like aging hippies, mostly, which I have no problem with. The second odd part was that nobody seemed interested, or even noticed, that we were there, and did not help introduce us to many of the Russian customs, of which we know nothing about. And even though they greeted and joked with each other prior to the service, I assumed we would be approached after church, and that this was just a local tradition I wasn't used to.

Liturgy was nice, but as we went to the coffee hour (located in a damp concrete basement under the church), I was ignored by around half of the parishioners even when I posed a direct question. When we did get engaged in a few conversations, many seemed outright angered and aggressive that I was attending a military college. I realize this occurs at GOA churches too, but with a parish population of only 15 people (25 during Pascha), and after being shunned by 8 or so already, it starts to ruin any hope I had.

The priest and his wife, as well as the visiting Bishop, were wonderful. One couple who used to teach at the college were friendly too. However, I did not feel comfortable at all - I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't feel normal or right. Even when I first attended a DL at a GOA parish and had never heard Greek in my life, it didn't have the shoulder-curling effect that this did.

We then went to the GOA church in Burlington, which felt just like home: friendly atmosphere, helpful members, etc. Essentially, all that I hoped I would find as a second home for the next 4 years, yet it remains out of reach.


So that's my problem. It would be near-impossible to arrange a ride to Burlington, and I can only imagine how the already-hostile parishioners at the OCA parish would react to me showing up with medals a'jingling from my tunic. Yet I also feel that God may have placed me there for a reason; what are the odds I would be so close? I could simply skip coffee hour, but Orthodoxy is a communal religion, and I don't want to go there for my "spiritual needs" without bonding with other fellow Christians.

I feel trapped and isolated. Any advice?
 

PeterTheAleut

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Simayan said:
It would be near-impossible to arrange a ride to Burlington, ...
What makes this impossible or nearly impossible?  Is there no one in this parish who lives near your school?
 

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Simayan said:
Yet I also feel that God may have placed me there for a reason...

I feel trapped and isolated. Any advice?
It sounds like you would be going against the military rules as well for driving.  If it is again hippies (I live in NorCal, but that is the reputation of Vermont), then they are probably against anything military.  I think they'll have to just learn to get over their military inhibitions.  While the GOA parish sounds much nicer, you may not have a choice.  Those at the OCA parish will just have to learn to like you.  Sad about how slovenly they were at church too.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Is there no one in this parish who lives near your school?
Yes, that would be a great variant, if possible.
 

Simayan

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PeterTheAleut said:
What makes this impossible or nearly impossible?  Is there no one in this parish who lives near your school?
I'm still not sure of the logistics, because I haven't had a chance to speak with Rev. Wick, the Chaplain on campus. Supposedly he's very good at coordinating rides (including to many denominations I've never even heard of), so there is a chance. I just hope there's an upperclassman who goes there, or a Greek in Montpelier who drives there each Sunday. Of course, with gas prices what they are, they would have to be VERY close to the town for it to work.
 

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I completely understand where you are coming from. My husband is in the military, and we have encountered this sort of thing more often than I care to mention. It is prevalent everywhere from the grocery store to a church. I would pray really hard about this, and possibly meet with the priest of the parish. Having a military vocation on the horizon the last thing you need is to attend a parish that is openly hostile to all things military.

Call the Burlington parish and feel them out. You might just find people in the parish that are willing to come pick you up. There are people in our parish that drive out and pick people up. And hour isn't that far or long to drive. Heck! Here in Seattle an hour is a SHORT commute!

You need a home parish that is an actual "home." There are plenty of people that are staunchly against the war and such at my parish but they are supportive nonetheless. A military occupation has much farther reaching effects than being say-an accountant. The military OWNS you, so you can't seperate the individual from the soldier.

Unless specifically called to, don't take on the reforming position for the close Orthodox church. If you don't have a calling to do so it will be uncomfortable at best, damaging to your faith at worst.
 

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It is so easy to lose heart or go overboard in a military vocation. It is hard work, it is demanding. But it can be quite rewarding. So you need a parish that views you as a young man in the military. They need to support you when you are having a challenging time. And from personal experience (of my own and my husbands) when you go thru those hard times the staunchly anti-military use that as an avenue to bash on the military. The people of a parish need to do more than "tolerate" that you are in the military. They need to support you in being the best that you can be in your chosen vocation, irregardless of their own political views one way or the other.

The really pro-military people can be just as bad from my experience. They think you should be happy and honored to be in the military irregardless of your difficulties. So find the place where the people can seperate politics from the military and stick to it.
 

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Simayan said:
I've thought about this for 48 hours, and after much prayer, still have no clear answer. I'm hoping you folks can help:

I just got back from visiting my college campus in Vermont which I'll be attending in less than a month. There are three Orthodox churches in the state, one in Burlington (GOA, 1 hour drive), one in Springfield (GOA, 2 hour drive), and one in Northfield (OCA).

Now, my college is in Northfield, so the OCA church is literally a 2 minute drive from school, and the deacon has kindly offered to give me a ride each Sunday. It's a military school, so as a freshman, I can only leave campus on Sundays, cannot have a car, and must wear a full dress-grey uniform wherever I go.

Personally, I think dictating what you have to wear when you go to church goes a little too far.

My mom and I went to visit the OCA church, and were immediately taken aback by a few things.  Even though Bishop Nikon had come to visit, everyone was in shorts and t-shirts, and some smelled as if they hadn't bathed in days. Welcome to Vermont.Looked a lot like aging hippies, mostly, which I have no problem with. The second odd part was that nobody seemed interested, or even noticed, that we were there, and did not help introduce us to many of the Russian customs, of which we know nothing about. And even though they greeted and joked with each other prior to the service, I assumed we would be approached after church, and that this was just a local tradition I wasn't used to.  Sounds like a GOA parish.

Liturgy was nice, but as we went to the coffee hour (located in a damp concrete basement under the church), I was ignored by around half of the parishioners even when I posed a direct question. When we did get engaged in a few conversations, many seemed outright angered and aggressive that I was attending a military college. I realize this occurs at GOA churches too, but with a parish population of only 15 people (25 during Pascha), and after being shunned by 8 or so already, it starts to ruin any hope I had.

The priest and his wife, as well as the visiting Bishop, were wonderful. One couple who used to teach at the college were friendly too. However, I did not feel comfortable at all - I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't feel normal or right. Even when I first attended a DL at a GOA parish and had never heard Greek in my life, it didn't have the shoulder-curling effect that this did.

We then went to the GOA church in Burlington, which felt just like home: friendly atmosphere, helpful members, etc. Essentially, all that I hoped I would find as a second home for the next 4 years, yet it remains out of reach.  Are you sure that was a GOA parish?


So that's my problem. It would be near-impossible to arrange a ride to Burlington, and I can only imagine how the already-hostile parishioners at the OCA parish would react to me showing up with medals a'jingling from my tunic. Yet I also feel that God may have placed me there for a reason; what are the odds I would be so close? I could simply skip coffee hour, but Orthodoxy is a communal religion, and I don't want to go there for my "spiritual needs" without bonding with other fellow Christians.

I feel trapped and isolated. Any advice?

Yes, do what you feel is right in your heart.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Simayan said:
... and I can only imagine how the already-hostile parishioners at the OCA parish would react to me showing up with medals a'jingling from my tunic.
Reminds me of a personal anecdote.  Several years ago when I was still serving in the Marine Corps Reserve, I had spent a Friday away from my civilian job to do some PR work for the Reserve's annual Toys for Tots Christmas toy drive.  After my day was done, I also wanted to go to the local pan-Orthodox Advent retreat but had no time to change clothes, so I ended up attending the retreat in my dress blues.  Fortunately, most people there recognized me, knew already that I was in the Reserve, and actually supported my service.  I couldn't help feeling rather conspicuous, though.
 

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Quinault said:
Unless specifically called to, don't take on the reforming position for the close Orthodox church. If you don't have a calling to do so it will be uncomfortable at best, damaging to your faith at worst.
The "reforming position for the close Orthodox Church?"  What?  I'm sorry but it is pretty much the standard to support the parish closest to your house, the Christian community in your immediate area.  It's not a "reforming position."  It is the standard position that we must return to in this country.

"If you don't have a calling to do so it will be uncomfortable at best..." 

The only calling we have as Orthodox Christians is to be more like Christ.

Two protestant beliefs you have preached above that don't fit into Orthodox Christianity.

"reforming position" come on it is a seemingly protestant notion to seek a place that fits an individuals wants and needs much like buying anything at the store, features that fit the user.  Community in Christianity should triumph the individual.  Christ told us to put others first.  If everyone that drove past three Orthodox churches to go to one 2 hours away would actually go to the closest Orthodox church to their house then maybe those parishes wouldn't be suffering from church growth and ministry outreach in the local community and a host of other things that require a strong thriving community.  One you can not have when people use the protestant notion that goes "shop churches until you find the one that fits you.. use all kinds of individualist external tests to see if it feels good." 

Another thing is this notion that we are "called to this or that."  That's protestant as well.  Like I said above we are called to be more like Christ/Theosis.  That is our one calling in life as Christians. 

Sorry but I have to teach and protect and I know many are new to the faith.  The learning process about Orthodox Christianity is life long process, whether received into the Church at the age of 40 days or 40 years it is a life-long process of learning and upholding the True Faith.  Especially protecting aspects of Orthodox Christianity from ideals and thought-processes of the non-Orthodox communities protesting their notions of the Christian faith.
 

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Simayan said:
I've thought about this for 48 hours, and after much prayer, still have no clear answer. I'm hoping you folks can help:

I just got back from visiting my college campus in Vermont which I'll be attending in less than a month. There are three Orthodox churches in the state, one in Burlington (GOA, 1 hour drive), one in Springfield (GOA, 2 hour drive), and one in Northfield (OCA).

Now, my college is in Northfield, so the OCA church is literally a 2 minute drive from school, and the deacon has kindly offered to give me a ride each Sunday. It's a military school, so as a freshman, I can only leave campus on Sundays, cannot have a car, and must wear a full dress-grey uniform wherever I go.

My mom and I went to visit the OCA church, and were immediately taken aback by a few things.  Even though Bishop Nikon had come to visit, everyone was in shorts and t-shirts, and some smelled as if they hadn't bathed in days. Looked a lot like aging hippies, mostly, which I have no problem with. The second odd part was that nobody seemed interested, or even noticed, that we were there, and did not help introduce us to many of the Russian customs, of which we know nothing about. And even though they greeted and joked with each other prior to the service, I assumed we would be approached after church, and that this was just a local tradition I wasn't used to.

Liturgy was nice, but as we went to the coffee hour (located in a damp concrete basement under the church), I was ignored by around half of the parishioners even when I posed a direct question. When we did get engaged in a few conversations, many seemed outright angered and aggressive that I was attending a military college. I realize this occurs at GOA churches too, but with a parish population of only 15 people (25 during Pascha), and after being shunned by 8 or so already, it starts to ruin any hope I had.

The priest and his wife, as well as the visiting Bishop, were wonderful. One couple who used to teach at the college were friendly too. However, I did not feel comfortable at all - I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't feel normal or right. Even when I first attended a DL at a GOA parish and had never heard Greek in my life, it didn't have the shoulder-curling effect that this did.

We then went to the GOA church in Burlington, which felt just like home: friendly atmosphere, helpful members, etc. Essentially, all that I hoped I would find as a second home for the next 4 years, yet it remains out of reach.


So that's my problem. It would be near-impossible to arrange a ride to Burlington, and I can only imagine how the already-hostile parishioners at the OCA parish would react to me showing up with medals a'jingling from my tunic. Yet I also feel that God may have placed me there for a reason; what are the odds I would be so close? I could simply skip coffee hour, but Orthodoxy is a communal religion, and I don't want to go there for my "spiritual needs" without bonding with other fellow Christians.

I feel trapped and isolated. Any advice?
It seems like the OCA parish is the only realistic option at this point. I would consider attending until another opportunity arises. Until then, just be yourself and maybe a few of the "hippies" will experience a change of heart. Perhaps their first impressions of you and your first impressions of them were a bit off- in time this may all seem like a big misunderstanding. Since this parish *is* the logical choice, try and stick it out for a while. I sorely regret living 10 minutes from a certain parish about 5 years ago, but deciding to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to a "better" parish. Now, 5 years later, I attend that first mentioned parish and find nothing but good things there. It's all about perspective and time. I'm sure you'll be able to find like minded souls wherever you are. If worse comes to worse, just wait until the prayers for the armed forces, then give the hippies a good strong wink. :)

Best of luck to you.
 

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Remember that the people in your church are your sisters and brothers in Christ, you share the Chalice with all Orthodox Christians throughout the world when you receive.  Christ unites us.  So instead of labeling or worrying about their economic/social/political positions in life or how they are dressed remember they are your family united by Christ.  It is scary starting university, leaving the house for the first time, moving to a new place and so on.  Just think of your strengths and weaknesses you will be able to share with the local community.  We all learn from each other's strengths and weakness in community.  We all add our own uniqueness to the community making it stronger and a more vibrant place.  It may be different than what you are used to but life is about change and new experiences.  Think about how you can add to the local Orthodox Christian community, how you can strengthen it.  Yes there are always steep challenges in life.  It is part of the human experience.  The best we can do is face our challenges and try our best to overcome them.  This isn't always the speech people want to hear because it is indeed hard to face these challenges.  But out of all the pain, sorrow and heart-ache these challenges bring we get to learn more about ourselves, learn more about others and leave a positive impact upon those that we faced these challenges with.
 

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1. If people get offended in you turning up in your dress greys, that's their problem, not yours. (though I agree with the poster who said it's a bit rich for your school do dictate what clothes you wear to church, but, when in Rome ...)

2. There is a world of difference between serving personnel and government policy, and some people simply have to get used to it. Sure, there are military, especially of higher ranks, who are rabidly gung-ho, etc, but the average pleb serviceman is not a politician, he simply serves his country in the way he has been asked to. In many instances, he has no choice.

Where I live, one of the fortunate consequences of the aftermath of the Vietnam war was a realisation that the draftees who served were not politically responsible for the reason their country went to war. The same goes for Gulf War I and II, and Afghanistan. The wars in this region were seen by the average person as wrong, but, unlike the immediate Vietnam aftermath, the troops that served were (and are) welcomed back with goodwill, instead of being jeered and spat upon. Talk about shooting thre messenger ..... It took more than 20 years after the fall of Saigon for ANY official recognition to be given to Viet vets here. This included setting up war memorials in their honour. We have, fortunately, learned from this sorry episode.
 

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username; I advocate going to a parish and beng a part of it. The OP was saying he could go to the liturgy of the closer parish and leave before coffee hour. I don't think that is a viable option. And joining ANY church with the idea that you can change the people in it is completely insane. You don't marry someone thinking you can change them either. We don't change people, God changes people. You can't go to a church and assume that you will make a bunch of anti-military people become supportive. If he attends the closer parish that is anti-military he has to go assuming that will not change.

And the idea you have of the "closest parish" doesn't make sense since within a city a ROCOR person will drive right past a Antiochian parish to attend a parish miles further. A Serbian person will drive past a Greek parish to attend a serbian parish. There are many types of Orthodoxy because there are many cultures. And last I checked when you move away from your home parish they don't assign you a parish when you move like the Catholic church does do they?

And since the OP is GOA and the parish he likes is also GOA I don't see why he should force himself to attend a parish that he feels hostility at. An hour away is not that far. From what I recall there are many on this very board that travel farther than that.
 

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Troops still get spit on when they come back. Try walking around in uniform in downtown Seattle and find out.

And you guys don't understand that when you join a military academy you all wear your uniform all the time. It is a lesson that you are a soldier and representative of the military at all times. The wearing of the uniform is an honor and a priviledge for those lucky enough to wear it. Priests wear their priestly attire at all times don't they?
 

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note I said it's a model we must return to.  Other than the parish closest to him the other ones are much farther away than say four or five blocks in a city.  Also part of returning to this would equate to Orthodox unity in this country and getting rid of the reasons people started parishes in days gone by.  It's happened around here with the Roman Catholic churches. Churches that were started for the Croats, Germans, etc.. now all have mixed membership, it's forgotten why they were started (Germans not wanting to go to mass with the Irish, vice versa).

Also, I never said anything about changing people.  Each one of us brings talent and uniqueness into a situation.
Sorry I don't subscribe to the protestant views that are infiltrating every aspect of our lives. 

Sorry to say this, but all the times I moved growing up the Catholic Church never told us what parish we had to attend.  You simply joined the one closest to your house.  Sure exceptions can be made but you have to have permission to enroll at a different parish away from your house. 

I know churches that are pan-orthodox.  Sure the russians could go start a new parish in town, the greeks could, etc.. but no, there is one Orthodox church in town and no one wants to split it up so people stay and it is a super strong and awesome community.
 

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Troops still get spit on when they come back. Try walking around in uniform in downtown Seattle and find out.
Not in my neck of the woods. We've managed to learn from history.

Priests wear their priestly attire at all times don't they?
Sadly, not always.
 

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If you have to ask to attend a church other than the one closest to your house you are essentially assigned a parish.

My best friend is Catholic. She is in California and all the masses at the closest parish to her are in Spanish. She had to ask permission to attend a different parish since no one would speak to them since they weren't Mexican. That is sad. And the priest wasn't willing to do anything about it. They tried for 6 months to attend the parish. Even tried to get their kids in the catechism classes so they could have first confession and communion. But since they were "gringos" no one was willing to help them do anything. She had to buy the book and bring a chair for her son to attend class! Sometimes a parish is hostile because the priest is hostile.
 

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Quinault said:
If you have to ask to attend a church other than the one closest to your house you are essentially assigned a parish.

My best friend is Catholic. She is in California and all the masses at the closest parish to her are in Spanish. She had to ask permission to attend a different parish since no one would speak to them since they weren't Mexican. That is sad. And the priest wasn't willing to do anything about it. They tried for 6 months to attend the parish. Even tried to get their kids in the catechism classes so they could have first confession and communion. But since they were "gringos" no one was willing to help them do anything. She had to buy the book and bring a chair for her son to attend class! Sometimes a parish is hostile because the priest is hostile.
You know it's not assigned.  There are two Roman Catholic parishes about equally apart from my house.  If I was RC I could go to either.  I'm sorry for the continued anti-Catholic feelings so many ex-protestants keep even after they have professed the True Faith.  I lived in the Catholic Church, and now the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church.  I know my Roman and Greek Catholicism, I'm not a stranger to it.
 

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I am not anti-catholic. I was once kicked off a protestant christian chat site as a moderator because I wouldn't allow Catholic bashing. Ask any Catholic and they will say that what is occuring in the catholic church CA is a travesty.

I am sure the aforementioned priest at the Catholic church my friend initally attended was great with the Hispanic population. But unfortunately anyone that wasn't Hispanic was not welcome. And now her family is happily at a 80% hispanic parish that is extremely welcoming of "Gringos." Sometimes people in a parish are not welcoming of everyone. That is the sad truth. But if you have to choose between being a nominal Catholic that attends and leaves a closer parish as quickly as possible (drive-by Eucharist) or going to a parish farther away and being an integral part of the communuty-go to the farther away one if you can't be a fully involved member of the closer one.
 

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Quinault said:
And last I checked when you move away from your home parish they don't assign you a parish when you move like the Catholic church does do they?
Being assigned to a parish is actually the norm in countries without multiple jurisdictions. People are of course still free to visit any parish they wish, without asking permission.

I would like to encourage you Simayan, to give the closest parish a chance. It might require more of an effort to fit in, but if you do you will have secured a small victory for the Church, namely the overcoming of division, "hippies" and soldiers worshipping together.  ;D
 

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Simayan said:
I've thought about this for 48 hours, and after much prayer, still have no clear answer. I'm hoping you folks can help:

I just got back from visiting my college campus in Vermont which I'll be attending in less than a month. There are three Orthodox churches in the state, one in Burlington (GOA, 1 hour drive), one in Springfield (GOA, 2 hour drive), and one in Northfield (OCA).

Now, my college is in Northfield, so the OCA church is literally a 2 minute drive from school, and the deacon has kindly offered to give me a ride each Sunday. It's a military school, so as a freshman, I can only leave campus on Sundays, cannot have a car, and must wear a full dress-grey uniform wherever I go.

My mom and I went to visit the OCA church, and were immediately taken aback by a few things.  Even though Bishop Nikon had come to visit, everyone was in shorts and t-shirts, and some smelled as if they hadn't bathed in days. Looked a lot like aging hippies, mostly, which I have no problem with. The second odd part was that nobody seemed interested, or even noticed, that we were there, and did not help introduce us to many of the Russian customs, of which we know nothing about. And even though they greeted and joked with each other prior to the service, I assumed we would be approached after church, and that this was just a local tradition I wasn't used to.

Liturgy was nice, but as we went to the coffee hour (located in a damp concrete basement under the church), I was ignored by around half of the parishioners even when I posed a direct question. When we did get engaged in a few conversations, many seemed outright angered and aggressive that I was attending a military college. I realize this occurs at GOA churches too, but with a parish population of only 15 people (25 during Pascha), and after being shunned by 8 or so already, it starts to ruin any hope I had.

The priest and his wife, as well as the visiting Bishop, were wonderful. One couple who used to teach at the college were friendly too. However, I did not feel comfortable at all - I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't feel normal or right. Even when I first attended a DL at a GOA parish and had never heard Greek in my life, it didn't have the shoulder-curling effect that this did.

We then went to the GOA church in Burlington, which felt just like home: friendly atmosphere, helpful members, etc. Essentially, all that I hoped I would find as a second home for the next 4 years, yet it remains out of reach.


So that's my problem. It would be near-impossible to arrange a ride to Burlington, and I can only imagine how the already-hostile parishioners at the OCA parish would react to me showing up with medals a'jingling from my tunic. Yet I also feel that God may have placed me there for a reason; what are the odds I would be so close? I could simply skip coffee hour, but Orthodoxy is a communal religion, and I don't want to go there for my "spiritual needs" without bonding with other fellow Christians.

I feel trapped and isolated. Any advice?
I am sorry to hear of your experience. Especially as you have a measure of comparison with other parishes.

I´d still advise you though to stick with OCA. It´s the reasonable thing to do. After all and despite the temporary differences with the rest of the people there, you are all Orthodox, brothers in Christ and speak the same language. They´ll never get a chance to get used to the fact that Orthodoxy embraces everyone if you do not stick it out with your uniform and all. This is who you are, that´s it. It won´t do to encourage segregation.  And we should not forget - myself included - that it is the communion with Christ that unites us all in principle and the reason we all get on better with each other and not the other way around.

I am telling you this because where I come from and where I live, we do not usually meet after church for coffee, nor do we speak with each other if we do not know each other. Nor is it customary to greet each other. Still people will go to the closest church to them. More Russians than Greeks actually seem to attend the GO church I visit when I can (6hrs away from where I live) and the Liturgy takes place in three languages. Romanians and Bulgarians, too, attend and not for lack of parishes of their respective patriarchates. I did later discover a Romanian parish rather closer to me but the liturgy is entirely in Romanian and so is the homily and this is a problem as well as the fact that they seem to follow a different form of Liturgy which makes it impossible for me to know what is happening at every moment. This does make one feel rather out of place I assure you although I still feel I am with my Orthodox brethren. Even if I come and go without changing a word with another person. The important thing is I get to attend an Orthodox Liturgy with other Orthodox people.
 

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I will give my opinion on this matter, which if you knew me is pretty worthless, so be warned. I am a former Protestant. The thing I am most learning now is that the Church and its life is a community. I struggle sometimes with coffee hour, and the fellowship, but I know that it is necessary for the community of the Church. This is completely foreign to me, as you may well know. I understand that there are extreme situations, such as a 6 hour drive, that make the fellowship very difficult if not impossible, but it is important. You need to be in a parish where you can truly feel and experience communal worship/fellowship. I know that you have said previously that it would be difficult for you to go to the other parishes because of the transportation issue. I will pray about that. If you do not feel welcome, and even feel/sense hostility, I would urge you to find a ride to another parish. Call around and see if there are any people that pass your way. God will not leave you, and He will make a way for you to attend another parish if that is truly His Will. Call the other parish Priests in your area and see if transportation could be arranged. Lord Have Mercy. You are in my prayers! God Bless!

P.S. My two cents...
 

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It makes more sense to go to the OCA church unless you can find a ride to the Burlington GOA church.  Are sophomores allowed to have cars?
 

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Reading through this thread, I get the impression that many think that social hour is the glue of communion.  If you feel comfortable among people, if you feel supported, then that is the parish for you.  If not, go elsewhere.

I would not say that social hour is unimportant, but the Eucharist, not social hour, is the point of attending Liturgy.  Our Food and Drink is the Bread and Wine, not coffee and doughnuts.  We speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, not debates over national foreign policy and personal hygiene.

I think you should attend the nearby parish.  Get to know the priest and his wife.  Feeling supported doesn't require a village, just a faithful few.  Be an example of courtesy, both Christian and military, to the others.  They may spray you with their bullet points, but eventually they'll run out of ammunition.  Then they'll be confronted with their own smallness, and they may even repent.

In the meantime, you'll have a place you can easily and frequently partake of the Holy Gifts.
 

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Have you spoken with your spiritual father at your current parish about this? I think he would be the best person to help you with this issue. He knows you, knows what you need/don't need. And it would be best for him to be in contact with the priest of wherever you go in the future anyway.
 

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Simayan, I'm going to chime in and echo username! and tusedayschild on this one.  As I've argued around here before, the parish is supposed to be the gathering of the faithful in a particular place, not a gathering of the faithful with particular preferences or particular church programs.  You don't have to come in and try to "reform" the community to suit your preferences, but you should keep in mind that they are your brothers and sisters in that place.  The chalice is where we are supposed to meet those unlike us in every way and call them "brethren."
 

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I'll chime in and say that military school was not your intended calling given the Orthodox Churches in Vermont.  I think SVOTS is a few hours driving from the military academy - maybe arrange for a day trip with your military school chaplain?  :)

If I were in your shoes, I would attend the OCA Church and keep a low profile and worship the Lord in Peace.  Have a cup of coffee or lemonade (or whatever non-caffeinated alternative) and mingle respectively.  :)
 

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SolEX01 said:
I'll chime in and say that military school was not your intended calling given the Orthodox Churches in Vermont.
Really?  What authority do you have to tell someone else what his calling is or is not?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Really?  What authority do you have to tell someone else what his calling is or is not?
The authority of looking at the world through the eyes of an incoming freshman at a military academy in Vermont with the Orthodox Churches described by the OP.  ;)

I didn't want to attend Boston University due to being separated from my friends who went to Virginia Tech, being persuaded to go there by my father, being nowhere near an Orthodox Church and fearing that no one would want anything to do with me (described by the OP in how the OCA Church treated him).  After four years, I still miss going to Virginia Tech except that I wound up making a few good friends that I still maintain contact a decade+ later.  :)
 

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tuesdayschild said:
Reading through this thread, I get the impression that many think that social hour is the glue of communion.  If you feel comfortable among people, if you feel supported, then that is the parish for you.  If not, go elsewhere.

I would not say that social hour is unimportant, but the Eucharist, not social hour, is the point of attending Liturgy.  Our Food and Drink is the Bread and Wine, not coffee and doughnuts.  We speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, not debates over national foreign policy and personal hygiene.

I think you should attend the nearby parish.  Get to know the priest and his wife.  Feeling supported doesn't require a village, just a faithful few.  Be an example of courtesy, both Christian and military, to the others.  They may spray you with their bullet points, but eventually they'll run out of ammunition.  Then they'll be confronted with their own smallness, and they may even repent.

In the meantime, you'll have a place you can easily and frequently partake of the Holy Gifts.
The Church is a community. Does anyone agree that Church is just about "getting what I want"? Sounds very Protestant.
 

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SolEX01 said:
The authority of looking at the world through the eyes of an incoming freshman at a military academy in Vermont with the Orthodox Churches described by the OP.   ;)
  I'll chime in and say that military school was not your intended calling given the Orthodox Churches in Vermont.  I think SVOTS is a few hours driving from the military academy - maybe arrange for a day trip with your military school chaplain
The above is precisely the reason why I wouldn't suggest you go to the OCA parish in hopes that they will become supportive. If you go there, you have to do so knowing that their attitides will not change. You will be in an enviroment that is hostile to your chosen path.

The military is one of the few vocations left where what you are and what you do in your job are tied directly together. You can't seperate the two, I don't think that you are meant to.
 

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PoorFoolNicholas said:
The Church is a community. Does anyone agree that Church is just about "getting what I want"? Sounds very Protestant.
Since you quoted me, I assume you take issue with what I wrote.  But, frankly, I am having trouble understanding what you are trying to say here.  I'll try to answer, anyway.

The Church is a community.
Yes, centered on communion with God in Christ via the Eucharist.

Does anyone agree that Church is just about "getting what I want"?
No, it's about getting what I need, which is communion with God.  Everything else is secondary.  In an ideal world, the OP would have a welcoming community at the nearest parish, but clearly this is not the case. He's not going to get what he wants.  I am trying to impress upon him that his actual need (communion) can be satisfied even if his felt need (support) cannot.

Sounds very Protestant.
I honestly cannot see how you draw this conclusion.  How is a my view of the Eucharist in any way Protestant?
 

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I just love how "protestant" is the hot insult on this website. I have seen it on more threads than I can count.
 

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Quinault said:
I just love how "protestant" is the hot insult on this website. I have seen it on more threads than I can count.
The problem is actually fighting to keep protestant mindsets and beliefs (whatever they may be at any given moment) from tainting Orthodox Christianity in the USA.  Given the fact that the number of converts from protestant land is high this is a major issue in the Orthodox Church. 

Second, not directed at you Quinault.

Remember the Orthodox Christian teaching is that we are only CALLED to be more like Christ.

One isn't "called" to be a teacher, or "called" to mow the lawn, or "called" to Vermont.  That's a protestant belief that has literally taken its tentacles and wrapped them firmly into Orthodox and Catholic belief in the USA. 
And this belief that we are called to be more like Christ, Theosis, is one of the principal teachings in Orthodox Christianity.
 

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username! said:
The problem is actually fighting to keep protestant mindsets and beliefs (whatever they may be at any given moment) from tainting Orthodox Christianity in the USA.  Given the fact that the number of converts from protestant land is high this is a major issue in the Orthodox Church. 

Second, not directed at you Quinault.

Remember the Orthodox Christian teaching is that we are only CALLED to be more like Christ.

One isn't "called" to be a teacher, or "called" to mow the lawn, or "called" to Vermont.  That's a protestant belief that has literally taken its tentacles and wrapped them firmly into Orthodox and Catholic belief in the USA. 
And this belief that we are called to be more like Christ, Theosis, is one of the principal teachings in Orthodox Christianity.
But would you not agree with the principle that growing more like Christ means recognizing the talents God has given me and using them for the edification of His Body?
 

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I use the term "called" because that is the best word I can think of. No one can go into a parish and try to enact change as laity. To think that you can go to a parish and change it is ridiculous. A priest has a "calling" to lead his flock and make changes where he sees the need to do so. The job of a priest is to shepard the flock. Laity can not ever seek to change a parish ever. That is the job of the spiritual fathers of a parish. A sheep can't suddenly decide that the flock needs to change direction. The shepherd has to direct the sheep, not a sheep that isn't happy with how things are.
 

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To my mind it is more "protestant" to try and change a parish as an individual. Isn't that what Luther tried to do with the Catholic church? Isn't that why Orthodoxy holds to the Ecumenical counsels and not a bunch of statements from one person? If you are going to attend an Orthodox parish as laity, then you need to do so knowing that you are a part of a larger community and that change is to be enacted by clergy, not laity.
 

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A big thanks to everyone who has offered their advice - all of it is extremely helpful. And of course, if there is a ride to the GOA church, I'll most gladly accept.  :D

If I have to go to the OCA church, then I'll surround myself with the Priest and Deacon's family. And if things become unbearable, as much as I would hate to do it, I might limit the visits to once a month. The last thing I would ever do is compromise my principles, and as the school's honor code says, "A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, no tolerate those who do." I take to include lying to myself for acceptance in a group.

 

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I'll give my opinion on this matter. Go to the OCA parish, don't go to the one you feel the most comfortable in because you aren't going to have a chat, you are going to pray to God and to receive the Eucharist. Maybe it is the best for you to go to the one you feel less comfortable in because it will be more of a struggle and God will reward you for your podvig (ascetic struggle). I believe my calling will be to the monastic life one day and my Spiritual Father told me if I do decide that is my future then to go to a monastery where I don't know the language because it will be more of a struggle and that way, I can learn humility. Christian life is about struggle. Give the parishioners time and then they will accept you and love you as one of their brothers in Christ but if they don't, then they will answer for it.

Forgive me.
 
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