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Order of St. Ignatius - Just for Rich people?

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I might not be an active member of the Antiochian church in America, but like many of you I worry for its future when the Metropolitan dismisses priests for wearing a cassock, doesn't require parishes to publish audits, or releasing a bishop to cater to the parishes that saw him as a foreigner, etc.

What worries me especially is the Order of St. Ignatius, a membership that requires individuals to "pledge a specific financial commitment to support the Antiochian Archdiocese. This financial commitment goes above and beyond the normal level of parish membership, and is not meant to replace, but to supercede parish level giving."

This Order has ceremonies of having people inducted to the membership by a bishop after Divine Liturgy, and are given a medallion to wear to show their membership.

It greatly worries me that the archdiocese is basically rewarding people for being rich and giving them money. I know this order has some charity programs but this is boasting plain and simple. How awkward is it for Antiochian Orthodox here when they see these ceremonies when there is a club of rich people being made in front of you, and the poor are looked down upon?

It seems the Metropolitan has ignored the bible and our Lord when he said "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Mark 6:3-4

And also ignored Mark 12:43-44 "And He called his disciples to Him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Any thoughts?
 

CRCulver

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I actually see this as fairly traditional Orthodox practice, not as an Antiochian attempt to be modern and American. In Eastern Europe, many parishes will paint your name on the walls of the church if you have given a large donation, so that memory of your gift will persist for decades. A lot of the churches in my city in Romania have arranged it so that if you give a large gift, a chair is installed along the side of the nave with your name on it, so you always have a reserved place to sit if you want it.

Inducting people into an order with a fancy title after liturgy is a bit over the top, but according some special status to benefactors has been around for ages. Just think of all those ancient icons of rich people holding little churches in their arms to symbolize their contribution to the founding of new parishes and monasteries -- many of those were first painted when the fellow was still alive.
 
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The only impression I ever received was that the order serves to inspire giving & never felt slighted because it may beyond my current reach. Also, I do not measure the level of sacrifice of the individuals in the order since that is in the eyes of God but I should probably have faith towards the generosity of those who give.
 

scamandrius

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Several of the parishioners at my church are members of this order.  And there is always a little ceremony to induct them; not that I mind though the ceremony sometimes seems a bit much and is no longer than that for someone who is being tonsured a taper bearer or reader. Most of the people I know who are in the order do so much more for their church than merely write checks. 

However, from what I've heard and read about various Antiochian parishes in the United States, there seems to be an overemphasis or favoritism, if you will, given to those people who just write checks and because of that, everything else they do (reprehensible as it may be) is given a pass and overlooked.  And it happens that many of those same people are given powerful positions as laity in the Archdiocese.  I think you can make the case that the Board of Trustees is a plutocracy. The case of Khalid Walife (sp?) immediately comes to mind.  But, I do believe that such is the exception, not the rule.

On a little bit of a tangent:  A year ago, I was unemployed and I could not contribute to the church as much as I wanted to.  But in order to be considered a member of the parish and to vote in elections, I had to be a pledging member.  I was contacted by my priest asking why I had not pledged anything though he knew well of my situation.  I then told him why it is we consider only those who pledge money to be a member of the parish.  A lot of the people who pledge lots of money are never there for anything or only come sporadically. They don't volunteer but they can contribute $ which is great, but that's it.  I asked him  why my services for the church as a chanter (sometimes the only chanter), bookstore manager, occasional chorister, sexton, etc. by themselves are not sufficient reasons for me to be considered a full member of the parish.  Why is the contribution of my time not as prized as whatever pittance I cannot contribute at this time?  He admitted that I was right; that the time we give, sometimes that is all we can give, is overlooked at the expense of money.  In the end, things worked out but the thing is that as long as our parish constitution says that pledging money makes you a member, we are going to be a parish that measures success and failure by dollar signs.
 

genesisone

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scamandrius said:
Several of the parishioners at my church are members of this order.  And there is always a little ceremony to induct them; not that I mind though the ceremony sometimes seems a bit much and is no longer than that for someone who is being tonsured a taper bearer or reader. Most of the people I know who are in the order do so much more for their church than merely write checks.
I'm wishing I hadn't responded earlier this morning, as I've had time to reflect on this since then.

It's not up to me to judge the motives of those who give large amounts of money. And really, is it so bad that they are recognized for that ministry? This past Sunday in the Archdiocese it was "Choir and Chanters Sunday" (I think that's how they worded it). Some of us are recognized for that sort of leadership. Not all can participate that way any more than all can participate by contributing large sums of money. We also recognize Sunday School teachers, etc., so what's the difference? Do chanters chant to receive glory? Maybe some do. God knows.

Romans 12 (NKJV): 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (emphasis mine)

On a little bit of a tangent:  A year ago, I was unemployed and I could not contribute to the church as much as I wanted to.  But in order to be considered a member of the parish and to vote in elections, I had to be a pledging member.  I was contacted by my priest asking why I had not pledged anything though he knew well of my situation.  I then told him why it is we consider only those who pledge money to be a member of the parish.  A lot of the people who pledge lots of money are never there for anything or only come sporadically. They don't volunteer but they can contribute $ which is great, but that's it.  I asked him  why my services for the church as a chanter (sometimes the only chanter), bookstore manager, occasional chorister, sexton, etc. by themselves are not sufficient reasons for me to be considered a full member of the parish.  Why is the contribution of my time not as prized as whatever pittance I cannot contribute at this time?  He admitted that I was right; that the time we give, sometimes that is all we can give, is overlooked at the expense of money.  In the end, things worked out but the thing is that as long as our parish constitution says that pledging money makes you a member, we are going to be a parish that measures success and failure by dollar signs.
I understand entirely what you're saying here. At the moment, I worship in a small mission parish. We don't have a formal requirement for who actually belongs. When the time comes to set something in print, I will fight tooth and nail against requiring any monetary amount for membership. Regular attendance and participation should determine who belongs and who doesn't.
 

Second Chance

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I know that this has been done for a long time. I just am not comfortable with individuals giving funds only "in memory of..." or "for the health of..." I believe that this practice represents a certain loss of idealism on the part of the Church and her resignation to the frailties of the human nature. On the continuum of "bad-good-better-best," tithing without public recognition would be "best"; tithing with public recognition would be "better"; some tithing and some of this sort of giving would be "good" or passable; and this sort of thing without tithing would definitely be "bad." Also, if the hierarchy only pays heed to those with deep pockets, they should be guilty of misconduct--even if there may not be a canon against it.
 
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