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Reassessment of Coptic Mission Churches

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qawe

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On March 18, 2014 at the North American Mission and Evangelism Conference (N.A.M.E. Conference), the Coptic Orthodox Bishops from North America, along with eleven priests from parishes through the United States and Canada, assembled for a two-day conference in Titusville, Florida. The objective of the conference was to discuss the future of the Coptic Church in North America in the realm of inculturation and incarnational ministry. In this section, I will offer insights — highlighted in the meeting minutes — which led to the establishment of this annual conference. Next, I will offer a review of the presentations prepared by the attendees, with special interest in two lectures entitled The Current State of the M ission Focused Churches and Catholicity of the Church: Church and Culture, before concluding with a brief analysis of an additional key point during the conference sessions.
Read more here: http://tasbeha.org/community/discussion/comment/171221/#Comment_171221

Glory to God, and thank God for Fr Michael, the author of 'Incarnational Exodus'.

This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.

I'm itching to order and read the rest of Fr Michael's book now...
 

jewish voice

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I find it odd they hold meetings there but no church in town. What a bummer.
I wanted to add I agree with the father on all of his points but one. That is I think most Christians in the west our not secular about Christmas. I think one shouldn't judge on non Christian action as Christmas is held by non Christian as well for whatever reason that is.
 

mabsoota

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qawe, are you 'coptic mission' on the other website?
who is the 'i' in the quote?
is it you or have you copied the writing from someone else?

i would love to comment, but i find it very hard if i don't know who i am talking to.
if it is your writing, it is easier to talk to you as i am familiar with your posts.

may God bless us and show us how best to spread His love and grace to the world.
 

Orest

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What does "incarnational ministry" mean?  is this a term unique to the Coptic Orthodox Church?
 

mabsoota

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i don't know, i've not heard it before and i'm not very fond of jargon.
i suppose they mean 'telling people about God's incarnation and salvation and showing them His love'.
 

qawe

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mabsoota said:
qawe, are you 'coptic mission' on the other website?
who is the 'i' in the quote?
is it you or have you copied the writing from someone else?

i would love to comment, but i find it very hard if i don't know who i am talking to.
if it is your writing, it is easier to talk to you as i am familiar with your posts.

may God bless us and show us how best to spread His love and grace to the world.
No, mabsoota, I am not copticmission, and I don't know who it is.
What copticmission posted was an excerpt from Fr Michael Sorial's book, thus the 'I' refers to Fr Michael.
 

qawe

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Orest said:
What does "incarnational ministry" mean?  is this a term unique to the Coptic Orthodox Church?
I assume you would need to read the whole book to understand, as this is an excerpt from the middle of the book. It is very likely a term which he coined at the beginning of the book.
 

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Ironically, it's a Progressive Evangelical buzzword. It means the same as "enculturational," practically-speaking, but it adds the flavor of "This is what Jesus would do."
 

qawe

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Antonious Nikolas said:
Where can we get copies of the book?
http://www.amazon.com/Incarnational-Exodus-Advancement-Christocentric-Athanasius/dp/0984891854/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1418958623&sr=8-9&keywords=sorial
 

mabsoota

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so, basically, what is father michael saying with this?
it is not clear to me.
i think it's the use of all the jargon words, i just get lost.
 

Stavro

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This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.
I missed the part in which any current heterodox direction of the mission holes was addressed. Could you please point out where the breath of fresh air is coming from?

The whole document is about reinforcing 'enculturation', but by using other fancy words such as "incarnational' and using many 'albeits' and 'buts' and creating non-existing problems, such as the language problem. This is the usual heretical way of addressing issues by using vague language, rhetorical questions and mysterious expressions that leaves you to guess, but never able to confirm one single position. 

Did they address the Protestantism in DC?
Did they make a statement about the Protestant mission hole in Toronto?

But they have the audacity of criticizing the Greek for perserving their faith through maintaining their culture. And they put it in a report to shame themselves even further.

The only bright point might be the recommendation to omit the label 'mission' from the name of the places that pretend to do any sort of mission. It could be attributed to the fact that 'mission' is now a dirty word.
 

qawe

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Stavro said:
This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.
I missed the part in which any current heterodox direction of the mission holes was addressed. Could you please point out where the breath of fresh air is coming from?
It is implied.  For obvious reasons the author can't make it explicit.  I'll post as soon as I can with some examples.
 

Orest

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Did they make a statement about the Protestant mission hole in Toronto?
Whern I was a student our religion class visited a huge Coptic Orthodox complex in the West end with a church, school etc.  In addition I understanding was that the Copts have 12 churches in the Toronto area.  So what is the Protestant "mission hole"????
 

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Stavro said:
This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.
I missed the part in which any current heterodox direction of the mission holes was addressed. Could you please point out where the breath of fresh air is coming from?

The whole document is about reinforcing 'enculturation', but by using other fancy words such as "incarnational' and using many 'albeits' and 'buts' and creating non-existing problems, such as the language problem. This is the usual heretical way of addressing issues by using vague language, rhetorical questions and mysterious expressions that leaves you to guess, but never able to confirm one single position. 

Did they address the Protestantism in DC?
Did they make a statement about the Protestant mission hole in Toronto?

But they have the audacity of criticizing the Greek for preserving their faith through maintaining their culture. And they put it in a report to shame themselves even further.

The only bright point might be the recommendation to omit the label 'mission' from the name of the places that pretend to do any sort of mission. It could be attributed to the fact that 'mission' is now a dirty word.
Bravo!

I'll add that it often seems to me that prosperity blinds.
 

Stavro

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Orest said:
Did they make a statement about the Protestant mission hole in Toronto?
Whern I was a student our religion class visited a huge Coptic Orthodox complex in the West end with a church, school etc.  In addition I understanding was that the Copts have 12 churches in the Toronto area.  So what is the Protestant "mission hole"????
You probably visited the Mississauga church.

The Protestant mission hole is a place called SMSV.
 

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qawe said:
Stavro said:
This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.
I missed the part in which any current heterodox direction of the mission holes was addressed. Could you please point out where the breath of fresh air is coming from?
It is implied.  For obvious reasons the author can't make it explicit.  I'll post as soon as I can with some examples.
I could not find where it was implied that heretical material and teachings are not allowed or criticized, let alone condemned.

The problem with mission dung holes is not language, or the 25 th of December or the litany of the Nile water.
The problem is that they teach heresy and practice Protestant worship.

They can at least pretend to care. Put some weak criticism of heresy on paper and never follow up on it. At least next time a mission pastor quotes a whole sermon -word by word- from Rick Warren, we have something to show them.

And by the way, what are the obvious reasons priests cannot criticize the mission holes? Is it because Anba David's kid brother runs one in Totonto and the bishop's best friend runs the other one in Virginia? Is it his job security?
 

qawe

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Stavro said:
qawe said:
Stavro said:
This is a breath of fresh air for all of us who have been concerned about the heterodox direction some Coptic mission has been taking, under the guise of so-called 'enculturation'.
I missed the part in which any current heterodox direction of the mission holes was addressed. Could you please point out where the breath of fresh air is coming from?
It is implied.  For obvious reasons the author can't make it explicit.  I'll post as soon as I can with some examples.
I could not find where it was implied that heretical material and teachings are not allowed or criticized, let alone condemned.
Here you go Stavro:

Although the contextualization of the gospel is necessitated by the dynamic incarnation of the Word amongst every culture, not ever}' possible cultural adaptation may be regarded as constructive. It is for this reason, that “as the worship tradition grew, the early church struggled to recognize what would be acceptable to use in worship and what was not.”147

Finally, since “liturgical worship interacts with the culture by challenging the culture [,]...Christian worship does not seek to blend in with the culture and become absorbed; rather, it seeks ways to critique the culture by opposing those elements, which are contrary to the Word of God.”154

Although developing an integrated culture that includes the creation of enculturated Orthodox Christian music is a necessity, I am of the opinion that the use of vernacular in all aspects of the body of Christ is a first step towards the Church being incarnate in North America, which will contribute in the development of the other areas of recommendation.

There was one key recommendation made during the conference — maintaining the centrality of the Liturgy in the life of the Church — pertaining to that which should not be adapted within the new environment. It is my contention that this is an essential element in preserving the experience of the Coptic Orthodox Church. For the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is the greatest expression of the incarnation revealed in the life of the Church. It is what makes the church Christocentric and manifests the people into the body of Christ through a living communion with God, as implied in Athanasian incarnational theology.

However, many congregations in the West have begun to turn to non-liturgical formats, claiming, “that liturgical worship has become ineffective at conveying the faith...One is perhaps tempted to conclude that they must therefore be changed. But such a conclusion without further qualification is open to debate. For there are signs, which may not be understood, because they happen to belong to another cultural milieu or have been obscured by historical evolution."164 Albeit that the liturgy ought to remain as the central act of worship within the Orthodox Church, this does not take away from the challenge that the Coptic diaspora has in transmitting the gospel message in a fashion that is consisten within the local culture. Liturgical inculturation does not imply a complete dissolution and reconstruction of the worship. The modern phenomenon of such practices in the West may be due to the consumerist mindset that has begun to permeate the church. It has been suggested that:

The development of liturgies that respond to the specific needs of target audiences bears striking resemblance to the myriad of options presented by fast-food restaurants who stand ready and willing to make anything your way. Liturgical presiders frequently trade the red rubrics of the ritual book for a casual style inspired by the hosts of popular television talk shows. The selection and implementation of music increasingly seeks to entertain or inspire as in the concert hall or the stadium while the demands of assembly singing are at best an afterthought. All of this (and more!) is directed toward a consuming audience for which the liturgy has often become one more product wing for their attention among the many seductions created by savvy marketers and advertisers.165
 

Stavro

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I read this before, Qawe.

Could you please point out (7'udni 3ala 2ad 3a2li) where in these passages is the condemnation of heretical teachings and practices are implied? Is the author using culture as a decoy to divert attention from the heresies of these mission dung holes? This is the only thing that can be inferred from the passages you quoted.

I think you also missed the true implications of the vague parts, such as:

However, many congregations in the West have begun to turn to non-liturgical formats, claiming, “that liturgical worship has become ineffective at conveying the faith...One is perhaps tempted to conclude that they must therefore be changed. But such a conclusion without further qualification is open to debate.
It is not open for debate. It is condemned. Full stop. The role of the Orthodox Church is not to debate with satanic opinions that undermine the role of the liturgy and open up the door for heretical interpretation. It is to define and teach according to the Apostolic Faith.

The fact that such perverse opinions were entertained in a high clerical council in North America ( I assume that in addition to NY / NE religious leader, his uncle of LA and Anba Youssef were present) is very troubling.   

Albeit that the liturgy ought to remain as the central act of worship within the Orthodox Church, this does not take away from the challenge that the Coptic diaspora has in transmitting the gospel message in a fashion that is consistent within the local culture. .
The author is ignorant about the foundation of the local culture he lives in, one that is based on protestantism and atheism. In being consistent with the local culture to fullfill his "incarnational" model, the ignorant author is inviting us to embrace the elements of the culture that will destroy the Orthodox faith.

There was one key recommendation made during the conference — maintaining the centrality of the Liturgy in the life of the Church — pertaining to that which should not be adapted within the new environment. It is my contention that this is an essential element in preserving the experience of the Coptic Orthodox Church. For the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is the greatest expression of the incarnation revealed in the life of the Church. It is what makes the church Christocentric and manifests the people into the body of Christ through a living communion with God, as implied in Athanasian incarnational theology.
The liturgical prayers is the totality of worship, and not just its center as this author want us to believe. Even a prayer behind the closed door of your bedroom is liturgical and communal in nature. 

The definition of heresy is not just the perversion of the truth. It is to have false gods represented and worshipped side by side with the true God.

To qualify this statement, we have to look at its "incarnation" in the mission holes. The pastors of the holes are the attendees of this conference and they are the relatives and friends of the Charmian of the committee. They do have one liturgy a week. It is "central" to their worship. On the left and right of their imaginary "liturgical center", they have Rick Warren sermons, plagiarized by the mission pastors, Protestant songs, protestant worship and they teach heresy. 
 
I do not particularly dislike the author. Unlike SMSV and STSA pastors, he seems to be aware that there is something called liturgy, Eucharist, etc. It is surprising that he even knows that a guy called Athanasius existed. But then, the bar is very low. I just hate when priests who know the truth decide to be political for job security reasons.



 

jewish voice

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Stavro said:
I read this before, Qawe.

Could you please point out (7'udni 3ala 2ad 3a2li) where in these passages is the condemnation of heretical teachings and practices are implied? Is the author using culture as a decoy to divert attention from the heresies of these mission dung holes? This is the only thing that can be inferred from the passages you quoted.

I think you also missed the true implications of the vague parts, such as:

However, many congregations in the West have begun to turn to non-liturgical formats, claiming, “that liturgical worship has become ineffective at conveying the faith...One is perhaps tempted to conclude that they must therefore be changed. But such a conclusion without further qualification is open to debate.
It is not open for debate. It is condemned. Full stop. The role of the Orthodox Church is not to debate with satanic opinions that undermine the role of the liturgy and open up the door for heretical interpretation. It is to define and teach according to the Apostolic Faith.

The fact that such perverse opinions were entertained in a high clerical council in North America ( I assume that in addition to NY / NE religious leader, his uncle of LA and Anba Youssef were present) is very troubling.   

Albeit that the liturgy ought to remain as the central act of worship within the Orthodox Church, this does not take away from the challenge that the Coptic diaspora has in transmitting the gospel message in a fashion that is consistent within the local culture. .
The author is ignorant about the foundation of the local culture he lives in, one that is based on protestantism and atheism. In being consistent with the local culture to fullfill his "incarnational" model, the ignorant author is inviting us to embrace the elements of the culture that will destroy the Orthodox faith.

There was one key recommendation made during the conference — maintaining the centrality of the Liturgy in the life of the Church — pertaining to that which should not be adapted within the new environment. It is my contention that this is an essential element in preserving the experience of the Coptic Orthodox Church. For the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is the greatest expression of the incarnation revealed in the life of the Church. It is what makes the church Christocentric and manifests the people into the body of Christ through a living communion with God, as implied in Athanasian incarnational theology.
The liturgical prayers is the totality of worship, and not just its center as this author want us to believe. Even a prayer behind the closed door of your bedroom is liturgical and communal in nature. 

The definition of heresy is not just the perversion of the truth. It is to have false gods represented and worshipped side by side with the true God.

To qualify this statement, we have to look at its "incarnation" in the mission holes. The pastors of the holes are the attendees of this conference and they are the relatives and friends of the Charmian of the committee. They do have one liturgy a week. It is "central" to their worship. On the left and right of their imaginary "liturgical center", they have Rick Warren sermons, plagiarized by the mission pastors, Protestant songs, protestant worship and they teach heresy. 
 
I do not particularly dislike the author. Unlike SMSV and STSA pastors, he seems to be aware that there is something called liturgy, Eucharist, etc. It is surprising that he even knows that a guy called Athanasius existed. But then, the bar is very low. I just hate when priests who know the truth decide to be political for job security reasons.
that's all b.s. you just wrote. You want to claim that culture would ruin the orthodox faith as if you have a monopoly on it. First off you don't you already changed the culture as it first was. I could say unless your syrian orthodox your liturgy has ruined The orthodox faith.
 

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jewish voice said:
that's all b.s. you just wrote. You want to claim that culture would ruin the orthodox faith as if you have a monopoly on it. First off you don't you already changed the culture as it first was. I could say unless your syrian orthodox your liturgy has ruined The orthodox faith.
You're wrong.  Other than his pointed criticism of a few bishops I believe to be Orthodox, Stavro is right on point.  He isn't claiming that actual  acculturation ruins the Orthodox Faith.  He's contending (and rightly so) that the incorporation of heterodox teachings and modes of worship into the life Church under the guise of acculturation ruins the Faith.  It does, and it needs to be explicitly condemned.
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
jewish voice said:
that's all b.s. you just wrote. You want to claim that culture would ruin the orthodox faith as if you have a monopoly on it. First off you don't you already changed the culture as it first was. I could say unless your syrian orthodox your liturgy has ruined The orthodox faith.
You're wrong.  Other than his pointed criticism of a few bishops I believe to be Orthodox, Stavro is right on point.  He isn't claiming that actual  acculturation ruins the Orthodox Faith.  He's contending (and rightly so) that the incorporation of heterodox teachings and modes of worship into the life Church under the guise of acculturation ruins the Faith.  It does, and it needs to be explicitly condemned.
it doesn't at all. Just like your own culture has made changes. Trust me it has even if you wish to turn a blind eye to it
 

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jewish voice said:
it doesn't at all.
Yes, it does.  

You're missing the point.  There's a difference between contextualizing the Faith in a given culture and adopting practices rooted in heterodox theology.  Maybe since you're not an Orthodox Christian, Orthodoxy in Faith and practice isn't important to you, but it should be to actual Orthodox Christians.

Developing an authentically American liturgical tradition would not entail incorporating Protestant fluff into the life of the Church, and rejecting the incorporation of Protestant fluff into the life of the Church doesn't preclude the development of an authentically American Orthodox liturgical tradition.

http://www.antiochian.org/node/22682

jewish voice said:
Just like your own culture has made changes. Trust me it has even if you wish to turn a blind eye to it
No one is turning a blind eye to the fact that the Faith has been contextualized in hundreds of cultures over the centuries.  Those doing the contextualizing used discernment when determining what elements of the culture were fitting for Baptism into the life of the Church.  Practices and ideas rooted in heterodoxy - that is, things which contradict Orthodoxy - were not baptized into the life of the Church and fell by the wayside.  This is why all of the Orthodox Churches maintain an appropriately reverential and liturgical form of worship.  Whatever diverse forms that may take, it is rooted in the same ethos.

Be obtuse if you want, but the bottom line here is you don't understand the context of this discussion and you don't know what you're talking about.
 

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I split off what was quickly becoming a heated argument about contextualizing the Church in Western culture.  It was put here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,63135.new.html#top

I'm going to keep this thread locked for at least a while to give everyone a chance to calm down.

 
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