To GOA or not to GOA, that is the question

AngloCatholic

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So my family is in the process of converting, as is another couple we know, but we're not fully decided on jurisdiction. There isn't an Orthodox parish that is precisely convenient to our house. I'm leaning toward the GOA parish, as it is closest. Downside is that part of the liturgy is still in Greek. OTOH, the closest OCA is 30 minutes away in good weather, and the liturgy begins at 9 am, which would require having the troops up and moving fairly early.

At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism. My intention is decidedly not to start a jurisdiction bashing contest, but would be interested in the perspectives of folks from different jurisdictions as to the state of their own jurisdictions. Thanks!
 

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Get baptized where it will be convenient to you (if that's the GOA parish, so be it) and if there are problems, there is little problem in going to the other parish. I'm generally against parish-shopping, but if there is something truly wrong with the close one, then you need to go where you're family will be able to grow in Christ.

I'd say to give the local church a shot (the GOA parish) and see how it goes. If only part of the Liturgy is in Greek, you should be fine - the books are normally pretty good to follow along in.
 

greekischristian

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AngloCatholic said:
At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism.  My intention is decidedly not to start a jurisdiction bashing contest, but would be interested in the perspectives of folks from different jurisdictions as to the state of their own jurisdictions.  Thanks!
My preference towards the Greek Church is fairly well known on this board, but I have no intention of starting these polemics right now (though if someone else does...). But I thought I would mention that realistically speaking the OCA in regard to Ecumenism and such is really just about as liberal as the GOA. I would view this as a good thing and a positive element of both jurisdictions, but then again I'm one of those modernist liberal ecumenists ;)
 

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cleveland said:
Get baptized where it will be convenient to you (if that's the GOA parish, so be it) and if there are problems, there is little problem in going to the other parish.  I'm generally against parish-shopping, but if there is something truly wrong with the close one, then you need to go where you're family will be able to grow in Christ.

I'd say to give the local church a shot (the GOA parish) and see how it goes.  If only part of the Liturgy is in Greek, you should be fine - the books are normally pretty good to follow along in.
AngloC,
As he said above....Is it mostly in Greek? Around half? How is the parish otherwise? Again, the GOA is Orthodox as any other (Canonical) jurisidiction in America. We are mostly Orthodox on this message board and thus will b*tch & moan about current issues as any other members of any organization, whether or not we complain about some piece of music the chanter/choir sang last week or something potentially scandalous or dogmatic. We do it because we care (or are maybe just feeling whiny). You consider the "half Greek" a learning experience. If the GOA parish is otherwise fine, then maybe it can be "home" and the OCA parish your "2nd home/vaction" parish. There is a family that lives a little close to my parish, but calls the GOA parish home. They usually visit about once a month or so, many times during Lent though for a Presanctified Liturgy or like last night for the (Thursday portion) of the Great Canon.
 

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AngloCatholic said:
At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism.
To be honest I don't see how the GOA and the OCA differ on ecumenism. Both belong to the same groups and if anything the OCA is more active then the GOA since they send people from their archdiocese to the WCC. In regards to receiving converts I find the GOA policy to be much more conservative then the OCA process with such things as the converting couple must have their marriage blessed.

I am not sure what your firend's concerns are exactly so I can't address them but from someone who doesn't belong to either of these groups and at the same time very familiar with both the only difference between them is one is ethnically Greek and proud of it and the other is ethnically Russian and tries to deny it.
 

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Does it really matter "choosing a jurisdiction"? Does my being a part (well born in) the Church of Greece exclude my visiting a Romanian Church if I ever need to stay in Romania for a few months? :)
 

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Its been a year since I went to the Diving Liturgy at this parish, but it was much less than 50% Greek, maybe 20% at best.

The people there are extremely nice - thriving Sunday School program for the children. I remember several years ago attending Vespers for the Sunday of Orthodoxy there and watching several members of the youth group do a presentation after service about the Nicene Creed. Each student had chosen a portion of the creed, discussed the theology behind it, and the historical reasons for it. Very impressive. At the same time, folks in my ECUSA parish were constantly insisting that you couldn't expect that much out of teenagers.
 

greekischristian

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Meekle said:
I don't know any OCA people that deny that OCA is of Russian descent.
I think the point is that it still is very Russian, in almost every way save language, all the Orthodox Churches are ethnic in practice and custom, it's something that should be embraced not hidden (as thought that were possible) and denied.
 

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Ntinos said:
Does it really matter "choosing a jurisdiction"? Does my being a part (well born in) the Church of Greece exclude my visiting a Romanian Church if I ever need to stay in Romania for a few months? :)
If it was just me alone, I wouldn't much worry. However, my children are already upset with me that we are leaving our ECUSA parish (as Catholic as it tries to be), so I would want to settle in at whatever Church we choose at home.

My 11 yr old asked me when we first told him of all this, "How do I know you won't decide that the Orthodox Church doesn't teach the truth and we leave there?" He does ask good questions :)
 

greekischristian

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AngloCatholic said:
Its been a year since I went to the Diving Liturgy at this parish, but it was much less than 50% Greek, maybe 20% at best.
80% English? yuck, that would drive me crazy...but to each their own ;)

My 11 yr old asked me when we first told him of all this, "How do I know you won't decide that the Orthodox Church doesn't teach the truth and we leave there?"  He does ask good questions :)
Oh, you might want to leave, heck you probably will, but I doubt you'll be able to...perhaps I should give you the advice that one of my professors gave me, get away while you still can ;D
 

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My family  originally came out of Mormon Church went to ECUSA where we were told we were the English Orthodox Church and found out that our children were being taught by Bishops who were anything but orthodox in belief---in fact our ECUSA priest said we should look into either the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church if we wanted historic orthodox Christianity---we looked into both and became Orthodox.

We entered the Orthodox Church through the Greek Orthodox Parish (GOA), the closest orthodox parish to our house.  When we later moved to another part of the state we went to a Russian Orthodox Church, and later after another move started going to an Antiochian Orthodox Church.  All of these churches were canonical and as I am neither of Greek, Russian, or Arab descent I see myself an an American Orthodox Christian and 18 years after our  conversion to the Orthodox Church I go to the parish closest to my home that meets the needs of my family, even if it means as it does today traveling 50 miles to go to church.  The jurisdiction should not matter to an American Orthodox Christian as much as the fact that the jurisdiction is canonically correct and in communion with the Orthodox Church at large.

Good luck with your study of the Orthodox.  From experience, I know that once the kids get in with the kids at church they too will enjoy the experience and be more open to change. Many Orthodox churches have vital youth activity groups that help reinforce orthodox beliefbeliefseachings.  I know that many bishops when they make their annual visits to parishes and missions often ask the priest very early in the meeting "and how is your Sunday School? How is your youth group?" for they see the future of the life of the church lies in the up coming generation.

In Christ,
Thomas
 

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I hope it is the case, and frankly expect that it will be, that the kids fit in right away. Actually, a friend of my daughter's is Greek, at least on her mom's side. I know her mom went to this parish, but we're not sure if they still do. We're hoping to coax them back if we go, just so my daughter starts out with a friend.

Being in the ECUSA (I grew up in it), has certainly been interesting. The priest at the GOA parish and I were meeting and he asked how I came to know about the Orthodox, and my response was that we had been rebellious at our parish for a long time, and inserted a great deal of Orthodox theology and praxis into the Catechumenate program. Unfortunately, its hard to teach obedience to one's bishops when one's bishop may not even believe in the resurrection. That, plus the fact that our annual Lenten programs were becoming increasingly fundamentalist/evangelical, it became too much.
 

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AngloCatholic said:
If it was just me alone, I wouldn't much worry. However, my children are already upset with me that we are leaving our ECUSA parish (as Catholic as it tries to be), so I would want to settle in at whatever Church we choose at home.

My 11 yr old asked me when we first told him of all this, "How do I know you won't decide that the Orthodox Church doesn't teach the truth and we leave there?" He does ask good questions :)
I can understand your concern here - at their age, the kids want (whether they know it or not) stability and whatnot. It doesn't sound like you'll have as much of a problem at the GOA parish, so I'd go ahead and try it out.

Regardless of what you chose, I hope God continues to bless you and your family!
 

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AngloCatholic said:
Its been a year since I went to the Diving Liturgy at this parish, but it was much less than 50% Greek, maybe 20% at best.

The people there are extremely nice - thriving Sunday School program for the children.  I remember several years ago attending Vespers for the Sunday of Orthodoxy there and watching several members of the youth group do a presentation after service about the Nicene Creed.  Each student had chosen a portion of the creed, discussed the theology behind it, and the historical reasons for it.  Very impressive.  At the same time, folks in my ECUSA parish were constantly insisting that you couldn't expect that much out of teenagers.
Sounds like a wonderful parish! Go for it!

Now as to the Ethnicity...

Yes, the OCA is a daughter Church of the Russian Church and there is a big Russian cultural aspect and influence...BUT.....and a big BUT...

1) The OCA, while there may be close ties to Moscow, is not dependent on Moscow, while the GOA is dependent on Constantinople. The OCA is meant to be an American Church while the GOA still doesn't really have that intention.

2) % Russians of Faithful for OCA vs % Greeks of Faithful for GOA is probably a lot lower - the OCA really is more "American" or diverse in general.

3) Slavic Chants, especially the more modern sort which really aren't "chant", sound a lot more "western" and thus familiar to the average American. Byz chant sounds too "eastern" and "weird" to many people. This is actually a draw to some though since they like "weird".

4) Greek Americans seem to proselytize their culture on people more than Slavs, which can be a turn off.

 

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Thomas said:
We entered the Orthodox Church through the Greek Orthodox Parish (GOA), the closest orthodox parish to our house.  When we later moved to another part of the state we went to a Russian Orthodox Church, and later after another move started going to an Antiochian Orthodox Church.  All of these churches were canonical and as I am neither of Greek, Russian, or Arab descent I see myself an an American Orthodox Christian and 18 years after our  conversion to the Orthodox Church I go to the parish closest to my home that meets the needs of my family, even if it means as it does today traveling 50 miles to go to church.  The jurisdiction should not matter to an American Orthodox Christian as much as the fact that the jurisdiction is canonically correct and in communion with the Orthodox Church at large.
Thank you. Well said.
 

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greekischristian said:
I think the point is that it still is very Russian, in almost every way save language, all the Orthodox Churches are ethnic in practice and custom, it's something that should be embraced not hidden (as thought that were possible) and denied.
Who is hiding it? I am OCA, and I know of no such denials.

And Elisha, thanks for your comments, I agree. There are a lot more converts in the OCA, which means more attendance (and actually translates to being more American). And not once has anyone tried to do the least in the way of making me "Slavic" :)

Also, since a GOA, OCA, and Antiochian parish are all equally close to me, I was able to go and see for myself. As I was new to Orthodoxy then, I hadn't heard much in the way of the differences between the churches, so I wasn't predisposed toward any one. In the end, I went with the OCA. (Perhaps I just meet the wrong people, but from what I've seen here on OC.net, I think it was the best choice. Though, outside of OC.net, it seems that each group as a bit more "in line" with each other, besides a few oddities, such as Da Vinci paintings being used as icons :-X)
 

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1) The OCA, while there may be close ties to Moscow, is not dependent on Moscow, while the GOA is dependent on Constantinople. The OCA is meant to be an American Church while the GOA still doesn't really have that intention.
OCA is not canonical for the EP. It shouldn't even be there, those lands are the EP's authority first, then the MP's or anybody else's.
 

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Ntinos said:
OCA is not canonical for the EP. It shouldn't even be there, those lands are the EP's authority first, then the MP's or anybody else's.
Actually, the original Russian Church inside of America was well within the bounds of canonicity. Later, when the Russians spread to most of the US, the EP even let Greeks stay under the care of the MP. So, this is hardly an issue of canonicity, but the changing whims of the EP. And don't get me started on the canonicity of what the EP is doing :p
 

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Would you have someone join a Church that is considered uncanonical by the Ecumenical Patriarch, without him knowing what the situation is, only for him to find out later that there really is an issue here and get dissapointed (or perhaps start looking for another Church yet another time)?
For one, I think he needs to know this before he chooses.

And don't get me started on the canonicity of what the EP is doing :p
No, I do not intend to start an issue on the canonicity of what any Patriarch is doing. I'm not even a priest to judge the highest ranking bishops on their jobs. :)
 

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Ntinos said:
Would you have someone join a Church that is considered uncanonical by the Ecumenical Patriarch, without him knowing what the situation is, only for him to find out later that there really is an issue here and get dissapointed (or perhaps start looking for another Church yet another time)?
For one, I think he needs to know this before he chooses.
Of course. But it is also necessary for him to know what the Patriarch himself has done, and said, in order to weigh the issue and see if the Patriarch's words are meaningful, considering the OCA is recognized elsewhere. Ultimately, the Patriarch's words cannot change the fact that the OCA is a meber of the Orthodox Church, and holds to the same faith as everyone else.
 

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But it is also necessary for him to know what the Patriarch himself has done, and said, in order to weigh the issue and see if the Patriarch's words are meaningful
Of course the Patriarch's words are meaningful regardless. Also, there is much sense behind him not wanting other churches to grant autocephaly on their own accord.
Image the United States with let's say, like 8 different autocephalous Orthodox Churches? Antioch has also taken the step, what would happen if every single Patriarchate did the same?
The Church in the States needs to be one ultimately.
 

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Ntinos said:
Of course the Patriarch's words are meaningful regardless. Also, there is much sense behind him not wanting other churches to grant autocephaly on their own accord.
Image the United States with let's say, like 8 different autocephalous Orthodox Churches? Antioch has also taken the step, what would happen if every single Patriarchate did the same?
The Church in the States needs to be one ultimately.
They were all one under the MP. Anyways, not every single jurisdiction is going to be autocephalous. If the Antiochians are doing this, it is only to unite with the OCA and further unity. The OCA already has several ethnic dioceses under it's care. Isn't that the kind of unity you keep trying to get, yet from the very church the EP won't recognize? Suspicious, at best.
 

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Ntinos said:
Image the United States with let's say, like 8 different autocephalous Orthodox Churches? Antioch has also taken the step, what would happen if every single Patriarchate did the same?
The Church in the States needs to be one ultimately.
Well, the Antiochians have not been granted Autocephaly but rather Autonomy. If there were 8 autocephalous churches in this country, Orthodoxy would be more dysfunctional than it is right now - because there would be disagreements on how to unite, when there would be ample opportunity to do so.

Yes, the Church needs to be one, but it doesn't necessarily need to happen through autocephaly.
 

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What is the following of each jurisdiction in the States (and America in general)? Would it be enough for an independent Church like Bulgaria's or Greece's?
 

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I really dont feel like getting into this debate again, so I'll just lay out the situation how it is from as objective a view as possible:

From the perspective of a majority of the Orthodox Churches the Russian Metropolia (this may be somewhat biased termenology, but I refuse to call the Metropolia the 'OCA') is technically in schism because they fail to commemorate their primate, the Patriarch of Moscow. However, since Moscow and the Metropolia are in communion the Metropolia is generally also accepted in communion, though there are many who argue (especially in Constantinople) that because of the failure of Metropolia bishops to commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow as their primate Concelebration between Metropolia priests and priests of the Oecumenical Throne should be prohibited. When Metropolia bishops go to many of the Patriarchates (esp. the Greek ones), they are received, but received as bishops of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and not as bishops of an autonomous Church. However, though these issues exist at the level of the episcopacy, in practice intercommunion is common amongst the laity and most these issues will never actually come up in your interaction with other Orthodox Christians.
 

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Bizzlebin said:
The OCA already has several ethnic dioceses under it's care. Isn't that the kind of unity you keep trying to get, yet from the very church the EP won't recognize? Suspicious, at best.
THis isn't unity - this is overlapping diocese within the same jurisdiction, which is worse than what we have now, for they have no excuse - it should be easy for them to correct this error. I don't think we can look to the OCA as a model of unity as long as they have the ethnic diocese!
 

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greekischristian said:
I really dont feel like getting into this debate again, so I'll just lay out the situation how it is from as objective a view as possible:

From the perspective of a majority of the Orthodox Churches the Russian Metropolia (this may be somewhat biased termenology, but I refuse to call the Metropolia the 'OCA') is technically in schism because they fail to commemorate their primate, the Patriarch of Moscow. However, since Moscow and the Metropolia are in communion the Metropolia is generally also accepted in communion, though there are many who argue (especially in Constantinople) that because of the failure of Metropolia bishops to commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow as their primate Concelebration between Metropolia priests and priests of the Oecumenical Throne should be prohibited.
So, you are unwilling to call a Church by their own stated name? That sounds rather rude.

This really is a bunch of nonesense. However dubious you may want to term the Autocephaly of the OCA, it still is what it is - a self heading Church. Sure, +Alexy II is commemorated...during a consecration or whatever as all the other Orthodox Primates would be. He is not the Primate of the OCA and thus no reason to commemorate him.
 

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Elisha said:
So, you are unwilling to call a Church by their own stated name?  That sounds rather rude. ÂÂ

This really is a bunch of nonesense.  However dubious you may want to term the Autocephaly of the OCA, it still is what it is - a self heading Church.  Sure, +Alexy II is commemorated...during a consecration or whatever as all the other Orthodox Primates would be.  He is not the Primate of the OCA and thus no reason to commemorate him.
I don't believe I even addressed the validity of the Metropolia's Autonomy (which I reject), I simply discussed how various Orthodox Churches related to the Metropolia.
 

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cleveland said:
THis isn't unity - this is overlapping diocese within the same jurisdiction, which is worse than what we have now, for they have no excuse - it should be easy for them to correct this error. I don't think we can look to the OCA as a model of unity as long as they have the ethnic diocese!
It's a step toward adminstrative unity. Everyone being under the same bishop is necessary part, is it not?
 

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Bizzlebin said:
It's a step toward adminstrative unity. Everyone being under the same bishop is necessary part, is it not?
Well, but not everybody's under the same bishop - yes, there is a president to the Synod, but he has no more right to interfere with the operation of, say, Detroit and the Romanian Diocese than the EP or MP does. As president of the Synod, he can call synodal meetings, and the synod can decide - and it is there that a "good step" has been taken. But you still have within the OCA overlapping diocese, which is completely unacceptable. In Cleveland alone, you have a number of OCA parishes, most under Chicago, some under Detroit, one (I think) in the Albanian diocese. How does that solve anything?
 

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Actually most the Albanians are under your Patriarch, Cleveland - in a parrallel jurisdiction system of ethnic groups much like the OCA. So while Greeks, Rusyns, some Ukies and Albanians are all under the EP - they are no closer to one bishop per city than the OCA.
 

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We do only have one Bishop per city, infact if you look at the Sees of the Non-Greek (and Greek auxiliary) bishops in the United States, you will see that they are Bishops of Turkish and Greek Cities, and not Bishops of American Cities, only the Metropolitans and Archbishop in the Greek Metropolises and Archdiocese are Bishops of American Cities. Thus, all the land in this country is technically under the Metropolitans; however, following ancient custom many of these parishes were established, with the blessings of the Metropolitans, as Stavropegial institutions directly under the Jurisdiction of the Patriarchate, that His All-Holiness assigns various Bishops of Turkish and Greek cities to oversee. Thus, while these bishops have authority over the Stavropegial institutions, with the blessings of the Patriarchal Synod, the Patriarch, and the Local metropolitans; the institutions (parish buildings, monasteries, seminaries, etc....though if you were to divide up land into parishes, it would all fall within the jurisdiction of the Greek Parishes under the Greek Metropolitan) fall within the lands of other Bishops. Thus, we see that the situation actually is consistant and canonical within the Jurisdiction of the Oecumenical Throne, and while there may be more Stavropegial institutions than have traditionally been found in a given land, the difference is in quantitative and not qualitative.
 

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Good to see you follow the spirit of the law.
 

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Νεκτάριος said:
Actually most the Albanians are under your Patriarch, Cleveland - in a parrallel jurisdiction system of ethnic groups much like the OCA. So while Greeks, Rusyns, some Ukies and Albanians are all under the EP - they are no closer to one bishop per city than the OCA.
And I'm not debating that point... but when many people talk about Orthodox unification of jurisdiction in this country, they point to the OCA - and the OCA just isn't a great model the way they're set up at the moment.

edited for typo
 

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Oh I agree with that about the OCA, but others (namely GiC) have stated that unity under the EP is a possible model for unity in America. That isn't working out so well either.
 

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It is a possible model, but only under the system that was being promoted for a short time 30+ years ago, where there was an offer to merge the different archdiocese into one, and have it under the EP.

If we approached the EP and asked to have one jurisdiction under the Patriarchate, I'm sure he would agree, and work towards that. But instead we barely know what we want, and much less how to accomplish it.
 

Bizzlebin

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cleveland said:
As president of the Synod, he can call synodal meetings, and the synod can decide - and it is there that a "good step" has been taken.
Exactly what I was tryng to say.

cleveland said:
If we approached the EP and asked to have one jurisdiction under the Patriarchate, I'm sure he would agree, and work towards that. But instead we barely know what we want, and much less how to accomplish it.
We may not know exactly what we want, but we know what we don't want. I am quite sure the EP would love that scenario, but American Orthodox as a whole do not agree with it.
 
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