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To GOA or not to GOA, that is the question

serb1389

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Wow that is REALLY interesting. I wonder if they celebrate both?

Celebrating the declaration makes more sense though. Greek Independence day is the celebration of a declaration.

In the Serbian church, however, we celebrate the day that St. Sava was given the blessing to begin his own church, from Constantinople...so slightly different...
 

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serb1389 said:
I think that it IS important how it happens.  There are RIGHT and WRONG ways of doing things.  And if we are going to follow the cannons on this, how about the one granting Constantinople jurisdiction over all barbarian (is it land or people?  I always forget that distinction)??

Cannons are up to interpretation.  I think we should follow a model that makes the most sense, with the fewest people getting hurt and the most integration possible. ÂÂ
Well, this is an issue of contention. While GiC and those of his ilk disagree or interpret this rather narrow-minded, how can or ought "barbarian" lands/people be defined? What about the missionizing the ROC did for Alaska/lower 48 because the EP was not able and/or willing? Since it was done, should it all be for naught ecclesially speaking since it was not their (the MP's) jurisdiction? These are questions that need to be resolved by the hierarchs.
 

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Elisha said:
Since it was done, should it all be for naught ecclesially speaking since it was not their (the MP's) jurisdiction?
Do you mean the EP's jurisdiction, since the Russian missionaries were under the MP's jurisdiction. (I assume that EP means Ecumenical Patriarchate and MP means Moscow Patriarchate. Technically, because Moscow had no patriarchate during the time of the first ROC missionaries to America, the Moscow Patriarchate during this era should be known as the Moscow Metropolitanate. Again, I'm just being a picker of technical nits.)
 

serb1389

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Elisha said:
Well, this is an issue of contention.  While GiC and those of his ilk disagree or interpret this rather narrow-minded, how can or ought "barbarian" lands/people be defined?  What about the missionizing the ROC did for Alaska/lower 48 because the EP was not able and/or willing?  Since it was done, should it all be for naught ecclesially speaking since it was not their (the MP's) jurisdiction?  These are questions that need to be resolved by the hierarchs.
Not to burst your bubble my friend but I personally agree with the EP on this, and with GiC on the matter of "barbarian" lands. I think that it's pretty clear that the barbarian lands were all the lands that were unexplored by Orthodox people/churches at the time of the council. Even if certain lands were evangalized by other churches.

Ultimatly though, I think the answer is for the bishops to find a solution on this. The EP decided, for whatever reason, not to evangalize these lands. MM (Moscow Metropolitanate ;)) decided TO evangalize. So what now? Both did something "not normal" and we're stuck with the situation. So why not find a solution? Because no one wants to let go...
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Do you mean the EP's jurisdiction, since the Russian missionaries were under the MP's jurisdiction. (I assume that EP means Ecumenical Patriarchate and MP means Moscow Patriarchate. Technically, because Moscow had no patriarchate during the time of the first ROC missionaries to America, the Moscow Patriarchate during this era should be known as the Moscow Metropolitanate. Again, I'm just being a picker of technical nits.)
No, he meant "technically not under MP's jurisdiction" since a narrow reading of canonical tradition or whatnot would lead to the conlcusion that the strict borders of the MP's jurisdiction would be the borders of Russia at the time Autocephaly was granted. BY this reading, Alaska, despite being missionized by MP clergy, would technically be "under" the EP even from the beginning... THis, of course, is from a narrow reading of the canons, which some promote.
 

PeterTheAleut

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cleveland said:
No, he meant "technically not under MP's jurisdiction" since a narrow reading of canonical tradition or whatnot would lead to the conlcusion that the strict borders of the MP's jurisdiction would be the borders of Russia at the time Autocephaly was granted. BY this reading, Alaska, despite being missionized by MP clergy, would technically be "under" the EP even from the beginning... THis, of course, is from a narrow reading of the canons, which some promote.
Ahhh, jurisdictionalism over our missionary duties. Gotta love this mentality. ::) (Sarcasm intended)
 

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Who ever said to stop sending missionaries? Nobody (okay, I haven't read all of my famous schoolmate's posts.... and I won't, either).
 

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The basic question should be, if a nation is colonizing a "barbaric land" or in our case the ":New World" that was unknown when the canons where written.  I think the prevailing response would be that the colonizing country or ruling country, if Orthodox would take that country/colony under their jurisdictional responsibility, whether they were at Patriarchal or Metropolitanate level. I believe that that would be upheld by most International Courts and probably even the EP, then in captivity, and unable to even minister to the Greeks who had settled in the outlying lands. If it were not for the Russians, there probably would not have been a successful Orthodox Mission in the US---It seems that only when Communism raised its head did the multijurisdictional issues arise in the US and as a response to the pleas of sheperdless flocks now appealing to their homeland for support.

 In Christ,
Thomas
 
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The fact that you have more than one option is a good sign. here where I am , there is a very famous (or infamous) televangelist- so it makes finding an Orthodox parish rather difficult at all.
We have 1 (one) parish and it's GOA. When we began the process we were warned that the Greek is a bit exclusive and not very open to those outside the ethnic aspect. Had nothing to do with the ecumenism or anything, it was more cultural. That was not the case for us, and we bearing 6 children at the time. We have really livened the place up.
I don't find that they are more liberal in the sense of the faith itself, though I could certainly drive for a few hours (with seven kids in tow) and find a more rigid parish if I wanted. In the end, your faith matters. not your jurisdiction. Be thankful you can worship at all. Once our already retired and only here on the weekend priest "really" retires, we are in a heap of trouble.
Be blessed!
 

PeterTheAleut

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Yeah, in my city we have a GOA parish that is about as missionary-minded and ethnically un-Greek as one can get. They have a priest who really understands the Evangelical mindset and has sought to embrace their missionary zeal while at the same time becoming increasingly Orthodox in his preaching and teaching. I wish every Orthodox church was like this parish regardless of what jurisdiction it may be in.
 

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AncientFaith said:
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!
I realize I'm coming to this thread rather late, but having spent most of my early time in the Church at a GOA parish I have an definite opinion on this. With regard to ecumenism, GiC is absolutely correct -- the OCA is basically on the same page with GOA in terms of ecumenical activity. My problem with GOA is not its "liberalsim" with respect to ecumenism, but its liberalism with respect to Orthodoxy. The priest who catechized and baptized me (though a lovely and God-fearing man) left me unprepared to live a thoroughly Orthodox life. I was taught that fasting was a nominal and, more or less, optional part of the faith, and that confession was something I only needed perhaps once a year, if that. I initially chalked this up to a priest who was either disillusioned with the faith or simply derelict in his pastoral duties, but the more people I spoke to about GOA, the more similar stories I heard. Most of the liturgy was performed in Greek, which is contrary to the Orthodox custom of celebrating divine services in the vernacular, and the annual Greek Festival seemed to gain more attention than any substantive Orthodox services.

I don't mean to cast aspersions on everyone (whether clergy or laity) in the Greek Archdiocese, but it seems common knowledge among many that the GOA tends too often to emphasize Hellenism and ethnic pride over the Orthodox Catholic faith. I currently attend a vibrant Antiochian parish, and my fiancee is coming into the Church via the OCA, which is where we will be together and raise our family. I cannot tell anyone what to do in such a situation (no one online really can), but my experiences took me away from GOA and I would not return unless I had no other option.
 

greekischristian

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amnesiac99 said:
My problem with GOA is not its "liberalsim" with respect to ecumenism, but its liberalism with respect to Orthodoxy. The priest who catechized and baptized me (though a lovely and God-fearing man) left me unprepared to live a thoroughly Orthodox life. I was taught that fasting was a nominal and, more or less, optional part of the faith, and that confession was something I only needed perhaps once a year, if that. I initially chalked this up to a priest who was either disillusioned with the faith or simply derelict in his pastoral duties, but the more people I spoke to about GOA, the more similar stories I heard...
So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?
 

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greekischristian said:
So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?
Yeah, nice hyperbole. ::) No, that they are essentially undisciplined liturgically and pietistically and out of touch with the local community that they OUGHT to be MINISTERING to as opposed to the the current "faithful" that they are PANDERING to. THAT is how I interpret amnesiac's statement.
 

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greekischristian said:
So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?
A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
In order to lead them to where they need to be he must go to where the people are. There is no one size fits all approach to anything and different approaches are needed for different people.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
Don't expect reasonability from GiC. He regards any sign of traditional Orthodox piety as "cultish" and those who practice such piety as fanatics and Pharisees. I suspect that given his way, Orthodox worship would not be discernible from low-church Protestantism.
 

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Peter

A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
Isn't it sort of both?

As then the same medicine and the same food are not in every case administered to men's bodies, but a difference is made according to their degree of health or infirmity; so also are souls treated with varying instruction and guidance. To this treatment witness is borne by those who have had experience of it. Some are led by doctrine, others trained by example; some need the spur, others the curb; some are sluggish and hard to rouse to the good, and must be stirred up by being smitten with the word; others are immoderately fervent in spirit, with impulses difficult to restrain, like thoroughbred colts, who run wide of the turning post, and to improve them the word must have a restraining and checking influence.

Some are benefited by praise, others by blame, both being applied in season; while if out of season, or unreasonable, they are injurious; some are set right by encouragement, others by rebuke; some, when taken to task in public, others, when privately corrected. For some are wont to despise private admonitions, but are recalled to their senses by the condemnation of a number of people, while others, who would grow reckless under reproof openly given, accept rebuke because it is in secret, and yield obedience in return for sympathy.

Upon some it is needful to keep a close watch, even in the minutest details, because if they think they are unperceived (as they would contrive to be), they are puffed up with the idea of their own wisdom: Of others it is better to take no notice, but seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear them, according to the proverb, that we may not drive them to despair, under the depressing influence of repeated reproofs, and at last to utter recklessness, when they have lost the sense of self-respect, the source of persuasiveness. In some cases we must even be angry, without feeling angry, or treat them with a disdain we do not feel, or manifest despair, though we do not really despair of them, according to the needs of their nature. Others again we must treat with condescension and lowliness, aiding them readily to conceive a hope of better things. Some it is often more advantageous to conquer-by others to be overcome, and to praise or deprecate, in one case wealth and power, in another poverty and failure. - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 2, 30-32
 

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Asteriktos said:
PeterTheAleut said:
greekischristian said:
So basically your objection to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is the fact that they're realistic and meet our people where they are, rather than being full of pharisaic pietists (though there are, unfortunately, a few of those in the Archdiocese) trying to turn the Church into a cult?
A priest should not meet people where they are but should lead people toward where they need to be.
Peter

Isn't it sort of both?
Within the context of my original post, I said what I meant to say. I wanted to address GiC's statement with a contrasting pov that I believe is more Orthodox.

In answer to your question, I always have recognized that the priest needs to meet each person where he/she is AND lead the person to where he/she needs to be. You are right.
 

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Greeting all,

As others have pointed out, no jurisdiction is monolithic. A Greek parish in any given city may be more or less "American" or "Orthodox" or "ethnic" than a neighboring "Serbian" or "Antiochian" or "OCA" parish. Every parish -- of all jurisdictions -- has its own history, its own ethos, its own mix of communicants and, above all, its own type of priest. Thus, especially when a parish is a decent drive outside of any major metropolitan area (and thus relatively isolated from external influence or oversight), there is plenty of room for diversity, particularly in regards to things like catechetical practices, frequency of services, style of iconography/architecture, quality of chanting, homiletic excellence (or lack thereof), spiritual awareness, outreach and ministry, etc.

While there are certain jurisdictional trends, I think we should be quite hesitant to universalize our experience of one or two -- or 20 -- parishes of a certain jurisdiction and, instead, look at the individual parish.

Furthermore, a certain jurisdictional trend may or may not be a good thing. It all depends on how it is instantiated in a particular parish.

For example, I know certain Greek parishes that are fairly ethnic, but whose ethnic identity is generally a very positive thing, in so far as it is subordinated to the people's (and the priest's!) Christian identity and mission. In these cases, ethnic ties serve to root the faith in deep experience, familial history and day-to-day life.

I also know of other Orthodox parishes, of various jurisdictions, whose high number of converts have caused schism, strife and liturgical/spiritual innovation. (In one OCA parish where many, including the priest, come from a Lutheran background, there have been some rather strange Lutheran influences...and other innovations, whose origins I do not know, such as processing with the offering box during the Great Entrance).

Thus, while the convert-friendliness or convert-ratio of a given jurisdiction or parish could be an important indicator of that jurisdiction's or parish's commitment to missions and evangelism, it could also have unfortunate consequences in a particular parish setting.

Neither "ethnicity" nor "convertiness" is bad, but both are subject to abuse. Ethnicity can support the faith...or it can replace, hinder and obscure the faith. A parish made up of neophytes could be one strongly committed to a zealous life in Christ, or it could be susceptible to passing fancy, intellectualized spirituality and book-based Orthodoxy.

It all depends on the particular parish and, above all, the leadership of the local clergy.

(As for the other canonical questions regarding unity and autocephaly in America: Is there a unique thread for it?)

Kalo Pascha, everyone!

Best wishes,
Seraphim
 

chris

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Pensateomnia,

Excellent post! I also hope to see more such well thought postings from you in the future!

All too often people look at the GOA as some sort of Vast Machine cranking out Hellenized individuals, instead of the diverse group of people that it actually is.
 

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pensateomnia said:
(In one OCA parish where many, including the priest, come from a Lutheran background, there have been some rather strange Lutheran influences...and other innovations, whose origins I do not know, such as processing with the offering box during the Great Entrance).
Woa. That is weird...and stupid.

Great post, btw.
 

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chris said:
All too often people look at the GOA as some sort of Vast Machine cranking out Hellenized individuals, instead of the diverse group of people that it actually is.
While it is better (and I WANT to feel this way) to concentrate on the latter, there are a lot of vibes still given off of the former.
 

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Elisha said:
While it is better (and I WANT to feel this way) to concentrate on the latter, there are a lot of vibes still given off of the former.
Please define "a lot"....

Of the 12 HCHCers who post here, two are cradles, and only one is Greek.

While chanting in my local parish for this Holy Week, we have been instructed by the priest to use Greek only very, very sparingly. This is because of the diverse group of people within my very typical, middle sized GOA hometown parish.

Perhaps you may have come across the individual parishes that may be very close to their ethnic roots. However, any large ship takes a while to make a course correction. So, while you may find some parishes that still use about half Greek nowadays, think of what the percentage of Greek use was 10-15 years ago.

What's intriguing to me is that many more people are able to either not be bothered by those claiming the GOA is trying to 'Hellenize' them, or else do not see the culture of the GOA as being very different from what they experience outside of church.

So, really, I want to know your definitions of what "a lot of vibes" are. Please indicate to me who you measured them, and how you are aware of these 'vibes' while the majority of posters here going to the GOA seminary are not bothered by these invisible "vibes" that only you perceive...

 

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chris said:
Of the 12 HCHCers who post here, two are cradles, and only one is Greek.
Bravo Chris and Seraphim. As the 1 "cradle" Greek, I have little perspective on your struggles, but I do know that you both are fine ambassadors of Orthodoxy (and true Christian Hellenism) to the world.
 

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chris said:
While chanting in my local parish for this Holy Week, we have been instructed by the priest to use Greek only very, very sparingly. This is because of the diverse group of people within my very typical, middle sized GOA hometown parish.
Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.

 

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Timos said:
Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.
Chris,
As my first counter example, I present you Timos's post....

Hmmm, how about....the GOA parish in Vallejo is mostly Greeks and does at least 50% Greek. The GOA parish in Novato about the same, ditto Annunciation on Valencia St. in San Francisco, St. Demetrios in Concord as well, I've been told Holy Trinity in SF is uses a lot of Greek too, St. Barbara's in Santa Barbara as well....now St. George's in Redding, CA didn't really use any and was very mixed, but they imploded 2 years ago and were reincarnated as an OCA mission.....not that I don't like these parishes, but that's them facts.

So....how do you think I get these vibes? Many posts from other regulars on this forum seem to corroborate my impressions too.

Yes, maybe you and your fellow HCHC seminarians are different...great! I wish more were!
 

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Timos said:
Yeah right, greek very sparingly @ a greek parish?? and Chant as in choir-less chant?

During Holy Week, the only english we get is every other gospel/reading, some litanies, and the homily. The only chant in english we hear is on Thursday "Today He who Hung....", and then on Saturday for "Come Receive" and Christ is Risen.
I'm sorry your experience is different, but don't question the validity of Chris' statement... just as I won't question the validity of your experience, either.

It should be noted that your Archdiocese (Canada, eh?) is more conservative - a bit like where the US GOA was about 10-15 years ago. I've had this conversation with Fr. Stavros Chadzis, who is in a Canadian parish now, but also attended HC. (Great guy, BTW)
 

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Elisha said:
Chris,
As my first counter example, I present you Timos's post....

Hmmm, how about....the GOA parish in Vallejo is mostly Greeks and does at least 50% Greek.  The GOA parish in Novato about the same, ditto Annunciation on Valencia St. in San Francisco, St. Demetrios in Concord as well, I've been told Holy Trinity in SF is uses a lot of Greek too, St. Barbara's in Santa Barbara as well....now St. George's in Redding, CA didn't really use any and was very mixed, but they imploded 2 years ago and were reincarnated as an OCA mission.....not that I don't like these parishes, but that's them facts.

So....how do you think I get these vibes?  Many posts from other regulars on this forum seem to corroborate my impressions too.

Yes, maybe you and your fellow HCHC seminarians are different...great!  I wish more were!
Timos and Elisha,

Well, at my home parish last night in the 12 Gospels service, Greek was only used at one occaison, and that was followed immediately by English...the person messed up at the chanter's stand and read it in Greek, and then corrected his mistake.

Btw--there was no choir. Only three chanters.

The two neighboring GOA parishes are in the same boat, except they used more Greek...up to 10% of all that was spoken in one case!

What I find interesting, Elisha and Timos, is that your own posts support my contention more than your own. The GOA is a large group of people, with many parishes that have different needs. The priest should be able to exercise a pastoral decision to use whatever language suits the parish at that time.

You may dispute the decision made by the priest, but as soon as you are able to know all the factors involved in that preist's decision, let me know. Your powers of clairvoyance are quite remarkable indeed.

 

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Woah. Stavros was ordained? Axios!

Some thoughts:

Liturgical language is part of, but not coterminous with, the larger questions of ethnicity, identity and ecclesial mission. And like so many pastoral issues, these questions (especially the particular question of liturgical language) are at least as much about perception as they are about the “facts.” Converts, especially after having bad experiences with particular people or parishes whom they perceive to be ethnocentric, also perceive “a lot” of Greek to be bad thing; and yet, after experiencing the same service or parish, other people, including ethnic parishioners who may have grown up in that community, may perceive things very differently.

We have to have some Christian sensitivity for both perspectives. And while I have encountered the occasional hard-line Greek who simply can’t understand why Americans call for English in the Greek Orthodox Church — such people are few and far between — I also have a hard time finding a charitable convert who has taken the time to understand ethnic people’s perspectives.

It’s very easy for us as individuals to reify or universalize our own experience and understanding of what the “facts” of the matter are — not to mention our own expectations of what the Church should be. You see, we, as converts, have a substantial personal investment in the Church as Apostolic and Catholic. We may have sacrificed family, friend and money in order to pursue what we felt was God’s will; and we cannot understand why anyone would try to run a Church — especially its worship services! — on principles other than those derived from Scripture and Tradition.

That’s our story. But what about those people who have been in the Church for years? They too have a substantial personal investment in the Church as part of their broader religious, social and cultural story. The Church, perhaps even the particular parish in question, is where they grew up, where they went to Church every Sunday, where they went to Greek School and GOYA and played basketball as a kid. Even in cases where such a person may also understand the ecclesial nature of their parish, they may not want to jettison the ethnic and linguistic trappings that remind them of the other aspects of their Church-related experience. They may not be hostile to change, but change is difficult and painful nonetheless. It requires a sacrifice. Do we honor that sacrifice? Do we even recognize it as real and meaningful?

Thus, we see that the “language” issue is more complex than definitions and doctrine. Beneath the typical lines of argument, resides a deeper emotional struggle. The convert, or the person who married into the Church, may feel isolated by what he perceives as an un-Christian — or at least unwelcoming — culture of ethnically-based cliques; while the ethnic parishioner may fear that change will alter the character of a place he finds familiar and comforting.

Is it wrong to feel nostalgia for the familiar — to feel confused by change, or even threatened? No. These are natural human feelings.

Consider this true story: A 25-year-old Greek guy came to the US from Greece with no money, worked 12-hour shifts for 38 years, helped build his parish with his own hands, has been getting up early on Sunday mornings to come chant Orthros for 30 years, and now people are telling him that he’s ethnocentric or not really Orthodox or should stop chanting because he doesn’t chant enough in English.

Naturally, he’s feeling a bit confused and threatened.

Is the Christian response to people who have these feelings to condemn them? To declare that they don’t “understand” what Orthodoxy is really about? To ignore their pastoral and spiritual needs?

More real-life case studies: Many old Greeks, who don’t even really speak English, have told me (in Greek) that they’ll come to whatever service the Church offers in whatever language. Still others, including another extremely old Greek chanter I know, have been inspired to try to chant in English. He’s doing quite well. Until very recently, chanting in a proper Byzantine style in English was actually quite difficult, given the lack of proper musical settings, translations and publications. Now that such is beginning to change, so too are people whom others labeled “ethnocentric” or “out of touch” or not really Orthodox.

Of course, most cases are not so black and white. Consider, for example, these things in light of theories of ritual language, e.g. Catherine Bell, Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). According to this line of thinking, some parts of liturgical services are intended to educate (e.g. the sermon), but other portions, especially prayers, are more concerned with “expressional forms.” This is most certainly the case in many Greek parishes, so clearly evident when hymns like “O Champion General” are chanted in Greek — one of the few instances when almost everyone will join in. Even though some parishioners may not understand the words, the very act of signing a familiar hymn as a group supports a certain kind of communal identity and provides a sense of historical continuity. Again, the emotional significance of the language, which provides a connection to an imagined past, is paramount.

Don’t understand what I mean? One particular priest in the Greek Archdiocese insists on 100 percent English. A good seminarian friend of mine, who was recently acting as the visiting chanter at this parish, chanted the whole service in English, as the priest adamantly demanded, but, after the dismissal, repeated the well-known apolytikion in Greek. Several older parishioners came up to him in tears and told him how touched they were to hear a hymn they recognized from their childhood after so many years.

I deal with this problem regularly, since I help a certain priest in the area when he goes to local nursing homes. Whenever we celebrate a Divine Liturgy in a nursing home, I have to decide which language to use and in what proportion. On the one hand, there are usually a number of Catholics who decide to attend the Liturgy, as well as some younger family members of the elderly Greek Orthodox people. Thus, for them, I try to use as much English as possible. But the only time *anyone* ever sings along is when I chant in Greek. Thus, I’ll usually chant all of the well-known parts of the Liturgy in Greek, since all of the elderly Greeks respond immediately and joyously. While they would be happy if I did *everything* in English — they are just thrilled to be able to attend a Liturgy — the Greek is familiar to them. It speaks to their heart in a special way. It reminds them of fonder memories from younger days, and it allows them to participate in the Liturgy itself.

Are these people not really Orthodox because they can’t let go of their ethnic heritage for the sake of the universality and accessibility of the Church?

Anyway, without knowing the particular makeup of any given parish — nor the attitudes and actions of the people therein — I would be very hesitant to conclude that a parish that uses 50 percent Greek in its services was somehow falling short of the mark. In fact, 50 percent Greek/English sounds rather progressive to me, given all of the things mentioned above. Some parishes can and should use more English, but, in general, I would consider 50 percent to be a hopeful sign of the parish’s openness to change, flexibility and compromise.

In the end, these attitudes are what matter most. Only as we respond to all people — American or Greek — with love and understanding (not to mention catechetical and mystagogical initiation) will the inner man, with all his sinful preoccupations, be transformed in the eschatological experience of Liturgy. Externals, such as language, will follow thereafter.
 

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chris said:
What I find interesting, Elisha and Timos, is that your own posts support my contention more than your own. The GOA is a large group of people, with many parishes that have different needs. The priest should be able to exercise a pastoral decision to use whatever language suits the parish at that time.
And why do you say this? All my examples point to a large portion or even majority of Greek used. That gives off "Greek Vibes" from my impression.
 

greekischristian

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Prior to Vatican II all Catholic Churches used around 100% Latin...does that mean that they were all culturally very Italic?
 

chris

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Elisha said:
And why do you say this?  All my examples point to a large portion or even majority of Greek used.  That gives off "Greek Vibes" from my impression.
Elisha,

The original point that I made, which apparently you did not pick up or otherwise ignored, is that the GOA is changing. Then, I also pointed out that these converts apparently do not 'pick up' on these vibes that you and perhaos a few others perceive.

To cite this, I recited stats indicating the large number of converts at the seminary as well as the proportion of Greek used in my home parish last night along with the predominance of English in neighboring parishes.

Not one to let facts sway your opinion, you gave out anecdotes indicating that parishes with Greeks in the majority used Greek in their liturgy. This is an amazing revelation! I suppose next thing you'll tell me is that the GOA should have Spanish-speaking priests to evangelize Hispanics (which the GOA does, btw).

Then, a poster from Canada indicates that they use a lot of Greek in a Greek-majority parish that is not in the GOA. This you somehow believe supports your opinion, even though he is not in the GOA to begin with.

However, it is noted that the Greek chuch in Canada is like the GOA was 10-15 years ago. So, Timos' post is most useful in showing how much the GOA has changed, not how it currently is.

Regarding the 'vibes'---again, if the 'vibes' you report are so everpresent, then please explain the large number of converts in the GOA on this board. If these 'vibes' are there, why do we not seem to be bothered by them?

Could it be that, if in fact these 'vibes' exist, that they do not seem to be the obstacle your blanket statement presents them to be?
 

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chris,
Sure it is changing and it is great! But the representation of several GOA converts on a message board doesn't necessarily prove anything except self-selection regarding internet message board usage.


 

chris

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Elisha said:
chris,
Sure it is changing and it is great!  But the representation of several GOA converts on a message board doesn't necessarily prove anything except self-selection regarding internet message board usage.
Indeed! That is why I gave examples of what was going on in my parish, the parishes around me, as well as a reference to the GOA using Spanish speaking priests in Hispanic missions.
 

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greekischristian said:
Prior to Vatican II all Catholic Churches used around 100% Latin...does that mean that they were all culturally very Italic?
That's make about as valid a comparison as Pieroshki vs Spanikopita or Beer vs Wine - it doesn't work.
 

chris

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Elisha said:
That's make about as valid a comparison as Pieroshki vs Spanikopita or Beer vs Wine - it doesn't work.
I know for this GOA guy...I choose pieroshki/pierogis and beer over spanokopita (shudder...) and wine any day! :D
 

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chris said:
I know for this GOA guy...I choose pieroshki/pierogis and beer over spanokopita (shudder...) and wine any day! :D
Me too...although the beverages were necessarily meant to be paired... ;)...just got home from a haircut, picking up rich tasting goodies for Pascha basket and then get to go back to church (after Royal Hours this morning) for Vespers when the Burialplaschataphios is brought out (how's that for a hybrid word).
 

chris

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Elisha said:
Me too...although the beverages were necessarily meant to be paired... ;)...just got home from a haircut, picking up rich tasting goodies for Pascha basket and then get to go back to church (after Royal Hours this morning) for Vespers when the Burialplaschataphios is brought out (how's that for a hybrid word).
mmmm...rich tasting goodies...mmmm

 

PeterTheAleut

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A good article to read regarding the relationship between Orthodoxy and ethnicity:

http://www.jacwell.org/Fall_Winter99/Fr_Schmemann_The_canonical_problem.htm#NationalPluralismandCanonicalUnity
 

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To return to the original question, AF wrote: "At any rate, my friend is concerned about GOA, and how "liberal" it may or may not be - especially with regard to ecumenism."

Ecumenism...how might you define that? Like, for example, welcoming non-Greeks to their church? :)

The Greek Orthodox Church that I attend in the upper Midwest might engage in some activities that some might define as "ecumenist." For instance, our church gives church tours to confirmation classes from other churches. We have an agreement with a Methodist church a block away that they will let us use their parking lot during our Greek Food Fair. And when an arsonist damaged that church, our priest encouraged us to attend a benefit concert whose funds will go to repair that church.

If by ecumenist you mean whether we intercommune with those of other faiths...no, we do not. But when I was considering whether to convert, I noticed that my Orthodox friends would sometimes take an extra piece of blessed bread (which is NOT considered part of the communion), and would offer it to me. That simple act convinced me that the GOA was where I belonged...even if I still find it hard to say "ek to pnevmati sou" (and with your spirit).
 
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