Skip to comments.More Protestants Find a Home in the Orthodox Antioch Church
Posted on 10/07/2009 6:33:33 AM PDT by Nikas777
More Protestants Find a Home in the Orthodox Antioch Church
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
Published: October 2, 2009
LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md. Cal Oren was threading his way through the Santa Cruz Mountains of California early one evening in 1993, driving his wife, brother and three tired children back from a day of hiking amid the redwoods. As their car neared the town of Ben Lomond, Mr. Oren said, his brother pointed to a church on the roadside and said: Ive been inside this. Its really neat.
So Mr. Oren pulled to a stop, and as the children stayed in the car, the grown-ups gingerly padded into the sanctuary of Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church. A lifelong Presbyterian, Mr. Oren knew virtually nothing about the Antiochians or, for that matter, Orthodox Christianity in general. He had always associated Ben Lomond with hippies, geodesic domes and marijuana fields.
As he entered, a vespers service was under way. Maybe two dozen worshipers stood, chanting psalms and hymns. Incense filled the dark air. Icons of apostles and saints hung on the walls. The ancientness and austerity stood at a time-warp remove from the evangelical circles in which Mr. Oren traveled, so modern, extroverted and assertively relevant.
This was a Christianity I had never encountered before, said Mr. Oren, 55, a marketing consultant in commercial construction. I was frozen in my tracks. I felt like I was in the actual presence of God, almost as if I was in heaven. And Im not the kind of person who gets all woo-hoo.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
The truth as described by Russian pagans over a thousand years ago is echoed by an American today.....
Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here."- The Russian Primary Chronicle - 988 AD
Orthodox ping list request.
“When is a Baptist not a Baptist?”
When he’s in the presence of Lutherans and there’s beer in the fridge?
So, you guys are the other non-commie greeks
And the congregation grew by 4%, with the addition of Mr Oren. How many of the other two dozen worshipers were Protestants?
“Incense filled the dark air. Icons of apostles and saints hung on the walls.”
Sounds like when I was in college. Whoever knew the Beatles were saints?
“More Protestants” means more than one? Or more than zero?
I’m sure the Orthodox Antioch Church is perfectly charming, but this is a truly Eastern level of number-futzing.
We Orthodox Christians are here, we are not queer and we are coming for your children.
The church at Ben Lomand has had a tortured history. At the time Mr. Oren attended vespers there the parish had a population of about 1500 people, most of whom were converts. The convert priests became disobedient to +Philip, the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese and were removed. Lets just say they had some odd and distinctly unorthodox ideas and ways. They and about 300 of their followers went off on their own. The parish today, I am advised, is vibrant and successful.
The visible shift began in 1987 with the conversion of nearly 2,000 evangelical Christians, led by Peter E. Gillquist and other alumni of the Dallas Theological Seminary and the Campus Crusade for Christ. More recently, a wave of converts has arrived from such mainline Protestant denominations as the Episcopalian and Lutheran.
Some 70 percent of Antiochian Orthodox priests in the United States are converts, according to Bradley Nassif, who, as a theology professor at North Park University in Chicago, is a leading scholar of the religion. A generation or two ago, Professor Nassif said, converts made up barely 10 percent of Antiochian clergy.
Professor Nassif went so far, in a 2007 article in Christianity Today magazine, as to suggest that the 21st century might become the Orthodox century as disenchanted Protestants grew attracted to the historical roots, theological rigor and social conservatism of the Eastern Christian denominations.
Whether or not the prediction pans out, it is certainly true that no American convert comes to the Antiochian church by convenience or ease. The denomination has only about 250,000 members in 250 congregations in the country, Professor Nassif estimated.
(my comment was more the disbelief I feel when I see the proliferation of Obama stickers in the church parking lot)
A convert from the Charismatic Protestant church describes her discovery of the Ancient Orthodox Christian Church. Judith Irene Matta, MTh interviews Alison Cloonan about her journey into the fullness of Faith in Christ.
Vespers is the pre-game warm-up: Not essential, but really beneficial if you want to do it right. Usually the vespers crowd in the Byzantine churches I’ve been in is about 10% of the full crowd, mostly single people and parish leaders.
Greeks may have voted for Obama because McCain and the Republicans are seen as pro Muslim Turks - odd as that may sound to non Greek ears. Also, Bush and McCain backed the naming of “Macedonia” over Greek objections. So to say Greeks support Obama hence they are commies is too simple.
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Rev 8:3-5
I wonder if the mods are gonna say anything about the snarky, insulting garbage being sniped by Protestants toward Orthodox on this thread.
I doubt it, we don’t wear the James Dobson/Adrian Rogers Pledge Pin.
It makes me sad that FR is becoming such an echo chamber.
And before you call me a troll, check my join date (2000, circa the election) and my postings. My Conservative ducks are in a row.
I couldn't find anything mentioned in the article or on their website....is Ben Lomand in the "Western Rite" portion of the AOC, or are they offering an Eastern liturgy?
“Greeks may have voted for Obama because McCain and the Republicans are seen as pro Muslim Turks - odd as that may sound to non Greek ears. Also, Bush and McCain backed the naming of Macedonia over Greek objections. So to say Greeks support Obama hence they are commies is too simple.’
I agree. Greeks also supported Dukakis (ethnic pride I can understand, but come on).
My point is simple. American Greeks are a great, hardworking people. Many came here with nothing and depended on hardwork, family and church to build successful lives. Many, many are small business owners. Most are completely devoted to family and faith. Most are proud and committed to 24/7 work over handouts. It’s just beyond me why so many brethren are drawn to the democrat party.
Eastern, but a lot of the old EOC folks are still bringing a VERY Western/Protestant approach to things such as hymnological arrangement and the like.
I attend the convert Antiochian parish in Memphis, and we wrung that out of our Liturgy quite some time ago.
Vespers is like the pre-game. Two dozen worshipers is actually a good size crowd.
You can ask that of Jews and other successful ethnic groups in America as well. For Greeks, Jews and other ethnic white groups I think foreign policy is a big reason for it and the fact that the Republicans were seen historically as anti-immigration and not welcoming to Southern and Eastern Europeans, Catholics & Jews.
Thanks! By the way, what’s the attraction of converts to the Antiochene Church rather than, say, a Greek or Russian Orthodox one?
Actually no, but you yourself may be in line for a reprimand......... :-)
By using terms like "snarky" and "insulting garbage" you are making it personal and making it about them.
This may be deemed an infraction of FR rules and could see you canned. Get with the program. It works like this. Outrageous comments about your faith are to be received with a polite smile and a courteous rebuttal which pays the mud slinger the unwarranted compliment of assuming that his/her comments were made in good faith.
Any suggestion to the contrary will see you severely chastised.
Guess as an American first, I’m more concerned with liberty, keeping taxes low, controlling our borders and killing terrorists.
If you’re the ping holder, add me please. Thanks
Serves him right! I remember one time many years ago when our then priest suggested to us on the council that we have a “roz bif dinner” as a fundraiser. Once the laughter died down, we explained that the Episcopalians had the exclusive “roz bif dinner” franchise for the area parishes.
“I couldn’t find anything mentioned in the article or on their website....is Ben Lomand in the “Western Rite” portion of the AOC, or are they offering an Eastern liturgy?”
So far as I know, they use the Byzantine Rite. Western Rite parishes are very rare.
Appearance, I think - not much else. H.E. +Philip and H.B. +Ignatius IV have been VERY receptive to converts in the US. That’s been made clear to us in our parish (we count amongst our ranks a local physician - a Syrian by birth and cradle Antiochian Orthodox whose cousin is a Metropolitan in Europe). We had a dozen people in Catechumen class last night.
The mass conversions of the past 25 years or so have made Antioch appear more open to converts. It’s an over-simplification to put it this way, but converts to Orthodoxy *can* feel left out in highly ethnic parishes within the GOARCH and ROCOR, and even within high-concentration Ethnic Arab parishes within the AOANA.
Again, that’s an over-simplification and certainly not a universal truth or even reflective of the intent of the parishioners themselves.
By the way, there are some cool videos on YouTube of some of our Bishops’ vesting ceremonies at the cathedral in Damascus. I’ll Freepmail you the links if you’re interested.
I have been in the big Greek church here on Franklin road and I and my wife were both impressed by the same visual and other environmental sensations..
WD, you’ve had some exposure to Maronite Catholics, though, correct? Don’t the Maronites use the Eastern Liturgy? That would definitely make it less of a shocking experience.
“Its an over-simplification to put it this way, but converts to Orthodoxy *can* feel left out in highly ethnic parishes within the GOARCH and ROCOR, and even within high-concentration Ethnic Arab parishes within the AOANA.”
That’s a very fair statement, in my opinion. To the extent that parishes are ethnic ghettos they can be tightly closed to outsiders. I’ve seen and even experienced that myself.
My own parish has always been welcoming to non-Greeks (we’ve had “Syrians” in the parish since the late 1920s), but it is in the past 20 years that things have really changed. Greeks and people of Greek descent now make up perhaps 40% of the parish. The others are Serbs, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Syrians, Lebanese, Ethipians and Egyptians or people descended from them...and all sorts of American converts. The converts tell me that the make up of the parish shows the universality of Orthodox Christianity and gives their children an insight into the ways and mindsets of people who were not born in America.
The foregoing notwithstanding, developing openness to non Greeks (or Russians etc) is a challenge which must be met by all Orthodox parishes in the GOA or the ROC or any of the others. Time, however, seems to be working in that direction.
If the poster wanted an "ecumenical" discussion, he could have labeled the thread that way.
Click on my profile page for more guidelines pertaining to the Religion Forum.
My ex wife was non practicing.
which made it easy for her to pretend to be Jewish her next marriage (in a long line of them now) to satisfy the new hubby and in laws about being in the tribe and all
they soon figured out though they had been snookered
i went to Calvary as a boy right across from where the Primos and Pavlous and Crechales whatnot all went back in the 60s...never stepped foot in the place.
Did go to a Greek Wedding in Houston once...
when I lived around the world I usually went to Catholic service given that was fairly ubiquitous
“Dont the Maronites use the Eastern Liturgy?”
No. They use a sort of modified Novus Ordo liturgy with a lot of Aramaic, which is really quite extraordinary and a continued faithfulness to the prayers and writings and hymns of such Fathers as +Ephraim the Syrian and +Iakovos of Saroug. The Melkites also from Lebanon use the Divine Liturgy of +John Chrysostomos as do all the other Eastern Rite Catholic churches so far as I know.
The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches in India also use variants of the Antiochene Rite. The Syro-Malabars are actually the second-largest Eastern Catholic church, after the Ukrainians.
Listen to an Orthodox service in Spanish is chanted by the Choir of St. Georges Cathedral in Mexico. It is very moving.
I neglected to ping you to the link @ #36 to listen to an Orthodox service in Spanish is chanted by the Choir of St. Georges Cathedral in Mexico.
Ah. That makes sense. I woulda thought the original Antiochenes would have presented the same ethnicity problem, but I guess they didn't strike Anglos as quite so alien. Maybe I'm skewed being Italian...to me it seems Greek Orthodox would be the natural choice. Switch the Sambuca with Ouzo and we're good!
That is interesting about your parish Kolo...do the Ethiopians etc. have any difficulty adapting to the Byzantine liturgy?
“The Maronite liturgy is the Antiochene Rite (Liturgy of St. James) with some Latinizations.”
Here’s a link to an explanation of the Maronite Liturgy from a Maronite source.
I have been to Maronite Liturgies. I must say they seem to bear little resemblance to the Liturgy of St. James, though I don;t doubt that the modern “experimental” Maronite liturgy is based on it. Here’s a link
The Liturgy of St. James is indeed Antiochene and it is very, very long. In its ancient form it is still said here and there and as such is the most ancient continually used Liturgy of The Church.
I swear on my James Dobson/Adrian Rogers Pledge Pin that marshmallow is right about this.
“Maybe I’m skewed being Italian...to me it seems Greek Orthodox would be the natural choice.”
When Gilquist and the “Evangelical Orthodox” came knocking on the door of the GOA insisting on a mass welcome into the GOA while retaining their forms and orders (all of which they had made up so far as the GOA was concerned, they were shown the door. +Met. Philip accepted them with some conditions which pretty much resolved the problems the GOA had with them. It is fair to say that the mass conversion has been a mixed blessing. One good result, I suppose, is that most American inquirers walking into an Antiochian Church today in America, except perhaps for here in the NE, will find parishes which are predominantly convert. As such they might feel more comfortable initially, but Orthodoxy is not a way of life for spiritual sissies nor is it “comfortable”. It is definitely not something which will accommodate American sensibilities or sensitivities. If an inquirer stays around and becomes Orthodox, the ethnic part,ironically, becomes an added attraction, or so I am told.
“...do the Ethiopians etc. have any difficulty adapting to the Byzantine liturgy?”
Not that I have ever seen. Their Divine Liturgies, as you probably know, are chanted in classical Ge’ez, a beautiful liturgical language. The liturgies themselves are almost identical to our Divine Liturgies so there’s not much to get used to. The women always dress in beautiful white for the liturgy and they take their shoes off in the narthex before entering the nave. On big feasts, the men also dress in white with almost royal looking robes. There’s no question that what they wear is the best they own. They take their Faith very, very seriously and we Greeks know we are blessed to have them as examples to us.
Speaking personally as an enrolled Orthodox Catechumen in a convert Antiochian parish (to be Chrismated in December...Lord, have mercy), I can tell you from my own experience of the EOC folks...
Those that I know have left behind (boy was THAT an awful choice of words) and will repudiate the “Ortho-stant” of “ProtesDox” approach of those in the old inner circle of the EOC leadership.
Kolo is right, you can’t do it both ways. Personally, I wouldn’t want to - I couldn’t go back to Protestant worship now AT ALL.
I’ve been told an HILARIOUS story about Bp. BASIL, the Bishop of the Antiochian Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America...
Before the elevation the other Diocesan Bishops in the AOANA, there were only two Auxiliary Bishops... +Antoun and +Basil.
+Basil was celebrating Liturgy at a new convert parish in VIcksburg, MS. And there was a woman playing an organ during Communion. +Basil turned to his assistant, a Subdeacon whose name I shan’t give on this forum. The Bishop said, “Please go tell that woman to stop playing the organ.”
The Subdeacon (a former Marine) went up over to the organ and said, “His Grace said to stop playing that organ...RIGHT NOW.” She apparently couldn’t get her hands off the keys fast enough.
Quitely, but audibly, Bp. Basil said, “This is NOT a Baptist church.”
“If an inquirer stays around and becomes Orthodox, the ethnic part,ironically, becomes an added attraction, or so I am told.”
I am eating felafel for lunch as I type this. Not to mention the fact that, growing up, my parents were friends with a Lebanese family...and my mom still has their family recipe for kibbee.
I LOVE Mediterranean food...
So would the Antiochian church be one of the 33,000 or so Orthodox "denominations"? :)
“So would the Antiochian church be one of the 33,000 or so Orthodox “denominations”? :) “
:) Hey FK! How’ve you been keeping, my friend? (You know Orthodoxy is “pre-denominational”!)
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, also known as Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, Antiochian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church of Antioch, is one of the five churches that composed the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church before the East-West Schism. It is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church, and the successor to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul.
Thanks. I was thinking of earlier conversations with my friend Kolo, and trying to remember whether the NYT’s use of the word “denomination” was proper here in Orthodoxy. (I have some memory of Latins referring to internal “denominations”, but wasn’t sure.) In any event, if an article is about a faith, I suppose we shouldn’t expect much from the NYT. :)
I posted an article about another Antiochian church in California where the used the term “mass” in the article - the church’s official website on the other hand uses “liturgy” so I assumed it was the reporter’s “translation” error.
Yep. I too am a convert from protestant evangelicalism. Happy to call Antioch home now for three years, but who’s counting.
Ethnic attraction? Not really, but more like having a pentecostal experience every time I attend services when I hear portions of the liturgy in Greek, Russian, Arabic, etc...
I didn’t search out Antioch. It was simply the only one in my area. I was already prepared to feel out of place, but surprised to find that half the parish were converts from Rome and her wayward children like myself. It’s good to be home in the Church.
Though many Orthodox parishes are very tightly bound to an ethnic identity, I can see this taking off for a while among some Evangelicals
Notice, that was Vespers. It doesn’t say what day of the week. If it was any day other than Saturday and not the vigil of a major feast, an attendance of 12 would be a good turn out even at a big urban church in a traditionally Orthodox country. In the early 90’s, I’m fairly sure the parish in Ben Lomond served Vespers and Orthros (Matins for you Westerners), and maybe even Liturgy, daily. A typical Sunday Liturgy at Ben Lomond during that time period would have had, I’d guess, between 100 and 200 Orthodox faithful.