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#210710 05/05/06 11:13 PM
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Among Eastern Orthodox Churches in the United States, the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese has excelled at starting new missions and attracting converts (the OCA has also worked hard in this area). There are many reasons for the Antiochians' success. These reasons include using English in the services and dynamic leadership. That being said, I have often wondered if their success could also be attributed to the significant number of Antiochian priests that are converts to the faith. Are potential converts to the Orthodox Church more likely to join a parish where the priest is also a convert? I don't know the answer to this question.

Likewise, is there a group of Eastern Catholics (like the Antiochian Archdiocese and the OCA) who have taken the lead in reaching out to potential converts? If so, does that group of Eastern Catholics have a significant number of priests that are converts to the faith?

Regardless of our specific affiliation, I hope that we all pray vigorously for the growth in the priesthood and for the growth of all Eastern Christianity. I look forward to the day when I don't have to explain that yes, the Greek Orthodox Church is a Christian Church (I had this conversation yesterday). Thanks for all comments.

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Harmonica,

The answer sadly is, "NO", but some of us are beginning to try. There are many obstacles to overcome.

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Dan, I'm not so sure about that. The Byzantine / Ruthenian Church seems to be pretty open about accepting converts (who otherwise qualify and are called) for the priesthood. There is at least one young man at the Pittsburgh seminary who was a convert from a Protestant denomination, and there is another man who changed rites / jurisdictions from the Roman Church to the Eastern Church.

-- John

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I know of a priest who was a layman in the Latin Church and was ordained as a married priest in one of the Eastern Churches. He works hard and is a wonderful witness.

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Christ is Risen!

Greetings Harmonica,

I don�t think there is any one single answer to your question, because I don�t think there is any one kind of convert, either lay or clerical. I think the main thing that makes converts comfortable and what may attract them to a parish is use of the English language. I know there are always exceptions, but in general I believe that is probably something that is often true. It all depends on the background of the convert though.

I myself am a convert and my introduction to the church was in what would be considered more traditional ethnic parish, and that is still probably my preference. That was a while ago, and when I finally decided to make the commitment to become Orthodox my family and I started attending an Antiochian mission that is close to us and we�ve been there for about two and a half years. All the services are in English and the congregation is a mix of cradle and convert, almost exactly 50/50. I doubt if my wife would have converted if it wasn�t for the mission, she literally knew nothing about Orthodoxy before I told her I was converting (long story�). Anyway, I think the fact that it is all English made it an easier transition for my kids as well.

Our priest is a convert and a former evangelical Protestant. I�m sure that does help some people in relating their experiences to him, although by the same token we have cradle Orthodox who have come to our mission because they felt like they liked fit in better there. We also have a number of converts from Roman and Eastern Catholicism as well. Our choir director is a former Byzantine Catholic.

Just to show how there can be variety though among priests, I know another priest that was a Lutheran minister for over twenty years in a very high Lutheran parish. His style and our priests are very different, and the congregations I think in many ways reflect this difference.

Regarding the number of convert priests, I don�t know for sure. I think there are many in the AOA though, especially in the recent past from the Episcopal Church. The OCA certainly has many as well though, and the new Bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania is a former Episcopalian.

So, there�s a little bit of my experience. I hope that helps a little to answer your question.

Andrew

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In my area of the OCA we have several former Lutheran pastors in the clergy. They are very committed and devout, and are known to be good holy priests.

I think we are very blessed to have them.

+T+
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Thank you all for your replies. I am very surprised to read that none of the Eastern Catholic Churches are taking the lead to reach out to potential converts in the United States. I expected a different answer to that part of my question. Perhaps that will change in the future through the efforts of the good people who operate and post on this website, among others.

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Did anyone say as much? I seem to recall a former Protestant Church who went into the Melchite Eparchy. You must understand the numbers of Byzantines is not great. The entire Eparchy of Van Nuys is under 3000 people if they were all at home and yet covers nearly 1/3+ of the USA.

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I think another reason why the Antiochians have had some success is that they have committed themselves to missions and evangelism. They have a department devoted to it with these goals:

Quote
1. Build new missions in North American cities of over 100,000 population which have no Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction.
2. Respond to invitations of lay groups of Orthodox Christians who desire an English-speaking parish.
3. Cultivate relationships with independent (generally Protestant) communities which desire to become Orthodox.
4. Work with non-Orthodox pastors who desire to be Orthodox.
5. Cooperate with the Department of Campus Ministry to develop mission parishes adjacent to major college campuses with no English-speaking Orthodox Church nearby.
6. Train and encourage Antiochian priests and lay leaders to promote Orthodox Christian evangelism in their communities and begin new missions in nearby localities.
It's something I know they put a lot of resources in to. About a month ago I went with our priest and someone from the Archdiocese who is known for outreach to Protestant communities to talk with some people who are thinking about bringing their church in to Orthodoxy. I think the background of the people who went (aside from me) probably did help in making a connection with them.

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Andrew,

Thanks for posting those bullet points. Looks like a great strategy to me! God bless the Antiochians for sharing the Gospel with so many!

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Quote
Originally posted by Rilian:
I think another reason why the Antiochians have had some success is that they have committed themselves to missions and evangelism. They have a department devoted to it with these goals:

Quote
1. Build new missions in North American cities of over 100,000 population which have no Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction.
2. Respond to invitations of lay groups of Orthodox Christians who desire an English-speaking parish.
3. Cultivate relationships with independent (generally Protestant) communities which desire to become Orthodox.
4. Work with non-Orthodox pastors who desire to be Orthodox.
5. Cooperate with the Department of Campus Ministry to develop mission parishes adjacent to major college campuses with no English-speaking Orthodox Church nearby.
6. Train and encourage Antiochian priests and lay leaders to promote Orthodox Christian evangelism in their communities and begin new missions in nearby localities.
It's something I know they put a lot of resources in to. About a month ago I went with our priest and someone from the Archdiocese who is known for outreach to Protestant communities to talk with some people who are thinking about bringing their church in to Orthodoxy. I think the background of the people who went (aside from me) probably did help in making a connection with them.

Andrew
Thank you, Andrew, for that post. It was one of the most practical and useful posts on evangelism that I've read in a long time. Hopefully, it will inform some BCs about what we can do too.

-- John

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Pavel,

I based my statement on Dan's reply and the fact that none of the other replies identified an Eastern Catholic Church that was reaching out to potential converts. I hope you did not take my remark as insulting to the Eastern Catholic Churches. In my post, I acknowledged that, in the United States, the Antiochians and the OCA were taking the lead among Orthodox jurisdictions in reaching out to converts. I am not a member of either jurisdiction. I had assumed that an Eastern Catholic Church was reaching out to converts in a similar manner and was curious about which church was taking the lead. I hope that clarifies my ealier post.

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NO! I was concerned you thought there was someone out there. That's why I mentioned the Diocese of Van Nuys. Not quiet 3000 people supporting how many clergy and probably struggling to get themselves to a church. Never mind anyone else in an area that is enormous. There are always people coming into the Church but I doubt if there is much organised in that direction due to the small size of everything.

ICXC
NIKA


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