Seems like Eastern Orthodox churches are declining and losing members

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by Stalwart, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    So, according to this article, the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) has had a "precipitous" decline in its membership over the last twenty years. This is posted on their official website:
    https://oca.org/questions/oca/decline-in-oca-membership


    Also Sandro Magister, a noted Italian intellectual and historian, has written that this trend is broader and that the Orthodox churches are declining across the world, even in purported strongholds like Russia:
    http://magister.blogautore.espresso...rches-in-decline-except-in-ethiopia-a-survey/


    Rod Dreher asked a pretty devastating question several years ago: why are so many Greek Orthodox leaving the church? http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/why-are-so-many-greek-orthodox-leaving-church/


    What does everyone think? I'm curious to see what your experience has been, if you happen to know any Eastern Orthodox friends and whatnot. Maybe our resident @SirPalomides could shed some light on this issue as well?
     
  2. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    Eastern Orthodoxy has a serious deficiency in terms of evangelism and outreach. Everything I have heard in regards to how they handle this has been universally negative, and far worse than the situation with the Roman Church's neglect, who themselves have been outshined by the less rigid and institutionalized evangelical protestant body. It seems to me that Eastern Orthodox are more standoffish and intentionally insular. I have never in my life met an EO of any kind except once, and he was exactly as distant as I told you. Second, the EO tends to be services in their own language and cultural style even in countries where said group is a minority, which defeats the purpose of outreach and ministry within the church itself. Third, I have also heard that they suffer strongly from nominalism, where Orthodox practice and attendance is done for the value of tradition and cultural identity but in a loose sense. In fact, we could be honest and say that this is true in every country that has festered in nominal faith for the last few centuries. But, it seems evangelicals are still holding out because they are not bound to a rigid institution that limits the extent to which one can receive forgiveness, study the scriptures (without being shamed for questioning church dogma and tradition) and numerous other things that many churches are not addressing. What's even more embarrassing and shameful is that I knew of some Protestant converts to EO who were mainly bewitched by its ancient and aesthetic spells. This is a terrible reason for joining a church; because of the architecture or because of the songs sung in another language. It is a novelty, but those who are pretentious elites regarding excessive formality are usually impressed by it. For better or worse, a lot of these converts have left Orthodoxy after finding out it was not for them and certainly not what they expected.

    I have found some insightful and edifying teachings on Christian life and theology by Orthodox, but it was only on the internet and usually in the kind of communities or websites you'd have to actually be looking for on your own to find.
     
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  3. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I was Orthodox for several years, and while there are many Godly men and women in the Church, Orthodoxy tends to be a culture club, often more of a community center for the various ethnic groups that make up the Church. I see little hope for American Orthodoxy in the near future, as each jurisdiction wants to zealously maintain their ethnic/nationalist integrity. Any Black, Asian, Hispanic (or White for that matter) American who is considering becoming Orthodox had better be prepared to be immersed in the particular culture of the jurisdiction they join. If he or she likes Greek dancing or Russian food, that would be a plus.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  4. anawkwardaardvark

    anawkwardaardvark Member Typist Anglican

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    As one who seriously inquired for several years as to EO, I found that it is undergoing "Episcopalization" and in many quarters follows the mainline liberal Protestant trend of cultural opinions. When not drifting towards liberal post-modernism, it is a conservative enclave for an ethnic group. These are broad stereotypes, but nevertheless what I have found not only where I reside but also across the country as I visit EO parishes on occasion. It is a shame as EO at its best holds onto patristic thought and before Anglicanism embraced women's ordination, EO and Anglicans were close to inter-communion. In fact, several EO patriarchs recognized Anglican orders at the beginning of the 20th century.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is quite a thing to consider, of the EO following the liberal track laid down by Catholics and Protestants; their online enclaves of English-speaking converts (AncientFaith, etc) are so very hard, in their speech, absolute confidence, and judgment & condemnation of everyone around them. They remind one of the Reformation era worldviews. These types of EO, who obscure and mis-characterize the reality of a vast liberal EO underbelly, are probably the hardest Christians in America today, only paralleled by extreme expressions of Latin-only Catholics. But then again, the converts are always the hardest in any church I suppose. All converts to Anglicanism whom I had seen have been the hardest "Anglicans", and it's only been the cradle ex-Episcopalians that have been the mushy types of the lot.
     
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  6. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    I was quite appalled by the liberal theology and low regard for the integrity of the bible taught by many bloggers on AncientFaith. For a faith to claim that it is truly the original church and all this talk about things like 'prelest' and 'false humility', I was surprised at the warm acceptance of humanist, anti-bible propaganda.

    By the way, here's a good article by an Anglican who converted to EO, then left:
    https://lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/why-i-am-not-orthodox-2/
     
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  7. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    I think generally converts are much more zealous, in any faith, than those born into said faith
     
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  8. Ide

    Ide Active Member

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    My experience with the EO churches has pretty much in line with what has been described here. In my area, we have many varieties of EO parishes and I've visited a few which have English services. At only one did I truly feel welcomed and it was one populated with older converts (Antiochian), but was still very small and struggling to stay open. Outside of Sunday service, there was a mid-week Bible study and nothing else. At the Greek churches, I was literally shoo'ed away by an elderly lady when I said I wasn't Greek. So, that was a good clue I was looking in the wrong place.

    Although I have respect for the EO teachings, the situation on the ground makes it almost impossible to practice in everyday life. I had given serious thought to exploring the EO for conversion, but I don't think that would be good for my long term spiritual health.
     
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  9. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    Supposedly, there are 'western rite' Orthodox churches that are catered to those outside of the Eastern cultures, but they seem to be even more scarce than your average Greek or Russian ones. I don't even know if there are any Orthodox churches at all in the city I live, though I know we have at least one traditional Anglican church that I have yet to visit.
     
  10. anawkwardaardvark

    anawkwardaardvark Member Typist Anglican

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    The Western Rite is very small in both the Antiochian and ROCOR variations. Neither jurisdiction provides them with a bishop and clergy are expected to learn how to also practice the eastern rite. Essentially it is a halfway house that typically results in parishes becoming eastern rite slowly over time.
     
  11. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    I was an Orthodox catechumen for some time and did not complete the journey for the same reasons others have mentioned: the ethno-phyletism, the convert radicalism, and the under-tones of liberal thought.

    I went to the Greek festival in Newport News last year and took the tour of the church (Sts. Constantine & Helen) and listened to the condescending lecture one of their sub-deacons or readers was giving. He started talking about the importance of incense in the Eastern rite and made some ridiculous comments to the effect that no one on the tour probably knew anything about operating a censer. I was growing weary of him and casually remarked that Anglicans often have thurifers. He acknowledged me only with a brief pause and the 'evil eye.'

    The clergy of my jurisdiction have had a back and forth with Orthodoxy. Three of our men were Orthodox (though one was never ordained in that tradition) and two have left for those pastures - both for the Western rite. I liken the Western rites to the Personal Ordinariates: on the ground, they are an after-thought in their own tradition that function as little more than a novelty to the laity. Few of those parishes effectively sustain an evangelistic program and most wither on the vine. As their parishioners relocate, they find themselves being shoe-horned into the Eastern rite or Novus Ordo parishes where they then do one of three things: suck it up, stop attending church, find an Anglican or Lutheran parish.
     
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  12. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    St. Mark's was a western rite church I was familiar with in Denver, Co when I lived there. Seems to be a thriving one. I think there was another western rite church in the Denver area but I can't remember its name. Here is a link to St. Mark's website: http://www.westernorthodox.com/stmark
     
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  13. Tuxedo America

    Tuxedo America Member

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    I don't think I've ever met an Orthodox. I don't think I've ever seen an EO church, either. However, I've seen plenty of JW and LDS places of worship. That seems a bit telling to me.
     
  14. anawkwardaardvark

    anawkwardaardvark Member Typist Anglican

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    Yes, St. Mark's is the best of the western rite, sadly an exception.

    Also, I'll not the controversial teachings regarding toll houses, prayers to ward off the "evil eye", and learning the eastern church sold indulgences made me realize that much of the rhetoric of the East ignores its own need for reformation. And for the record, the Anglican Communion is clearly in need of a reformation of its own.
     
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  15. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think it's smack dab in the middle of one, friend.
     
  16. anawkwardaardvark

    anawkwardaardvark Member Typist Anglican

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    Eh, I'm a bit pessimistic based on ACNA's indecisiveness on WO and GAFCON ignoring the issue. Lord, prove me wrong, please.
     
  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You are right friend. With these kinds of allies, who needs enemies. And yet,
    we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. We have Our Lord's own promise that He will not abandon us nor His church and that the gates of hell will not prevail. Keep the faith, brother, and do not hesitate to share it.
     
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  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We're in the middle of one, not at the end of one. That's how I see it.

    If you look at the trajectory of Luther's thought, his first big step was the justification by faith which is what most people know him for. But what we don't know is that the teaching on justification by itself produced a lot of corruption in Lutheran Germany, leading to the Peasant Revolt, people leaving their wives, and leading immoral lives ("If I'm already holy, I don't need to be holy"). When Luther saw what happened, he wept, for the people left the Roman immorality, only to jump into another immorality. So in fact there is a kind of Luther Part 2, from 1527 onward, in which he stresses the importance of works as essential, and personal sanctity as non-optional. At his death he wanted to be known as the Doctor Bonum Operam, the Professor of Good Works, and not a Professor of Justification.

    Most Roman Catholic apologetics take him at his half-way point in order to slander his legacy, but as I've just shown, it isn't accurate. And if you saw him in the middle, you probably would not be entirely happy with how things were going.

    The process needs to complete itself, and there is no benefit in taking a stock of the whole while still in the midst of it. We don't know what "the whole" will be yet, and it's looking very good to be honest. We just need to hope, and pray, and do as much as we can ourselves, lend our back to the good cause.
     
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  19. Cameron

    Cameron New Member

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    My grandfather, after a term as a Vicar in Devon (can't remember the parish name), answered a missionary advertisement in a newspaper he saw from the Episcopal Church in the United States. He went because he was only young then, and wanted to experience the new ways of the new world, and encountered the Western Rite in New York. He was astounded - an Anglo-Catholic himself, he explained it as the "Book of Common Prayer of the use of Moscow" but never went back, and left the USA and moved back to England. Not on account of the Western Rite, however.
     
  20. Ide

    Ide Active Member

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    It depends a lot of geography. They have a rather small population in the U.S. Right around 3 million, I think? Where I currently live, there are many Orthodox churches. I see the priests in public from time to time as well. We even have Greek primary schools here too.

    However, where I used to live was a center of LDS history and I grew up around a lot of Mormon kids. But, even though there is an LDS ward nearby, I hardly encounter any Mormons in my current city.
     

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