Weighty possibilities I haven’t come across before for the phenomenon — reportedly not rare — of Orthodox clergy who seem reluctant to receive a convert, especially in the Western world, are presented by a Greek priest in Australia.  (NB: I’ve never heard of a language requirement before.)

His piece reminds us that most Orthodox didn’t come to the West as missionaries.  Of course, most non-Indigenous didn’t come to North America, Australia, etc., as missionaries — their religions basically followed them here.  (Of course, conversion of the Indians was part and parcel of colonial policy in Latin America.)  We easily forget ethnic distinction in religion wasn’t brought here by the Orthodox; to this day many Protestant and Catholic congregations are still predominantly of one or another ethnicity (or two), even if they don’t include it in their buildings’ names anymore.  But active explicit or implicit competition for adherents began apace at least in the U.S. with its (eventual) very “free-market” approach to religion.  Since overall, Orthodox are more-recent arrivals than other Christians, they’re mostly still in that earlier phase so to speak.

Sometimes a little sociological understanding can go a long way….  Kind of a correlate to Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green’s 12th “…Thing I Wish I’d Known…

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  1. I find the “We didn’t come here as missionaries” line of reasoning a bit empty, to be honest. The Church is, by its nature, missionary. To be an Orthodox Christian is to be missionary, regardless of ethnic or cultural background.

    I understand the initial period of settling and becoming accustomed to a new culture, during which the local parish can act as something of a transitory comfort blanket, but once that has passed, it needs to serve its mission and not serve as some sort of enclave.

  2. Leo Peter O'Filon

    Greetings, Michael, and Welcome! I don’t make the news, I just report it; I’m all for Orthodox evangelization here!




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