Posts Tagged ‘missions’

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…

Just last week, the “fellowship” in Hong Kong associated with Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev, which I believe includes both ex-patriates and Chinese, was formally reactivated as a parish by the Moscow Patriarchal Synod, 36 years after its closure following the repose of its last pastor.  Many years to the new parish and its new rector, Fr. Dionisy!

This year has also seen the first public ministry since the Cultural Revolution, by China’s last two surviving native clergy, to whom God also grant Many Years!  This article,* I believe copied from HK’s South China Morning Post (scroll down for English), depicts the Priest Michael Wang up top hearing a confession, and the Deacon Evangel Lu beneath taking part in the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy (analogous to the Offertory Procession in Latin-Rite Masses).  The article notes that Fr. Michael and Fr. Deacon Evangel have applied to the Communist government for permission to resume regular ministry to Chinese on Chinese soil (as opposed to in Russian diplomatic facilities as they did at Pentecost).  Also, that even the PRC is seeing conversions to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.

And I read earlier this year somewhere that the new Greek Metropolitan of Hong Kong, NECTARIOS, wants to extend ministry to Greek mariners in (other) Chinese port cities.  I note that Greece has a consulate in Shanghai; IIUC PRC law would allow them to hold services there regularly for non-Chinese, as in the Russian diplomatic facilities.

(It’s true that Moscow and Constantinople dispute canonical jurisdiction in Communist China, between the MP’s Church of China [50 years Autonomous], straitened since the Cultural Revolution but not dead and now rebounding, and the EP’s Metropolis of HK and Southeast Asia, set up in 1996 to care for Diaspora Orthodox and evangelize from Afghanistan eastward.  [This year the EP Metropolis’ western and southern countries were set off as the Metropolis of Singapore.])

(*–On Fr. Dionisiy’s blog.)

There’s a new mission (OCA) in Dagsboro, Sussex County, Delaware, originally located in Fenwick Island, DE.  Another recent mission (Antiochian) is in nearby Lewes,* Delaware [known somewhat for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the mouth of Delaware Bay, a neat boat ride in nice weather, by foot or by motor vehicle].

These drew my attention because my great-grandmother, Lula Fisher (sometimes recorded as Lulu Fisher), came from Dagsboro.  Although I grew up urban Irish Catholic and currently look something like a leprechaun(!), through her I’m also related to the Nanticoke Indians based in that neighborhood.  I’ve visited their September powwow a couple times in recent years as I’ve learned about them.  Many of them belong to a historic Methodist congregation (text at link quotes from its State historical marker).  This newspaper article provides a quick sketch and information about the Nanticokes.

Speaking of Indigenous peoples, one reason for the huge spread of Orthodoxy among Sub-Saharan Africans in the last 70 years or so — over 100,000 today — is said to be Orthodoxy’s lack of association with Western European colonialism there.  I know that some Native Americans rebel against (Western) Christianity for similar reasons.  OTOH, Orthodoxy has helped Indigenous Siberians and Alaskans preserve their cultures and identities — everything not deemed in direct conflict with Orthodox theology, generously construed — translated Orthodox texts into their languages, and defended their rights, especially in Alaska against Russian commercial and general U.S. violation.  In the Middle Ages, when the Western Church was imposing the by-then-dead Latin language on all liturgical and religious usage, the Eastern Church was translating the Faith into Georgian, Armenian, and Slavonic.  Also of interest in this respect would be the account of St. Innocent of Alaska and the Aleut Orthodox “Shaman” Ivan Smirennikov, in the last three paragraphs here.  (My source was a book of research papers in a college library near me that I no longer recall.)

(*–Pronounced like Lewis.)

For Lenten almsgiving, consider the following:

Metropolitan Archbishop PAUL of the Antiochian Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, in announcing the reception of the 6,000 in the Philippines on their website, requested donations to help with things there. He listed a bank account number for wire transfers, but in case those are costly for you internationally, I emailed him about sending a check the old-fashioned way. He says to make it out to “Archbishop Paul Saliba” and mail it addressed as follows:

Archbishop Paul Saliba
2 Brampton Avenue
Illawong NSW 2234
Sydney AUSTRALIA

He says he personally has an account in US dollars, but the Archdiocese does not, so if we send them made out to him personally, he will exchange them.

According to the Archdiocese’s former website, he’s 68 years old, from Lebanon, studied in Greece, and studied and worked here in the States from ’68-99, including qualifying as an alcohol and drug addiction counselor to help parishioners and other Orthodox in the DC area, where he spent 20 years. According to Orthodoxwiki, the Archdiocese went from 6 parishes in ’99 to 34 last year, to which we can now add about an equal number in the Philippines!

The impending arrival of St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn (1860-1915) as a priest-monk to serve Arab Orthodox in North America was announced on page 16 of the NY Times on September 15, 1895.  In true human-interest fashion, the “lede” is buried down in paragraph 11, although the preceding grafs provide interesting Victorian-Era-style information about the Arabs of that time in the City, including their “amazing beauties”(!).  I never knew that at that time Syro-Arabs were “of course nearly all … Christians,” nor that they were considered “the mainstays of industry and commerce there, as well as of agriculture,” nor that at that time the Islamization of Syria and vicinity was foreseen rather than a long-accomplished fact.

St. Raphael went on to become the first Orthodox Bishop consecrated in the Western Hemisphere, Titular Bishop of Brooklyn, NY, auxiliary to the Ruling Hierarch of North America (part of the Patriarchate of Moscow), and head of the Diocese’s “Syro-Arab Mission,” its ministry to Orthodox Arab-Americans throughout the continent.  He was glorified a Saint by the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) along with the Patriarchate of Antioch in 2000.  His Akathist service proclaims him “Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America,” and quotes his own self-image, “‘Syro-Arab by birth, Greek by education, American by residence, Russian at heart and Slav in soul.'”