Bringing the Orthodox Faith to the African-American Community – From the OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey

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USA OF MY HEART

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Bringing the Orthodox Faith to the African-American Community

From the OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2016/08/bringing-orthodox-faith-african-american-community/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

“We would love to reach out to African-Americans in our community, but we don’t know how.”

“I don’t know where to begin.”

“I’m afraid we’ll be seen as too white and too exotic.”

“How do we merge the Black church and culture with [fill in Orthodox ethnic group of choice]?”

Sound familiar? Orthodox parishes across the country struggle with outreach to various ethnic groups — wishing to expand the parish’s evangelistic efforts in bringing Holy Orthodoxy to Blacks, Latinos, and Asians — but lacking the knowledge, insights, and tools to do so. With the biggest of hearts and greatest of desires, this area of evangelism … bringing and sharing Orthodoxy with ethnic minority groups … can nevertheless seem daunting enough to persuade many to never even begin the effort.

To address these concerns and provide information, ideas, and tools to train and equip clergy and laity to begin effective outreach to African-Americans, the Diocese’s Commission on Mission and Evangelism sponsored a one-day training workshop called “Bringing the Orthodox Faith to the African-American Community.” Thanks to the gracious hosting of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Manville NJ on Saturday, 16 July 2016, the workshop brought together over 40 people from across two deaneries as well as outside of the diocese to hear and learn from two outstanding speakers on African-American outreach: Father Alexii Altschul (a founder of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black), and Father Deacon Turbo Qualls (the Brotherhood’s Chapter Development coordinator).

Father Deacon Turbo spoke first in the morning, following a Molieben (prayer service) for the “Beginning of Any Good Work.” He addressed a powerful theme: Orthodoxy is not “the White Man’s Religion” and was never imposed on Africans brought to America via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (and, further, that Orthodoxy, unlike virtually all of Western Europe and Western Christianity, was never involved in the evil of such human trafficking). Rather, Orthodoxy is an historic African faith that has had roots in Africa since the time of the Apostles: the Acts of the Apostles notes the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Saint Thomas; and Church Fathers, many of whom lived and were from northern African nations like Libya, Egypt, and Carthage.

Father Alexii spoke in the afternoon about his experiences as a white man married to a black woman, raising a blended family, who ultimately found and embraced the ancient Orthodox Christian Faith. He began “Reconciliation Ministries” (now known as Reconciliation Services, it continues to serve the poor and marginalized of the Troost Avenue neighborhood of Kansas City). He, his late wife, and community started Saint Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, now a parish of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America.

After deliberating further opportunities for mutual discussion and networking, the workshop ended with another Molieben “For the Cessation of Strife” as found in the Great Book of Needs, Volume IV.

Plans are underway for more conferences in this outreach series beginning later this year.

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Fr. David, New York, USA: From Protestant to Orthodox

http://conversionstoorthodoxy.wordpress.com

CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY

Fr. David, New York, USA:

From Protestant to Orthodox

Source:

http://fromprotestanttoorthodox.blogspot.com

FROM PROTESTANT TO ORTHODOX

This will be the only post on this blog, and it’s for the sole purpose of sharing my testimony of how I converted from Evangelical Protestantism to the Eastern Orthodox Church. After the text of the testimony, there are two appendices: the first is a breakdown of the earliest bishops in the Christian Church and their beliefs, and the second is a brief defense addressing from Scripture certain issues Evangelicals have with Orthodoxy. Enjoy.

”If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” II Cor. 5:17

BEGINNINGS

When I talk with people “who knew me when”—during my first twenty years of life as an Evangelical Protestant—I usually am met with a variety of reactions when I tell them that, in the middle of my time at one of the nation’s foremost charismatic universities, I decided to convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some are offended, as though I were rejecting everything I’d been taught to believe as a good Protestant; others react with genuine, open curiosity, since the Orthodox Church is still relatively unknown to many Americans; still others react with dismay, convinced that I’ve traded in biblical, relationship-based Christianity for the rules and regulations of the Pharisees, the exotic “smells and bells” of Orthodoxy’s “foreignness,” and the off-base traditions of men that only serve to take a soul away from a true, unadulterated relationship with Jesus Christ. It is my hope that this essay will help to shed light on the issues that were central to my conversion, as well as provide insight both to those who are thinking about converting to Orthodoxy and to those who have a loved one on the way into (or already in) the Orthodox Church and are concerned for their spiritual well-being. The Orthodox Church has been, for me, the ultimate revelation of what it means to be “in Christ”; my upbringing in Evangelical Protestantism has not only helped me appreciate this now, but was very much preparing me for this all along [1].

My childhood was one of sharp contrasts between my mother’s and father’s homes—they divorced when I was an infant—for while my mother (with whom I spent most of my time growing up) was devoutly religious and marked the Continue reading “Fr. David, New York, USA: From Protestant to Orthodox”

Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915) on the Episcopalians

http://protestantsmetorthodoxy.wordpress.com

PROTESTANTS MET ORTHODOXY

Saint Raphael of Brooklyn on the Episcopalians

Today being the ninety-eighth anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915), here is a pastoral letter he sent out in 1912 regarding relations with the Episcopal Church, mostly likely written on his behalf by Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine. Thanks to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston for posting it today.

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To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was a Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox faith “once and for all delivered to the Saints” (St Jude ver. 3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centres; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox faith, as many prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy — the “Book of Common Prayer” — I wrote a letter as the Bishop and Head of the Syrian Catholic Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly asked. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the Continue reading “Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915) on the Episcopalians”

New York Street may be named in honor of Holy Patriarch Tikhon, Apostle of America (+1925)

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USA OF MY HEART

New York Street may be named in honor

of Holy Patriarch Tikhon, Apostle of America (+1925)

Source:

http://orthochristian.com

http://orthochristian.com/72743.html

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

The Northern Cross Historical Society of Russian Compatriots in the USA has proposed naming a street in New York City after Holy Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin) of Moscow and All Russia (1865-1925), reports ITAR-TASS.

This initiative is supported by Russians and Orthodox Americans living in New York, hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Patriarchal parishes in the USA.

“The petition concerning this will be submitted to the mayor’s office in the next few days, in September it will go through the City Council, and we feel certain that in the coming months we will have a Patriarch Tikhon Street in the city,” said the president of the Northern Cross Society, Yuri Sandulov. It is supposed to extend along East 97th Street from Park Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

According to present New York City municipal laws, at least 20,000 New York citizens must support the renaming of a street.

“There are more than 300,000 Russian-speaking citizens in the city who consider themselves to be children of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, which is a part of the former. Most of them are enthusiastic about the idea of perpetuating the memory of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, who became the first patriarch after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia” in 1918, noted Sandulov.

Patriarch Tikhon’s ministry was closely connected with America: between 1898 and 1907 he was Bishop of North America, Alaska and the Aleutians. Through St. Tikhon’s efforts many Orthodox books were translated into English, and St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York was built (the cathedral is situated on the very part of 97th Street that will probably be named after the patriarch). He also undertook an enormous amount of missionary work—dozens of new churches were open during his time as bishop there.

“Orthodox Christians of America remember that Holy Patriarch Tikhon succeeded in preserving the Church in the circumstances of the most cruel persecutions against the faithful that followed the October revolution in Russia. He was our great compatriot who greatly contributed to the rapprochement between Russia and the USA. It is particularly necessary to remember his spiritual and secular exploits now, when the tension between our countries has increased,” believes the president of the Northern Cross Society.

New York City, August 1, 2014

How to read the Holy Bible? – Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA

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HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY

How to read the Holy Bible?

Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA

Several people have contacted me through email and even in person when I travel around and visit people who listen to Ancient Faith Radio. They ask me about reading the Bible. There’s all kinds of questions that are given to me that I get from people about reading the Bible. Some folks said, “You know, Fr. Tom, you ought to maybe speak on the radio very simply, very directly, offering whatever advice and counsel you would give to people, especially people who are not theologically trained but who are very much participating in Church life and very interested in the Holy Scripture and in the Bible and trying to understand it, if you would give some suggestions, very concrete suggestions, simple, concrete suggestions about Bible reading in the Orthodox tradition, in the Orthodox Church.”

How was the Bible read in the ancient Church? How is it read by the Church Fathers? How is it used in the Liturgy? How should we read it, today, now, in the 21st century? These are the questions that are asked, and so I’m going to just say a few things about that right now.

I would just like to comment, though, that it’s interesting for me, being an old guy, that the very first publication that I ever made in my entire life, way back in 1964, I believe it was… It’s a long time ago. I was a young priest, a very young priest, in my 20s, in Warren, Ohio, in my first parish. We had a deanery there of priests, and we used to publish little booklets. I was assigned to publish a booklet, to produce a booklet called “Reading the Bible.” In that booklet, my task was to convince Orthodox people that we ought to read the Bible, especially if we’re literate; if we’re not literate, we should like to know the Bible, hear the Bible, listen to it, listen to it read, listen to it in church; that the Bible is our book. It’s the book of our covenanted community with God, the Continue reading “How to read the Holy Bible? – Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA”

Fr. James Bernstein, New York, USA: Surprised By Christ – Priest’s Conversion from Judaism to Christianity Documented in New Memoir

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Fr. James Bernstein, New York, USA:

Surprised By Christ

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Priest’s Conversion from Judaism to

Christianity Documented in New Memoir

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2010/04/surprised-by-christ-by-fr-james-bernstein/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

Conciliar Press Ministries is pleased to announce the release of a new spiritual memoir of a man’s conversion from Judaism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Raised in Queens, New York by formerly Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been undermined by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on a quest for the God he instinctively felt was there. He was ready to accept God in whatever form He chose to reveal Himself—and that form turned out to be Christ.

But Bernstein soon perceived discrepancies in the various forms of Protestant belief that surrounded him, and so his quest continued—this time for the true Church. With his Jewish heritage as a foundation, he came to the conclusion that the faith of his forefathers was fully honored and brought to completion only in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Surprised by Christ combines an engrossing memoir of one man’s life in historic situations—from the Six-Day War to the Jesus Movement in Berkeley—with a deeply felt examination of the distinctives of Orthodox theology that make the Orthodox Church the true home not only for Christian Jews, but for all who seek to know God as fully as He may be known.

The Rev. A. James Bernstein was a teenage chess champion whose dramatic conversion experience at the age of 16 led him to Christianity. His spiritual journey has included a number of twists and turn: he was chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College, helped found the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, served as a pastor of an Evangelical Orthodox Church near Silicon Valley, and later became an Eastern Orthodox convert and then priest. He lives with his wife Bonnie outside of Seattle, Washington, where he serves as pastor of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church. Father James is the author of the booklets Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian (Conciliar Press, 1990); Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament (CP, 1994); and Communion: A Family Affair (CP, 1999). He was also a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms (Thomas Nelson, 1993).

Sherie Mercier, USA: Called To Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith

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USA OF MY HEART

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New York, USA

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Michigan, USA

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Called To Orthodoxy

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A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith.

by

Sherie Mercier, Michigan, USA

Where do I begin? I was born and raised in St. Joseph, Michigan, on the shores of SW Lake Michigan – across the lake from Chicago, 61 years ago. My parents were not very religious, in fact, they attended a Methodist church in my hometown. The pastor was a medical doctor and eventually left the active ministry and set up shop as a General Family practitioner. My parents stopped attending church and after that I never remember them ever stepping into a church at all, even to this day. My mother is deceased but my father is still alive and I have never seen him enter a church.

So, eventually, around the age of 7 or so, I went to a Baptist church with my neighbors and continued to do so until my teenage years. I then set out to check different denominations, usually joining them, then leaving because something didn’t “feel right”. Of course, our home town had a huge Roman Catholic following, plus my maternal grandmother had been Roman Catholic herself.

I remember seeing statues of Mary and crucifixes. Our public school in that day followed the Roman Catholic system of meatless Fridays, usually fish sticks or mac and cheese. So, Continue reading “Sherie Mercier, USA: Called To Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith”

Saint Raphael Hawaweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn, New York, USA (+1915) – Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of USA – February 27

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SAINTS OF MY HEART

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Saint Raphael Hawaweeny,

Bishop of Brooklyn, New York, USA (+1915)

Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of USA

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Feast day: February 27

Holy Relics: February 14

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/straphael.htm

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

“He shall be filled with the spirit of understanding; he shall pour forth his words of wisdom and give thanks to the Lord in his prayer” (Sir 39:6).

Our holy Father Raphael was born in Syria in 1860 to pious Orthodox parents, Michael Hawaweeny and his second wife Mariam, the daughter of a priest of Damascus. The exact date of Raphael’s birth is not known, but he estimated it to be on or near his Name Day, the Synaxis of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven (November 8). Due to the violent persecution of Christians, at which time their parish priest, St Joseph of Damascus (July 10) and his companions were martyred, the Hawaweeny family was forced to flee to Beirut for their safety. It was here that the future saint first saw the light of day, and not in the city of his parents. Indeed, as the child’s life unfolded, it was evident that he would have no continuing city in this world, but would seek the city which is to come (Heb 13:14).

On the Feast of Theophany in 1861, he was baptized with the name Rafla, and later that spring the family was able to return to Damascus. The child attended elementary school, where he did very well, but in 1874 it appeared that Michael Hawaweeny would no longer be able to afford his son’s tuition. Fortunately, help came from Deacon Athanasios Atallah (later Metropolitan of Homs), who recommended to Patriarch Hierotheos of Antioch that Rafla be accepted as a student of the Patriarchate in preparation for the priesthood.

He was such a good student that he was selected to be a substitute teaching assistant in 1877. The following year he was appointed as a teacher of Arabic and Turkish. On March 28, 1879 he was tonsured as a monk by Patriarch Hierotheos, and served as His Beatitude’s personal attendant.

Since the Balamand Seminary had been closed in 1840, Patriarch Joachim III of Constantinople invited the Patriarch of Antioch to send at least one Continue reading “Saint Raphael Hawaweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn, New York, USA (+1915) – Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of USA – February 27”

The Homosexual Christian – Fr. Thomas Hopko, USA

http://faithbookorthodoxy.wordpress.com

FAITHBOOK – ORTHODOXY

The Homosexual Christian

Fr. Thomas Hopko, USA

Fr. Thomas Hopko discusses the Orthodox Christian understanding of homosexuality.

Many gay men and lesbians claim that the Christian faith is the guiding rule of their lives. Some of them hold that their sexual orientation is given by God, that it is good, and that there is nothing wrong or sinful with their homosexual activities. These persons say that the Bible and Church Tradition do not condemn homosexual behaviour, but have been misinterpreted and misused, sometimes unknowingly and other times quite willfully, by prejudiced and hostile people who hate homosexuals. Those who believe in this way obviously want others to agree with them, and many are now working hard to have their views accepted, particularly by fellow Christians and Church leaders.

Other homosexual Christians hold that their sexual orientation is not from God – except providentially, since the Lord’s plan inevitably involves human freedom and sin but derives from human fault. While some of these people are not willing or able to identify the specific reasons for their sexual feelings, though still affirming that they are not good and are not to be indulged; others with the help of what they believe to be sound biblical interpretation and accurate psychological analysis, identify the source of their sexual orientation in faults and failures in their family experiences, particularly in early childhood, and perhaps even before that, which contribute to their sexual makeup. These Continue reading “The Homosexual Christian – Fr. Thomas Hopko, USA”

Computer Scientists “Prove” God Exists – David Knight, SPIEGEL

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USA OF MY HEART

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Computer Scientists “Prove” God Exists

by

David Knight, SPIEGEL

 

Two scientists have formalized a theorem regarding the existence of God penned by mathematician Kurt Gödel. But the God angle is somewhat of a red herring — the real step forward is the example it sets of how computers can make scientific progress simpler.

As headlines go, it’s certainly an eye-catching one. “Scientists Prove Existence of God,” German daily Die Welt wrote last week.

But unsurprisingly, there is a rather significant caveat to that claim. In fact, what the researchers in question say they have actually proven is a theorem put forward by renowned Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel — and the real news isn’t about a Supreme Being, but rather what can now be achieved in scientific fields using superior technology.

When Gödel died in 1978, he left behind a tantalizing theory based on principles of modal logic — that a higher being must exist. The details of the mathematics involved in Gödel’s ontological proof are complicated, but in essence the Austrian was arguing that, by definition, God is that for which no greater can be conceived. And while God exists in the understanding of the concept, we could conceive of him as greater if he existed in reality. Therefore, he must exist.

Even at the time, the argument was not exactly a new one. For centuries, many have tried to use this kind of abstract reasoning to prove the possibility or necessity of the existence of God. But the mathematical model composed by Gödel proposed a proof of the idea. Its theorems and axioms — assumptions which cannot be proven — can be expressed as mathematical equations. And that means they can be proven.

Proving God’s Existence with a MacBook

That is where Christoph Benzmüller of Berlin’s Free University and his colleague, Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo of the Technical University in Vienna, come in. Using an ordinary MacBook computer, they have shown that Gödel’s proof was correct — at least on a mathematical level — by way of higher modal logic. Their initial submission on the arXiv.org research article server is called “Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Gödel’s Proof of God’s Existence.”

The fact that formalizing such complicated theorems can be left to computers opens up all kinds of possibilities, Benzmüller told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It’s totally amazing that from this argument led by Gödel, all this stuff can be proven automatically in a few seconds or even less on a standard notebook,” he said.

The name Gödel may not mean much to some, but among scientists he enjoys a reputation similar to the likes of Albert Einstein — who was a close friend. Born in 1906 in what was then Austria-Hungary and is now the Czech city of Brno, Gödel later studied in Vienna before moving to the United States after World War II broke out to work at Princeton, where Einstein was also based. The first version of this ontological proof is from notes dated around 1941, but it was not until the early 1970s, when Gödel feared that he might die, that it first became public.

Now Benzmüller hopes that using such a headline-friendly example can help draw attention to the method. “I didn’t know it would create such a huge public interest but (Gödel’s ontological proof) was definitely a better example than something inaccessible in mathematics or artificial intelligence,” the scientist added. “It’s a very small, crisp thing, because we are just dealing with six axioms in a little theorem. … There might be other things that use similar logic. Can we develop computer systems to check each single step and make sure they are now right?”

“An Ambitious Expressive Logic”

The scientists, who have been working together since the beginning of the year, believe their work could have many practical applications in areas such as artificial intelligence and the verification of software and hardware.

Benzmüller also pointed out that there are many scientists working on similar subject areas. He himself was inspired to tackle the topic by a book entitled “Types, Tableaus and Gödel’s God,” by Melvin Fitting.

The use of computers to reduce the burden on mathematicians is not new, even if it is not welcomed by all in the field. American mathematician Doron Zeilberger has been listing the name Shalosh B. Ekhad on his scientific papers since the 1980s. According to the New York-based Simons Foundation, the name is actually a pseudonym for the computers he uses to help prove theorems in seconds that previously required page after page of mathematical reasoning. Zeilberger says he gave the computer a human-sounding name “to make a statement that computers should get credit where credit is due.” “human-centric bigotry” on the part of mathematicians, he says, has limited progress.

Ultimately, the formalization of Gödel’s ontological proof is unlikely to win over many atheists, nor is it likely to comfort true believers, who might argue the idea of a higher power is one that defies logic by definition. For mathematicians looking for ways to break new ground, however, the news could represent an answer to their prayers.

David Knight, SPIEGEL

Source:

ABC NEWS