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”

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

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USA OF MY HEART

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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”