How on earth do I choose an Orthodox congregation?

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
I apologize if this has already been hashed out but I didn't see the answers I was looking for in another similar thread.
I'm a White American guy of Scots-Irish descent, raised in a non-denominational Christian church. I am interested in exploring the orthodox faith by attending services but there are a dizzying array of choices in my city. Nearly all of them appear to be strongly ethnic, and I imagine they double as social clubs for various immigrant communities. I feel my presence may be intrusive and unwelcome, though I'd probably be treated with a restrained politeness. I don't want to go where I'm not wanted, or be a perennial outsider, or struggle to fit in. I want to join a community that would be happy to have me there. So here are the offerings in my area, which would you advise me to check out?
Romanian
Coptic (tons of these...I gather they are Egyptians?)
Serbian
Greek
Ethiopian

Frankly none of these sound like they would work. I picture something like the classic movie scene where the White guy walks into a black bar and the needle scratches across the record, and everyone turns around to glare at me. If I were forced to choose I guess it would be Greek? But I'm not sure why. Help a brother out!
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
A related but much less important question: I haven't been to church in many years but was raised to always wear a suit and tie to Sunday services. I'm guessing these days people are wearing sweatpants and flip flops judging by what I see around me. What is the typical dress code at orthodox churches?
 

Coja Petrus Uscan

Hummingbird
Gold Member
If you are from Vegas there is a Antiochian church:


Looking at the names of people who uploaded photos to Google Maps, it seems it is a multi-ethnic one. You can use the same to get a handle on the others.

It seems your best bet.

Roosh wrote an article, which contains an overview for people in your situation:


The Russian one is ROCOR. From the uploaded photos it also seems to be multi-ethnic. One is from a clearly Ukrainian name, another Armenian, so I would not be worried of it's ethno-centrism. Looks very conservative.
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
If you are from Vegas there is a Antiochian church:


Looking at the names of people who uploaded photos to Google Maps, it seems it is a multi-ethnic one. You can use the same to get a handle on the others.

It seems your best bet.

Roosh wrote an article, which contains an overview for people in your situation:


The Russian one is ROCOR. From the uploaded photos it also seems to be multi-ethnic. One is from a clearly Ukrainian name, another Armenian, so I would not be worried of it's ethno-centrism. Looks very conservative.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I read that article but sadly my metro area doesn't have any of the recommended churches. The closest it comes is greek which is advised against. The last thing I'd want to do is get involved with an organization that can't resist globohomo. Even Southern Baptists are too liberal for my tastes, which is why I'm searching in unfamiliar territory.

I lived in Vegas at one time but not anymore. Looks like I'm pretty much hosed. Guess I'll just continue reading the KJV bible on my own time.
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
If you are from Vegas there is a Antiochian church:


Looking at the names of people who uploaded photos to Google Maps, it seems it is a multi-ethnic one. You can use the same to get a handle on the others.

It seems your best bet.

Roosh wrote an article, which contains an overview for people in your situation:


The Russian one is ROCOR. From the uploaded photos it also seems to be multi-ethnic. One is from a clearly Ukrainian name, another Armenian, so I would not be worried of it's ethno-centrism. Looks very conservative.
Interesting, I just found one ROCOR church in my metro area but it says it meets on a bi-monthly basis at one of the Serbian orthodox churches. Maybe they share a space with them? I guess I should check that one out.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
It couldn't hurt to check out the Greek and Serbian parishes. Although GOARCH has issues there are plenty of good parishes and congregations in it. I've heard Serbian churches are great and similar to ROCOR. Ditto for Romanian. I'd suggest reaching out via their websites and asking if they do the liturgy in English or if there are other converts there/the parish makes an effort to make "outsiders" feel at home.

This is one of the challenges for Orthodoxy in the west, many areas don't have many options and those that are there can tend to primarily serve a particular ethnic group. This is less of an issue with Antiochian, OCA, and some ROCOR parishes (like mine) but you might be limited by what's in your area.

You can punch in your zip code on this finder to see all parishes in your area across jurisdictions.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
Thanks, I appreciate it. I read that article but sadly my metro area doesn't have any of the recommended churches. The closest it comes is greek which is advised against. The last thing I'd want to do is get involved with an organization that can't resist globohomo. Even Southern Baptists are too liberal for my tastes, which is why I'm searching in unfamiliar territory.

I lived in Vegas at one time but not anymore. Looks like I'm pretty much hosed. Guess I'll just continue reading the KJV bible on my own time.
Are you sure? Go to the Church diocese web pages instead of Google Maps. The latter may not have smaller missions.
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
It couldn't hurt to check out the Greek and Serbian parishes. Although GOARCH has issues there are plenty of good parishes and congregations in it. I've heard Serbian churches are great and similar to ROCOR. Ditto for Romanian. I'd suggest reaching out via their websites and asking if they do the liturgy in English or if there are other converts there/the parish makes an effort to make "outsiders" feel at home.

This is one of the challenges for Orthodoxy in the west, many areas don't have many options and those that are there can tend to primarily serve a particular ethnic group. This is less of an issue with Antiochian, OCA, and some ROCOR parishes (like mine) but you might be limited by what's in your area.

You can punch in your zip code on this finder to see all parishes in your area across jurisdictions.
Thanks brother, that finder brought up a few that didn't show on Google maps, including an OCA and a ROCOR within driving distance!
 

stugatz

Pelican
I apologize if this has already been hashed out but I didn't see the answers I was looking for in another similar thread.
I'm a White American guy of Scots-Irish descent, raised in a non-denominational Christian church. I am interested in exploring the orthodox faith by attending services but there are a dizzying array of choices in my city. Nearly all of them appear to be strongly ethnic, and I imagine they double as social clubs for various immigrant communities. I feel my presence may be intrusive and unwelcome, though I'd probably be treated with a restrained politeness. I don't want to go where I'm not wanted, or be a perennial outsider, or struggle to fit in. I want to join a community that would be happy to have me there. So here are the offerings in my area, which would you advise me to check out?
Romanian
Coptic (tons of these...I gather they are Egyptians?)
Serbian
Greek
Ethiopian

Frankly none of these sound like they would work. I picture something like the classic movie scene where the White guy walks into a black bar and the needle scratches across the record, and everyone turns around to glare at me. If I were forced to choose I guess it would be Greek? But I'm not sure why. Help a brother out!
I'd say out of all of these, Coptic and Ethiopian would be the most awkward for you. (Not only are you white and neither of them are, but both of those are Oriental Orthodox, which doesn't have communion with the larger Eastern Orthodox churches - although I'd argue that the differences are quite minimal.)

I can tell you that Greek has gotten pretty soft on responses to coronavirus (and powerful people in the church have low-key endorsed BLM and wokeness), although I don't know if there are conservative corners of the church? It's the second biggest one.)

It's really a maze, but worth pursuing if you feel most comfortable with Orthodoxy. I'm not too familiar with Serbian and Romanian.
 
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Coja Petrus Uscan

Hummingbird
Gold Member
reaching out via their websites and asking if they do the liturgy in English or if there are other converts there/the parish makes an effort to make "outsiders" feel at home.

Do you think English liturgy is a sign of a church being one that will be more open to people in general; and ones that are in native languages to be less so?
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Do you think English liturgy is a sign of a church being one that will be more open to people in general; and ones that are in native languages to be less so?

Probably. I bet many parishes that do languages other than English would be friendly to "outsiders," but I doubt they'd make much special effort to accommodate them. Generally, if they do the liturgy in English (or at least partly in English) then there will be other converts there.

If you're a college-age guy with lots of free time and initiative to learn Slavonic or something it may not be an issue, but you'd probably be the exception rather than the rule.
 

get2choppaaa

Pelican
Do you think English liturgy is a sign of a church being one that will be more open to people in general; and ones that are in native languages to be less so?
I used to go to a couple different Greek churches because the clergy was so on point with the sermons and the Bishop was in the Marines.

Now at an Antiochian Church that is in English, which was set up as a convert's church.

So in my experience, yes.
 

Old Order

Chicken
Thanks, I appreciate it. I read that article but sadly my metro area doesn't have any of the recommended churches. The closest it comes is greek which is advised against. The last thing I'd want to do is get involved with an organization that can't resist globohomo. Even Southern Baptists are too liberal for my tastes, which is why I'm searching in unfamiliar territory.

I lived in Vegas at one time but not anymore. Looks like I'm pretty much hosed. Guess I'll just continue reading the KJV bible on my own time.
I grew up in southern baptist churches, but left as they became way too liberal.

I would recommend to try out independent fundamental baptist churches. That's where I'm at right now. They usually only preach out of the KJV Bible since newer translations are twisted by humans. Where there is strong biblical preaching against globohomo agenda, the women all wear dresses (some congregations even strongly discourage the wearing of pants on women), the men dress like men (usually suit and tie), and there is none of that annoying lite rock feel good light show music, but instead good old fashioned hyms, piano, organ. People there tend to have big families and heavily homeschool their children. Above all else, Jesus is exalted as our Lord and Saviour, and the Bible is God's word. I feel like you'd fit right in. But be aware that each congregation is different, you have to find the one that is Biblically centered and conservative, because some go astray. Below is a directory.

 

Sombro

Ostrich
The local Greek Orthodox church holds a Greek Festival every year and seems more than welcome to anyone showing an interest in the church.
For reference, I live in the Southern US.
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
I grew up in southern baptist churches, but left as they became way too liberal.

I would recommend to try out independent fundamental baptist churches. That's where I'm at right now. They usually only preach out of the KJV Bible since newer translations are twisted by humans. Where there is strong biblical preaching against globohomo agenda, the women all wear dresses (some congregations even strongly discourage the wearing of pants on women), the men dress like men (usually suit and tie), and there is none of that annoying lite rock feel good light show music, but instead good old fashioned hyms, piano, organ. People there tend to have big families and heavily homeschool their children. Above all else, Jesus is exalted as our Lord and Saviour, and the Bible is God's word. I feel like you'd fit right in. But be aware that each congregation is different, you have to find the one that is Biblically centered and conservative, because some go astray. Below is a directory.

that all sounds very good to me. thanks!
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
No problem, I wish you the best brother, and I have prayed to the Lord that you find a Godly congregation that through the grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, he may use to guide you (and also your own influence on others) to grow strong in the faith.
I want to thank you again brother, using the online locator I found one of these churches just ten minutes from my house, where the nearest acceptable orthodox denomination is over an hour away. From the website, it looks like exactly what I'm looking for. Other churches I looked at had obvious signs of globohomo within seconds of looking over their site. One had rainbow flags. Another had what looked like a rock band on the stage. And another had a black guy who looked like a rapper dressed for the night club as their youth pastor, in charge of guiding a bunch of young children. I was about to give up on the idea of attending church. But this one looks legit and I am really looking forward to trying it out. Pretty sure I'll go this next Sunday. Cheers.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
While I wouldn't bother responding to this if it was in "Faith General," you posted your fundamentalist baptist advertisement in the Orthodox subforum, so here's an Orthodox response.

The problem is that the KJV-only, IFB movement is built on flawed foundations and the KJV has various flaws like other protestant Bibles: among other problems being that it uses the flawed Masoretic Hebrew text of circa 1000 AD that was redacted centuries later by Jews who rejected Jesus, rather than the Septuagint used by the Early Church and Church Fathers, with copies dating back to about the 4th century, which preserves the content of the original text and predates these changes. And I'm someone who loves the KJV and uses it as my primary Bible for reading at home. I'm just not under any illusion that it's perfect.

Although IFB type churches tend to be good on socially conservative values and contemporary issues like race and covid, the problem is that this doesn't make the theology or ecclesiology correct. These tend to be insular congregations that are, at best, a loose confederation of similarly-reactionary churches, and often have no real connection to other churches at all, nor shared theology (if you get a bunch of IFBs together in a room, get ready to hear all sorts of opinions on eschatology, tithing, ecclesiology, predestination, soteriology, evolution, and various other theological issues.) There is no precedent for such a model in the early church or Christian history.

They tend to rise and fall with the charismatic pastor, who occupies the center of attention in a way that is quite alien to Orthodoxy. So Jim Bob's Bible Church seems great at the time, but what happens when Pastor Jim Bob has an affair? Gets deposed by the music minister who's Starscream in a suit and tie? When financial controversy happens? Or, he just dies? Usually these churches are thrown into chaos because the whole edifice is built upon the pastor (or "the Bible", which is unfortunately often just a smokescreen for "the pastor's authoritative personal interpretation of the Bible, screw whatever Christians thought Scripture meant for the first 1,500 years".) I have seen this happen several times in my own churchgoing experience, and the deep instability of fundamentalist style churches made them not particularly feasible even before I found Orthodoxy. I don't want to have to try to explain to my children that we change churches every three years because of ridiculous internal drama or theological compromise as part of a fractured, non-holy, insular church that is not found in the Nicene Creed.

What's great about the Orthodox Church is that the Church is not built around a slick preacher and 16th-century theological novelties, but 2,000 years of Church fathers and saints who have guarded the faith and interpretation of Scriptures. This lends Orthodoxy a resiliency and connection to the "great cloud of witnesses" preceding us that fundamentalist churches simply cannot match. On top of that, efficacious sacraments such as confession, fasting, and the Eucharist are of tremendous spiritual benefit but nonexistent in fundamentalism, as well as structured prayer, intercession of saints, and a general ascetic mindset surrounding the Christian life that provide spiritual direction and clarity far beyond "read your Bible and pray stuff off the top of your head."
 

Slim Whitman

Sparrow
While I wouldn't bother responding to this if it was in "Faith General," you posted your fundamentalist baptist advertisement in the Orthodox subforum, so here's an Orthodox response.

The problem is that the KJV-only, IFB movement is built on flawed foundations and the KJV has various flaws like other protestant Bibles: among other problems being that it uses the flawed Masoretic Hebrew text of circa 1000 AD that was redacted centuries later by Jews who rejected Jesus, rather than the Septuagint used by the Early Church and Church Fathers, with copies dating back to about the 4th century, which preserves the content of the original text and predates these changes. And I'm someone who loves the KJV and uses it as my primary Bible for reading at home. I'm just not under any illusion that it's perfect.

Although IFB type churches tend to be good on socially conservative values and contemporary issues like race and covid, the problem is that this doesn't make the theology or ecclesiology correct. These tend to be insular congregations that are, at best, a loose confederation of similarly-reactionary churches, and often have no real connection to other churches at all, nor shared theology (if you get a bunch of IFBs together in a room, get ready to hear all sorts of opinions on eschatology, tithing, ecclesiology, predestination, soteriology, evolution, and various other theological issues.) There is no precedent for such a model in the early church or Christian history.

They tend to rise and fall with the charismatic pastor, who occupies the center of attention in a way that is quite alien to Orthodoxy. So Jim Bob's Bible Church seems great at the time, but what happens when Pastor Jim Bob has an affair? Gets deposed by the music minister who's Starscream in a suit and tie? When financial controversy happens? Or, he just dies? Usually these churches are thrown into chaos because the whole edifice is built upon the pastor (or "the Bible", which is unfortunately often just a smokescreen for "the pastor's authoritative personal interpretation of the Bible, screw whatever Christians thought Scripture meant for the first 1,500 years".) I have seen this happen several times in my own churchgoing experience, and the deep instability of fundamentalist style churches made them not particularly feasible even before I found Orthodoxy. I don't want to have to try to explain to my children that we change churches every three years because of ridiculous internal drama or theological compromise as part of a fractured, non-holy, insular church that is not found in the Nicene Creed.

What's great about the Orthodox Church is that the Church is not built around a slick preacher and 16th-century theological novelties, but 2,000 years of Church fathers and saints who have guarded the faith and interpretation of Scriptures. This lends Orthodoxy a resiliency and connection to the "great cloud of witnesses" preceding us that fundamentalist churches simply cannot match. On top of that, efficacious sacraments such as confession, fasting, and the Eucharist are of tremendous spiritual benefit but nonexistent in fundamentalism, as well as structured prayer, intercession of saints, and a general ascetic mindset surrounding the Christian life that provide spiritual direction and clarity far beyond "read your Bible and pray stuff off the top of your head."
I appreciate the input. There are some things about Orthodoxy that I find very appealing, and some aspects that give me pause. I will continue to explore both directions and go to a few services of each, pray on the matter, and see what happens. My mind is not made up in either direction yet but the church I found looks great and I'm at least going to give it a shot. As a practical matter, the fact that the nearest American Orthodox church is an hour away means I'm less likely to make it out there every week and build community there. That is far from the only consideration but it's a setback.
 
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