Where do I start as an Orthodox Inquirer?

Dr. Ransom

Chicken
Orthodox Inquirer
I've been looking into Orthodoxy and although I enjoy Father Sypiridons channel, I thought I should probably go to a church, but am not sure if that is right given my little experience with Orthodoxy.
Should I read more on it before I go to a church? And does anyone know of solid ROCOR churches in North Carolina? I've heard something about a romanian one in Hickory, but would like to be able to talk to a priest in English.
Also is it okay as an inquirer to ask a priest for more knowledge about Orthodoxy, or is that rude?
I'm from a southern Baptist background and don't know how to start.
 

Pointy Elbows

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Understand your dilemma very well. Just go, be prepared for a very different experience, and take it one liturgy at a time. They may seem standoff-ish at first, but take it in stride. There are no "alter calls," smiley meet-and-greets, or tearful testimonies. There will also be no skinny-jean pastors, immodest singers, and rock bands. But if you go for a whole liturgical season, like me, you may be hooked.

I don't know much about NC EO churches, but as a rule you are well-served by a based EE Priest/Parish. They will speak English and they will be happy to talk with you. There may be some old-language things thrown in, but they are never sacrilege. It may seem somewhat distant to a Southern Baptist background, but that is part of the stoicism heritage of EO faith. Quietly, and to themselves, everyone in the church is cheering you on! Have faith, they are happy you are there.

Mountaineer is right. In EO faith/liturgy, the Priest's job is to lead the faithful in worship of the Trinity. The purpose of the liturgy is to worship God. This is why the Priest will often "turn his back" to the congregation (actually, he is turning towards God and thereby leading the faithful).

I would be shocked, in the US, if a Priest does NOT speak English. Part of the heritage of EO is that we always bring the faith to the locals in their own language. It was a Russian Priest that first codified Aleutian and Alaskan language - for purpose of spreading the Gospel. "Church Slavonic" was a generic Slavic language designed to deliver the faith to such people in an understandable way. Bottom line - any Priest in the US should well speak (maybe accented) English, as you are the primary person he is here to bring to the faith.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
When you get the chance go to the Liturgy. The devil will give you lots of suggestions and ideas as to why you should not go, some of which seem innocuous (such as "let me just read a few more books"), he will also try to put actual obstacles in your way. Ignore all these excuses and just go. No reading will fully prepare you and God's help can overcome all obstacles. You don't need to delay. When you are there the priest will likely speak to you then you can say you'd like to become a catechumen.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
Psalms (34,8)
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Reading is auxiliary. Just go to church and state your intention to a priest. Ask God there and home in the evening to guide you. In the church you`ll see the difference. There is an America Christian-orthodox priest, former baptist who lives now in Romania, Stephen Holley. He and his wife converted to orthodoxy in America. After a few weeks of following Christian-orthodox liturgy Sundays,his wife said : `You know, all life we`ve been to church. BUT ONLY NOW I FELT WE HAVE BEEN TO CHURCH`. His testimony about converting , here, in a church in Romania, when he still was a deacon. Is funny to watch.

And does anyone know of solid ROCOR churches in North Carolina? I've heard something about a romanian one in Hickory, but would like to be able to talk to a priest in English.
Are you serious ? Many Romanian priests from Romania speak well English because Romanians are talented at foreign languages. In America, Romanian priests are fluent in English. Romanian,also, is by far the closest language of a Christian-orthodox people to English and Romanians are the friendliest of the orthodox nations with people coming from outside.

Is absolutely natural to put questions to the priest where you`ll go. In these days he also has to give you some bibliography.

My advice ? Just go at the Romanian church in Hickory at a holy liturgy Sunday. See how you feel and talk to the priest. Of course you can check other orthodox parishes too. After that, you could come here and let us know.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
I would say just go to church, but know that it is going to be dramatically different than what you're used to. I was almost fortunate in that I basically never went to church before looking into Orthodoxy, so things like the entire service being about worship and not the sermon, with icons all around and incense, didn't seem too strange to me, because I had no idea what church was supposed to be like anyways.

One of the reasons it is a good idea to go to church straight away and talk to the priest is so the priest knows the real you, where you're coming from, where you're starting at, and he doesn't get a false impression of your level of knowledge from reading and re-reading wikipedia level Orthodox ecclesiology and theology.

You can become approximately 0% Orthodox just from reading books, no matter how good those books are, so just go.
 

Knight.of.Logos

Woodpecker
Orthodox Catechumen
A list of ROCOR parishes in NC:


Antiochian parishes might also be worth looking into depending on where you live. I would recommend ROCOR because that is where I go, but I've heard mostly good things about Antiochian.


Get there early and stand towards your back for the first service so you can see what others are doing and follow along. Try to talk to the priest after service, or at least some members of the church. My first liturgy I was just in awe from the experience, though I did not exactly understand what was going on around my symbolically and theologically (it is an ever-going learning process), and I did not talk to anyone after but I returned the next week and did talk. You can always reach out to the priest via email before you eventually talk to him.
 

Dr. Ransom

Chicken
Orthodox Inquirer
There are several rocor churches in nc. I linked this one because you mentioned hickory.
I think that is the one I heard about. Its a bit of a drive but I might as well go up there this sunday. If I wait, I have no doubt I will keep coming up with excuses to put off going.
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I think that is the one I heard about. Its a bit of a drive but I might as well go up there this sunday. If I wait, I have no doubt I will keep coming up with excuses to put off going.
I suggest to watch this series if you haven't already: Orthodox Christianity 101: Finding The Church Jesus Built

For your first Church experience figure out what time the Divine Liturgy is at and plan to arrive at least 15-30 minutes early. If you do this you may have an opportunity to speak with the priest or deacon or maybe even just some worshippers. They are usually friendly and if you introduce yourself as an inquirier they may talk to you and help you out (but don't be discouraged if they mostly ignore you). Often you would sit towards the back of the nave (the main "Church" area where the service takes place) or sometimes off to the side, out of the way. They likely will only have a couple of pews or a few chairs as most folks will stand.

Don't feel obligated to stand or do the sign of the cross etc on your first attendance, just be quiet and respectful. Watch and listen carefully and try to take it all in. If you are lucky they may have a service book or pamphlets you can read in order to follow along with the service. Look by the front/lobby area of the Church (the "narthex") for such things. As I mentioned above don't expect them to bend over backwards or do backflips to welcome or help you right away. It often takes a little while for them to warm up to you and see that you are serious before they make a lot of effort to reach out to you. Not always but plan to attend for at least several weeks or even months consistently before they really take notice and spend some quality time with you. Be assured if you put in the time you will be noticed and rewarded. :)
 
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