Σάββατο, 23 Ιανουαρίου 2016

How “White” is the Orthodox Church?



Bishop Neofitos Kongai as Bishop of Nyeri- Eastern Kenya with Clerics and orthodox people (from here)


The Modern Monastic Order Of Saint Simon of Cyrene (African-American)
 

Original title: Chronicle of Conversion: Day Three - How “White” is the Orthodox Church?

I am the son and grandson of African-American Baptist Deacons and Deaconesses. I hold the office of Pastor which is a position of power and influence in the black community. And I am about to leave my status and “lane” to go to a “white” church in one of the most white places in Virginia? This doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

However, let’s ask the question: How “white” is the Orthodox Church? Granted, I doubt if one will hear the singing of the Mississippi Mass Choir or the preaching of Gardner Taylor in the church I am heading to. But, a close investigation will show that the Orthodox Church is a very non-white “White” Church.

Firstly, for a church to be truly “white,” it must be some form of Anglo-Saxon Protestant preferably with some sort of contemporary worship style. The Orthodox Church is predominately Slavic and worships with a liturgy that is older than the Bible its self. Mix in the Greeks, Lebanese, and Syrians (yes, there are still Christians from and in that part of the world) and Orthodoxy is a bit to exotic to be a truly “white” church.



Hanging with my good brothers John Norman and
Orlando Greenhill at the 2013 St. Moses Conference


What sort of “white” church would be named after black people? You will never see “St. Moses of Ethiopia Southern Baptist Church.” But, there is St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church (OCA) just outside of Richmond, St. Mary of Egypt Serbian Orthodox Church in Kansas City, and churches of all jurisdictions named after Sts Athanasius, Anthony, and some other saints from Africa. Even when the icons of these saints are shown to have pale skin, there is no question of their continent of origin. Many Orthodox believers admit that they were of some level or another of black origin and that the early church accepted members and leaders of all races (Acts 13:1).

Not only are there Orthodox Churches named after black people, believers venerate their images. This includes bowing down to and kissing their icons. In the popular “Jordanville Prayer Book” (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) there are the prayers of St. Macarius. These “white” people pray the prayers of a black man as they do prayers of any other saint. Can you name a “black” Protestant church that does these things, much less a “white” one? 


St. Makarios the Great of Egypt

Am I saying there are no racist and prejudiced attitudes among Orthodox Christians? Certainly not. Every church, including the black church, has it’s share of bigotry. I know of stories where hyper ethnic congregations have been very cold to black inquirers (before 1987, there were whites who were met with unfriendly stares when they entered these churches as well). But, the Orthodox Churches I have visited have been very welcoming to African-Americans as they have not forgotten their church’s African heritage. So, I am going to join a predominately white church that is partially mine to begin with. That is not selling out. That is reclaiming a part of my heritage.

Yeah, I (and later, prayerfully, my wife) will be the only African-American member at St. Basil Antiochian in Poquoson. But, I feel at home among this hodge-podge of Arabs, Eastern European, Ethiopians, and white people. Who knows, maybe I can influence a few more of “us” to (at least) take a serious look at the ancient faith. In heaven, there will be a great gathering of people from every nation, language, and race. It may be a good idea to learn to worship with each other now so that it won’t be a major adjustment later.

From here

When I was still at Trinity Baptist Church, someone who was concerned about my talking about Orthodoxy from the pulpit asked, “Where is all of this leading?” I didn’t know then. I still don’t know now. But, St. Cyprian of Carthage let God lead him in hiding during persecution to keep the Church encouraged and to his martyrdom as he encouraged his executor to behead him. Before him, were Perpetua and Felicity who were martyred in that great city. And before them were Neokorus (a Carthaginian who served in the Roman army in Judea) and his grandson Callistratus, the later was martyred as he was discovered praying ceaselessly to Jesus and refused to worship any pagan god. And among those who taught Neokorus (who was a witness to the death and resurrection of our Lord) may have been the Apostle Thomas who told the disciples as Jesus was to lead them back across the Jordan to see the dead Lazarus, “Let us go with him and die” (John 11:16). I guess I am going to die to something so that I can live to something greater.


A Greek icon of St. Callistratus (from here)

See also


The Heresy of Racism
African-American Orthodoxy — Eight principal areas of convergence between African spirituality and Ancient Christianity 

In Search of Orthodoxy (tag)
More African Americans Turning to Orthodoxy


Hymn to the African saints

Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa
Moses the Ethiopian, the Black Saint & Teacher (& other Ethiopian saints in the Orthodox Church)
The Brotherhood of St Moses the Black
 

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου