Sunday, August 18, 2013


"Lutherans also face a challenge because of the church's central and northern European roots. When many ELCA congregations were planted, Scandinavians and Germans were migrating to the U.S. in droves. Now, Lars and Gretchen have scattered and neighborhoods have become more ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, churches are still catering to their charter members."

I just read this story about membership decline in ELCA and thought, "Hmmm.  Part of this applies to the Orthodox."  Certainly, the ELCA has other much more serious problems than ethnicity, but it is clear to some Lutherans, at least, that their ethnic focus is a problem.

Last week for vespers of the Dormition of the Theotokos I visited the magnificent Ascension Cathedral in Oakland.  Except for one litany and the Trisagion prayers every word was in Greek.  And who was in attendance?  Five chanters, one priest, one deacon, and nine other worshipers.  And, shockingly, because Oakland is a famously predominately black city, not one black person.  Now, having said that, several people talked to me and welcomed me.  The people I met there were very friendly.  But who goes to the Orthodox Church to make friends?  Anyone who visits a service of the Orthodox Church is looking for God. Why hide Him behind a wall of language? 

And I don't mean to pick on the Greeks.  The same problem occurs in the OCA.  In Berkeley the OCA parish, St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church does all the services in Slavonic.  Slavonic!  It isn't even a real language!  It's the Orthodox equivalent of Esperanto

Who puts a light under a bushel?  The Orthodox, that's who.

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