Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

,,, and visits Holy Trinity (Greek Orthodox)

I learned during this trip that I am not the only member of my committee annoyed with having meetings on Sunday morning; I think there are at least four of us, but it was a German member who brought it up. Unfortunately even as chairman I am unable to fix it.

Had I had this knowledge earlier I would have tried harder to do for them what I was able to do for myself in New York last January and did again this week -- arranged the working group meetings so that I had some time free (following the early-morning committee chairs' breakfast meeting, which eliminated any possibility of an 8 AM service).

But in any even, I knew I had some time free Sunday to attend a service. The only question was... where? A search for an Anglican church in Salt Lake turned up only an AMiA church 20 minutes' drive from downtown. But for all I might have been willing to overlook their "west-facing" altar, I had no car. There was an Episcopal cathedral a few blocks away, but I was a little put off by the online photo of the woman rector with the woman bishop (so many changes in the quarter-century since I left!), but the absolute killer was the service at 11:30 (too late) and besides, it was "Rite II."

Side note: It is my personal opinion that whoever wrote TEC's Rite II was liturgically stone deaf. I'm not exactly an expert or connoiseur of liturgy; when I left (P)ECUSA I'd been using the '79 for 15 years, though I'd developed a preference for Rite I. It was only after rediscovering the majesty of the 1928 BCP at St. Bartholomew's that I began to realize what we'd almost lost. But this is simply my opinion.
So... what to do? After some broader searching I discovered there was a Greek Orthodox cathedral some four blocks away. I had no particular reason to go except that I've had a Greek Orthodox friend for some years now (he's on the other end of the country, but we exchange notes often) and I was curious. But when were their services? I started searching and found a website. But service times were not prominently posted. The telephone was not answered on weekends. Not very visitor-friendly.

But I persisted and found the "summer schedule" buried in an online copy of a parish newsletter. When I finally discovered this I was already a bit late for "Orthros" (Matins), but no time was given for the "Divine Liturgy." So I went.

First impression: *beautiful* church! And almost nobody there. Mental images: Two men singing in Greek, the priest doing incomprehensible things mostly behind the screen, his prayers often covered up by the singing (I did hear "Kyrie Eleison" frequently), the thurible with 12 bells (no bells on our Anglican thuribles), men in suits bringing things up, even behind the screen, and removing them. Okay. I had little idea what was going on.

But there was a point where it clearly switched to the Divine Liturgy, and I began to recognize the service, for all the order was different and it was half in English and half in Greek. The Creed was in modern English else I suspect it would have been nearly verbatim with ours.

Quite an education in the 24th Article of Religion, " a tongue not understanded of the people." Though the bulletin notes weekly Greek classes and they certainly knew the one prayer said in Greek by all (but me).

It was a beautiful service, if a bit alien to me.

But sadly, at the end I learned the truth of my friend's remark: "We are a very exclusive religion! :)" Not a word to the obvious visitor.

Makes me very happy that we have our Evangelism Group!! The Great Commission lives on here, at least.


  • At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "But sadly, at the end I learned the truth of my friend's remark: "We are a very exclusive religion! :)" Not a word to the obvious visitor."

    As you know, or should know, Bill, we Greeks are the worst people. That's why God gave us the NT in we'd have every possible advantage. Like God's other favorite kids, the Jews, we're spoiled and "stiff necked". In any event, the parishioners were probably too busy making bakalava and cafe to notice a slightly bewildered white guy! :)


  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger Continuing Home said…

    K., my friend, you made me laugh!

    I've never known Greeks to be "stiff necked," even the mother of one young lady I dated for a while. (I didn't pass muster -- I was an engineer "just like [her] husband," though said young lady wound up an engineer married to an engineer -- but husband Rolf was also not Greek.)

  • At 10:38 PM, Blogger David said…

    Okay, I'll share with you the same thing I told my wife, warmth for Greeks means not yelling at you or chasing you out of the church. It they ignored you that meant they liked you. Consider yourself accepted.

    We Orthodox still have a way to go in understanding that to be Orthodox is to be evangelical. The language issue too is something the Orthodox need to get over, it isn't unlike 1929 BCP-ers who don't want to give up Elizabethan English, traditionalism is a stumbling block universally. I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy, I became Orthodox because of the faith first and foremost.In Alaska the little Greek parish is exceptionally warm and faithful. It is ethincaly diverse and the people were sooo friendle. My experience amongst Anglicans has been very positive after the service, during coffee hour. In my little mission parish I am trying to make it more visitor friendly. We don't have a coffee hour but I am hoping we might start one.

  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger Continuing Home said…

    LOL, David! But it sounds like you've landed well there in Alaska.


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