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OCA - Russian Church?


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#1 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 06:14 AM

An aside: what is the reason that some OCA posters are describing their Church as "Russian Orthodox"? Is there a movement afoot to annul the autocephaly and return to the Russian Church? Perhaps to faciliate the union of the OCA and the Russian Church Abroad in the States?

#2 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 06:42 AM

I have no idea, I just put in that my flavor is OCA, I think the message board assigns the fuller version of the name.

My particular parish has a former Baptist Priest, former Uniate Deacon, former Lutheran Reader, Serbs, Romanians, a couple of Greeks (the Greek Church nearby is bursting so a few come to our service), some genuine Aleuts, and a mess of unidentifiable Anglo-American stock.

I don't think there's a single person of Russian decent. I'd never thought about that until now. Our priest is a wonderful combination of a patient grandfather and therapist with an opinion. He knows just how to make me hard on myself so that he can remain gentle. This is good medicine for me.

#3 Ryan

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 01:40 PM

For some reason there isn't a plain OCA label as an option- it assumes OCA are Russian Orthodox, I suppose because OCA is in the Russian tradition (generally). But of course there are also the Albanian, Romanian, and Bulgarian dioceses in the OCA. The parish I attend have many converts, including the priest. And the OCA, at its foundation, had hoped to be the jurisdiction for all Orthodox in America.

#4 Joel Grigsby

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 05:18 AM

For some reason there isn't a plain OCA label as an option- it assumes OCA are Russian Orthodox, I suppose because OCA is in the Russian tradition (generally). But of course there are also the Albanian, Romanian, and Bulgarian dioceses in the OCA. The parish I attend have many converts, including the priest. And the OCA, at its foundation, had hoped to be the jurisdiction for all Orthodox in America.


Yep. Folks, fix the sign in sheet. This is like asking, "Have you stopped beating your wife?", or "Where do you fit in the diaspora?" I am OCA because as a 57 year old American hillbilly, I became Orthodox in a parish with a former Anglican priest, 10% Greek, 10% Romanian, assorted Lebanese, Syrian, Serbian, Russian, and Georgian cradles along with 1/2 of the parish as pure American converts like me. How about this as an alternative,"Americans who happen to be Orthodox," or simply "Orthodox"?

Joel

#5 Christopher Grant

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 04:53 PM

Given that the OCA came out of the Russian church, and generally uses the Slavic practice, I have no objections to being referred to as Russian Orthodox (OCA). I don't think it belittles the independence of the OCA or that it implies that it's an immigrant church. I can hope that some day we'll reach the point where all American Orthodox are simply American Orthodox Christians, but remembering that our church originally came from Moscow doesn't diminish this in my mind.

#6 Joel Grigsby

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 01:56 AM

Christopher,
I do not doubt nor belittle your sincerity that you have no objections about being labeled Russian since the OCA came out of the Russian tradition. Likewise, I actually prefer Rusian music to Byzantine in most cases. But, so what? The more important information here is that the OCA came out... Came out of where? Came out of ...? Came out to...? Came out, ...period. The Tomos was issue in 1970, so the OCA came out 38 years ago; older than my children are, and I have grandchildren 12 years old. I was not involved with the OCA 38 years ago, nor 28 years ago nor 18 years ago, nor 8 years ago. I am not now nor have I ever been associated with the Church of Russia. I am, however, Orthodox.

Joel Grigsby

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 06:44 PM

Recognizing that I am one of the "guilty parties" I would like to suggest that we return to the purpose of this discussion - the possibility/desirability of classifying the OCA as a "Russian Church" in the system.

Fr David Moer

#8 Christopher Grant

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:18 PM

It sounds like most of the people who've spoken out on this topic feel that the Russian label is divisive and offensive. I suppose the question to ask then would be, does it serve any useful purpose on this forum? If not, then for the sake of peace and brotherly love it might be a good idea to change it. If it does serve a purpose, then perhaps all that is needed is a simple explanation of why the OCA is labeled as Russian and why this serves a useful purpose in this forum.

#9 Mary

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:54 PM

I'm not offended by the connection. Neither do I see that it serves any good purpose. It might, however cause confusion. Because, there's nothing Russian about the OCA. I am orthodox because of other American converts. I never met a single Russian or Greek Orthodox person before converting. I do, however, like all the connections. After all, we are all One Body. It's nice to see how we're related. Sort of like a family tree thing. It's interesting. But, not necessary.

So, I think it'll be a good idea to at least, remove the Russian connection on the labels. The 'russian' attached to my 'label' is misleading, because, I'm not Russian (and don't want to be), and none of our services are in Slavonic (and I'm thankful it's not). Also, our members are very American - a little bit of everything - some are Russian, some are Greek, some are Romanian, some are white, some are black, some are Chinese, and some are Indian, and some are mixed. And that's pure American! =)

We could remove All descriptive labels and just have 'orthodox' as option. But then, it's kinda nice to see the various names too, because our differences are just as attractive. Sort of like a rainbow, distinct colors, forming one beautiful thing. I think, OCA, has it's own spot in the rainbow. And it's good to recognize that.

(Shows that you're not color blind!) =)

in Christ,
Mary.

#10 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:07 PM

I'd love to have "American Orthodox (OCA)", but isn't this equally problematic?
There seems to me to be a technical matter verses a practical matter.

Technically, we aren't Russian (as I mentioned, to my knowledge no Russian by ethnic or ecclesial heritage is in my parish... put together with the autocephelous declaration it feels odd to say "Russian"). However, practically, we favor Russian musical styles, predominantly venerate Russian saints and honor Russian Patriarchs in our liturgies. I'd even say there is a Russian "attitude or culture" which feels very distinctly different than the Antiochian and Greek parishes I've visited.

However, ROCOR is every bit as "American" it seems as we are. Certainly the Antiochians I've visited seem even more culturally American, the music was almost nostalgically Southern Gospel in it's style.

This is an interesting topic indeed, not just for this board but also in how I think of myself, my parish and my new heritage. I'd like to think I'm more balanced than this, but my sentiments don't bend to Athos or Constantiople, but Kiev and Moscow.

I'm probably just a closet Slavophile (and in danger of becoming an "Onion Dome News" parody of myself).

#11 Joel Grigsby

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 04:03 AM

  • [Certainly the Antiochians I've visited seem even more culturally American, the music was almost nostalgically Southern Gospel in it's style.
  • Uhhhhh, no.

OK, OK, I am OCA, so I'm Orthodox, but not Russian. I am a convert originally from East Tennessee, Orthodixie country. I am an American.


But, you know, everybody nowdays wants to be something , something special. It's not enough to be an American anymore. You have to be German-American, or African-American, or Japanese-American. My ancestors have been rooting in the hills of America so long (about 260 years more or less) it's impossible to tell what kind of foreign American I am anymore. I just have to say I'm an American. And if that doesn't provide enough description for today's ethnic sensitivities, then I will volunteer that I am a hillbilly-American for that is truly the appelation most truly descriptive of my secular identity.


Now let's translate, shall we, from secular to Orthodox? The question is, is everybody who is a member of the OCA, Russian, as is dictated by the sign-in sheet for this forum wherein "OCA" is always "Russian." As I have tried to exhibit at least twice before in this thread, OCA does not equal Russian. Others have also testified so. Read above. From my own observation, and I shall repeat, in my OCA parish of about 50 regulars we have:
Greeks (not Russians)
Romanians (not Russians)
Serbs (not Russians)
Georgians (definitely not Russians)
Russians (yeah, OK, Russians, 1 Baba, 1 Mom and 4 kids with an American Dad)
Lebanonese (not Russians)
an occassional Ethiopian and OO (not Russians)
and the remainder (including 2 priests, 1 deacon and families and yours truly-about 1/2 the parish) from the homogeneous American sludge.

For clarity, I request the OCA designation be disengaged from the moniker "Russian," and allowed to stand on its own " Orthodox Church in America."

If the powers that be herein have to have a hyphenated -Orthodox to sufficiently categorize the contributors to this forum, then for me I require "OCA, Hillbilly-Orthodox" for me and suggest you provide sufficient fill-in-the-blank space for all the others out there who might need more room than I.

Joel Grigsby



#12 Michael Stickles

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 02:21 PM

Back to the original question regarding the way the OCA is listed under church affiliation on the forum...

It might be useful to remember the way all the other Orthodox jurisdictions are listed in the selection list:

Orthodox
Russian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox (MP)
Russian Orthodox (ROCOR)
Russian Orthodox (OCA)
Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox (USA)
Greek Orthodox (Greece)
Greek Orthodox (EP)
Romanian Orthodox
Serbian Orthodox
Antiochian Orthodox
Antiochian Orthodox (USA)
Oriental Orthodox
(continues...)


It seems to me that the OCA was listed the way it was in order to best fit into the classification scheme used here. To just call it "Orthodox Church in America" doesn't fit the scheme, and while "American Orthodox" does have some meaning, I don't think it yet has meaning in the same technical sense that "Russian Orthodox", "Greek Orthodox", etc., do. I frankly can't think of any other good monikers for OCA, so what we've already got seems the best option, at least to me.

I agree with D.W. - it's a technical matter, not a practical one.

In Christ,
Michael

#13 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 05:39 PM


If the powers that be herein have to have a hyphenated -Orthodox to sufficiently categorize the contributors to this forum, then for me I require "OCA, Hillbilly-Orthodox" for me and suggest you provide sufficient fill-in-the-blank space for all the others out there who might need more room than I.

Joel Grigsby


Joel, as per your request, I'll think of you as Hillbilly-Orthodox despite the limitations of the message board. How could I deny you such a request? I guess that'd make me Geek-Orthodox (not Greek, but Geek) given my high tech job and hobbies.

#14 Michael Stickles

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 06:20 PM

I guess that'd make me Geek-Orthodox (not Greek, but Geek) given my high tech job and hobbies.


That'd fit me too. Hey, if there are enough of us Geek-Orthodox on the forum, do you think Matthew might add it as an option under "Religious Affiliation"? :D

#15 Mary

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:55 AM

Back to the original question regarding the way the OCA is listed under church affiliation on the forum...

It might be useful to remember the way all the other Orthodox jurisdictions are listed in the selection list:

Russian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox (MP)
Russian Orthodox (ROCOR)
Russian Orthodox (OCA)

It seems to me that the OCA was listed the way it was in order to best fit into the classification scheme used here. To just call it "Orthodox Church in America" doesn't fit the scheme,

I agree with D.W. - it's a technical matter, not a practical one.

In Christ,
Michael


If, there is some kind of order or scheme in this classification, then, does it mean that the MP and the ROCOR also have autocephaly, as the OCA does? If not, then, classifying OCA in the same way as MP and ROCOR, doesn't fit the scheme anyway.

Sorry. Just being nit picky (or technical....) :rolleyes:

in Christ,
Mary.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:19 AM

If, there is some kind of order or scheme in this classification, then, does it mean that the MP and the ROCOR also have autocephaly, as the OCA does? If not, then, classifying OCA in the same way as MP and ROCOR, doesn't fit the scheme anyway.


Well the Moscow Patriarchate is certainly an autocephalus Church - if not then the OCA would have a very weak arguement for being autocephalus itself (since it received autocephaly from Moscow) and ROCOR is an autonomous part of the the MP and so is also self governing but maintains ties to the mother Church. (Kind of like the MP is Great Britain and the OCA is the US and ROCOR is Canada - so the analogue would be English (Great Britain); English (USA); English (Canada).

Fr David Moser

#17 Mary

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 08:02 PM

Kind of like the MP is Great Britain and the OCA is the US and ROCOR is Canada - so the analogue would be English (Great Britain); English (USA); English (Canada).

Fr David Moser


I get it!!! Thank you, Fr David! =)

#18 Joel Grigsby

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:20 AM

Father, bless.

Father David, that was a wonderful and illuminating analogy, for what it was. It is an explanation and clarification of historical nationhood and cultural background which will definitely assist in understanding the current milleau.

I really thought that my "Hillbilly-Orthodox" identification in my last post, above, was so over the top as to be obviously a farce, a hyperbole to make the real point underneath. Apparently, I misfired. I misjudged the target and did not carry the point. I apologize.

I have been chastised by one of my own OCA priests who thought I was showing shame at my Russian heritage within Orthodoxy. That is farthest from the truth, and again, I apologize.

My point was that Americans tend to be ignorant of Orthodoxy. When asked by someone about what church I belong to, and I respond, "Orthodox." I am invariably questioned further with, "What kind of Orthodox?" Americans do not understand Orthodox; they only understand some nationalistic identification which by the way includes religion on the side. "Greek Orthodox" to most Americans is the institution of religion in which all Greeks are enrolled at birth so they will not have to deal with real religious questions ever thereafter in their lives. Dotto for Russian-Orthodox, Serbian-Orthodox, Romanian-Orthodox and fill-in-the-blank-Orthodox. To most Americans, Orthodox has no stand-alone value; its only credence derives from the nationality preceding it. Thus Russian Orthodoxy is a function of being Russian. Since it is a Russian thing for Russians only it has no import for Americans of non-Russian ancestry.

The happy coincidence that Orthodoxy happens to possess the fullness of the Christian Faith given directly by God to the Apostles and passed uninterupted to us is never given a chance to surface because of the nationality focus. Americans need to hear that Orthodox Christians are Christians, and moreover, Christians with the pearl of great price that they need to "come and see." Americans will never hear "...Christians with the fullness of the faith...," if they cannot get beyond "Greek..." (or some other nationality that sounds like the esoteric foreign enclave we include only so we can brag about diversity in our schools).

In America, at least, let's get over the nationalities, please, shall we? Let's be relevant to the lives of people in America who need Christ. Let's be Orthodox.

Pray for me, a sinner.

Joel Grigsby

#19 Ryan

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:30 AM

I think I'll start my own breakaway jurisdiction, "The Genuine and Apostolic Chinese-Japanese-Irish Orthodox Church of North America".

#20 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 06:00 AM

Perhaps I missed it, but has anyone mentioned (or noticed) that the options in the selection list have, in fact, changed?

Herman




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