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Lay chaplains?

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#21 Rick H.

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 01:10 PM

. . . we have to translate, "Church Approved/Official Representative" into something the community/government understands.

DW--Thanks for the response. Yes, the practical. You make a good point about the lack of clergy in a church that seems to be primarily a church "for" the people, from above, as opposed to a church "of" the people, from below. Although, when I read the scriptures, I see the local church as both a church "of" the people and "for" the people, possibly, this is a moot point here that we are discussing all things considered. Somewhat like the response in the Scriptures to the man whose own house is in disorder, is dysfunctional, and who desires to minister from a position in the church, as I think about it now, possibly this is why outreach in Orthodoxy is like motorcycle doors and in reality this is a moot discussion at this point in time and history.

Possibly, as Father Raphael said about multiple jurisdictions in the 'American Orthodoxy I' thread:

As someone wisely said: administrative and official recognition can only follow the recognition which the people have already achieved as members of the One Church.

. . . this is the answer as well here as it relates to the topic of chaplains in Orthodoxy.

I have found that on subjects such as this one, different priests and lay folks have different views on this topic. And, it occurs to me now that anyone who has a priest or a spiritual father who feels negatively about this topic will be directed and guided based on this one point of view of that particular priest or spiritual father.

Think about this please, ironically, as it relates to personal spiritual direction on this matter, as it relates to those who feel there should be no Orthodox Church members ministering in this way, there will be no personal spiritual direction, because if a priest or spiritual father has a negative view on this topic he will share it will all who ask. In this sense, ironically, there is a "one-size-fits-all" approach to direction/guidence to be found in Orthodoxy.

And, you know DW, as I consider the dilemma that you have presented about not having enough preists/clergy in the local churches in relation to the first post in this thread by David about what is lacking, or a void that he feels called to fill in a way that could be considered outreach, again the words of Father Raphael above seem to ring true.

I wonder what we will say on that day, if there is any conversation, when we are asked by the Lord Jesus Christ why we, why you, why I, were only parrots of the problems. Or, in the case of those who are called to the ministry of Christ in a way as David appears to be . . . why we did not follow the inner compulsion that seemed so clear.

But, this kind of speculating and theorizing only leads to anxiety and unrest doesn't it? Or, does it? The more I consider this in light of the words of Father Raphael as it relates to this topic, the more it seems there is a peace that comes into view on the horizon for this and all related topics dealing with outreach in the Orthodox Church in relation to one's own specific role. Ultimately, we are responsible individually for what we do or what we do not do. Right? If a given church is derelict in its duties or is consumed with infighting and power politics this does not excuse us from our direct relationship with God. Or, if we receive spiritual direction on a certain matter as it relates to a topic such as this, and it is based on the personal views of the one giving direction, this does not excuse us, or give us an excuse on that day, as it relates to one's direct and responsible relationship with God. Does it?

On one hand, this speculative thought brings anxiety and an anxiously looking about, but on the other to consider this and understand this in the reality of the situation, where the rubber meets the road, it brings the opposite, a confident conviction, a feeling of security and trust.

Owen has a saying on his profile page:

"Acquire the spirit of serenity and a thousand souls will be saved."

This saying of the saint has a direct bearing here I think.

And, it is possible that some may be thinking at this point, something like, 'I dunno Rick . . . this is all starting to sound a little Protestant to me.' But, as it relates to the way of walking in the Spirit by faith (in a context of division) maybe--'what if'--they don't have everything completely wrong.

In Christ,

#22 David Lemont

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 07:20 AM

Dear Rick,

You are correct I am really not looking for a job, I have always considered us to have holy vocations in the sense that as a janitor, docketing clerk, lawyer, or President we have the great commission laid out in front of us. My motivation is simply to follow the calling we each have as Christians. As far as titles I know they can be useful in how people react to them. When I was a paint salesman the first most important lesson I learned was to do all that I could to distance myself from the title of salesman. Thus I became a Coatings Consultant and much, much more popular. Actually I had several titles I used each in particular situations where I was playing to my audience. I'm not seeking any minor order though if that it going to be what it takes to do this ministry I am willing for the sake of the souls for whom I have much concern. I admire that in the past candidates for priesthood and episcopal office would flee the church to avoid the responsibility.

I have ideas but more importantly am seeking counsel of experienced people to develop a program for the facility. Frankly most people I am going to interact with are not going to be Eastern Orthodox Christians. Label will mean less to them than practical experience in reading scripture, singing hymns, etc. I was not neccesarily planning to be a representative of the Orthodox Church but rather come as a fellow Christian seeking to enrich their lives with one on one contact. This is my cornerstone of my mission.

As Christians we are here to affirm the supreme value of direct sharing, of immediate
encounter — not machine to machine, but person to person, face to face.

Bishop Kallistos [Ware] “The Mystery of the Human Person”

I also like to pursue formal education, perhaps some sort of certificate program to equip me for apologetic, witnessing to my own faith, introducing people to the Holy Trinity, providing support to grieving families, etc. I want personal enrichment that has practical application for the number of days I have left on this earth.

As for a service I planned on relying heavily on Western Rite and continuing Anglican resources. Using western hymnals that are going to be familiar to the older people. Knowing my priest he is pretty easy going when it comes to stuff like this. I am thinking about an opening prayer, hymns (call to worship) prayers, prayer request, scripture reading (gospel reading) a short homily on the Gospel, hymns closing prayer. I had been thinking of using the Antiochian's childrens educational resources like the Icon and gospel lessons. They then could color them and have something to bring back to their rooms to reflect on.

I hope I have provided a bit more infromation to help you understand my rough drafts of ideas.

Edited by Father David Moser, 13 April 2009 - 04:03 AM.
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#23 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 06:44 AM

First, I don't like activism. It's possible to do great work in obedience out of service and duty, it's almost impossible to do it from our own sense of "what needs fixing" in the world. If anything I'm talking about here is agitating or inciting that's something I need to repair (and in general on my activities on the board). I repent and renounce any other end.

Second, I'm not really sure I have a solution. The Church clearly needs more officials and there's no clear model as to how to make more (save thousands of sub-deacons running around, which doesn't really solve the problem of official "non-liturgical" roles of women in the Church ... I am NOT trying to create that controversy either). Those who want to press them canonical "limits" on any aspect of this miss the point. This isn't a question of what's permitted or not, but what is good pastoral policy. What could a Bishop do to feed his flock in the hospital, military, prison, social services, retirement home? How can he identify the gifts of his lay flock and put them to good work? They (the bishops) are already doing this. I'm just contemplating it in this thread.

#24 David Lemont

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 07:43 AM

It would be very sad if the church was helpless to meet the needs of the Great Commission because it would be too difficult in practicality.

#25 Rick H.

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:16 PM

Dear David, Dear DW, and others:

Yes, very good David, praxis, and we are not automatrons! I read something a few years back that really influenced me. It speaks to many conversations here and elsewhere, I think, and I want to share it with you because it is at the heart of all of my comments in this thread. I also think the following speaks directly to program development, David, and activism and solutions, DW:

Community and society are two opposed basic possibilities of human corporate life. The relationship of men to one another is either understood as a real organic life, and this is the nature of community; or it is understood as only an ideal and mechanical formation, and this is the concept of society. Community means a lasting and genuine corporate life, society only a transient and apparent one. Community is to be understood as a living organism, society as a rather mechanical aggregate of the total existing of men, as a man-made institution. In community men are bound together by a natural process; in society they are divided by their very nature. While in community men remain bound together in spite of their divisions, in society they are divided in spite of all their bonds that link them. Communities are original and primordial relationships of life, like marriage, family, or clan. Here man understands himself on the basis of his corporate life. Societies on the other hand are associations made for a purpose. They last only for a time . . .and are formed on the basis of services expected in return, and of personal advantage.
To try to "create," or determine something, as the word is used above by the three fathers, is to be compared to 'society' in the above.

This piece commenting on the writing of Tonnies, really cuts to the chase on different levels . . . not least of which is the ministry centered, 'frenzied activism' that is modeled so often in other non-Orthodox Christian churches. There is no solution in this type of activism, which seems to always be associated with a kind of neurotic mysticism any more than there is in the severely introverted mentality we see in Orthodoxy today. But, in this piece there is a very helpful distinction drawn in terms of mindsets and approaches/methods. But, herein lies the rub, to even attempt to create community, after first understanding the nature of community, at best, results in an artificial recreation

And, let me be clear here David, for what it is worth, your motivation appears to have nothing to do with a "society" and everything to do with a Christian "community." If you want to pursue formal education including a certificate program or other, that's great! As I'm sure DW will attest, often one of the greatest prizes of formal education, regardless of the curriculum is that as opposed to merely filling our heads with knowledge it teaches us how to think and how to understand at times . . . it can be a help to pull some from the automatron mode (much to the chagrin of cults and 'societies'), as well as give sometimes basic understandings of how others think and live. I see that most of the folks you would be dealing with would not be Orthodox, and I will share with you that the job order for the above position I used as an example also is looking for someone who has "Evidence of the ability to work with people of different denominations." It is not a virtue to be an ignoramus as it relates to the way non-Orthodox Christians think and live. So that sounds great that you have the desire to pursue training in this way. And, I don't want to cut this conversation short, but just as you have shared that you are working with your preist on this and you have shared a preliminary order of service, I think you are well on your way, if not "sittin' on ready!" Actually, you are an inspiration to me in your initial approach to this ministry. There seems to be nothing contrived here, but in many ways "deep calling to deep" and an organically occuring process. You do not seem to be expecting anything in return for this, and there seems to be no opportunity to gain in terms of personal advantage here.--yes, very inspiring. You see David, even in my ripe old age today, I am still just niave enough to think that the Holy Spirit still moves in ways that do open doors and influence circumstances and outcomes, as it relates to the Christian who attempts to be obedient to Him. And, as it relates to this, I will share with you that it seems that those who want to run ahead and get excited and manipulate things in order to try to force things to go in a certain direction (viz. a frenzied activism), are the same ones who end up with a short term assignment, or a temporary society, and usually regrets after it has all evaporated. And, this is to be contrasted with the one who understands what it means to be in-step. Or, more specifically, the one who understands the meaning of walking in faith one-step-at-a-time, walking with, or following behind, never out running ahead pointing and asking, "is this it, is that it, etc.,).

So, while we know the value of wise counsel in matters like this, and I'm sure that you can get experienced people to counsel you and help develop a program now and as you go. It seems to me that working under the direction/guidance of your priest you have what you need to get started. And, as you go, as you become familiar with the residents and their backgrounds, this could be a factor in how you could remain true to the mission statement. As you know, the order of service would not have to be set in stone from day one (remembering that 'community' is a living organism). And, I'll share one last thing with you. It was a tough row to hoe, but there was a time in my life when I both worked as a full-time pastor and attended seminary full-time on campus at a school three hours away from my house. Between the classes, the sermon prep, the commuting, the pastoral care, the homework, etc., it was a very busy time. But, you know what? . . . it was a great time of learning and growing in different ways. And, I share this with you because I think, in spite of my schedule and possible lack of wisdom with my physical health, the combination of formal education and practical experience/work of the ministry created a dynamic that was greater than the sum of the individual parts. It seemed that the time of formal education was more fruitful/rich because of the work of the ministry, and vice versa.

So, where some have a thirst for power, but a lack of ambition . . . others are always preparing and planning for something that never happens. But, with the above in mind about one-step-at-a-time, "what if" it is *simply* time to ask your preist for a referral to a local non-denominational school or to a distant learning school? "What if" you share with your priest your thinking that a title could be useful? I wonder if it would take an act of divine intervention from God Himself for your local parish to appoint you as their "Director of Outreach" to assisted living communities or retirement communities, or whatever they are called in your area (I think most do not want to be called nursing homes anymore). "What if" it is time for you to take the first step, or it sounds like you have already taken the first step, so what if it is time for you to take the next right step somewhere in the above. I have found that sometimes God moves slowly with those whom He calls, with those He anoints and He "ordains." But, other times he moves quickly. But, this is for you and your priest to decide. I wonder if you know who the contact is at the facility for this? I wonder if you know who the activities coordinator is at the facility (I really like the idea of the icons as a project and then the icons going back to their rooms with them?

But, you know what David? All talk of mine about titles and sociology and models aside (except for the Ignatian model which shows multiple preists and deacons in the local visible church) . . . it is not lost on me that the community and the model that is being described, by you, sounds very Christian as we consider an historic Orthodox Christian approach. And, as this relates to both Orthodoxy in America and Orthodoxy today, I would like to say thank you personally for your spirit and willingness to be used as a tool in the hand of God. I really hope this comes to fruition, I can almost see the faces of the residents now as they consider what you share with them and as they color their icons. Yes, as the mission statement says: "face to face."

In Christ,

PS: I think it was Mark Twain who said, "Never put off today what you can do the day after tomorrow." I guess this would be at the other end of a continuum with a frenzied activism; but, the question is one of balance as well as obedience, I think.

Edited by Rick H., 13 April 2009 - 01:04 PM.

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