. . . 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.