Why Americans Need An All-English Liturgy

by Robert Arakaki

In 2007, Christianity Today published an article, “Will the Twenty First Century be the Orthodox Century?“  In it Bradley Nassif argued that Orthodoxy will indeed grow and expand in this coming century.  But in an Again Magazine article, “The Orthodox Christian Opportunity,” Nassif noted although many people are converting to Orthodoxy, significant numbers of these converts are also leaving through the backdoor discouraged and disenchanted.  Much of the reasons for their disenchantment lie not with the Orthodox Faith per se, but with the realities of Orthodox parishes.  Nassif refers to this problem as Orthodoxy’s backdoor.

One of the major obstacles to the twenty first century becoming the Orthodox century is the language barrier.  In many American Orthodox parishes the Sunday Liturgy is either in a foreign language or a mixture of English and non-English.  Orthodox parishes with an all-English Liturgy tend to be in the minority.  This blog posting addresses why we need all-English worship services, what can be done about the present problem of people exiting through the backdoor, and how we can help make the twenty first century the Orthodox century.

The Liturgy as the Front Door

The Liturgy is Orthodoxy’s front door.  It is often the first place where people encounter Orthodoxy.  There they see Orthodoxy in action: people worshiping the Holy Trinity.  The Liturgy is also essential for becoming Orthodox.  One cannot become Orthodox just by reading Orthodox books or visiting Orthodox blogs, one becomes Orthodox through participation in the right worship of the Holy Trinity.

However, people sometimes find Orthodoxy’s front door blocked when they attend a worship service where the Liturgy is done in a foreign language.  Many visitors walk out after hearing nothing but Greek for the first few minutes of the Liturgy.  It can be a painful experience.  Many feel excluded, bewildered, and lost.

Linguistic zigzags — where the priest prays in English and the choir responds in non-English — are not uncommon in many ethnic parishes.  For the unwary worshiper, it is like driving along on a smooth asphalt road then all of a sudden hitting a pothole.  This can lead to a jarring, frustrating, and tiring worship experience.  What should be a meaningful worship encounter with God becomes more like a tutorial in Greek, Slavonic, Serbian, Arabic, etc.  Even several years after becoming Orthodox, many converts find themselves struggling with the Liturgy in a foreign language.  People lose their place in the order of the Liturgy.  It is not realistic to expect all converts to adjust to the Liturgy not being completely in English; some can make the adjustment, but many cannot.  Continuous exposure to the Liturgy in a foreign language does not necessarily make it easier over time.  As a result converts often find the Liturgy more a burden than a delight.  And so converts are becoming frustrated and some are dropping out.  These are not conditions conducive for spiritual growth.

Worship in the vernacular is the long-standing Tradition of Orthodoxy.  This liturgical principle is rooted in the miracle of Pentecost.  On that day the Christians spoke in tongues to a international gathering who were astonished to

“hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  (Acts 2:11, NIV; italics added)

The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of worship engaging our understanding.  He wrote:

“But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (I Corinthians 14:19, NIV)

Orthodox Missionary Practice

The history of Orthodox missions is full of examples of the use of the vernacular.  A prominent example is Saints Kyril and Methodios translating the Liturgy into Slavonic.  Another example is Saint Nicholas of Japan laboring many years to master the Japanese language before translating the Liturgy into Japanese.  A third example is Saint Innocent of Alaska who translated the Gospels into the Aleut language.  Non-vernacular worship — so widespread in America — represents a departure from historic Orthodoxy.  Thus, it is an innovation inconsistent with Holy Tradition.  This innovation arose more from circumstance than deliberate choice.  What was the vernacular for the first generation immigrants later became an incomprehensible language for the second and third generations, and for converts from another ethnic background.  An innovation that arose from inaction requires deliberate action to bring the church back into conformity with Tradition.

Let Us Be Attentive!

The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people.”  But the people can’t do their job of worshiping God effectively if the language is not their own.  We are called to love God with all our mind (Mark 12:30) but worship in a foreign language gets in the way of our being able to worship God intelligently.  Rather than assisting in worship, the non-vernacular hinders us.

One reason why the Liturgy should be entirely in English is Orthodoxy expects its members to be fully attentive in their worship.  On several occasions during the Liturgy, the priest will call out: “Let us be attentive!”  But if peoples’ minds start to drift when the priest switches to Greek (or some other foreign language), they are not really being attentive to the Liturgy.  The problem is not with the worshiper, but the fact most people find it difficult to worship in an unfamiliar language.

Another reason for an all-English Liturgy is the Apostle Paul’s insistence that worship be in a language understandable to the listener.  He wrote:

“Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?  You will just be speaking into the air.” (I Corinthians 14:9, NIV)

The danger here is that the Liturgy will turn into empty worship — something that the Old Testament prophets and Jesus denounced in no uncertain terms:

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9, NIV)

The Liturgy as Catechism

The Liturgy constitutes an ongoing catechism for Orthodox Christians.  It continually reminds us of the fundamental doctrines of Orthodoxy.  When understood, the Liturgy has a profound impact on our faith and worship.  But, is not the Liturgy’s power to shape our thinking weakened by it being sung in an incomprehensible tongue?  A danger of non-vernacular worship is parishioners can become so focused on phonetically reproducing the Liturgy they barely pay attention to the great truths being proclaimed in the Liturgy.  If it is shrouded in language that is not comprehended, then the Liturgy will become an ethnic rite having little power to challenge us to live holy lives for God.

I visited a number of Orthodox services while I was at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, but they were mostly in Greek.  It was not until I came to Berkeley and attended the all-English Liturgy at Saints Kyril and Methodios Bulgarian Orthodox Church that I was able to connect with the Liturgy and that the Liturgy began to reshape my theology and spirituality.  It was the two years of hearing the Liturgy there that laid the foundation for my becoming Orthodox.

In addition to teaching us what the Church believes, the Liturgy also protects us from heresy.  However, if the Liturgy is sung in a language poorly understood, its catechetical function is compromised.  A priest once discovered a parishioner did not really believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary.  He pointed to one of the antiphons which is sung every Sunday, “Only Begotten” (Monogenes), which affirms Mary’s perpetual virginity.  However, the parishioner never got the point because in that parish the antiphon was normally sung in Greek, not in English.  In the long run, a non-comprehended Liturgy makes Orthodoxy vulnerable to heterodoxy and nominalism among the laity, not to mention people dropping out of the Church altogether.  Orthodox laity whose grasp of Orthodox doctrine is weak or hazy will not be able to defend their Orthodox beliefs, nor will they be able to effectively live out their Orthodox convictions.

Ethnic Parishes

Many Orthodox parishes in America today are what can be considered ethnic parishes.  They were founded by immigrants and continue to be under the care of hierarchs in the old country.  The ethnic parish preserves the old country’s culture through the following means: (1) the language used in the Sunday Liturgy, (2) the food served on special occasions, (3) ethnic festivals and holidays, and (4) language classes.  Ethnic parishes tend to diligently celebrate the lives of their ethnic saints while hardly making mention of American Orthodox saints.

Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese observed:

We consider ourselves Americans, and we are proud of it —except when we go to church, we suddenly become Greeks, Russians, Arabs, and Albanians.

(Again Magazine vol. 28 no. 2, p. 5)

Ethnic parishes are an important part of Orthodoxy in America.  It is in large part because of Orthodox immigrants who founded Orthodox parishes that Orthodoxy has such a widespread presence in American society today.  Yet it is not realistic to expect that ethnic parishes are capable of evangelizing America.  Orthodoxy is growing in America, but much of this growth is due to the planting of Orthodox parishes with all-English Liturgies.  Ethnic parishes are not built that way; they are primarily suited to preserving the language, customs, and holidays of the old country.  As such, they are designed for the first generation immigrants and their descendants, but not for American converts.

The term “old country” is not a pejorative term (as some might think) but a term accepted and used by social scientists, especially in the emergent field of postcolonial studies.  Robin Cohen in Global Diasporas: An Introduction described “diasporic communities” as a community who live in one country while acknowledging that the “old country” has some claim on their loyalty and emotions (p. ix) and exerts a powerful influence on their social identity.  Ties between the diasporic community and the “old country” can be especially intense in cases like the Greek-American community.  In the Report to His Eminence ARCHBISHOP IAKOVOS (1990) it was noted that Greek-Americans are understood to be viewed either as an extension of the Greek homeland (homogenia) or as entrants and then participants in American history (p. 22; emphasis added).

Ethnic identity becomes even more complicated and fraught when a diasporic community shares the same social space, e.g., a local church, with Americans for whom the US is the only homeland they know of.  This is what happens when an ethnic parish finds a growing presence of mainstream Americans joining them.  They are confused that people would want to join the parish just because they want to be Orthodox.  Many Americans want to become Orthodox, but very few want to assimilate into an ethnic parish and learn a foreign language and abide by foreign customs of the old country.  To compel others to assimilate into a culture is contrary to the Orthodox tradition of missions and can even lead to cultural imperialism.

Jesus’ parable of the need to pour new wine into new wineskins and the foolishness of pouring new wine into old wineskins (Mark 2:22) applies to the present situation.  Ethnic parishes are not well suited to meet the needs of converts from the outside.  They can handle small numbers of converts, but if the numbers of converts become more than a trickle then the ethnic core can start to feel threatened resulting in a backlash.  They will fear that the new members will undermine the ethnic identity of their parish, especially if the newcomers want more English in the Sunday worship.

There is no question that people have come to Orthodoxy via ethnic parishes, but their numbers are such that the long term impact will be minimal.  If America is to embrace Orthodoxy, this trickle of converts will need to become a broad stream of converts.  Ethnic parishes throw an unnecessary hurdle for non-ethnic for the above reasons.  When it comes to evangelism ethnic parishes are like the eagle which is well suited for soaring in the sky, but unlike the duck is not well suited for life along the lake.  In short, ethnic parishes are not set up for effective evangelism.

If Orthodoxy is to effectively evangelize America, an all-English Liturgy is essential.  Orthodoxy’s future in America depends on the availability of an all-English Liturgy to ordinary Americans.  The vast majority of Americans are monolingual English speakers.  They are not comfortable with worshiping in a foreign language; nor will they be interested in shedding their American identity at the church entrance on Sunday morning.  See my article on the three waves of Orthodoxy in America.

Changing Ethnic Parishes?

Can ethnic parishes be moved towards all-English liturgies?  For the most part, I don’t think so.  I’ve heard priests tell me they are gradually moving towards more English in the Liturgy, but what I have seen has been more of a back and forth movement in which very little change is made in the long run.  Many parish priests are caught in a difficult situation of holding together a diverse parish community.  While they personally may favor an all-English Liturgy, they also need to accommodate the needs and concerns of the longtime members (many of whom contribute substantially to the priest’s salary).  It is a good idea to tell your parish priest you want an all-English Liturgy, but my advice is not to expect much to happen.  Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that ultimately it is the bishop who has the final say over the language used in the parish’s Sunday worship.

There are Orthodox hierarchs who have called for the

“preservation and promotion of our Hellenic ethos and tradition.”

Thus, ethnic Orthodox parishes are more than the result of circumstances, rather they have their roots in the priorities and policies of both local parishes and the hierarchy.  Those of us who desire all-English Liturgies need to respect their understanding of Orthodox missions and work actively with Orthodox jurisdictions that support all-English Liturgies and the evangelization of America.

Pan-Orthodox Parishes?

Pan-Orthodox parishes represent a different kind of missions strategy.  Where there is not a large enough immigrant community to form an ethnic parish, one finds various ethnic groups cobbled together to form a single parish.  In these parishes one can find the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, Slavonic, Serbian, Arabic, as well as English.  The underlying premise of pan-Orthodox parishes seems to be that we should all hold on to the culture and languages of the old country, even though we’re all Americans, and our children are Americans, and most of us have no intention of moving back to the old country.  The problem with pan-Orthodox parishes is they hold little appeal for many Americans.  Pan-Orthodox parishes resemble the synthetic culture of the United Nations than real cultures that people inhabit.  Because the culture of pan-Orthodox parishes are alien to mainstream American society, they are not capable of effective evangelism.

Pan-Orthodox parishes are like ethnic parishes in their retrospective focus on the old country.  They therefore share all the problems mentioned above in regards to ethnic parishes.  People without doubt will join these parishes but in the long run such parishes will exert only a minimal influence on the city or area they live in.

Dual Track Strategy

If we are to bring America to Orthodoxy then we need a dual-track approach.  We need Orthodox parishes with all-English worship services, and we need ethnic Orthodox parishes whose ethos and language reflects that of the old country.

The dual track strategy is as old as the book of Acts.  In the beginning of Acts, we read how multitudes of people converted to Christianity.  But what is often overlooked is the fact that this movement was taking place among the Hebrew speaking Jews of Palestine.  When we come to the sixth chapter, tension was growing between the Hebrew speaking Jews and the Greek speaking Jews.  Communication difficulties led to many Greek speaking widows being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  Unlike the Jews who were fluent in Hebrew, the Hellenistic Jews’ mother tongue was Greek.  The root of the problem lay not in sinful attitudes, but in honest linguistic and cultural differences.  The problem was resolved by the creation of a dual track or bicultural leadership structure.  The Apostles who were ethnically Palestinian Jews appointed Greek speaking Jews to the diaconate.  This is evident by the prevalence of non-Jewish names: Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas (Acts 6:5).  Also noteworthy is the fact that one of them, Nicolas, was a Gentile who converted to Judaism.  The result was that

“the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” (Acts 6:7)

Precedence for the dual track strategy can be found in the Antiochian Archdiocese allowing for both the Byzantine rite and the Western rite.  A parish can elect to use one or the other but not both.  This policy makes much sense and is practical.  It also gives a parish liturgical stability.  I would suggest that each parish be given the option of worshiping either in English or in the language of the old country, but not both.  As noted earlier, mixed language worship is an innovation that has no precedence in the history of Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy can learn something from the experience of the Japanese American churches.  They encouraged their children to learn English, and they gave strong support for English services.  Where the older isseis (first generation) worshiped in Japanese, the younger nisseis (second generation) and sanseis (third generation) met in a separate service to worship in English.  In other words, what looked from the outside like a single parish, was in actuality a dual-track parish.  This missions strategy allowed the Japanese American churches to preserve church unity in the face of inter generational differences and avoid large numbers of youths dropping out for lack of interest.

Under the dual track strategy, the parish will have a main sanctuary for the English-speaking congregation and a side chapel for the ethnic congregation.  This is needed to follow the rubric that only one Eucharist be celebrated per day.  This means that a dual-track Orthodox parish will need to have at least two priests assigned to the parish to celebrate the Eucharist.  This calls for a deliberate longterm missions strategy fully supported by the bishop of that city.   If successful, we will see a network of dozens Orthodox parishes in each major city.  Some parishes will worship in the language of the old country, but the majority of the parishes will worship in English.  In this twenty first century diocese, Orthodoxy’s ethnic diversity is affirmed without any blurring of ethnic identity.  This arrangement will reflect not just America’s growing cultural diversity, but also the catholicity of the Orthodox Church.

People might object that liturgical rubrics call for only one Eucharist to be celebrated in a parish per day and that the dual-track strategy being proposed is contrary to the established rubrics.  My response is that what is being called for is an oikonomia or pastoral dispensation in light of unusual circumstances.  It should be noted that we already have a de facto oikonomia given the widespread tolerance of two violations of Orthodox canon law:

(1) multiple bishops in the same city, and

(2) the widespread usage of non-vernacular in the Liturgy.

The dual track strategy should be seen as an oikonomia, a temporary measure, until we have an American Orthodox Church.  What is presented here is more of a suggestion to get a discussion going.  The Orthodox community, both laity and clergy, need to have an open and frank discussion about how Orthodoxy can deal with the serious problem of the non-vernacular Liturgy.

Antiochian Breakthrough

In The Bridges of God, Donald McGavran, former professor of missions at Fuller Seminary, observe there are two approaches to missions: the mission station approach and the people movement approach.  The mission station approach tends to be static with the mission station serving as the religious and cultural center for a group of expatriates and their converts.  The people movement approach is dynamic with multitudes becoming Christians.  The difference lies in their long term focus.  Where the mission station is content with establishing a beachhead presence in a country, the people movement approach seeks to move inland to where the vast majority live.  Orthodoxy today is situated in an awkward in-between situation.  Thanks to the immigrants who founded ethnic parishes, Orthodoxy has a beachhead presence in every major American city.  At the same time, Orthodoxy has barely moved inland where the vast majority live.

In the book of Acts we see the tension between the mission station approach and the people movement approach.  In the opening chapters of Acts we read how thousands accepted Jesus as the Messiah.  The early Christian movement was largely Jewish in makeup and centered in Jerusalem.  This is characteristic of the mission station approach.  Although we read of Gentiles becoming Christians in the early chapters of Acts (e.g., the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius the Centurion), these conversions represent little pockets of converts that lay on the margins of their culture.  Christianity did not become a broad people movement until the Antiochian breakthrough.

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.  Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.  The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  (Acts 11:19-21, NIV; italics added)

What is notable about this passage is that some spoke “only to the Jews.” Although the persecution dispersed Christians geographically, much of the communication of the Gospel flowed within the confines of Jewish culture.  It was not until Antioch that some spoke the Christian message “to Greeks also,” that is, to the non-Jews that the long standing cultural barrier was breached; Christianity became a broad multicultural movement and the evangelization of the Roman Empire began in earnest.

Opening the Door to the Future

Business as usual cannot continue.  Orthodoxy in America needs to restructure and retool itself if we are to effectively evangelize American society.  One important (if not essential) way of retooling is to encourage and support all-English Orthodox services across America.  If we have the Liturgy in English, people will come and they will stay.  There is a growing spiritual hunger in America, and we can help these spiritually hungry people discover Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and Life.  By committing ourselves to all-English services, Orthodoxy will be opening the front door and closing the back door.

Having an Antiochian breakthrough in twenty first century American society will require brave men and women who will sacrificially commit themselves to starting Orthodox missions in areas where there are no Orthodox parishes or where there are language barriers.  The aim here is to have all-English Orthodox parishes across the country within reasonable driving distance.  Two particular jurisdictions have been notable for their willingness to engage in starting up new missions:

Interested readers are encouraged to contact these offices and inquire about opportunities for starting up an all-English Orthodox parish in their area.

It is also important that we not seek to change ethnic parishes.  Attempting to do so is likely to be met with stiff resistance, while wasting precious time and energies.  Rather than complain about the difficulties of non-English services, the better approach is to have a positive attitude and to take positive steps like helping to start all-English Orthodox missions.  It is also important that mainstream Americans be supportive of ethnic Orthodox who wish to affirm their ethnic heritage.  Ethnic Orthodox Christians have a rich cultural heritage that has been shaped by the Orthodox ethos over many generations.  This is something many modern Americans lack.  I once asked an Orthodox friend how he understood his ethnic heritage, all he could say was that he was a “mutt” — a hybrid of Scot, Irish, English, German and what have you — and that his ethnicity is “American.”  We need to regard each other with respect and charity.

Twelve Reasons

Here are twelve reasons Orthodoxy in America need an all-English Liturgy:

  • Liturgy in the vernacular is part of Holy Tradition;
  • Scripture teaches the importance of intelligible worship (Acts 2:11, I Corinthians 14:19);
  • Scripture teaches the priority of loving God with our mind (Mark 12:30);
  • The Liturgy means “the work of the people” and the use of incomprehensible non-vernacular languages hinders people from doing their work of worshiping God;
  • The use of the non-vernacular impairs the Liturgy’s function of educating worshipers in fundamental Orthodox doctrines;
  • The use of non-English met the needs of the first generation immigrants but is ill-suited for the needs of second and third generations, and mainstream Americans;
  • Compromise solutions like pan-Orthodox parishes have in many instances failed to work;
  • The use of the non-vernacular have caused visitors to walk out;
  • The use of the non-vernacular have frustrated converts and caused some to become discouraged and drop out of church life;
  • The use of the non-vernacular combined with a parish identity centered around a particular ethnicity have caused many converts to feel like outsiders;
  • The use of the non-vernacular is contrary to Orthodox missionary practice; and
  • The use of the non-vernacular is a major impediment to the evangelization of American society.

Orthodoxy in 2100?

As we stand at the start of the twenty first century, we need to ask ourselves what our vision is for Orthodoxy in America.  If we maintain the present course, what will Orthodoxy in America look like in the year 2100?  Will there be the same small number of ethnic Orthodox parishes (maybe a little bigger) or will there be dozens of Orthodox parishes all over our city and people coming to Orthodoxy by droves?  This is beginning to happen.  The May 2007 edition of The Word reported that twenty-five catechumens were received into the Orthodox Church at St. Barnabas, Costa Mesa, CA.  If we pass up this challenge, American Orthodoxy could end up an obscure religious curiosity.  The present interest in Orthodoxy represents both an opportunity and a challenge for Orthodox laity, clergy, and hierarchy.  If we rise up to the challenge, we can expect to see unprecedented growth and vitality for American Orthodoxy, and the twenty first century will be on its way to becoming the Orthodox century.

 

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Comments

  1. Amen! And not just America – all Orthodox Christians, catechumens and inquirers in countries where Orthodoxy has been transported to, need access to services in languages they understand.

  2. ROC has churches in other orthodo countries. These are called “podvorie”, something like an embassy or consulate in church terms. They serve mostly in Russian, but there is no Russian bishop in those countries. In other words the issue with multiple Bishops has a solution and it has already been implemented. US needs the dual track very much. Ethnic orthodo communities have centuries old traditions and this is how the Orthodoxy was preserved. US still has to develop a tradition, it is separated by the Orthodox world by oceans, but the “embassy” churches can be the connection with the old tradition. Imho, multiple bishops in the same city is not the issue, it is more important to preserve the same orthodoxy people had for 2000 years and that becomes a challange these days. If people are going to church to meet Christ, if they knew the only place in town that distributes the body and blood of Christ serves in another language, they would still go. Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Liturgy is the same too. But that would be more of an eception, if they visit a place with an ethnic church only.

  3. Thank you! Makes perfect sense to me; otherwise, it might as well be the dead Latin of the Roman church.

  4. if one googles Russian church Bulgaria, it is only one church and it is sort of “embassy” or “podvorie”. I think it was built for people from the Russian embassy whose wives and children don’t always speak Bulgarian. Of course in the US things are different, because there is ethnic people in more than one city.

  5. Forrest Long says:

    I agree with this article. My first encounter with Orthodox liturgy was at Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville, NY. It was all in old church Slavonic and I didn’t understand a word of it. But there was an awesome sense of the presence of God in the worship which had a strong impact on my life. I came into the Orthodox Church through the Antiochian Church where the liturgy was a mix of English and Arabic, which was totally foreign to me. Now I know this probably will not happen, but I believe that if the Orthodox Church of all jurisdictions is going to do evangelism in North America, beyond the ethnic communities, the liturgy must be in English. The language and cultural barrier is not a doctrinal issue that could destroy the church. If Orthodox believers from the old country want liturgy in their mother tongue then let them visit the old country, but here in North America it is essential that the Church make this transition.

  6. Gary Rasponi says:

    Overall great article. I have two comments: The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) needs to be added to the list of jurisdictions willing to plant new missions, particularly in the Western Rite. I believe you will also find there are a number of bi-ritual parishes forming, serving both Eastern and Western Rite liturgies all in English. There is a real hunger for orthodoxy in this country. Obstacles such as jurisdictional in-fighting and ethnic social clubs are turning people away.

  7. Amen! I was just reading about this in Acts last night, what a “coincidence”. But I thought the same thing…how important it was that the Gospel came to that person’s level. As a church, we need to ensure that we are speaking to the culture that we’re in…and for America that means English most of the time.

  8. Amen! “American Orthodox Church”sounds beautiful,it’s something this country desperately needs.

  9. Interesting discussion going on here. We have a parish which is comprised of people who are native Engish speakers and native Russian or Ukrainian speakers. The Liturgy is served mainly in English with some Slavonic. The Lord’s Prayer and the Symbol of Faith are often recited on both languages. There are also bilingual copies of the Liturgy available. The English is mroe than sufficient for most English speakers to follow the service, and many of them have become relatively familiar with the Slavonic to understand what is going on and – more importantly- to be able to pray. The Slavonic encourages the Slavs to see their church as their church, not just an English speaking church where they are permitted to come, but they must bear in mind that it is not really their church. They are only guests and must not ask to much.

    What should we do? Shall we tell the Russians, “Sorry nothing in your language. If you want that, go build your own parish. This one is ours.” Or maybe we should just tell them, If you want liturgy in you mother tongue, go back the old country'” If that has to be said, I trust that some else will say it. I will not. The Church fo Christ is open to all, and we must accomodate all. If we don’t like that, maybe we need to find a new faith.

  10. You make good points except for one thing – Slavonic isn’t Russian, and isn’t understood by Russians. It’s an 11th century language. Again, if you want to do something for the Russians, do it IN RUSSIAN, not an obscure, incomprehensible language understood by no one.

    In other words, why not tell the Russians “We are going to do the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed IN RUSSIAN from now on.” See what their reaction is. My guess is that many just want the familiar comfort of Slavonic.

  11. we need to change nothing in the liturgy..if you are true to our faith ..study the language of the church you are part of..I study greek at 61 and I am sure god is granting what graces I need for the effort made…nothing is done in faith without trials!

  12. William, this is about mission work to American, not being faithful to traditional language. Studying Greek is an excellent thing at any age, but it does not lend to comprehensibility at liturgy. I know a man who knows ancient Greek so well he actually understands about 30 % of the liturgy – and that is probably a world record.

    No, for mission work – in America – the liturgy must be celebrated in the language of the people. Just like the Apostles wrote and preached and WORSHIPPED in Greek, not Hebrew – to be understood by all.

  13. Our parish in Roseville, CA sings the Divine Liturgy as a congregation. Last week we reduced our 50-50 Greek and English Liturgy to 100% English. In the last twelve years the character of our congregation has changed dramatically. Our church began as parishioners of Greek-American heritage. We have had a large influx of converts who are not married to someone ethnically Orthodox, but who are Protestant or Roman Catholic converts, and this compromises about 50 percent of our congregation. We have also had a large influx of Arabic-speaking Orthodox who comprise about 25% of our congregation. The remainder of the families are Greek, Russian, Romanian, and other ethnic Orthodox. This is not to say that the knowledge of Greek scriptures is not appreciated by our congregation, the ability of Fr. Chris to teach the scriptures is highly valued by the entire congregation. But to truly engage as worshippers, and to raise our children understanding their worship, this is wonderful!

  14. Fr. Gregory says:

    Thank you for this article. Some of the “dual track” can happen in different ways. I serve in a city where there are two parishes, both under the GOA, one, the older which I serve, is more ethnic; the other is a mission parish which uses all English. This works out very well for us. Some coming to Orthodoxy embrace the Greek in the service, as I did when I came into the Church, others are looking, as stated here, for something in all English; our sister parish can satisfy that need quite well. I have seen some Churches in the OCA that have Sunday’s Liturgy all in English, and a Saturday Liturgy many weekends all in Slavoic. Then there are some other Greek parishes I know where there are two priests – serving Liturgy at the same time in different spaces on campus. This is not ideal, but another way of having a dual track reality. Thanks again for sharing.

  15. Again, contextual language liturgy is NOT about serving those who are already Orthodox, but about the mission to evangelize the mission field. Where are we? Where is the mission field. Open the door and look out. That’s the mission field. When you go to the store, or the mall, or the restaurant – the language you use to communicate in those is the language liturgy is needed in. Period! There are plenty of ancient foreign languages in liturgy in the US and elsewhere. What is NEEDED is more understandable language in liturgy.

  16. I think part of the timidity among Orthodox Christians to “unite” (they are united already by faith, but not in the visible church structure) as one Orthodox Church in America is the fear of losing one’s culture. I think it is a valid concern, but it is one that should not be a cause of further structural division. In Maine, traditionally, many Catholic parishes have hosted French Masses and English Masses. With the modern reality of great Latino immigration, Spanish Masses are now commonplace throughout much of the United States Catholic dioceses.

    But there is no “St. Francis of Cabrini Italian Catholic Church,” or “St. Pierre French Catholic Church,” or “St. Patrick Irish Catholic Church.” That does not exist. Of course there are the parishes known for their traditional ethnic base. In every Eastern town there is the German parish, the Italian church at the corner, and so forth. But we Catholics do not subdivide our hierarchy into multiple overlapping dioceses. There is no Irish Catholic Primate in Pittsburgh who shares ecclesiastical territory with the Spanish atholic Archbishop. One bread, one body, one church.

    Countless Protestants (and even Catholics) are desperately seeking a new and safe spiritual home. Many Anglicans stil disagree with the supreme authoritarianism of the Romn Papacy, but Orthodoxy has provided no valid options. Why would conservative Presbyterians of Scottish descent convert en masse to the “Greek” Orthodox faith? “Well, I am not of Greek heritage, so I can’t join.” I’m not a Russian, so I am not welcome.

    As a person of largely Serbian heritage, I desire for the Orthodox Church to expand and grow by leaps and bounds. But the “cult of ethnicity” will continue to hamper and hinder Orthodoxy in the United States and the general Western world. I love my heritage, and I encourage all people to embrace theirs. If you are Greek, then teach Greek to your children, and take them on a trip to Greece every five or ten years- truly reconnect with your ancient homeland. But in America, there should be the Orthodox Church of America with the all English liturgy, and the all Spanish liturgy in the Latin American states.

  17. Well, a brief correction. The only minor “overlapping” diocese are the sui juris Eastern Catholic churches in unity with the Pope. But that is a minor situation.

  18. I think evangelizing has to be in English. Americans are bombarded with all sorts of non-sense in the Dan Brown style. Noticed the Harvard professor claim yesterday? That nonsense is fed to people in a way easy to digest and the truth, the Holy Orthodoxy is not always in English. The path is indeed very narrow and hard to notice. And the ones who have known the trurth, the orthodox christians, may be held responsible for not sharing it. Notice also how mainstream music and movies also promote anti-christian ideas all the time. People happily celebrate halloween. People need the chance the hear the truth at as many places as possible and make a choice. I personaly would prefer a service in Russian or Slavonic with some beautiful ancient byzantine and slavonic chants, but my personal pleasure is less important that the salvation of as many people as possible. The lies are presented in a very appealing way and the truth is much harder to find. As far as the multiple bishops, that probably can be solved if there is a good will, but that is secondary.

  19. This article is right on target! We need to get this out to our hierarchs, but they are not so quick to support this concept because of the faithful who support them and the Church are from these communities. Fighting the cause of evangelism versus xenophobia is a difficult battle; regretfully, many of our peoples are xenophobic of strangers and outsiders…our languages and cultures keep many away and it’s “on purpose.” But, the Gospel message and the cause of Holy Orthodoxy will prevail! We must closely examine the success of so many Pan-Orthodox communities, versus the decline of various ethnic churches where there hasn’t been a recent immigration. Glory to Jesus Christ!

  20. Christopher says:

    No wonder all the comments are positive. Any post that suggests anything different gets deleted.
    This shouldn’t be titled ‘Speak Your Mind’ at all, because apparently that isn’t wanted on this page.
    Deleting posts that disagree is not particularly ethical for any webhost, and certainly isn’t for any kind of priest.
    If Father Peck doesn’t have the ethical integrity of a corporate customer service department, then I have no interest in anything he’s proffering the world in his website.

  21. Actually, your comment was just way too long. I have some personal rules about posts. If you don’t like it, start your own website to reach out to inquirers.

    Insulting me without even contacting me privately will not help your case for future posts. It’s not a free for all here.

  22. Well. The way I see it is this, and this is the case in some Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Churches, especially in the Eparchial Cathedrals. You have it where you have a Saturday Vigil Liturgy in English, then you have two Ukrainian Liturgies and one English Liturgy on Sunday. This certainly does equally spread out evenly between Ukrainians from Ukraine, and those that are Ukrainians born here in America that speak English, or for non-Ukrainians that worship in the UGCC. I can only imagine this done in the UOC (Ukrainian Orthodox Church) as well, although there may be one bilingual liturgy if they need to for whatever reason.

  23. Father, bless! I appreciate the thoroughness of this article. Good work! That said, sorry to quibble, but your claim that bilingual worship has no precedent is not strictly speaking, accurate. In the Russian Orthodox tradition there are a number of things that are almost universally sung or said in Greek, not Slavonic, going all the way back to the days when most bishops in Rus were Greek. And speaking of Slavonic, it is not really true that it is totally incomprehensible and understandable to no one. Look at the first clause of the Creed: in Russian (Roman Catholic translation): ????? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ???????????, ?????? ???? ? ?????, ???????? ????? ? ??????????. In Church Slavonic: ????? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ????????????, ?????? ???? ? ?????, ??????? ?? ???? ? ?????????. It’s hardly different at all.

  24. James, sorry but your point is missed because of the font differences. Sorry! I’m only going by what Russian speakers tell me about Slavonic, and they do not understand it.

  25. It only goes to prove my point: ??? looks exactly the same as ???. 😉 But seriously, yes, many Russian people have difficulty with understanding a smaller or greater part of the Slavonic services. It’s worth noting here, as well, that the Russian Orthodox Church has never conducted services in the vernacular, nor have any of the Slavic Churches, until recently when the Serbs approved use of St Nicholas of Zicha’s translation of the Liturgy (all other services are in Slavonic). Church Slavonic is not an early form of Russian, it was and is a separate language, contrived purposely for liturgical use.

    English speakers also have trouble understanding our liturgical services if they do not know what certain words mean. Consider ‘trihypostatic Godhead’. Well really, what is that? It seems to me education of the people is preferable to changing the words. ‘Bowels of Thy mercy’. The word bowels doesn’t connote anything very nice in vernacular English. But I don’t think anyone is getting too terribly confused.

    Okay. So the Russian Church has always used a different language (Church Slavonic) other than Russian in its services. What then should be done to address comprehensibility? Update Slavonic. Slavonic has been updated several times before, and it could be updated again, to more closely reflect modern Russian vocabulary. In my opinion that would be preferable to translating the entire exceedingly huge liturgical corpus into an uglified Soviet version of Russian.

  26. Thanks in advance for your patience with my rambling long winded response above. By the way, about the gobbledygook, suffice it to say that the ONLY word that is meaningfully different in the example I gave is the word for Almighty. That would be an example of where you could update the Slavonic with new vocabulary and usage, akin to how in English we seem to have successfully transitioned away from ‘Ghost’ to ‘Spirit’.

  27. This article expresses what I as an converted feel everyday. One thing is the difficulties of language and culture, not understanding everything in church, not being able to have deeper conversations with the priest. But the real problems arise when you face what is expressed in these lines: “They can handle small numbers of converts, but if the numbers of converts become more than a trickle then the ethnic core can start to feel threatened resulting in a backlash. They will fear that the new members will undermine the ethnic identity of their parish, especially if the newcomers want more English in the Sunday worship.” – That is when you face the real obstacle! When very powerful members tell you, that the priest baptized too many local people, when you get told, that you should run away.. that is when my heart left the ethnic congregation, where I was member. My heart simply ran away.. Today I occasionally drop by, politely saying hello. I remember not to come too often.. This was some years ago, today I have found a new spiritual home at another ethnic orthodox congregation, and with my past experience, I seem be get on better the new place. God bless all you brothers and sisters out there.

  28. A correction respectfully submitted:
    This article refers to an interview as follows ” Fr. Jim Kordaris, Director of the Greek Orthodox Department of Outreach and Evangelism, once admitted in an interview that the archdiocese policy was not to start an Orthodox mission unless there was a Greek core present.”
    The interview to which you refer took place with Ancient Faith Radio and was broadcast on August 30, 2008 (http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/evangelism_in_america_how_the_greek_archdiocese_sees_it1) and in it I refuted the claim that there is any such policy or that a “Greek core” is required to start a parish.
    This was something that Fr Peter Gillquist of blessed memory would also claim in his talks and which I respectfully informed him was not true. Please visit our http://www.outreach.goarch.org for more information on our ministries. Thank you.

  29. Thanks for the correction, Fr. Jim.

  30. Simeon Richard says:

    Dear Father John: Basically I agree with you, but there are really problems that the author of this article doesn’t deal with. At Pentecost, when Christianity is introduced, the theological cloak of Christianity hasn’t been torn to pieces yet, with the many sects. There is one experience, one language and a consequent ethos. Orthodoxy has belonged to the Greeks for two thousand years and to the Russians for a thousand; they have Churches, a literature and an Orthodox culture. Who t knows what language (internally) anyone else is speaking, especially in America! Out of what ethos? Seven day Adventist? Jehovah Witnesses? Hard Rock? The problem of the baggage of alien mentality is incredible in this country. When the Orthodox Ethos is lost, so is Orthodoxy,

  31. Simeon, there was not one language at Pentecost – that is what Pentecost solved!

    I do agree that when ‘ethos’ is lost, so is Orthodoxy, but I say it is not only ‘ethos’ but praxis and theology – without any understanding of these things, ethos in any language is always foreign.

    Americans, by and large, want to understand, and they are prevented from doing so when the liturgy is in ANY language they don’t understand.

    Any church may do liturgy in any language they wish, but they should not, for one minute, pretend that they are expressing the missionary and Apostolic tradition of the Church. They are taking care of their own, just like the Judaizers in Apostolic-era Jerusalem. And they are getting the same results.

  32. Excellent article! Couldn’t agree more. Articles like this give me great hope for the future of Orthodox Christianity in America. We have a true gem in our Church – it’s time for us to let our light shine before men that we might bring glory to our Father in heaven.

    KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT FR. JOHN! And let me know if I can support in any way. I am behind you.

  33. Pray for us, Father Anthony, and support us if you can. But definitely remember us in your most holy prayers.

  34. Mark Powell says:

    The author needs to investigate what the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is actually doing and not simply restate the old stereotypes. I am a member of a new (ie, less than 20 years old) GOA parish that uses English virtually all the time, and, incidentally, most services are sung in Byzantine chant, from Byzantine notation.

    History cannot determine the future; our circumstances today are different than in a romanticized, imperial past. Liturgies were in Greek or Latin in the Roman world, a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual empire. It is also an oversimplification to say that the Russian missionaries to Alaska used only Aleut or Tlingit or other native tongue in services; Slavonic was the basis of the service texts, while only certain portions were translated. To say otherwise is to gloss over significant details.

  35. Pauline Costianes says:

    Excellent article Father!
    My Greek godmother made sure I was baptized by a GREEK priest, but then did nothing to make sure I was brought up in the faith. The only time I was in an Orthodox church was when I was visiting relatives, and when I walked in, it was all being nasally wailed away in Greek and people turned around and looked at us like “what are you doing here?”.
    When I was 16 I was filled with the desire to find out about the faith of my baptism, as the Presbyterianism I was raised in just wasn’t getting it. Luckily, a parish in a local town served all in English because they had a mixed congregation. It was as if I was one of the emissaries of Vladimir to Constantinople (except the service was in my language) – that was it! I was home!
    If they had been serving in a foreign tongue, I would have turned and walked out.
    Immigrants who come here know full well that the language of this country is first and foremost English. If I were moving to a foreign country I would make sure I learned the language before I went and after I arrived. I would never have to nerve to expect it to be in English.
    I find it offensive that newly arrived immigrants expect and yes, even demand (esp the Greeks) that the services be in the old country tongue, when the born and raised 2nd and 3rd generations are the ones who have kept the lights on, the priest there, and the parish going for them to be able to attend.
    You want Greek, Russian, Romanian, Albanian, etc? Then speak all you want in the coffee hour. But don’t expect our services, which are highly didactic, to be not only in a foreign tongue, but a 6th or 9th century version of that tongue!

  36. I agree with a number of the points raised here: (a) It is good and important for the liturgy to be in a language people understand. (b) The liturgy is not in the vernacular in “the Old World”. It is in Katharevousa in Greece and Old Church Slavonic in many countries where Slavic languages are spoken. I can go to the effort of learning to understand with the aid of a bilingual liturgy book *some* Katharevousa for the sake of fellow parishioners who do speak Greek. The US has done enough stripping of identities even outside of the worship of God with its anti-bilingual stance. The views here walk a fine line. Why not encourage a bilingual friendly attitude? (c) I am surprised at statements like in “nasal” Greek “wailing”. Greek is not a “nasal” language– whatever the writer meant by that. If they meant having more frequent nasal consonants or even nasal vowels (like French) they should know Greek and English are essentially exactly alike in terms of the number and frequency of nasal consonants and vowels. There is no wailing going on. It seems the writer of that comment just wants to deprecate something the writer isn’t familiar with by mocking a language.

  37. I just wanted to point out that one other jurisdiction that has been very open to starting English language missions is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. About half of the clergy are converts, and we have many missions and parishes that serve all, or almost all in English. Part of a broad approach to evangelism in America is targeting ethnic groups who have a different language. In Houston, the Baptists have churches that serve in just about any major language you can think of. My wife and I were married in a Chinese Baptist Church (this was of course before I had the slightest thought of becoming Orthodox), and so I think it is perfectly legitimate for us to do so, particularly to those ethnic groups that are traditionally Orthodox… but there should be a strategy of transitioning these communities to English, because if that does not happen, those communities will not survive. The Cathedral in Washington D.C. is a good example of what can be done. They have a two track approach, an English Vigil, then a Slavonic Vigil, and an English Liturgy, and then a Slavonic LIturgy.

    In the Houston area, we kind of have that… just not on one property. We have a mostly Slavonic Parish, and now we have two English parishes (mine included) — three, if you count our mission in College Station.

  38. Fr John – please consider writing up an article for us on just this subject!

  39. Ben in SoCal says:

    I think this harkens back to the Roman Catholic situation. Until Vatican II, all Masses were celebrated in Latin. The sea change occurred because there was a desire among the global laity for vernacular Masses, and the bishops responded positively.

    Following the council, in traditionally culturally divided regions like northern Maine, we had parishes with a French Mass and an English Mass. In Philly and New York City, among other areas, no doubt there were the Italian Masses separate from the English services, And of course, with mass immigration, Spanish services have become commonplace in virtually most Catholic congregations. But the people were never designated specifically by ethnic jurisdictions. You may be a proud Irish Catholic, but you still worshipped in the local Catholic church. I have never happened upon Santa Maria’s Italian Catholic Church. Neither a St. Pierre’s French Catholic mission.

    It’s that mark of universality that give the Roman Catholic Church the most credibility. it was vibrant in the all-Latin era, and it has remained strong now (which is surprising enough).

    Thankfully, Orthodox don’t require earth-shattering generational councils to achieve common sense objectives of faith. The Romans always dress to the nines for coffee hour. I think we need to make it abundantly clear that we are not trying to do away with ethnic traditions. I prefer the cultural mosaic, not the melting pot. If you are a proud Greek, opa! 🙂 Organize monthly language classes at your parish, especially for children and young people. The won’t learn Greek at divine liturgy, that should be a sure notion. Embrace who you are; and it is that reason why the Divine Liturgy needs to be in the language if the people, so they can embrace God knowingly. God bless.

  40. I would like to see Australia head this way also. Any Australians here ?

  41. I fully agree that our parishes need to be in English. The church I attend alternates between English and Arabic, because according to our Priest, “that’s what the people want”. Shouldn’t the “people” who are requesting this learn English since they now reside in America? It is truly distracting, especially when the “tones” are out of key. And it extends the length of the Liturgy because it’s done mostly in two or sometimes three languages. We are categorized as a Pan-Orthodox church, which really needs to be looked at. Many years ago, yes, I would have called it that but no longer. I also have issue with the current music used as it is dreary, no, not dreary but horrible! I grew up attending St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA. My uncle, the late Very Reverend Father, James C. Meena, wrote the most beautiful music that was used always in church and at St. Nicholas Camp. Those songs are burned in my brain. Every key, every note. When I have to listen to what they now call music in my church, I am most appalled and certainly distracted and wonder how anyone can hear themselves pray to our Lord. I must say it has kept me from my church. And that church is the only church located in my city in our archdiocese.

  42. George Mathews says:

    With all due respect, your argument is a valid one, but very rationalist. If everything is comprehended in worship then everything becomes perfect, is the logic you are presenting here, it seems to me. an all-English liturgy seems to be a fundamentalist argument! In fact, retaining aspects of the native language is important and even a subversive act which also undermines superiority of a dominant culture. The historical roots of the Church is important to sustain its ethos, and in bits and pieces, it is held together by the incomprehensible-to-some chanting. I believe it is the spirit of the liturgy that matters more. It enhances the rational aspect of the faith. But an all comprehended worship doesn’t necessarily grant you greater faith. If we are to respect the roots of the faith, which is important to the immigrants, some aspect of their native language is important. We may recall that Israelites were to retell the story of their past, who they were and where they came from and how they came . . . This kind of retelling is implicit in retaining native aspects of the liturgy. coming back to the subversive aspect, when it is all English, it is easier for the dominant culture ( all English), to swallow up the traditions and patterns. With some steady and not-so-easy aspects, like native language aspects in the worship, that sudden change is made slower, giving space and time for thought.
    Your twelve reasons very clearly evidences that you stand in a dominant culture and condescend upon the worship which is not “mainstream” American ( your own terminology). There itself you have created a divide, based on I don’t know what, but putting you in a superior position. Orthodoxy doesn’t acknowledge that superiority. How about attempting to seek the meaning of some of the things that you don’t understand? In the native language, which has its own world-view, the meanings could be deeper rather than in a translation, which may use words coming from a different epistemology which does not convey the meaning it arose from. Of course, some intelligibility is vital in faith, but faith is not all about intelligibility. As Orthodoxy believes, it is also about mystery. And that receives not much value in the modern American culture and thinking with its deep roots in western Enlightenment and its values of rationalism, empiricism, positivism, etc. that’s kind of expired thinking.

  43. Perhaps, but mystery and incomprehensibility are not the same.

    The liturgy in an understandable language is NOT the be all and end of all of planting a church in a new land, but let’s face it – anyone who is serious about evangelism DOES NOT keep ANYTHING in a language the people cannot understand. Formation, discussion, preaching, teaching – all take place in a language understood by teacher and student, preacher and listener, confessor and penitent.

    Anything else, especially the argument to ‘mystery’ which is not valid here (this isn’t about teaching mystery, it’s about teaching at all), is just triumphalism, phyletism, and phariseeism. The one thing it is not… is Christian, and therefore not Orthodox.

  44. Marian Bishay says:

    Thank you, Fr. John, for your thoughtfully written article. Your message resonates loudly and clearly with me as a second generation Orthodox Christian. Not only is language a barrier, but our experiment in our parish is even when the prayer is predominantly in English, there is still a huge cultural barrier due to ethnicity. Your article hit the nail on the head: I don’t want to shed my American identity at the door of the church on Sunday or any day I attend a liturgical service, bible study or meeting. And, I’m the daughter of immigrants. How much deeper is that feeling by an actual convert! It is not by chance that Orthodoxy has spread beyond its many homelands– not for people to immigrate to the US or other countries and then barricade the faith inside linguistic and cultural confusion. No, I believe God has allowed these faithful immigrants to flee hardships in their homeland to freely worship in Western countries AND also to spread the true message of the Gospel to the spiritually hungry through Orthodox worship. May God provide wisdom and guidance to our church leaders and may He bless your efforts.

  45. Fr. John, thank you very much for the article. I have personally found great inspiration in your studies and have shared it with 100’s of people. God bless your ministry

  46. Please pray for us – it’s a lot of work with almost no support.

  47. Paul Miles says:

    Anthony,

    Yes, we have the same situation here in Australia. Once again it is the ROCOR and Antiochian Orthodox that are at the forefront in bringing English only Liturgy to Australians. I am in Melbourne and we have The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church here, and we run under the Patriarch of Antioch, but it is in fact a Russian Orthodox in English ( with permission from the Bishop to use the Slavonic form in English). We have many folk who have completed their Anglican Faith by becoming Orthodox, and I find the Russian style in English more suited to the English Language, and the Russian availability of sheet music also in line with our musical language, rather than trying to bend our natural lingual and musical language to strict Byzantine tones. We are now starting to spread English Orthodox Liturgies about with small Mission Churches, and yes, it is still difficult, especially due to style, however I am certain we will work out a solid and repeatable solution soon.

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