by Fr. Thomas Soroka
To sincere converts to the Orthodox Faith and those who are seeking: I descend from a very long line of Orthodox Christians by the mercy of God. I also descend from generations of Orthodox clergy. My father, two uncles, my grandfather and great uncle were all priests, having been raised in a pious lineage of Orthodox Christians.
Our family life in the church goes back for generations upon generations.
I want you to know that you are valued as a convert by those of us who were born into the Church and seek to maintain Her Tradition. No matter your ethnic background, family lineage, previous religious affiliation, or educational level, you are a full member of the Church of Christ. You are not a second class citizen in the Kingdom of God. You are not a threat, even if some might make you feel that way.
Your zeal for Christ, your desire to learn and grow, your faithfulness to the Tradition, your love for worship, your defense of the Truth, your tireless service to others, all of this is a confirmation that your life in the Church has been blessed by God and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Those who would label certain sincere converts as a threat to Orthodoxy are simply promoting their own failed agenda, but not the will of God.
You are sincerely loved as a full member of the Church and we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are one in Christ with you and fellow workers with God.
Do not be discouraged in well doing.
I very much appreciate your comments. Even though my husband and I converted over 20 years ago, we continued to feel like outsiders in our former GOA church. Yes we did make an effort to get to know people, volunteer, etc. We now celebrate with a ROCOR mission group.
David Singhiser says
I was blessed to be chrismated at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Honolulu. I’ve attended Russian Orthodox churches in Vung Tau, Viet-Nam, Bangkok and Phuket Thailand and Asunción, Paraguay, Greek churches in Austin, Singapore, Boston, Brookline, Madrid, and Buenos Aires, Antiochian churches in Buenos Aires, Austin, Boston and Paris. Everywhere I’ve been welcomed and treated with much love and kindness, yet I have read about “those converts”. I’ve been so blessed but have heard such horror stories. As blessed as I’ve been, as welcomed as I have been, it is still so very comforting to read your words.
Gary "Theodore" Ballard-Toney says
Thank you Father. The blog post comes at a right time for me. My wife and I entered the Church via a GOA parish.
Thank you for this message Father. I have always attended OCA parishes as a seeker & as a catechumen and have felt welcomed. I wish to thank you for your podcast “The Path” on Ancient Faith Radio. I listen to it every day.
To Sincere Immigrants and those with green cards:
I descend from a very long line of Americans by the mercy of God. I also descend from generations of American elected officials. My father, two uncles, my grandfather and great uncle were all senators, having been raised in a pious lineage of elected officials.
Our family life in this country goes back for generations upon generations.
I want you to know that you are valued as an American by those of us who were born into this country.
Point being: You’re post is exactly what’s wrong with Orthodoxy.
Thank for your article. I have been attending and would like to join my local Orthodox church. I would like to ask, if one has been baptized previously in the Roman Catholic church, can one just be Chrismated. Re-baptism just does not seem right to me, and i believe St. Augustine of Hippo wrote against it, and the creed as well speaks of “one baptism for the remission of sins.”
Fr. John says
Stacie, the method of your entrance in to the Church is up to the local bishop. Don’t worry about that, just find out what he requires – and do it!
Fr. John says
Alex, we will have to agree to disagree. Encouragement comes from many places, and is always welcome.
Michael Bauman says
I was received into The Church 36 years ago. I have been welcomed by folks whose Orthodox lineage goes back a long way as Father Soroka and I have been metaphorically spat on by some as well. I appreciate the welcome and work to forgive the rejection.
In the end both are of this world as I was guided and welcomed to the Church by Jesus and His Mother.