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Switch to Forum Live View Can someone explain the differences between...
10 years ago  ::  Oct 07, 2008 - 4:35PM #1
TheSimpleThingsinLife
Posts: 26
I'm a little confused about something.

There is the "Eastern Orthodox Church" but I see "Greek Orthodox Church" and "Russian Orthodox Church" and also "Eastern Rite Orthodox" etc.

Can someone please explain the differences to me? The church I went to is just called "St Matthews Orthodox Church"  You can see the website online http://www.smocgb.com/ if that helps.

I spoke to a girl today who goes the the Armenian church and she seemed to imply that many other churches are not so good.

I just want to understand the differences so I can make the best choice possible. Thanks for help!
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 07, 2008 - 8:24PM #2
Prajna
Posts: 1,705
The "Eastern Orthodox Church" is the broad term used to cover the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, etc etc... 

The "Eastern Rite Orthodox" are those Churches that still belong to the Bishop of Rome, Catholics. 

The Church you went to is Eastern Orthodox and is of the OCA, http://www.oca.org/ 

here are some links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Main_Page
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 8:05AM #3
anyuta64
Posts: 1,536
[QUOTE=Prajna;810256]T
The "Eastern Rite Orthodox" are those Churches that still belong to the Bishop of Rome, Catholics. 

[/QUOTE]

well, perhaps, but usually those churches are called Eastern Rite CATHOLIC churches.  eastern rite Orthodox could be anything. sometimes also called "Byzantine Rite".

to confuse things more, there are a few "Western Rite ORthodox" chruches.  in communion with the rest of Orthodoxy, but using a variant of the same literugy used by Rome.

it's all terminology.  ORthodoxy isn't a monolyth the way Rome is... but at the same time, the FAITH is one.  you can have all sorts of superficial differences, and here in the US the use of the ethcnic identifyer usually says more about the ethnic makeup of the parish, and perhaps the language used, rather than even the jurisdiction.

"Russian Orthodox" could mean a church which is "under" the Patriarch of Moscow.  but not necessarily.  it could mean a church which is part of the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia).  but not necessarily.  it could mean an OCA church with a stronger tie to Russian roots. but not necessarily.

"Greek" is even more broadly used... because from the point of view of the West, the East is/was all Greek--and so Orthodox, when they came to the West, sometimes adopted this identifier.  the OCA (which is really Russian in origin) at one point had the word "Greek" in it's name.  so seeing the term "Greek" may not say antyhing even about the ethnic makeup of the parish.

The important thing to remember is that the Faith is one.. even if there are different jurisdictions and ethnic identities, these are not different Churches. 

However, to really confuse matters, there are churches out there who use the word "Orthodox" who are not by any stretch actually part of the Orthodox Church.  one does have to be careful, but if you look up a parish in a directory, and see that it's not tied in any way with any of the Orthodox jurisdictions operating within the US, then it's best to steer clear.

As for your friend who is Armenian.. she's probably not Orthodox.  Armenians have their own Church, which is very old, and is very similar to Orthodoxy, but is not in fact Orthodox.  They are their own thing.. which may be why she's saying other churches are no good.. from her perspective, the Orthodox Churches moved away from the "true" faith that the Armenian chruch stuck with (we of course see it differently).

THey usually call themselves "Armenian Apostolic", but their official name does have the word "Orthodox" in it. 

the term Orthodox means "true faith", so of course many call themselves that.  technically even the Catholi8cs (just as we technically are catholic, too, as we attest to in the Creed).  those words by themselves have meanings entirely separate from the identifiers they have become.
Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

NOTE: This post is a natural product. The sleight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual charicter and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 11:07AM #4
WitnessNJ
Posts: 144

I just want to understand the differences so I can make the best choice possible. Thanks for help!

My advice would be to visit the different parishes near you and see for yourself. Although there is only One Orthodox Church, that One Church shows itself differently in each of its parishes. There was a time that one could rely on generalizations of the different ethnic named churches and know what they will be like, but as mostly all are now trying to be Orthodoxy Christianity in America, one must go and see. People are different and so are parishes.

I do believe the canonical churches in North America are:

Orthodox Church in America


Under the Moscow Patriarchate:
Moscow Patriarchate in the USA
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia


Under the Church of Antioch:
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


Under the Church of Bulgaria:
Bulgarian Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia


Under the Church of Romania:
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas


Under the Patriarchate of Constantinople:
Albanian Orthodox Diocese
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese
Belarusian Council of Orthodox Churches in North America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA
Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA

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10 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 11:45AM #5
Kerygma
Posts: 798
Anyuta64... great post! :D
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 4:28PM #6
TheSimpleThingsinLife
Posts: 26
Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned I cannot visit other churches as there is only one within reasonable driving distance for me.
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 10:05PM #7
Kerygma
Posts: 798
I understand. My wife and I have to drive nearly two hours to reach our parish church. As a result, we are unable to attend on a weekly basis. It's just too cost-prohibitive and downright dangerous in the winters. However, we make the drive as often as we can.

In your case, if this is the only Orthodox Church you can reasonably drive to, then by all means, attend this church for at least a month of Sundays and try and speak with the priest. Perhaps make an appointment to sit down and talk with him. I'm sure he will be able to answer your questions and put your mind at rest.

As Anyuta pointed out, Eastern-rite can mean several things. Eastern-rite is also a type of worship differentiated from Western-rite. It generally follows the liturgy of St John Chrysostom. We are not talking about Byzantine Catholics or Eastern-rite Catholics or Uniates (all of which essentially mean the same thing... formerly Orthodox parishes taken over by the Roman Catholic Church some centuries ago... keeping their Eastern-rite worship with a married clergy BUT giving allegiance to the Pope). Furthermore, Armenians are "not" Orthodox, again... as Anyuta pointed  out. While their Church is ancient, it separated itself from the Orthodox Church during the first millennium and is not to be confused with the Orthodox Church.

My advice to you is to get hold of Timothy Ware's (Bp Kallistos Ware) book: The Orthodox Church. It will give you a very good background in the history of Christianity and in particular of Orthodoxy and is a relatively easy read.

All the best.:)
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10 years ago  ::  Oct 14, 2008 - 11:28AM #8
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
[QUOTE=TheSimpleThingsinLife;809755]I'm a little confused about something.

There is the "Eastern Orthodox Church" but I see "Greek Orthodox Church" and "Russian Orthodox Church" and also "Eastern Rite Orthodox" etc.

Can someone please explain the differences to me? The church I went to is just called "St Matthews Orthodox Church"  You can see the website online http://www.smocgb.com/ if that helps.

I spoke to a girl today who goes the the Armenian church and she seemed to imply that many other churches are not so good.

I just want to understand the differences so I can make the best choice possible. Thanks for help![/QUOTE]

"Greek" and "Russian" and "Ukrainian" and all the rest Orthodox Churches are really just an added "flavor," if you will. A friend of mine says it only means what kind of pastries you get at coffee hour.  The standing joke at my OCA parish (mostly whitebread former evangelical converts) is that our ethnic food festival would be mac & cheese and green bean casserole!
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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