Monday, February 05, 2007

ACCEPTED


Well, gentle reader, I have just received my acceptance letter from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. It looks like I am definitely Boston bound this Fall.

I confess I am filled with trepidation at the prospects of uprooting my little family and heading north to the People's Republic of Massachusetts, but I am more fearful on not following through with this to finally explore this calling to the clergy I have had since I was a boy.

Not only will this Southern born and Southern bred convert be entirely too far above the Mason-Dixon, but I will also be among a group of Orthodox Christians I had always tried to avoid - the Greeks.

I had believed all the horror stories about the Greek Archdiocese I heard before my conversion. How they were so ethnic, so insular, and would swallow me whole. It was the equivalent of the "Bogey-man" stories I was told as a child to keep me from wandering into the woods near my home. The stories worked.

But now I find myself married to a beautiful Greek girl, attending a GOA parish here in Ft. Lauderdale, regularly speaking in GOA parishes across the country, and now about to attend the GOA seminary in Boston.

How did this happen?

I think, (pray) it happened for two specific reasons.

First, I believe God desires me to abandon attitudes that are primarily based on fear. To be sure, I have found examples of all the bad behaviors and backward attitudes I was warned about concerning the Greeks, but I have found many more examples of just the opposite among these dear people. I have found genuine Orthodox faith and zeal for the faith that is not solely about preserving an ethnic heritage. I have discovered in even the most "Greeky Greek" parish people who come up to me after I speak and tell me "we need more challenges to grow in our faith." God has me here among a group I had feared would be nothing more than an ethnic social club to reveal to me my own ethnocentric attitudes and my own poverty of heritage.

Second, I believe God placed me among the Greeks to help me develop a true Orthodox mindset. Say what you will about the ethnicity of the Greeks, but when a Greek or Greek-American gets the faith, it is a solid and consistent Orthodox mindset. Now this may very well be true of a Russian or Arab mind as well, but I wouldn't have been as surprised by that as I have been when it comes to the Greeks.

It turns out the Greeks are their own harshest critics. Those among them who see the beauty of the faith and then see the average person in a parish as so ignorant of their faith, truly seeks ways to remedy this sad spiritual poverty. More than once, I have heard accurate and unvarnished critiques from Greek Orthodox laity and clergy alike. They know their problems better than anyone else.

However, I have also spent the past 4 years of my life working in a pan-Orthodox media ministry and have discovered that if it weren't for the Greek Archdiocese, so maligned among other jurisdictions, there would be no OCMC. There would be no IOCC. And there would be no OCN. None of the other Orthodox jurisdictions have supported the work of OCN like the Greek Archdiocese and average Greek Orthodox laypersons. If I could get the other jurisdictions to proportionally give toward this ministry like the GOA has given, we would be much further along than we are as a national media ministry.

So, does the GOA have problems? Of course they do. Are they too ethnocentric? No more than other parishes with a particular dominance of a particular ethnicity, including convert parishes who are more interested in creating another ethnic clique out of our American experiences.

For my salvation, God has graciously led me to serve in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. By God's grace and in His time if He gives me the grace of the priesthood, I will serve a GOA parish. If God is merciful, it will be in the Metropolis of Atlanta, so I will not have to be exiled from my beloved South too long. I am grateful to the Greek Archdiocese for its support and I will not bite the hand that feeds me, nor will I reject the authentic Orthodox witness and the potential for much more that I have happily discovered here among the Greeks.

May God grant many years to my beloved Metropolitan ALEXIOS and may his tribe increase!

12 comments:

David Bryan said...

Chronia Polla! An excellent meditation, and much I can relate to!

(And I'll light a candle for you, brother, so's you don't stay away from God's country too long ;-))

Caldonia Sun said...

Congratulations, Barnabas! A very exciting step for you and your family.

Steven CC said...

I discovered your blog a few months ago, though I've refrained from commenting till now. Please accept my sincerest congratulations. Heading off to seminary is a big step, one I may take in the next few years. I pray that God guides you, and that you emerge a better man for the experience, whether or not you find that your talents are for the priesthood.

I offer one anecdote/bit of advice, on the off chance it may be of some use to you. A friend, soon to be ordained, completed his studies at Holy Cross seminary recently. He's mentioned that it can be an odd place, where one comes across teachings from certain, for lack of a better word, "progressives" which are not quite right.

He remarked that his education truly came in Church and in the library, praying over matters and poring over the works of the Fathers and others. You, who also start with a non-negligible knowledge of the faith, may also encounter this.

Congratulations again, and may God keep you and your family.

-Steve

Dixie said...

What wonderful news! You express your misconceptions about the Greeks well. I am walking that path now and learning some of the same lessons.

What you say about the Greek mindset being an Orthodox mindset is really quite true. They "get it", indeed. When one has this Orthodox mindset and one reads the Holy Scriptures...he "gets it". The message is clear. And this is what has been exciting for me...as I shed my protestant skin and take on this Orthodox mindset...gradually the Scriptures are being opened up to me...just like the guys on the road to Emmaus!

You'll do great! Our priest is a convert...went to Holy Cross...we love him!

Barnabas Powell said...

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. I will need every one of them.

Moving a family from South Florida to Boston is a challenge, but I am also looking forward to this next step in my spiritual life.

Please pray for my wife and daughtrer as they will also be making sacrifices to allow me to pursue this education.

By God's grace, we will see where this leads.

B

EYTYXOC said...

May God bless your studies.

Benjamin said...

God bless you and your family in this journey.

s-p said...

AXIOS! and I'm jealous... :)

Joshua said...

Hey Barnabas,
I'm really happy to hear about this. I know you'll do well.

DebD said...

congratulations from a quiet reader.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! I just found your blog after you posted a comment on Fr. Stephen's blog.

You're in Ft. Lauderdale? Do you go to St. Demetrios? I live in Ft. Lauderdale, too (with my husband and son) and I attend Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Miami Lakes.

Juliana

Barnabas Powell said...

Juliana,

Yes, I attend St. Demetrios with my wife and our daughter.

Thank you for your kind words. Please feel free to comment on any other posts. I appreciate the feedback.

B