Sts. Theodore Orthodox Church
A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
96 Los Robles St., Williamsville NY 14221 (716) 634-6712
Vol. X, No. 11Weekly Schedule
Vigil Saturday, 5:00pm
Divine Liturgy Sunday, 9:30am
Bible Study Sunday after coffee hour
Inquirers Class Monday, 6:00pm (ends Nov. 9)
Akathist Wednesday, 6:30pm
Small Compline Friday, 6:30pm
Moleben for the Conversion of the Non-Orthodox: First Sunday of the month, after coffee hour.
Orthodox Action to host Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Annunciation Church
+Orthodox Action invites you to help as they host their Third Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner for Buffalo’s homeless and needy on Thursday, November 26, 10:30am 1:00pm at the Demakos Community Center, Hellenic Church of the Annunciation.
+We are still collecting donations for this. Your gift of $5.00 will provide dinner for two,
$10.00 will feed a family of four; $20.00 will feed eight hungry people!
+Volunteers are needed for Tuesday, November 24 and Wednesday, November 25, 9:00am-3:00pm for food prep, turkey carving and set-up. Also on Thursday,November 26, 9:00am-1:30pm to help serve.
For more information and to volunteer, Please call Mary Danakas at (716) 565-3630.
+ Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday, November 1.
+ On Sunday, November 23 at 4:30pm we will have our Thanksgiving Akathist and
dinner. There will be a sign-up sheet for what to bring.
+ This fall’s Russian Bazaar will be on November 14 and 21 from 9am to 1pm.
Please see Cathy Fudala to see how you can help out.
+ The Nativity Fast begins on November 28. Fish is allowed on weekends and feast
days, but otherwise we are to refrain from meat, eggs and dairy.
+ The Pan-Orthodox Choir will offer a Nativity Concert on Friday, December 4. Exact
time and location to be announced.
Name Days This Month
+ October 26/November 8: Dimitri Albul and Dimitri Zharkoff (Great-Martyr Demetrius
+ November 9/21: Michael Moczerniak, Michael Kazmierczak, Michael Tkaczewski,
Michael Shevtsov and Michael Damiano (Archangel Michael)
Многая Лета! Many Years!
More Protestants Find a Home in the Orthodox Antioch Church
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
New York Times, October 2, 2009
LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md. — Cal Oren was threading his way through the Santa Cruz Mountains of California early one evening in 1993, driving his wife, brother and three tired children back from a day of hiking amid the redwoods. As their car neared the town of Ben Lomond, Mr. Oren said, his brother pointed to a church on the roadside and said: “I’ve been inside this. It’s really neat.”
So Mr. Oren pulled to a stop, and as the children stayed in the car, the grown-ups gingerly padded into the sanctuary of Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church. A lifelong Presbyterian, Mr. Oren knew virtually nothing about the Antiochians or, for that matter, Orthodox Christianity in general. He had always associated Ben Lomond with hippies, geodesic domes and marijuana fields.
As he entered, a vespers service was under way. Maybe two dozen worshipers stood, chanting psalms and hymns. Incense filled the dark air. Icons of apostles and saints hung on the walls. The ancientness and austerity stood at a time-warp remove from the evangelical circles in which Mr. Oren traveled, so modern, extroverted and assertively relevant.
“This was a Christianity I had never encountered before,” said Mr. Oren, 55, a marketing consultant in commercial construction. “I was frozen in my tracks. I felt like I was in the actual presence of God, almost as if I was in heaven. And I’m not the kind of person who gets all woo-hoo.”
The ineffable disclosure of that evening, a 15-minute glimpse into Byzantium, rattled everything certain in Mr. Oren’s spiritual life. Even as he and his family kept attending a Presbyterian church near their home in suburban Baltimore, he stepped down as a ruling elder and Bible-study instructor. In 1995, he attended his first service at Holy Cross, an Antiochian church here, about 10 miles south of Baltimore. By late 1996, he was a regular, and in May 1997, he and his family converted and joined.
Any person’s conversion is by nature an individual and idiosyncratic journey, and Mr. Oren’s reflected not only his visceral sense that Orthodoxy had a “core of holy tradition” but also his intense concern over theological concepts like giving the Eucharist to baptized infants, which may not animate other believers quite the same way.
Yet in its broader outlines, his movement from the Protestant realm into the Orthodox one, specifically into the Antiochian branch, attests to a significant and fascinating example of denominational migration. Over the last 20 years, the Antiochian Orthodox Church — with its roots in Syria and Lebanon and its longtime membership in the United States made up almost entirely of Middle Eastern immigrants and their descendants — has become the destination of choice for thousands of Protestants of Northern European ancestry.
The visible shift began in 1987 with the conversion of nearly 2,000 evangelical Christians, led by Peter E. Gillquist and other alumni of the Dallas Theological Seminary and the Campus Crusade for Christ. More recently, a wave of converts has arrived from such mainline Protestant denominations as the Episcopalian and Lutheran.
Some 70 percent of Antiochian Orthodox priests in the United States are converts, according to Bradley Nassif, who, as a theology professor at North Park University in Chicago, is a leading scholar of the religion. A generation or two ago, Professor Nassif said, converts made up barely 10 percent of Antiochian clergy.
Professor Nassif went so far, in a 2007 article in Christianity Today magazine, as to suggest that the 21st century might become the “Orthodox century” as disenchanted Protestants grew attracted to the historical roots, theological rigor and social conservatism of the Eastern Christian denominations.
Whether or not the prediction pans out, it is certainly true that no American convert comes to the Antiochian church by convenience or ease. The denomination has only about 250,000 members in 250 congregations in the country, Professor Nassif estimated. Worshipers stand during most of the two-hour Divine Liturgy each Sunday. Nearly half the days in the year require fasting from meat, dairy, eggs and most fish.
Yet when Mr. Oren and his family joined Holy Cross, they found kindred spirits in more ways than one. The church’s pastor, Father Gregory Mathewes-Green, had left the Episcopal ministry to convert. His wife, Frederica Mathewes-Green, had written perhaps the definitive book on the subject, “Facing East: A Pilgrim’s Journey Into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy” (HarperOne, 2006).
Alienated by what he called “spiritual and theological chaos and moral confusion” in the Episcopal Church, Father Mathewes-Green, 62, started Holy Cross in early 1993 with 19 members, five of them from his own family. When he formally renounced his Episcopal vows, he lost not only his annual salary but also the rectory that was his home.
“There were many times,” he recalled in a recent interview, “when I thought, ‘Today is the day I have to look through the Help Wanted ads.’ ”
In the years since, though, Holy Cross has grown to 120 members, nearly two-thirds of them converts, and has bought and paid off a $265,000 building. Fittingly for a congregation of spiritual seekers, Holy Cross occupies a stone structure built by Methodists and most recently occupied by the Pentecostals of the Korean Full Gospel New Generation Church.
While the sun streams through a stained-glass window of Jesus that was installed by the original congregation, most of the icons were painted within the last dozen years by an Orthodox convert, Carolyn Shuey. The other day, Father Mathewes-Green was tutoring the latest prospective convert, a Roman Catholic immigrant from Congo.
The unexpected evolution of the Antiochian Church has had only one drawback, at least at Holy Cross. When Father Mathewes-Green was persuaded several years ago to raise money with a church supper, people flocked to Holy Cross, expecting the savory specialties of the Levant. What they got was the culinary outcome of the priest’s former life as an Episcopalian from South Carolina: hot dogs and brownies. The fund-raiser, all prayers and chants to the contrary, was a loser.
The Holy and Great Martyr Demetrius (Oct. 26/Nov. 8)
This glorious and wonderworking saint was born in the city of Salonica of well-born and devout parents. Begged of God by these childless parents, Demetrius was their only son and was, because of this, most carefully cherished and educated. His father was the military commander of Salonica, and, when he died, the Emperor made Demetrius commander in his place. In doing this, the Emperor Maximian, an opponent of Christ, particularly recommended him to persecute and exterminate the Christians in Salonica. Demetrius not only disobeyed the Emperor: he openly confessed and preached Christ the Lord in the city. Hearing of this, the Emperor was furious with Demetrius and, at one time, on his way back from a war against the Sarmathians, went to Salonica especially to look into the matter. The Emperor, therefore, summoned Demetrius and questioned him about his faith. Demetrius proclaimed openly before the Emperor that he was a Christian, and, furthermore, denounced the Emperor's idolatry. The enraged Emperor cast him into prison. Knowing what was awaiting him, Demetrius gave his goods to his faithful servant, Lupus, to give away to the poor, and went off to prison, glad that suffering for Christ was to be his lot. In the prison, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: 'Peace be with thee, thou sufferer for Christ; be brave and strong!' After several days, the Emperor sent soldiers to the prison to kill Demetrius. They came upon the saint of God at prayer, and ran him through with their spears. Christians secretly took his body and gave it burial, and there flowed from it a healing myrrh by which many of the sick were healed. A small church was very soon built over his relics. An Illyrian nobleman, Leontius, became sick of an incurable illness. He ran prayerfully up to the relics of St Demetrius and was completely healed, and in gratitude built a much larger church in place of the old one. The saint appeared to him on two occasions. When the Emperor Justinian wanted to take the saint's relics from Salonica to Constantinople, a spark of fire leapt from the tomb and a voice was heard: 'Leave them there, and don't touch!', and thus the relics of St Demetrius have remained for all time in Salonica. As the defender of Salonica, St Demetrius has many times appeared and saved the city from calamity, and there is no way of counting his miracles. The Russians regarded St Demetrius as the protector of Siberia, which was overcome and annexed by Russia on October 26th, 1581.
The Holy Apostle Matthew the Evangelist (Nov. 16/29)
Matthew the son of Alphaeus was at first a tax-collector, and it was as such that the Lord saw him in Capernaum and said to him: 'Follow Me!' Leaving everything, he followed Him (Matt. 9:9). After that, Matthew prepared a feast in his house, and there provided an opportunity for the Lord to voice some great truths about His coming to earth. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Matthew preached the Gospel among the Parthians and Medes and in Ethiopia, the land of the negroes. In Ethiopia, he consecrated as bishop one Plato, a follower of his, and himself withdrew to prayerful solitude on a mountain, where the Lord appeared to him. Matthew baptised the wife and son of the prince of that land, at which the prince was greatly enraged and sent a guard to bring Matthew before him for trial. The soldiers went off, but returned to the prince, saying that they had heard Matthew's voice, but had been unable to set eyes on him. The prince then sent a second guard. When this guard drew near to the Apostle, he shone with a heavenly radiance so brilliant that the soldiers were unable to look at him, but threw down their weapons in terror and returned home. The prince then went himself. When he approached Matthew, such radiance shone forth from the saint that the prince was blinded on the instant. But the Apostle had a kind heart: he prayed to God and the prince's sight was restored - unfortunately, only on the physical plane, his spiritual eyes remaining closed. He seized St Matthew and put him to harsh torture, twice lighting a fire on his chest, but the power of God kept him alive and unharmed. Then the Apostle prayed to God, and gave his spirit into His hands. The prince commanded that the martyr's body be put into a leaden coffin and cast into the sea. The saint appeared to Bishop Plato and told him where to find his body in its coffin, and the bishop went and brought them back. Seeing this new marvel, the prince was baptised and received the name Matthew. He then set aside all earthly vanity and became a priest, serving the Church in a manner pleasing to God. When Plato died, the Apostle Matthew appeared to this Matthew and counseled him-to accept the episcopate. So he became a bishop, and was a good shepherd for many years, until God took him to His immortal Kingdom. St Matthew the Apostle wrote his Gospel in Aramaic, and it was very soon translated into Greek. It has come down to us in Greek, the Aramaic original being lost. Of this Evangelist, it is said that he never ate meat, but fed only on vegetables and fruit.