September 1, 2010

Orthodox Parishes Abroad Have to Adapt to Local Traditions

September 1, 2010

Orthodox priests who work in countries where Orthodoxy is not a traditional religion of the majority, have to adapt to local religious traditions or invent new ones comprehensive to their newly converted parishioners.

Thus, in Antarctica people are baptized in the ocean, and on the feast of the Holy Trinity the procession with cross does not carry the traditional Russian branches of beech, but priests go through the snowstorm of the polar night, the Ukrainian paper Segodnya reported on Wednesday.

One of the Hollywood Orthodox churches occupies a former motion-picture set, Liturgy is celebrated in English once a month, but about ten new believers are baptized a week and Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston can be seen among the parishioners.

Metropolitan Iriney of Dnepropetrovsk and Pavlograd, who worked in Tokyo in 1971-1975, searched for the way to a Japanese heart through music: first they learned "Katyusha", then prayers, and after it many of them got interested in Orthodoxy and wanted to be baptized.

In Africa newly converted Ethiopian Christians regularly go to church, but on their feasts leave the city for the countryside, paint their bodies and dance pagan dances. Ethiopian believers do not bake Easter cakes: they are replaced by lentil flats in salty sauce. Local residents, who have not adopted Christianity, believe the local priest is a powerful magician.

Thai are shocked to see people entering the church in shoes: any sole is considered "unclear", thus representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Thailand Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin) serves in socks and cassock.

Iran bans conversion to other religions, thus there are no Orthodox Iranians among the parishioners of the Tegeran church, but Muslim Iranians often come in to pray to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary also mentioned in the Quran and even light candles to them.