Possible convert but will I ever be welcomed ?

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  • great to hear you have had contact with them, i saw the video last year and was very impressed :-)

  • Yeah, an interesting story indeed :)
  • Sorry, this is long post, so needs more than one entry, but i really hope and pray that you
    find the best way, and hope that this will help you. i admire your honesty and
    curiosity and sincerity.

    i know couples who are living in very different Christian
    traditions.

    all of them really struggle, and none of them would choose
    to start out this way if they had the opportunity to choose again.

    not one.

    one thinks the bread IS the body of Christ, the other thinks
    that the wife / husband is committing idolatry.

    one askes the priest for advice, the other gets jealous that
    the wife / husband 'never listens to him / her and loves the priest more' (if
    you add a drop or two of jealousy over the years, this is how it feels to the
    non orthodox person).

    one happily sticks to the old calendar and submissively
    waits to see if the bishops are going to merge their astronomical calculations,
    the other takes offense when the husband / wife interrupts the cooking of
    'Christmas' dinner to fry some fish fingers in order to keep the fast and avoid
    meat or cheese.

    one delights in getting up early to pray and fast, the other
    feels lonely and rejected when the wife / husband does not join him / her and
    the kids for the birthday lunch.

    yes, i know you can sit there and not eat, but the other
    person can still take offense.

    oh, and kids.

    one tells the kids that saint peter (for example) is up in
    paradise, close to God, and can ask God to bless the kids, the other tells the
    same kids that this is idolatry and peter is dead and we are not allowed to
    'pray to' dead people because it is witchcraft.

    etc. etc. 

  • i know couples who are living in very different Christian traditions.
    all of them really struggle, and none of them would choose to start out this way if they had the opportunity to choose again.
    not one.
    one thinks the bread IS the body of Christ, the other thinks that the wife / husband is committing idolatry.
    one askes the priest for advice, the other gets jealous that the wife / husband 'never listens to him / her and loves the priest more' (seriously, just add a drop or two of jealousy over the years and this is how it feels to the non orthodox person).
    one happily sticks to the old calendar and submissively waits to see if the bishops are going to merge their astronomical calculations, the other takes offense when the husband / wife interrupts the cooking of 'Christmas' dinner to fry some fish fingers in order to keep the fast and avoid meat. 
    one delights in getting up early to pray and fast, the other feels lonely and rejected when the wife / husband does not join him / her and the kids for the birthday lunch.
    yes, i know you can sit there and not eat, but the other person can still take offense.
    oh, and kids. 
    one tells the kids that saint peter (for example) is up in paradise, close to God, and can ask God to bless the kids, the other tells the same kids that this is idolatry and peter is dead and we are not allowed to 'pray to' dead people because it is witchcraft.
    etc. etc. 

    sometimes people are already married and then one of 
  • I have continued looking into orthodoxy and am meeting with an Armenian Orthodox priest and going to Divine Liturgy with an acquaintance that attends that OO church, when I get back from vacation. (I am trying to avoid the Coptic priest near my home until I for sure decide to convert because that is where my boyfriend's family attends. This is not the same priest that my boyfriend has been speaking with as he doesn't currently live near his family's church.) At the moment, I continue to pray, meditate, and fast on the issue and asking for the Holy Spirit to guide me in my decision.
  • Hello learningorthodoxy.  By chance I saw your question and my heart goes out to you.  I'm a 65 year old convert to Orthodoxy who has been happily married to a Copt for over 44 years.  We know that the Lord is with you on your journey but at the same time, man can sometimes make this extremely difficult for us.  I feel I need to share a few insights if you don't mind. . .

    When my husband immigrated to this country, he resided in a state where there were no Coptic churches.  We found our church home at a Lutheran Church although our children were baptized Coptic in my husband's church in Egypt.  15 years ago, the social changes taking place in the Lutheran Church led me to find Orthodoxy.  It's been a glorious journey that is core to who I am.

    I'm a Danish American who was born in America and speaks only English.  My husband came to this country to embrace all that America has to offer.  We have NEVER had any cultural differences or issues relating to our faith journey.  My best friends are Egyptian and all my other friends are from the Middle East.  But, after moving to Southern California where I find that immigrants can come here and never assimilate, I was an outsider.  For the first time in my life, I heard rude comments about why she doesn't speak Arabic or why did you marry an American.  This happened in my own home!  Or the lady at my Coptic church who said to me the other day that she is happy to see another "white" person besides her husband!  Since when is Egyptian not white?  Shocking to say the least.

    What concerns me is that your boyfriend appears to not be supportive of you?  Where is he in all this discussion?  Why would be tell you what the priest said about getting rid of you?  Have you met his family?  Is he really serious about marrying you or is it just a facade?  I'm sorry to ask this and I don't expect you to answer, but as a mother and grandmother, this concerns me very, very much.  Your heart is open to discovering Orthodoxy and yet these people seem to be standing in your way because you are different than them?  This is not Biblical at all.

    Egyptians are quick to tell you they are conservative and don't believe in divorce.  I heard this the first time I met my Egyptian neighbors and I was surprised why she would tell me such a thing ( I was a young 20 year old).  In the Egyptian community you can easily lose your identify it you don't stand up for who you are.  And, I'm not talking about your faith but your values, your ethnicity, your customs.  My children are blessed to have many rich family traditions due to the ethnic make up of our family.  That is why I question whether your boyfriend would be supportive of you?  I can cook Egyptian food better than my Egyptian friends yet at the same time, my family can enjoy traditional Danish foods from my childhood.

    My faith journey has  led me to a parish of the American Coptic church here in the Diocese of L.A.  Metropolitan Serapion is a very wise man as are the bishops connected to our diocese.  My priest was an attorney but is now getting his Phd in religious studies.  He is very well versed in all traditions of the universal church.  

    Speaking of priests, not all priests are created equal.  How a priest could deny you coming into the church is beyond me but the same thing almost happened to me.  I didn't give up and now my husband and I are very happy at the church we are attending.  And, I'm not at the Coptic church because of my husband; he's there because of me!  He would have never left the Lutheran Church!

    If I may say one more thing to @minatasgeel regarding @gerlinda and @NotCoptic.  Shame on you as the administrator to shut out these people who are seeking help.  How can you call yourself a Christian and yet cut off these people?  If you are as well versed as you appear, then you could have PM both of these people and given them info for a priest who could help them or a support group.  There are many souls out there who are hurting and crying out for help.  I know as I was one of them because I wasn't accepted into your community because I was not Egyptian.  

    There is a lot of hypocrisy in the Egyptian community.  They will never share that the same bad things that happen in our American society happens in their society, too.  It's just hidden.  And, many times it causes people to lead horrible lives.  Being in a loveless marriage (even though both are Coptic Egyptians), domestic violence, and many other things.  I know this first hand as I've seen and met these same people.  Your heart is young and God is with you.  I wish you all the best on your journey.  Feel free to PM is you wish dear friend.
  • welcome back martha, it's been a long time!
    it is also great to see that i am not the oldest person here.
    ;-)
    i also asked the question about why learningorthodoxy's boyfriend seemed less supportive - i shared your motherly concerns. i hope that her journey is going well.
    i am sorry to hear you did not have good experiences in your church.
    having been a full member of 4 different coptic churches in my 11 years of orthodoxy (too many house moves!), i have never experienced these problems in uk, despite always being in a small ethnic minority (i look generally north west european).
    only 2 or 3 people have said silly things (like 'what are you doing here if you are british?'), only to be rapidly corrected by the embarrassed egyptian/sudanese person standing next to then.
    may God bless your persistence, and well done for bringing your husband in to the church (i am still working on that one!)
  • edited August 19
    @Martha 

    It's great to hear similar experiences from other converts. I've heard about the American Coptic church, but there are none outside of the LA Diocese or the Southern Diocese. I am hoping the only difference is language. 

    Thank you for your wonderful insight. I completely understand. A woman asked me yesterday when I was having dinner at my Priest's house if it was strange being married to an Egyptian. I responded, "My family is Italian. I grew up hearing a language I didn't speak and odd traditions I didn't understand." She looked at me strangely. It's almost if she didn't understand being an American does not mean you grew up with meat and potatoes and had Norman Rockwell paintings as picture of your life. It's a bit unusual for most Copts to see countries like the U.S. in that way when they tend to try to have children born here to gain citizenship and have the option of getting a higher education. It's almost if they forgot there is a high diversity of ethnicities and that Egyptian and Coptic culture are actually rather similar to other cultures who have been here for over a century.
  • Hi Martha

    Thank you for your feedback. I agree not all Priests are equal. I met with an Armenian Orthodox priest today and he was very inviting, had (it seems ) more experience with converts than my bf's current priest, and answered all of my questions. I was very comfortable with him, the answers to my questions, and the religion as a whole. He could see that I was taking this process seriously and understood the need for me to still be culturally Jewish and celebrate those traditions in rememberance of God's covenants and protection of my people. He is in a larger city and although he has only been in the US for three years (from Lebanon) he said he had learned to examine what in the religion is true doctrine and dogma and which of it is cultural and focus with possible converts on the dogma and doctrine of the church (which can't change) instead of the cultural differences between Armenians and Americans.

    My bf has been supportive in many ways but initially felt stuck between his Priest (and thereby the church) and me. He was talking to his priest initially about proposing and that is when we got this information. That information is what made him concerned about how his church and family may not be as accepting of me even if I converted since at least this Priest was not being supportive. However when I told him the information that I got from the feedback overall on this site he was excited and hopeful. With that said he also doesn't want to put pressure on me to convert and would only want me to if I fully felt moved by the Holy Spirit to do so.

    It definitely continues to be a journey. I'm not rushing it. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit guides me to follow the path that is best for me.
  • Thank you @mabsoota for your kind words.  It's been a difficult journey these past few years after leaving my EO church family and moving to California.  But, hopefully I can help others on their journey.  Wishing you all the best.   
  • I appreciate the message you shared @ItalianCoptic.  I understand exactly what you're speaking about.  Many people don't realize that Americans come from many various ethnic backgrounds. We may be Americans by nationality but not ethnically.  A couple of weeks ago we were visiting with some dear Coptic Egyptian friends who have been living here for many years yet have idea of American culture outside of their church.  It surprised me but at the same time it made me sad.   Throughout all these years of being in the Egyptian community, I an no longer the quiet, naive young wife I once was who never would say anything when my feelings were hurt.  And, believe me, I have heard their discussions many times about "Americans".  My ethnic background is as dear to me as their Egyptian background is to them.  And, we need to have mutual respect for each other.  Many thanks for taking the time to write.  
  • It's good to hear from you @learningorthodoxy.  I don't wish to bore you but I'll add a little bit more insight. . .I discovered Orthodoxy through an inquirer's class at my local Greek Orthodox Church.  My husband and I then joined an OCA (Orthodox Church of America) parish which was a pan Orthodox parish with cradle and converts and members of many different ethnic backgrounds.  It was truly heaven on earth with a wonderful caring priest and a warm caring church family.  When I moved to southern California, there was no OCA church where I lived.  It was a struggle to find a place where I belonged.  Why?  Because, the Orthodox churches are still very much an ethnic based church.  I felt outside the circle and it was a horrible, broken feeling.  That is something I want you to be aware of if you join the Oriental Orthodox community.  I don't want you to feel outside the circle if your path with your boyfriend falls apart and you have converted.  Converts in an OCA parish or even a Greek parish can be a totally different experience.

    Secondly is the liturgy.  There are so many Coptic churches where I live but how many can I really attend and understand?  Why, because the liturgy is in Arabic/Coptic and even when they have an English service, the deacon gives the church announcements in English!  Again, I'm outside the circle.  As I mentioned, the Diocese of L.A. has American Coptic parishes.  I attended one for a couple of years where the service was ALL English.  It lost some of the flavor so to speak but it was filled to the brim with young people.  It would be a perfect church for a young couple to attend.  Do you have the choice to find a Coptic church with an English liturgy?  With a priest who is educated and I don't mean college educated but theologically educated?  As you are learning, there are church "T"raditions and church "t"raditions.  It's the "T"raditions that we need to be aware of and keep as it's part of the church canons.  Also, reading the Patristic Fathers is a good place to start, too.  You will find that if you have a sound theological background it will be of immense help to you.  There are many things that can happen in an ethnic parish that have no theological basis.  Just remember that.  And, search out a priest who is open to converts.  It boggles my mind how a church can be a church and yet not want someone to come into those doors and partake of the mysteries.  You need to tell that priest at your boyfriend's church to remember St. Mary of Egypt!  Stand up for yourself and don't take any guff from these people who can make you feel like nothing.  God loves you and he is always with you along the way.  I hope I have been of you to you in some way.  God Bless you dear one.  
  • Thanks Martha. I will keep all of that in mind. You've given me alot to ponder
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