Dear Fr Gregory and Walter,
My own introduction to Orthodoxy certainly involved comparison with my previous church, in order to understand what Orthodoxy was all about. As a 'cradle catholic' with a background including monastic life, I had been worried by developments in the RC church over the years. In particular I was concerned about liturgy and the attitude to practical Christianity. Nevertheless, I have now accepted Orthodoxy in its entirety, and would not be satisfied with a 'half-way house' situation. Thus I agree with Fr Gregory that 'partial' conversion is unacceptable. We have to accept Orthodoxy for what it is, not what we would like it to be, and so do newcomers.
Coming recently to the BOC from Rome I am very conscious of certain practical difficulties that we face. We are numerically very small, spread thinly across the country. Inevitably this means we have extremely limited resources in terms of people, clergy, churches and money. We are perhaps more of a missionary church than one which is firmly established.
You may not be aware that the priest serving Bournemouth actually lives in Portsmouth, and in addition to praying there too he also covers Brighton - an enormous territory. There are also other churches and priests in this country, although they may still be some distance from you. Quite apart from those who are actually unable to travel (perhaps for health reasons) I can understand that many would not care to travel a distance to pray, but surely the effort would be indicative of real committment to Orthodoxy? The very fact that it is not easy makes it more valuable. It becomes part of our prayer which we can offer to God.
If a result of anglicanorum coelibus is a number of people accepting Orthodoxy this position should ease, although perhaps not immediately. Growing numbers would help with our resources in people and income. Adjustments to the legitimacy of orders etc. is a matter for our bishops as discussed by Fr Gregory, but doubtless the numbers of clergy will grow too. There may even be a proliferation of church buildings as CoE/RC premises cease to be used. We are in the position of an infant church, with the opportunity to grow, despite our great Orthodox tradition. I see this as a chance to exercise hope.
With love and prayers,