The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

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Enquirers Info.
07-04-2010, 10:57 AM,
Dear Tom,

I was an enquiring Evangelical, and about 16 years ago I became Orthodox. It was not a hurried decision, and I had been on a journey towards Orthodoxy for perhaps 5 or 6 years before I was finally able to see the way forward.

I grew up in a Plymouth Brethren congregation, spent most of my time in church events and ministries. Helped on SU Beach Missions for several years, worked on the Children's Team at Spring Harvest a couple of years. Did three years at Moorlands Bible College. I fully expected to become an evangelical pastor. But my searching for a deeper and more transformational spirituality led me into the study of Church History, the reading of Catholic and then Orthodox writers, attendance on retreats at various Anglican Franciscan houses - and into a degree of confusion about what I was supposed to do.

I am more than happy to discuss any aspects of Orthodoxy from an Evangelical perspective. I won't bore everyone with a detailed biography. But having become Orthodox I am no less committed to mission, and I find that the British Orthodox Church, and the Coptic Orthodox Church of which we are a part, are also committed to mission.

Indeed the British Orthodox Fellowship and this website is an expression of our commitment to mission. We do not want to keep the treasures of our Orthodox life in Christ to ourselves!

Even as an Evangelical I would have found it problematic to worship God sitting round a table drinking tea and coffee. There is absolutely a sense in which our worship should transform all aspects of our life - we are taught within Orthodoxy to seek to learn to pray at all times for instance. But I would be concerned that the practice you describe rather inverts the relationship between worship and life and would tend to transform our worship into our life instead of our life into worship.

We need some sacred centre of our lives - which we believe is the liturgy, in which Christ becomes present in the midst of His body, the Church - so that we have grace to live the rest of our week in the transforming reflection of that experience. If we make the liturgy simply a reflection of our ordinary domestic lives then it does not seem to me that we have any sacred centre on which to draw.

In our Orthodox tradition we tend to stand in prayer, for instance. And we have a practice of removing our shoes at least when we receive communion because we believe that the ground we are standing on at that moment is hallowed by the presence of God. We bow, we make the sign of the cross, we kiss the Gospels so that in all of these physical attitudes we are training our hearts to properly respect and honour the one in whose Name we have gathered and in whose presence we stand.

There is no reason why in a shared meal, or in the context of some fellowship activity, there should not be prayer and praise offered with food and drink and the people gathered around tables. But from an Orthodox perspective, at the liturgy there is a need to put away from our thoughts and minds all extraneous matters and concentrate all of our attention on God only.

In my own Plymouth Brethren background the Lord's Supper was the most important meeting of the week. We sat in (hopefully) prayerful silence around a table which was set in the middle of the congregation, and people would stand and lead the congregation in prayer, give out a hymn, or speak about a passage from the Scriptures. There were and are theological problems with the Brethren view of the Lord's Supper, but even in the context of an Evangelical congregation such as I grew up in, there was a sense that the Lord's Supper should be 'other' than everything else we did, and should be a determined focus on Christ.

I am more than happy to discuss any aspects of Orthodoxy from an Evangelical perspective. I was a committed Evangelical - and in some senses I still am. I do not believe I have repudiated my past but have rather found all of my aspirations fulfilled in Orthodoxy.

God bless you

Father Peter

Messages In This Thread
Enquirers Info. - tombaker1709 - 06-04-2010, 08:23 AM
[] - John Charmley - 06-04-2010, 08:40 AM
[] - tombaker1709 - 06-04-2010, 09:03 AM
[] - John Charmley - 06-04-2010, 11:48 AM
[] - admin - 07-04-2010, 10:57 AM
[] - John Charmley - 08-04-2010, 08:18 AM

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