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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A review and critique of the conference held last year

This review is givin by the Chor-Episcopos Dr. Kyriakos. He is from the City of Chicago and I had the honor of meeting him at last years conference.

But this is what he had to say:

"God’s grace was abundantly showered upon the people of God
at an Orthodox Conference held at the Carmelite Retreat Center in Darien, a
suburb of Chicago, from May 31 through June 3, 2007.

This Conference was
sponsored by the Brotherhood St. Moses the Black, and it was called the Ancient
Christianity Conference. The General Convener of the conference was Dr. Carla
Thomas, a Harvard Medical School Graduate and a practicing physician. A deeply
humble Orthodox Christian with unshaken fidelity to the faith of the one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church, Dr. Thomas was vigilant to keep the entire
Conference well-focused and organized until the last day when all participants
left for their homes. Dr. Thomas paid attention to the minutest details of this
Conference from program planning to menu planning in the refectory. Having
observed the diligence and hard work of this lady managing and participating in
all the activities of the Conference, this writer can undoubtedly state that she
played the roles of Martha and Mary in the New Testament, the true women
followers of Jesus, one of whom symbolized the contemplative aspect of Christian
faith, and the other the practical dimension of Christianity.

Conference was attended by a large multitude of Orthodox Christians, of whom
about 50 % were new converts to Orthodoxy. All the major Orthodox jurisdictions
were represented in this Conference, including the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox
Churches of North Africa. Except for this writer, there was no Syrian
representation. When all Orthodox Christians representing the various
ethnicities of Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Antioch,
Middle East, Native America and Egypt came together to worship the one Lord and
God Jesus Christ, and when they all began to speak in their tongues and cultures
about the gift they had received in His Church founded on the apostles, the
Spirit they all had received at the time of their baptism and chrismation was
renewed like in a new Pentecost. All the converts became more effusive about the
blessings they received through their conversion to Orthodoxy, about the new
light they saw after a long search for historical, apostolic, and ancient
Christianity. Those who were born into Orthodoxy renewed their commitment to the
sacred covenant they have been holding with God since their childhood, and
pledged that their life would be totally dedicated to the construction of
Orthodoxy. Yes, it was a pouring out of the blessings of the Holy Spirit like a
second Pentecost.


registration of participants at about 3.00 p.m. on May 31 was followed by a
community prayer and special intercessions to St. Mary of Egypt, a sinner who
was converted to Christ, in the main hall, led by priests. After dinner and the
organizational meeting of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, there were
four simultaneous introductory sessions in different halls.

One of them
was on Orthodox Music led by Mother Katherine, Dr. Carla Thomas, and Ann
McDaniel. It was an unsophisticated introduction to Byzantine church music,
basically the chanting version adopted in Greek, Russian and Serbian churches.

The workshop on Introduction to Orthodoxy was led by Father Moses Berry
and Father Paisius. Fr. Berry narrated his pilgrimage to Orthodoxy from African
Methodist Episcopal Church, where his father and grandfather were ministers, and
his family had a strong religious history. After his conversion and priesthood
in the Orthodox Church, he opened several mission stations in the State of
Missouri and brought several hundreds of Protestants and Roman Catholics into
Orthodoxy. When he told his story of conversion, the audience listened to him
spellbound. His story moved every listener and made him more and more convinced
in the faith he had professed. Fr. Berry electrified the audience when he
explained how the Holy Spirit led him to the light of the ancient one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church founded by Christ. He explained clearly that none
of the Protestant churches possesses the means of salvation intended by Christ.
The Protestant churches lack the marks of the true Church. The Roman Church lost
them by being disconnected from Orthodoxy when it accepted innovative doctrines
and practices. Father Paisius led the group with a cogent testimony of his
conversion to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism with a Jewish ancestral
background. A married priest with children, Fr. Paisius elicited the spiritual
maturity of a monastic not only in his orthodox fervor, but also in his
appearance. He elicited a superb style of oratory.

Questions from the
audience gave added life to the discussions. One of the participants, an
Episcopalian lady asked: “Why should I leave my Episcopal Church? What is it
that the Orthodox Church offers me and my Episcopal Church does not offer me”.
Chor-Episcopos Kyriakos of the Syrian Church said: “The Orthodox Church offers
you 2,000 years of Christianity from Christ and His apostles, whereas the
Protestant Episcopal Church offers you 400 years of Christianity starting from
King Henry VIII of England, who wanted an annulment of his marriage with the
right to remarry. You may judge for yourself, which of these churches possesses
the plenitude of Christianity”. In further elaboration, he said that one can
appreciate Orthodoxy only when he tastes it and feels its blessings on a regular
basis. Orthodoxy is an experience, not a rational activity per se. It is an
intuitive experience, supported by all your physical and mental faculties.
Orthodox worship is the culmination of this experience.

In this workshop
Orthodox converts shared their journey to the Orthodox Church. They were clear
about what they were looking for and what they received. In fact, the
participants, who were orthodox at birth, confessed that they took their faith
less seriously up to that point, and that now they began to realize the
meaningfulness of their faith.

To read the rest of the article, go to the link



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