Traveling to Bethlehem (16 Dec 2010)

Holy Theotokos Protect Our Church

Holy Theotokos Protect Our Church

Question: Is ours a Church or a Social Club?  This should be one of the first questions we ask. What is our parish and why does it exist?  To comprehensively seek the answers these questions, I think we need to look into our background. I will centre the discussion on the Greek communities; only because I know them best.  But, I truly believe that my remarks hold true for Arab, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian(or fill in your own ethnic group) Orthodox Churches.  When we look into the past, all our Churches were social clubs in the past.  Why?  Our churches were made up of immigrants who transplanted their faith from the Mother countries. God bless them for their sacrifices and may their memories be eternal!  These were the pioneers, clergy and laity who formed and planted our parishes.  They needed each other and for the most part stuck together. That is excluding the political schisms, which often reflected old country politics. Truly, they needed the Church to be their social glue.  They banded together with the communities as the focal point of their social life.  Early in our American experience very few could join country clubs or other civic endeavors, most worked long hours and spoke little English and always with accents. Because of these factors and many more, the Churches were the social outlets. The families spent the majority of their time at Church sponsored activities or events.  That was then.

Today, we are in our fourth or fifth generation in this country; our social, educational and financial integration in the fabric of American life is complete. The Church is no longer our only social outlet.  Our relationship to the Church has changed, but have our attitudes changed. What is the role of the Church in our lives?  There is no doubt that as a Christian community we need fellowship!  The question is: “Do we seek to have the Church fulfill deep spiritual needs or do we still consider it a social club where we go to get our ethnic fix?  This is the first and most basic question, we must ask ourselves. Church or social club? Which is it?  At this time of year as we prepare for the Nativity of Our Lord and as our families gather to  celebrate this joyous festival perhaps we can begin to ask each other serious questions about where we want to take our Church. After all, we are the Church!