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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Hope (well, one of them)

I have a number of hopes attached to this blog.  I hope people are reading it.  And, I hope they are getting some benefit from it.

One of my other hopes came up in an email exchange with someone I know who does addiction treatment in an Orthodox country.  He asked me this:

And what about your endeavors to make the American Orthodox Church more interested in the solution of the addiction problem? Hasn't your bishop decided yet to built a rehabilitation center?

My first response probably should have been, "Where is this American Orthodox Church that I may join it?"

The Orthodox Community here in the States are still divided up along ethnic lines based on the origins of the parish communities:

+ Patriarchate of Constantinople (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada, Albanian Orthodox Diocese)

+ Patriarchate of Antioch (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Mexico and Central America)

+ Patriarchate of Moscow (Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Diocese, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR], the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America)

+ Patriarchate of Serbia (Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America)

+ Patriarchate of Romania (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas)

+ Patriarchate of Bulgaria (Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia)

+ Patriarchate of Georgia (Georgian Orthodox Patriarchal Diocese)

Between them, there are 69 bishops of various ranks and responsibilities.  Most of their territories overlap each other, so that a single city (like Los Angeles) will be claimed as 'home turf' by most of them.  If you take the total 1,200,00 people in the US, Canada & Mexico (oh, yes, I should add that the majority of Orthodox churches overseas look at the US, Canada & Mexico as an undifferentiated region with people who are all essentially the same in every way!) that identify as Orthodox Christians, then you factor in that a majority of them do not go to church on a regular basis, then the community starts looking top-heavy: in Russian or Romania, a single bishop (perhaps two or three in an outlying diocese) could manage this number of people.  We have 69.

Here's how it works: Romania has 16,300,000 Orthodox Christians in the country.  Number of Bishops... 41.

Of course, we are also very, veeeeeeery spread out.  That makes it difficult.

But, the truth is, our resources are so chopped up and spread out that it is difficult to organize anything at all.  Try getting 69 people in general to agree on anything at all, presuming that none of them comprise a majority culture.

Yes, it is like that.

I don't pretend to have the answer to fix this situation other than time.  Slowly, the Church here is becoming filled with Americans and American-born people who relate less and less to the overseas churches in terms of cultural identity.

My hope is that, one day, enough of these bishops will become interested in supporting a Church-wide effort to start addiction treatment facilities throughout the US.  I hope they will see that the real evangelization of this country will begin when we start ministering to the needs of those who are sick and broken, rather than trying to talk those who are 'well' into making a 'transition' from one membership to the next.

Standard addictions treatment isn't working here, and we are seeing an explosion in addictions because the civil authorities who define treatment through licensing and legislation cannot provide people with spirituality.  That's our job.

My hope is that we figure that out as a community.

So, here I am, slapping my keyboard and hoping that we can make a difference.  Perhaps, if we all pray together, something will change.

I know for sure that I cannot do it alone.  Only God can do it.  But, He is waiting for us to decide we will cooperate.

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