Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute National Study Highlights

(sketch by the hand Elias Damianakis)

2311 Hearst Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
Tel. 510-649-3450
E-mail: paoi@gtu.edu

The “Orthodox Church Today” study released by the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (Graduate
Theological Union) disproves many stereotypes and provides groundbreaking insights into the life of one of the least known American faith traditions – Orthodox Christianity.
Here some suprising and not so suprising facts:
  • More than half of OCA clergy and laity are converts to Orthodoxy.
  • The laity expressed only very modest support for women in the ministry.
  • Most clergy and laity agree that priests should have final authority in a parish.
  • Clergy and laity have a different vision for the process of selection of parish priests.
  • The vast majority of both clergy and laity identify their approach to Church life as either “conservative” or “traditional.”
  • Most of GOA and OCA laity prefer parishes where all members hold the same views.
  • The laity speak out on the urgent issues facing the Orthodox Church:  Youth leaving the Church is seen as the most important issue by both the GOA and the OCA members
     Religiously mixed marriages are a much more urgent problem among GOA than among OCA members
     Very few wanted open discussion on the ordination of women
  • The GOA and OCA members describe the strength of the ethnic heritage of their parishes in a very different ways.
  • The need for “more money,” “more volunteers and enthusiastic people,” “clearer vision of the parish future” and “more youth involvement” are seen as the most urgent issues by both GOA and OCA laity.
  • The members of both the GOA and the OCA are divided among themselves over issues of the “future for the Orthodox Church in the US” and “Orthodox Unity in America.”
  • Most clergy and laity agree that Orthodox priests in the USA need to be more socially involved than they are now.
  • Only a small proportion of both clergy and laity support the separation of religion and public education

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