Once a "Convert," Always a Convert
Fr. Matthew Thurman has asked a pertinent question on his blog:
I became a catechumen in the Orthodox Church during Bright Week of 1998—roughly nine years ago. My duration in the Episcopal Church before that (both before my baptism and afterwards) was roughly eight years and nine months. Now that I've eclipsed the time in my past ecclesial body with the time in the Orthodox Church, does that officially cancel out my status as a "convert"?For certain ethnics, one is only "Orthodox" if one is Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc. Unfortunately, for them, "convert" is not merely a lifelong but a generational appellation. A friend told me of a recent discussion at a West Coast Orthodox Church, in which a cradle Orthodox said something disparaging about "converts." Just then, a young Caucasian woman of college age spoke up. "I am cradle Orthodox," she said. Her parents converted long ago, and she had never known any other Church than that of the East, nor any church service than that of St. John Chrysostom. The point was lost on the crowd, but it shouldn't be lost on us. Some are Orthodox in thought and theology before joining the Church. Others are never Orthodox in thought nor action, regardless of where they occasionally "commune."
Don't they listen to the sermon preached the one Sunday of the year they go to church? God rewards us, not by whether we joined at the sixth or eleventh hour of the day, but by His grace and the fruit our lives yield (in that order). Some ethnics may never accept "the converts," but One far more significant certainly does.
(Thanks to Father, because this raises a question I received some time ago and am derelict in addressing. Watch for future posts.)