Saturday, December 01, 2007

A "Coup" in Oklahoma City? Nope

It seems the internet reports of the "death," or even stumble, of the new Antiochian Western Rite mission in Oklahoma City have been greatly exaggerated.

The once-and-future priest (Lord willing, of course) of that mission, Fr. Mark Wallace, formerly of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, responded to such a claim online:
On May 6, we had 52 people become “official catechumens.” Out of that total only 3 families have decided to “go East” and join St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church. [Which is an enormous, beautiful, and welcoming Byzantine Orthodox church - BJ.] ...[O]ne family has 7 children. One other family has 2 kids, and the third “family” is an engaged couple. It’s true that some are still deciding on whether or not to continue on the Orthodox trail. If you’ve done the math, that means 15 are going East and 7 are undecided. So, now we’re down to a solidly committed core group of 30 from the original, plus we’re adding at least 4 more new faces who have joined us since we’ve been Orthodox catechumens.

I just love how people hear stuff and go off and run with amazing conclusions; such as Guest IV’s post of 9/29 which said:

“For many of them, the change presented a huge disappointment. There is a very small group that is continuing on, attempting to establish a Western Rite Church.”

Many? Huge? Very small? How are we defining these terms?

I will tell you that our parish contributions are still sufficient to support me as their full-time (lay) pastor. AND we have a store-front space that we are in the beginning stages of “building out” which will accommodate 75-80 people.
So, this small mission of the Antiochian Western Rite is still large enough to finance a full-time clergy, a building and expansion project, and attract new people, despite spending months without its own sacramental services and without any date set for the clergy's ordination. That in itself refutes certain myths about Western Rite Orthodox missions spread by some.

Interestingly, this post also refutes another frequent claim (again, by some): that Byzantine Orthodox just can't accept the Western Rite, especially the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, and feel they cannot worship in it if they do attend. This post recounts:
Recently, we hosted a retired Western Rite Orthodox priest who came to teach our community and serve the Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon on a Sunday morning. A liturgy cannot be served unless there is at least 1 chrismated Orthodox person present in addition to the priest. Since our group is not yet chrismated, we had about 10 people from St. Elijah attend. Also, we had several visitors from the community attend which brought our total to 50 (give or take 1). The response was overwhelmingly positive by the St. Elijah people (who had never been to a WR Mass) as well as the others.
The prospective priest notes this is hard work and phony internet rumors don't help. But he has a promise that he is serving God in the process. What more could he ever want?
When will be chrismated? When will I be ordained? I’m not sure...I’ll keep you posted when I know...

Is it easy? Heck no...It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. However, I do know that God is in this adventure and I have the confidence of receiving “the faith, once delivered to the saints” and it will never change.

Yours in Christ,
The Priest
[formerly known as Fr. Mark] [LOL! - BJ]
St. Andrew Orthodox Church [a mission in formation]
Oklahoma City, OK
May God establish and bless this mission.

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