Friday, June 19, 2015

How I Became Orthodox. . .In a Tiny Nutshell

I have been Orthodox since March 3, 2013 although my path to Orthodoxy started way before that. I was first introduced to the Church by studying Historical Theology at Multnomah University. One of my favorite classes was Patristic and Medieval Theology, which gave me a really amazing overview of what the Church has been up against for its entire history, and how God has continued to guide it through the Holy Spirit, just as he promised (Matthew 16:16-19; I Timothy 3:15).

I had been involved in many different Protestant denominations, from Baptist and Pentecostal to Messianic Judaism and Islam in a quest to find out what the original Church looked like. I wasn't completely satisfied at any point, as all these groups just told me to read the Bible, pray and continue to learn how to interpret the Bible so that the Holy Spirit could lead me effectively. In the end, it felt like a lot of stress, because there was no one source I could trust and no consistent way of interpreting Scripture. Beyond this, every church and group I had been a part of had different practices and traditions of worship.

During my first historical theology course, Reformation Post-Reformation Theology our professor, Dr. Jon Robertson, had us recite the Nicene Creed as a prayer at the start of class. At first I thought it was an odd and somewhat quaint tradition, and it took some time for me to value its significance. In this class, we learned about the history of the Church from the Great Schism until today's ever-expanding number of Protestant denominations, and I began to consider the idea that there could still be a Church that had been preserved since Christ's ascension without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

In my second historical theology class, I stopped believing that the visible Church had become corrupt in the first couple centuries of its existence, and the only logical answer was that the ancient Church still existed in the form of Orthodoxy, down to its creeds, hymnography, and theology. Dr. Robertson mentioned St. George as an interesting church for students to visit, calling it "a dinosaur in our midst." We arranged for a group to visit at Vespers in July of 2011, and I fell in love immediately. The liturgy with its rich theology in the hymns kept getting stuck in my head, I was blown away by the depth of theology in the icons, and felt connected to the Middle Eastern background of the parish.

It took my husband a little longer than me to come around to the idea, but we were chrismated as a family with our they 5 year old daughter and then 6 week old son. I still love theology, and languages, and am studying to teacher English as a second language, hopefully in a public elementary school. I love teaching Sunday School, because I'm always learning new things about our beautiful faith and community here at St. George!

Here is the link to video #1 of our Baptism/Christmation service:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

History of our Church

Although our community today is made up from people of many backgrounds, our parish was founded by mostly Syrian Orthodox families in the 1930's. The first Syrian Orthodox people came to Portland in the 1880's, but they attended a small Russian Orthodox chapel before starting their own parish.

The current parish started officially in the 1930's . The first building owned by St. George was on SE 62nd ave between Powell and Foster Rd. After that, the community was able to purchase a building off 115th and Holgate. The church was in that building until 2004, and the Syrian-Lebanese club still meets in the building next to the old church.

Our current building was built on land that the community bought in 1992, but the current building wasn't finished and consecrated until 2004.

This picture shows our Sunday School kids and clergy when Metropolitan Philip and then Bishop Joseph visited Portland for the consecration.

If you'd like to learn more about the history of our church and see more pictures from when our building was consecrated visit the Antiochian Archdiocese page I've linked to here!