Jackie with Yiayia Virginia and Papou George at their Folly Beach house. Image courtesy of the author.
When I was a child, my grandmother, Virginia Manos, a devout Greek Orthodox Christian, used to frequently attend events and gatherings at the Baptist Church on Folly Beach. She also volunteered with different Christian organizations. She had an ecumenical spirit. And I mention this because, back in the day, this was unusual for traditional Greek Orthodox Christians.
I remember staying with her at our beach home in the summers of my childhood, continually amazed at all the friends she had, from all backgrounds, not just from the “Greek” community. It was as if her heart and soul were just bursting to not only befriend others but to share the “good news” with others. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Sharing the “good news” with others outside my denomination was something that sadly and sorely I was not taught within the Greek Orthodox Church. Please don’t misunderstand me. Growing up Greek Orthodox gave me a foundation of faith that is irreplaceable. The Church of the Apostles has a rich tradition with a depth many times unparalleled. But I suppose I have taken after my yiayia (grandmother) Virginia in more ways than one.
I, too, hunger, for God’s Holy Word. “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). I, too, know that when we gather in His name, He is with us. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). I, too, know that fellowship means fellowship with everyone, not just Orthodox Christians.
It took “stepping out” of my traditional faith walk to truly become a disciple of the Lord. “For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Disciples are those who step out into the world and are unafraid to shine their light for the Lord. Unafraid to testify to His glory. Unafraid to question, even challenge, our own parishes, ecclesiastical authorities, and archdioceses.
I believe my yiayia would be proud of me today. She has passed into eternity like most of my family. Yet I know that there isn’t a special place in the heavenly realm designated for Orthodox Christians but that we will all be together praising and glorifying our Lord for all eternity. Which is exactly what we all should be doing, right now, on this earth. Inside and outside of our churches.
So, thank you, Grandmother Virginia, my evangelical and fiery yiayia, for teaching me a very wise and important life lesson. And thank you to my Lord and my God who knew that I had a greater purpose on this earth and in His kingdom than seeing the world through only an Orthodox and Hellenic lens, when the lens that I need to be looking through is the one that focuses on God, at all times, in all circumstances and with all people.
Jackie Morfesis is a creative, advocate and author. She holds a BFA in fine arts and an MA in liberal studies and is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Greece. She is a Greek Orthodox Christian with an ecumenical spirit.
Who needs ambassadors of the Faith when the faith has archons etc
Ella Marie, we are all ambassadors of the faith. Every single Christian. We are also disciples of Christ. These are our roles in serving God’s kingdom on earth. We do not look to others to be ambassadors of the Faith. We are also ambassadors of the Faith.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Not clear what the premise of this article is but sure,
we Orthodox can be “friends” with other denominations but we don’t leave our Faith’s tenets & congeal with other faiths.
The premise is that we are all a “Child of God” and that we are called to learn, to grow, and to be in fellowship with God’s children. We have much to learn from other denominations – including but not limited to their hunger and knowledge for God’s Holy Word and their abundant outreach in service to others.
Inner cities are way too dangerous in today’s society; so going to some of these other denominations is risky. Even “our own” inner city parishes are dwindling in numbers and support, due to fear of subways and crime committed on the vulnerable’ elderly. God bless her-those were better days– soon all the inner -city woke coasts will be sustained by outside funds– and not very “kosher” ones!
When I read the words Rotaty and liberal
I buttoned myself……
“Liberal Studies” is not a political term. It means studying a broad range of academic material. And the Rotary is a service organization. I volunteered during my scholarship to Greece at an orphanage among other service projects. Please see Matthew 25:35 for clarification on how we are to serve Christ through serving those in need.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”. (2 Corinthians 5;20). Every single Christian is an “ambassador” for Christ. We are also disciples of Christ. It is at the very core of our faith walk.
Most Greeks do not view themselves as ambassadors for Christ but rather as ambassadors for Hellenism. Greeks are more interested in promoting the Greek American success story instead of the Gospel of Christ. The AB of the GOA leads the parade.
Most Greeks really do see themselves as ambassadors of Hellenism instead of for Jesus…
So embarrassing, GOA leaders and their endless superficiality and obsession with getting awards. Yuck.
No loyalty to Jesus, only power
Thank you (?) Helleniscope for this praise of the New World Order religion! Out with dogma, out with the saints, in with warm fuzzy feelings about some vague lovey-dovey “Jesus.” After that we can go whole-hog and have mutual warm fuzzies about “god” with Islam, Wicca, Judaism, Pachamama, etc. And our rituals can be whatever the State needs them to be at the moment. Let’s all hold hands at the Abrahamic Family House when it opens this year in Abu Dhabi. Life is so easy when you just go with the flow!
This is a forum for all in the Greek-American community and I am sure we all agree that we have many options we have as we run for the exits, after years of watching the corruption in our Church. Many among us have headed for some of the Evangelical Churches. Also, you may not be aware, but there are among us descendants of Pontian Greeks who were proselytized by the Evangelicals back in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century – before they had to abandon their homeland.
We have seen many others deciding to attend ROCOR or OCA Churches, and some going to the Antiochians. It is our duty to present the journey of all. I will leave your other characterizations aside… Those who think that hold the well of “purity” are welcome to practice their ideas about dogmatic purity and people will follow. Enough with empty words.
Isidora, that you see an article that testifies to loving God, being a disciple of Christ, and sharing scripture, as a celebration of a “New World Order religion” is concerning. Nor did I say anything against the dogma of the church nor the saints and martyrs of the church as you stated. As an Orthodox monastic and Archimandrite once told me – we need to be mindful from where our thoughts arise – if they are dark, they are from the darkness. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We must watch our hearts lest the darkness find a portal.
Yes- all of your above reasons make great sense; also, may I add, that many of my senior friends in the inner cities are too scared at their age to take subways and walk to their once beloved parishes. They have told me the “young” do not show- and financially these seniors poured their life’s treasure and sweat into these churches over the years. The city is nowhere -not getting better- the lunatics have taken over the asylum, and the Greek-community leaders actually met with the mayor? Lots of photo ops- and dems, pseudo alleged dems, wanna be dems… allegedly no one from any other poilitical party/aisle.
What does Elpathetic say or not say? Well, -that the March in Brooklyn was for justice? For an alphabet-soup group (3 letter group) that just this week posted Bail Money for the alleged shooter of a Democrat Kentucky Mayorial Candidate? Congratulations ! Hello- and you are praising that March– ya know– that great summer’s March of convoluted ” love ” ? Hello? Are you tone deaf? Your inner-city parishes –no —OUR inner-city parishes are losing more parishioners than the name brand foods missing from grocery-shelves and you– he- “Elpathetic” praises the march for “justice.” No more words— he’s just hanging with the 1% wrong crowd…