Orthodox England

Excerpt from: Volume 2 Issue 1 Date 1st September 1998

Is there a 'right' jurisdiction?
E.P., London

What a question! It is similar to 'Where is the True Church or the True Faith?' Fortunately I do not have to answer that question, since it is answered in the Liturgy, when after Holy Communion we sing, 'We have seen the True Light; we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the True Faith. We worship the undivided Trinity, for the same hath saved us'. Although your question is personal, let me attempt to reply to you in a non-polemical and nonpartisan way.

Most people belong to a particular jurisdiction for one of two reasons. 1. Geographical. 2. Linguistic. For example the average English person will not attend a foreign-language parish two hundred miles away when there is an English-language one five minutes away, whatever his formal jurisdictional attachment. I say the average person, because there are cases where people are so mistreated and their intimate faith so insulted by their own kind, that they will go elsewhere. Generally, however, the facts of geography and language mean that any pastor in any English parish has to be open and tolerant to others and sensitive to their particular needs and approach. A priest and a parish have by definition to gather people together, not to separate and divide them, as some do. English parishes are, and surely should be, regional, rather than jurisdictional. Of course, a priest has to be with a bishop of a particular jurisdiction to whom he owes canonical obedience.

Ultimately the fact is that in the long term, the right jurisdiction is that which provides spiritual food to English people and this will become the largest English jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in this country. Quality not quantity. Depth not superficiality. Spirituality not childish triumphalist statistics. Any jurisdiction which behaves like a bigoted political party dependent on a foreign power, or an empire-builder, or a masonic hall, or a guru cult, or an ethnic ghetto, or a museum of quaint customs from the old country, will simply die out. Our business is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit and that alone. Any jurisdiction worth its salt must have as its mission statement: 'Feed my sheep' John 21, 16, and that is an affair of the Spirit of God, not of man.

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