As a current ThD student at The General Theological Seminary, perhaps the most troubling piece of information to have been disseminated in the slew of blog posts, comments, tweets, and emails that have piled up since the beginning of the ensuing crisis at GTS for me has been the Facebook post of Rev. Ellen Tillotson, a GTS board member (and priest in the church). Rev. Tillotson alleged that faculty members had knowingly planned their actions for many months in an attempt to undermine the authority of the Dean and President and force the board’s hand by strong-arm tactics. These allegations have been addressed quite astutely by GTS professor Rev. Dr. Amy Lamborn in a comment to Tillotson’s post at the Episcopal Café. However, Tillotson makes additional claims also at work in the Board of Trustees’ Sept. 30, 2014 letter that thus far have not been addressed. They pertain to the numbered list of requests in the Faculty’s first letter (Sept. 17, 2014). After providing her own paraphrases of each of the requests, Tillotson says, “Numbers three and five aren’t bad ideas at that. The others are simply impossible. Impossible.” Numbers three and five harmlessly request for someone external to the institution to be made available for pastoral support of students, staff, and faculty, and for the hiring of a fundraiser, respectively.
I became Orthodox because there was nowhere else to go.
Like many Southerners, I was raised going to church. I am grateful for the congregation of my childhood: a safe, friendly environment that instilled the importance of Scripture, prayer, and a relationship with God. But when growing pains led to a departure from there, I felt bewildered. I knew I wanted to stay in Christendom, and to do so in a community, but beyond that I was out of ideas. I had seen a variety of places, Protestant and Catholic, but still felt uncertain. So when my stepbrother and his wife invited me to go to an Antiochian Orthodox Divine Liturgy with them, I accepted. I just need somewhere to go, I thought; somewhere that isn’t nowhere. The place was pretty, chant-y, and smelled nice, not a bad place to sit and think things through. So I decided to go to Orthodox services while waiting for The Answer to my Church question: where else can I go? Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: Questions Answered”
Brook Edwards is a high school friend of my sister, but I have gotten to know her a bit better over the years. We have a shared love of teaching, and I have found her insights into practical, pedagogical, and policy issues to be full of wisdom. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, politicians and policy wonks have been talking about arming teachers. I thought maybe they should listen to a teacher’s opinion first. Brooke is dealing with a difficult family situation at the moment, and I am grateful to her for taking the time to share her experiences with us. – David J.
I taught in the inner city for four years, and the talk of arming teachers inside of the classroom got me thinking about if I would prefer to teach with a gun strapped to my hip or not. My first thought was, “Yes! Of course I would want a gun!” I was raised to believe that an armed society was a polite society and that guns helped otherwise unsavory people have better manners.
Though there were many beautiful and theologically correct things that brought me to Orthodoxy, one challenge for me was that women are not allowed to be priests. I had come from a denomination that ordains women and allows women to hold many leadership positions in the church. The idea of an all-male priesthood and the fact that women were never allowed behind the altar chafed against my conscience. I also hated the thought of my daughter never being able to be an acolyte. The fact that the early church had deaconesses only added to my chagrin. Deaconesses administered the sacraments to women and girls since back then men couldn’t touch women.
My best friend from college, who is an ordained (female) minister in the Nazarene church, asked me over and over: “How can you be part of a church that doesn’t ordain women?”
I tried to explain to her that I’d found a church that engaged in right worship, was built on historical Church tradition, and offered a community of saints. Spirituality was a practice, not an emotional experience. If I do feel moved emotionally in an Orthodox liturgy, I am certain that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the effect of singing Just As I Am or Lord I Lift Your Name On High twenty times. “Maybe all that is more important than women being ordained,” I said.