My journey to Orthodoxy began when I was a baby. My great grandfather had immigrated from Greece, and he insisted that all of the children in the family be baptized. We only attended Liturgy a few times growing up so that we could participate in Greek culture. Not one word was spoken about theology. Most of my church experience growing up consisted of attending a variety of Protestant denominations. I would try a new church and get all excited about the one attribute of God that was their focus. Eventually just focusing on one aspect of God instead of worshipping Him as He fully is would leave me unfulfilled, and I would have to try a new church to be able to continue to grow in my knowledge and relationship with God. Fortunately for me I found a wonderful husband at one of the churches I attended. He was curious about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but I told him we couldn’t go there. We weren’t Ethiopians. Didn’t he know that that was what ethnic churches were about?
When my husband and I left our last Protestant church, we had become absolutely disillusioned with American evangelicalism. We wondered if there was any church where truth was taught as an absolute and not changed according to the whim of the leadership. My husband bravely brought up the Orthodox Church again. He sent me a podcast from Ancient Faith Radio and asked that I just listen to it. Out of respect for him, I gave it a chance. I was a blown away. The speaker shared a bit about basic Orthodox theology, and I was shocked. This was everything I knew to be true about God! How did I miss this? Orthodoxy wasn’t about ethnicity; it had preserved the true worship of God.
We started looking around for different Orthodox churches in our area. I was still a little bit hesitant to actually step into a church, let alone talk to a priest. Thankfully I found an article in the newspaper that mentioned there was an Orthodox reading room not too far from our home. Someone would be there to answer questions about the Church, and I wouldn’t have to step too far out of my comfort zone. We went as a family to learn more about the Church, and ended up meeting a wonderful new friend. She invited us to come to St. John and experience a service for ourselves. My husband and I attended our first liturgy in January of 2015. Our feet hurt from standing so long, but we were still intrigued.
It turned out the church was going to start the Basics of Orthodoxy class that week. We were willing to give it a try and hear all about the teachings of the Church. I must admit at first I attended expecting to hear some heresy and then I could finally cross Orthodoxy off the list as a legitimate option. Every week I was astounded by the depth communicated in the simplicity of the Faith. I was disarmed by the purity of the message and found myself longing more and more to become reunited to the Church of my forefathers. I read The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware, and it helped me to understand why some churches viewed themselves through an ethnic lens. We were finally ready to commit to the Church and in April of 2016, our whole family was baptized/chrismated into the Church. The sweetest reception we ever received was “welcome home” after the service.