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Love One Another....

By: The Reverend Mother Barbara Martzall

Over the years, many people have visited our web pages for which we are very thankful. Many of the visitor responses to the writings and beliefs expressed have been positive; however, our community, along with many other independent catholic and orthodox churches in the United States, have been the topic of negative discussions by some of eastern orthodox groups. Some believe that only they have a right to call themselves orthodox. They state that "if you don't belong to The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), then you are not legitimate". Well, our legitimacy comes from Christ Himself: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:33-35 - New King James Version)

We are Christ's disciples! Every faith-based group in the United States has a right within the United States to worship as they are called to do and to name their church accordingly. So really what is the problem? Those church groups who see only themselves as the True Church, are hard at work criticizing those who are spreading the Good News. They start picking on the different churches because of their name, their way of worship and even the terminology that is used. Every faith/religion should be finding ways of working together for the common good of all God's children.

If I find a church home that is willing to ordain women, then that is my choice. If I find a church home that is open to all who want to be a part of the church, then that is my choice also. If I find a church home that uses a mix and blending of worship services/liturgies, then that is my choice. If my church uses terms in a different manner from another church, that that is its choice. Rather than quibble about who is right (i.e. whether God loves you or me more), let's all learn to get along in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who want to hear it.

Yes, the our Community and our Church are very unique in many ways. The church ordains women to the holy order of priesthood. Yes, we accept people who are left on the fringes of the "Church" because of who they are. Did not Jesus accept people for who they were? Did he not teach us that each person has something wonderful to give to others? Yes, the Community may use religious terms/titles that others use differently. But what is wrong with that, may I ask? I have borne many a nasty comment because I call myself a hieroschemamonk. Well, why is that a problem? The original Greek for a monastic was monk - non-gendered, neuter in sex. I am a priest and a monastic within my church so "hiero" is correct for me to use. "Schema" is correct since I have been given that "monastic rank". And so, my title is absolutely correct in all aspects of defining terms as set forth by even the Orthodox Church though they do not ordain women.

So I as a "hieroschemamonk" will continue serving God in whatever manner He calls me to do. I will minister to those God sends my way. I will do whatever I can to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who hunger to hear it. And, I will continue to work with other churches to help bring understanding and unity. Yes, I have a great love for the Orthodox Theology as handed down over the years from the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers. I don't always agree with the cannons of either the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church; however, both Churches have some very good things to offer as do other faiths/religions.

Would not this world be a better place to live if each one of us just took a moment and talked with one another instead of constantly criticizing one another? Let's take the time to understand where each other is coming from and what our goals are so as to be able to see Christ in one another.