There are several ways to start an Orthodox Mission. A church and its pastor can decide to become Orthodox. This has happened all over the U.S. Another way is for a group of people to come together to form a Mission. A third way is for the Church to send out a missionary priest into unchurched areas.
For now, the best strategy for the island of Oahu is the second strategy: forming a group willing to become a Mission. The Antiochian Missions Department is looking for a group of people who will meet regularly for
- Vespers on Saturday evening,
- Matins and Reader Services on Sunday morning.
Vespers is a prayer service that is 30 to 45 minutes long. Matins is a prayer service that is about 45 minutes long and is followed by the Reader Service which is an abridged version of the Liturgy.
The goal is a core of about 10 to 20 families or individuals who will meet regularly for worship, prayers, fellowship, and bible study like the early Christians in Acts 2:42. When we have a big enough group, we can ask the Antiochian Missions Department to send a priest out to Hawaii to help us establish a missions station under the care of the local Antiochian bishop.
This cycle of services is based upon the ancient and historic patterns of Christian worship. It may sound like too much for people used to just attending church for an hour on Sunday morning, but this is the way the Orthodox Church worships. And for people who have little or no experience singing, being part of a Mission means that everyone is in the choir. In addition to the challenge of learning the 8 tones, there is the challenge of learning about Orthodoxy and telling others about the Orthodox Faith.
Pioneers and Settlers
In the days when America was expanding westwards, there were three groups of people: (1) the pioneers, (2) the settlers, and (3) the city dwellers. The pioneers were the brave hardy folks who left the comfort of city life to start all over again on the frontier. They had to be self-reliant and self-starters in order to survive the harsh conditions of the frontier. They also had to be able to work with their fellow pioneers to ensure the group’s survival. After several years when the pioneers had the beginnings of a community, the settlers would come along and building upon the earlier work done by the pioneers. While they were busy building a new life on the frontier, they had friends and family who never left the city for the frontier. It takes a certain breed of people to be pioneers, but it does not make them better than the settlers or the city dwellers. They are fellow citizens of the same country.
The lesson behind the parable is this: Are you a pioneer, a settler, or city dweller? A lot of people are not cut out to be pioneers. That’s okay. But pioneering is hard work. Leaving the comforts of an established church with its beautiful sanctuary, well trained choir, Christian education program, and spacious facilities for a rented facility and semi-trained singers can be exciting and challenging. What makes church planting work rewarding is the joy of people coming to faith in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world and discovering the beauty of worshiping the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Reflect and pray on what Jesus said:
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37 – NIV)
Supposed one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. (Luke 14:28-30 – NIV)
The spiritual need in Hawaii is great. The island of Oahu has 800,000 residents and only 2 Orthodox churches! These two churches use non-English languages in their worship. Many people have told me that the use of non-English is a major obstacle to their being interested in Orthodoxy. We need an Orthodox church that has all-English services and is committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy has a rich spiritual heritage that many would find appealing and uplifting.
If you believe that God is leading you and your family to be part of this exciting venture, please contact me and the Antiochian Missions Department. We look forward to working with you!