English-speaking Australian Conversions
A steady stream of English-speaking Australians are being attracted to Orthodoxy by various paths. A few have actually joined the Orthodox Church; others have been frightened away, discouraged by the narrow nationalism of many “native” Orthodox (clergy and lay-people alike). The number of these “Australian Orthodox” is still very restricted, but it is continually growing. As yet, however, they have no organisation of their own, that is, no center to act as a focus for their activities. There is no jurisdiction called the Orthodox Church in Australia. These “Australian Orthodox” are divided among the existing national parishes and dioceses, thus forming a series of small enclaves, and up until recently with the onset internet and social media, largely unaware of one another's existence.
In Australia, we have as yet no equivalent organisation for “Australian Orthodox.” Obviously an English-speaking Australian deanery in a future united Orthodox jurisdiction of Australia could fulfill a double role: not only would it bring together and strengthen the Australian converts, but by providing services and literature exclusively in English, it would help to meet the pastoral needs, in part, of the younger generation of “born” Orthodox.
Witness to Secular Australia
A “pagan” and secular Australia: what, if anything, are the Orthodox Christians in this country to do about it? In the past it has been natural for them to disclaim missionary responsibility. They could urge that they were foreigners, most of them newly arrived in the country and intending in any case to remain only for a limited duration. But today the Orthodox Church in Australia, even if not yet “indigenous,” is acquiring by degrees a more settled and rooted character. Many of its members are Australian by legal citizenship, English in language and Australian in cultural outlook. As Christians whose permanent home is in this land, is it not their duty to do what they can to convert the secular majority around them?
Not only must we work to keep the younger generation of “born” Orthodox within the Church; not only must we welcome the Australian converts and provide more adequately for their spiritual needs; we must also be more outward-looking in our Orthodoxy, bearing witness to the faith before a non-Christian world.
Whenever we repudiate this vocation and turn away from the missionary opportunities which we are offered, it is not only others but we ourselves who suffer for it. Every act or refusal on our part means an impoverishment in our own lives as Orthodox Christians.
The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
for All Nations.
The Orthodox Church believes itself to be the True Church of Christ. One and unique. The pillar and ground of Truth. The Orthodox Christian Faith is not something restricted to Greeks, Romanians and Russians, but is intended by God for all people. Many Orthodox Christians of the “diaspora” fail very largely to recognise the practical consequences which follow from this belief. Instead of sharing their Orthodoxy with others, they try to keep it to themselves. They would do well to bear in mind the words of Our Lord to the servant who buried his talents in the earth.