Holy Archangels' Monastery near Prizren, Serbia

"You showed me the church of Yours as the source of health", Dusan's gift charter. -Full reconstruction was interrupted... -In June 1999 a monk from the monastery, Fr. Chariton, was abducted. -Now - a spiritual center gathering the remaining Orthodox people from Prizren and around. The young monastic brotherhood is full of religious enthusiasm and remains confident that one day Holy Archangels will be completely reconstructed.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Many black Christians join move to Orthodox traditions

Gannett News Service/ The Baxter Bulletin


After a lifetime in traditional black churches, Robert Aaron Mitchell discovered the sights, smells, sounds and ancient traditions of the Orthodox church.

"I discovered Orthodoxy while I was on the Internet one day back in 2001, and I was so drawn to it that I had to go attend a liturgy," Mitchell says. "I had no frame of reference for these traditions, but suddenly, I felt like this void was filling in my life. I felt like I was finally coming home."

Mitchell, 48, a project manager for AT&T in Detroit, is among a small but growing number of black Americans, many of them professionals, who are joining Orthodox churches. That's the branch of Christianity that split with Rome about 1,000 years ago and is known for colorful icons and the ethnic traditions it preserves in religious customs.

The attraction, Mitchell says, lies in discovering that for thousands of years, Africans played a vital role in the Orthodox world.

The Rev. Moses Berry, an Orthodox priest and pastor of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Orthodox Mission, Ash Grove, Mo., began his career as a Protestant preacher, a family tradition reaching back into the 1800s. Then, in 1983, he visited an Orthodox church in Atlanta and was so moved that he retrained to become a priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He also helped to organize the coalition of clergy, scholars and lay leaders coming to Detroit.

"Reconnecting with the Orthodox tradition connects us with the earliest Christian traditions," Berry says. "It means that, when our ancestors were brought here as slaves, they didn't arrive here with just a collection of tribal religions. They didn't all discover Christianity here. In fact, many Africans already were part of the ancient Christian church."

"The Orthodox church fills your senses," Mitchell says. "You smell the incense, see the icons and the candles burning, and there's movement, too. People are crossing themselves. There are processions sometimes. So much is happening all around you in the church."...

..."It's a little difficult to explain all of this to most Americans. At first, when I tell people I'm Orthodox, often they don't understand me and think I'm Jewish."

Originally published June 24, 2006

svarhangeli@hotmail.com

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