One of the first things I wanted to do in Ukraine before I even visited was attend church service. I mentioned this in my first visit, but she worked at noon that Sunday and we would have been in a rush. We went later on that week to the church catacombs, but that was more like a museum to me than a church.
I again mentioned this to my gf last year. We again went to something that was more like a museum. The church had graves of saints where you pay a little to get blessed, church buildings hundreds of years old and a place worship place where there was an altar, but there were no pews or a place for the worshipers to sit. Later on in the week, we went to a baptism. The church there again had no pews. It only had an altar and a door to the priest's quarters.
Now that I think of it, none of the churches I saw had any significant pews. My question is, are there regular weekly church services in FSU?
"Most people in the Russian-speaking world seem to identify themselves as either atheist, or Orthodox. Primarily from Russia's history, there are significant populations of Muslims in some regions. Most non-Orthodox Christians seem to belong to a few denominations such as Ukrainian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Baptist, etc. Again for historical reasons, Jews are now a very small minority.
As far as I can tell, weekly attendance at church is not very common.
To Westerners like me (as I child, I attended Protestant services in the U.S.), probably the most surprising thing about Orthodox services is that they are so non-participatory. To my knowledge, there is usually no sermon, lesson, classes, etc. The clergy perform their rituals (some of which are even inside an enclosure within the church, where attendees cannot see!), and the people at the service may mill around, talk among themselves, etc.
My impression is that many in the Russian-speaking world have a Christian identity comparable to that of the (non-observant) 'non-observant' majority of Jews in America: it is more a matter of tradition, cultural identity, a way of thinking about the world, and the basis of some holiday rituals -- with little connection to religious practice."
I never noticed the lack of pews in Orthodox churches until reading the post above, but now that I think back, I have never seen them -- just big open floors! The scarcity of seats (there are some, but very few) in Orthodox churches fits with the way the services are held, without sermons or participation from the congregation.
I have been to a Catholic church in Kyiv, where the Mass (and the pews) were like I would expect to see in the USA. To directly answer the question, Orthodox churches hold services on a regular schedule (at least, some of them do), but if you are looking for a service like those most non-Orthodox churches hold, and a congregation where most people attend every week, then I suggest one of the non-Orthodox denominations above. I know there is a big Baptist church in the north-west of Kyiv; I happened to sit next to its pastor Konstantin on one of my flights.
RB thanks for question & Durak for the info. I am on staff at my church (Baptist) as the Tech/Media Director & also the drummer for the "Praise Group". Now I live in a coastal tow & it;s a pretty laid back style church. And even tho we have a music group w/ drums included it actually is not as rock & rollish as sounds - in balanced context it works well. I don't want to get into "churchy" style issues.
I had done some web looking at the Orthodox church & familiar w/ it's history. My faith guides me but I'm not too hung up on particular rules or standards. I had broached the topic w/ Lena & there is a real disconnect there. She was raised, especially by grandparents, with God as part of her life which is really all I was interested in. Couldn't care less if she went to church every Sunday etc.... just that there was a common thread.
Religion there seems to be more institutional...detached. There is no concept of knowing people from or through any local church. Makes sense considering all these countries were not very long ago (by history's standards) all part of the rigid, atheist by history, Soviet rule. Just the concept of open religion is new to their mindset. And 'the church' seems to hold the same aloof place as 'the government". It's there but you don't deal w/ it often.
Just another reminder that these women come from a completely different culture. There is very little of what we take for granted in every day life that is common to theirs. Just to have ones own personal car is very rare. Here we feel completely isolated without one.
Once you have your lady here there are still going to be so many adjustments.
As a protestant, I have always admired the Catholic's show of respect inside the church, kneeling before and after leaving the pews and the building. I see that the Orthodox use the same show of respect. I went to three different churches in Kiev. The one where the baptism was held was one building by itself. The other two, however had many buildings, like a small city. I was told that this is where the priests, monks and nuns resided.
If there are no lessons and no formal services, I wonder what they do other than pray and study to themselves. What good is it if they don't share this with others? What worries me as I do with the Catholic Church is the perceived deity of these saints. There was a small building enough to hold the grave of one saint and a little more room for people to walk around. I gave 5 UAH as did my gf. A nun put a sign of the cross in our foreheads with a little ash and prayers were done inside that building. The catacombs had the bodies of the saints who died hundreds of years ago were underneath blankets were there. People kneeled down, lit candles and prayed before them.
The baptism had exactly seven people there, not including the priest: Mother, Father, Child, My GF, and three friends. As Durak says, it makes sense that there are no pews, but what about weddings and funerals? Is there not many that attend those either, or are they held somewhere else? A tour guide did tell me that until the fall of communism, persecution for worship was practiced. Therefore, the lack of pews when building the church was probably deliberate.
RB you make an incorrect statement. Catholics do not deify Saints nor do we worship them.
Prayers to Saints are asking for blessings and intercessions with Christ. Like a prayer to St. Jude. Who is the patron saint of hopeless causes. It is called a Novena and in the Novena it is asked for St Judes intercession with Christ. There is no deification or statue worshipping in Catholicism. Just reminders of the Saints and what they did to spread Christianity.
It's just like a confirmation name, I took Francis, for Saint Francis of Assisi. Many don't know the story of St. Francis, nor the Story of St. Stephen which my friend took who was stoned to death for his belief in Christ.
We worship God/Christ if Saints weren't important why did Jesus have 12 disciples whe later became Saints?
We went to an Easter Mass once in Kiev and then a Catholic Service in Yalta, where one of the few or the only Catholic Church to survive during Soviet Times. The Russian Orthodox religion shares many similarities to the Catholic church.
By the way RB so this doesn't get off on the wrong footing I didn't take it as an insult. I live in the Baptist Belt here and they have a ton of misconceptions about my faith, and my favorite one they all say is why do you worship statues.
bgpa, that's both wierd and quite cool - I'm in charge of tech and media at our place (although it's pentecostal). We just upgraded the desk to a Yamaha 01v96vcm - my new toy :)
I also drum and play keys (and occasionally the odd bit of guitar).
I went to a couple of churches in Kharkov. I think when you used the word 'detached' you got it spot on. I don't want to get too much into Great Schism issues here, but it's pretty clear that the fact that the Iconoclasm missed the Orthodox church really shows in seeing what the Catholic church would have been without it. Their use of symbolism (kissing some long dead priests clothes, crying to a painting etc) seems to have replaced any interactive individual consideration of the Gospel. From the observations I've managed to make so far, the general attitude seems to be:
1: They believe in God
2: They leave their relationship with God for someone else to deal with on their behalf
3: They have reverence and respect for these intermediaries (priests etc) and God, to the point of mysticism, which suits their sense of detachment
The lack of the kind of 'progress' thats been made in the west (with the multiple generations of reinvention of the church) gives a real look into the past, and the mentality of detached reverence, and transferral of intercessional responsibilities to a 'holy man' figure, seems much closer to ancient Judaism than what we would call Church here in the west.
Oh, and to shed a little light on RBs point about room for weddings, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a translator in Sumy. I noticed there was around 7 weddings going on outside the same church, in the same day. I asked the interpreter, and she said that most people marry at the registry office, and just get their photos done at the church. I asked why (you'll love this) and was told that people don't want to risk upsetting God by breaking their vows if they get divorced. Isn't that fabulous? A perfect summation of attitudes to (and understanding of) Christianity, AND a revelation of the expected longevity of marriage :) Talk about your two for one deal!
It is a sin to worship statues!!!!! Or anything/one other than the true trinity. The Father/Son/Holy Spirit thing. The respect shown in a Catholic church is to a Saint when kneeling upon arrival or deperture from the 'pews'. The 'alter' contains a relic of a saint. Just ask the priest and he will show it to you. And it is out of respect for this that one kneels or bows. Or to the 'host' which is the 'Body of Christ'. Whenever one passes by it one should kneel or bow. Catholics believe the bread and wine are truly turned into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That is why it is never wasted. And also probably why so many priests are alcoholic. Next time you are at a Catholic service, notice there is a 'cloth' or small plate to capture any 'crumbs' that may fall. The alter boy will hold this plate under the host at all times so as not to let any fall or be lost. And you will see the priest meticulously scraping these up and are put into the wine - blood of Christ- and consumed. And the 'leftover' wafers/bread IS the body of Christ. It is kept/stored in a fancy looking container to the right of the alter as you are looking at it. You will bow to the body of Christ. I remember one time I dropped a wafer -- almost shit myself! I looked at the priest, he looked at me. It took me a couple weeks to get over it thinking I missed a crumb.
I was going to avoid this but after six or seven tequillas ... :)
Interesting that my lady friend is atheist. But whenever she mentions God I remind her. I told her of the ceremony my neice had this past fall - in an Episcopal service. She now wants to have such a service. And my mom is already planning it. I like the Russian way myself. Go in sign the paperwork and drink vodka with a bunch of friends. Or as I would prefer, get married in Yellowstone Park and drink beer with a bunch of friends.
The fact remains that Russian people have been forced to worship only one religion over the centuries. The religion of whomever is in charge and makes the rules. Christianity has had its moments and the Orthodox crowd does exist. But it nothing like the truly Roman Catholic services of Europe or other western civilizations. We believe what we are raised to believe for the most part. Yet Christianity is becoming more accepted in Russia. So to surmise the reason why there are not bleachers in the churches is because of the persecution that went on over the years is a good guess.
Muzzy --- let's jam! I was in the contemporary choir at my local catholic church. Six chicks one guy singing tenor and I was the lone baritone. We rocked the joint. Guitar, oboe, piano and voice. Did the 'tween service. Not the early bird blue hairs, and not the 12 o'clock high mass. Yep, I actually sang solos in a church. And also lead a rock band in the bay area years ago. Still have my sheet music from the church! But they pissed me off when they granted an annulment to my Sunday school teacher wife who did not understand the concept of not fucking some mexican who was crying tears on her shoulder about his wife who he beat the shit out of... Homey don't play dat!
Hey, apologies. I don't think this topic was ever started to cast any shadow on any particular belief, non-belief in any way. I just took it as a guy trying to get a better understanding of 'church' & religion there in Ukraine. Just get a better handle on it because it is so different than ours. I read quite a bit. I'm a history buff but also keep up with current issues. I already knew some of the history of the Orthodox church. (they believe they are the ONLY legitimate church. Tracing their roots all the way back) It's having to go virtually underground in the Soviet rule era. Then it's re-emergence under Gorbachev all the way up to Putin embracing the church & making a photo op issue of paying homage to an important saint-priest of the Russian Orthodox church. I interjected the tech, drums, band whole part of my church experience because I knew it was going to sound/seem completely foreign to the lady I was corresponding with. And this might be a bit of a hurdle because after all, I am on staff at my particular "church". And "church" is an every day part of my life & particular world view. That's me. But I was glad to see someone ask about the cultural religious differences. And then Durak's info. Somewhere along the way this seems to have become poking differences in a different persons belief & if I had any part in that I apologize. I don't rate mine any higher or better than anyone else, or even their unbelief. Just important that my particular lady match me in some small way.
I think the 'sum it up' for ragingbull is what my lady's experience is that faith was learned 'in family'. Their religion is just now coming out of the shadows & just is not usually an every Sunday part of their lives. Their religion seems still somewhat detached as an institution but they have come thru centuries of regimented, systemic rule. Give them time to work their way back. So in answer; it is unlikely any lady would have any experience in our more open worship style of any belief or denomination. We take an awful lot for granted. Take away any opportunity of religion for a few centuries & we would then hold the smallest detail in significance. The very sight of an actual church building would hold amazing reverence. I don't know the nationalities of all here, but in the US a church 200 years old is automatically given a respect of tradition & history. The Orthodox church has more than a thousand years of tradition & reverence. Suddenly brought back to life where most our generation never had the experience. Yeah, I'd be afraid to touch anything. Much less have much understanding of religion, never having any personal experience.
Sorry. Thanks for being civil, Nasfan. I realized after my last post that you are Catholic and there are others. I don't mean to insult a religion that I don't understand. It is bad enough to try to understand my own.
My grandfather was one of the first Methodist ministers in the Philippines and he buried the excess bread and wine from communion.
Perhaps I should explain a little. Coming from a predominantly Catholic country, most of my relatives are Catholics. Whenever there is a death, it is tradition (I don't know if it's Catholic or Filipino tradition) that a seven day prayer is held. The priest, nun or monks are not called to preside in these prayers held in the home of the deceased. Someone who reads the prayer book well does this. I heard these prayers and they are to saints and the Virgin Mary. At this point, I don't know if these prayer books are sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
RB, that's an old Catholic Tradition, The seven day prayer were for the poor souls of Purgatory. Old traditional school of thought was you could not enter heaven even with a venial sin on your soul. Mortal sin was eternal damnation. Those with venial sin would go to purgatory until prayer relieved them of this.
I admire this if it is still practiced in the Phillipines. Good to see that Catholic liberalism hasn't saturated the whole world. I'm at political odds with many things the Catholics espouse with the exception of abortion. Father John and I had a debate last week when from the pulpit he endorsed the health care bill as long as it had the provision of no abortion. It sent me sideways. I asked him if he had forgotten the teachings of the Holy Mother at Fatima regarding the evils of socialism and communism. When I was young I had to learn the mass in Latin as an altar boy. One tradition that should be re-instated.
It is not just the Philippines now. It is done among the Filipino community in the US. I am not sure if it was seven days or nine. There was another after 90 or 100 days and another after a year. If it is a friend or relative, I usually go to some of this.
I admire you that you can debate this healthcare bill. I am so overwhelmed by these liberals sometimes that I just keep quiet to keep my sanity. Yes. They are my relatives.
You've got to be kidding, Muzzy. First of all, if you send them this link, how can you see their reaction? Why would you send them something like this for anyone curious about western churches. I have to listen hard to understand it, how would you expect FSU people to? Are you sure you are a pastor by profession?
Muzzy why would that bother me? I've listened to Phil Keggy one of the great Contemporary Christian guitar players. You can google Claptons comments about Phil Keggy. Different strokes for different folks.