African Orthodox Christianity


The following is the first in a new series for the site; I will begin posting correspondence that I had with various individuals which contain information of interest to a broader audience, with names and identifying information redacted for privacy.

In this particular case, unfortunately I never heard back from the individual addressed below, but I pray that some day he find the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

 

October 23/November 5, 2010

Dear Mr. S.,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ!

I write to you today because providentially I found your name on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website while researching Orthodox non-profits in the State of North Carolina.

Seeing the name of your corporation, the African Orthodox Church of Africa, I did some research and discovered that it is a Church that appears to be descended from Independent Catholics, but with Orthodox leanings.  A few years ago, I had heard about the Church in Africa in the 1930’s that had eventually joined the Patriarchate of Alexandria, but I was not aware that there were others who were still carrying on the name African Orthodox today.

My reason for writing to you is that it looks like you are planning for an expansion into the Rocky Mount area.  I wanted to write to you and encourage you to consider becoming a part of the already-existing Orthodox Church.  I don’t know anyone in your current Church in order to form a full opinion, but I did look at the pictures, and as I mentioned, it is clearly reflective of a Western Catholic background, instead of an Orthodox one.  The Orthodox Church teaches that the Western Roman patriarchate went into schism by breaking communion with the four Eastern patriarchates gradually between AD 1054 and AD 1204.  Once the schism was permanent, we can consider that the Roman Catholic Church lost its apostolic succession completely, especially after it stopped baptizing by three full immersions, which is necessary for a true baptism.

Thus, even if the African Orthodox Church now confesses an Orthodox confession of faith (I am not sure exactly, given what was available online), it cannot just come “back to life,” given that it stems from a Western Catholic line of bishops.  Apostolic succession is not just about hands-on-heads in a line back to the Apostles, but about the faith of the Church, which ceased to be passed down in the West in the 12th century.  In other words, the Orthodox Church teaches that apostolic succession only continues to be real inside the bounds of the Church, because it is a guarantee of Orthodox faith, not a personal possession of the one ordaining and the one being ordained.

I would urge you that if you wish to truly be Orthodox, you should join yourself to the existing Orthodox Church, and become a part of it.  The cure to man’s spiritual illness is only available through the Orthodox Church, with its deep spiritual teachings, and the Holy Mysteries, which are only available inside the Church.

I notice that your current faith tradition is Afrocentric.  The Orthodox Church honors the many African saints, especially St. Moses the Ethiopian.  The Nubian peoples were Orthodox, as were many others.  Perhaps you are called to bring the message of Orthodoxy to people of African descent in Eastern Carolina.  If so, you will best be able to serve God if you are a part of the visible Church that He established, which has apostolic succession unbroken by the fall of the Western Church so many hundreds of years ago.

Our Church was brought to America by Greek immigrants, but many of us, myself included, are converts. Our Metropolitan Pavlos, who lives in New York, once tonsured a man of African descent as a monk, and remarked to me once that he hopes in his life he will see many African American Orthodox.  Perhaps, Mr. S., you will help make that dream a reality.

I have had my eye set on Rocky Mount as a possible future place of expansion for the planting of an Orthodox Church.  As it is, I am currently engaged in planting missions in Raleigh, Greenville, and Charlottesville (Virginia).  We could certainly use help, because the labors are great, but the laborers few.  Perhaps you could attend liturgy with us in Greenville sometime soon, so you can see the faith that was once delivered unto the saints firsthand.

You are in my prayers, and I ask your prayers for me.

In Christ,

Father Anastasios Hudson

 

Note: to read more about the historical link between Orthodox Christianity and the African-American experience, please see the book Unbroken Circle on Amazon.com:


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