Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Orthodox missions in the United States, and religion in Las Vegas

The Orthodox Church in America has a program to help establish Orthodox missions in the United States and Canada. So far close to thirty missions have been helped. Thumbnail article here. Short podcast here, at Ancient Faith Radio (look for the Feb. 2, 2008 podcast).

The Director of the OCA's Department of Evangelization, Archpriest Eric Tosi, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the podcast linked above he says people are generally surprised to hear that OCA has a church in Las Vegas. In fact, there are six Orthodox churches there, he says.

So... your blog hostess googles... to find our more about population and churches and other related stuff about Las Vegas. From the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce website, under Relocating: Churches/Places of Worship:

Visitors are often surprised to learn Las Vegas has nearly 600 churches, temples and synagogues representing more than 63 faiths.

The city offers a smorgasbord of religious options -- everything from a Buddhist Temple to the Church of Scientology to a non-denominational service in a hotel/casino showroom.

A good place to check for local church services is the Saturday edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Las Vegas Sun and the weekly publication, The View, available every Wednesday. Additional information is available on the Review-Journal’s web site:

That, and a link to churches that are members of the Chamber, is it on the Churches/Places of Worship page. Uhm, I think I'll keep my commentary to myself on this...

Your hostess googles some more...

Ah, here we go, this is more like it: From there, you can find out more about The Life-Giving Spring Retreat Center, or about St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church. At the church site, there's A Brief Biography of Archpriest Eric George Tosi. It seems he had a rather interesting road to the priesthood:

Fr. Eric was born in Passaic, New Jersey, the third of four children of George and Evelyn Tosi. He was baptized in Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church in Clifton, New Jersey where his grandparents were founding members. He grew up in devout Orthodox family in Little Falls, New Jersey. His family moved to Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Wayne, New Jersey when he was a youth. He was involved in many youth programs at the Church including working at St. Andrew’s Camp in Jewell, NY (where he met his future wife).

He graduated from Passaic Valley High School in 1982 and received an ROTC scholarship to Fordham University in The Bronx, New York. He was involved in many activities while in college, and was appointed commander of the Corps of Cadets in his senior year being the Distinguished Military Graduate. He received a dual BA in Economics and History upon graduation in 1986. He received a Regular Army commission as Second Lieutenant in Armor. Upon completion of various schools, he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment in Bindlach, Germany. His primary job was to patrol the West German border with East Germany and Czechoslovakia. While in Germany, he received Three Army Commendation Medals and One Army Achievement Medal as well as other numerous awards and citations while commanding a tank and scout platoon and as an Executive Officer for a tank company. He also held other staff positions and achieved the rank of Captain. He was present at the fall of the border. He was married in 1988 to the former Christina Lickwar who joined him in Germany.

Upon completion of his military duty in 1990, he returned to the United States and found a position with Strategic Intelligence Systems in New York City. He was the program director for consultants in 42 counties as well as working on high level business briefs. He then went to work for The Economist Intelligence Unit, part of The Economist magazine, where he was a consultant on international business briefs. He completed a MA in European History from Fordham University in 1993.

He entered St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in 1993...

Read the rest

Now, if that doesn't fly counter to a few stereotypes, I'm not sure what would.

I might have mentioned this before, but until I got access to the Internet I thought Orthodox churches had essentially died out in America, if not the world. Silly me. Yay, Internet.


Anonymous said...

I was doing a search on the term 'Orthodox' and your post came up as one of the first listings. I knew about the interview on AFR, so it was nice to see that the podcast led you to do a bit more searching. But I was struck by your closing thought, that 'you thought that the Orthodox Church had essentially died out in America, if not the world' (or something to that effect). Without sounding offended (because I'm not), I guess I'm more incredulous. I was just wondering if you might expound a bit on what led you to believe such a thing? Just curious and a bit fascinated by such thoughts.

To set the record straight, although Orthodoxy has experienced some bumps in this country (and the world) for various reasons, historical and otherwise, there is much good to point to regarding the life of Orthodoxy in North America and the world.

Enjoying your blog!

Fr Tom

Kathryn Judson said...

Fr. Tom, Thanks for taking the time to write.

I was raised in a household as scrubbed clean of God and references to God as my atheist mother could scrub it, in an area that had no Orthodox church. I knew there were Catholics and I knew there were Protestants, but I didn't even hear of Orthodox churches or believers, except rarely in storybooks (and then they were always long ago and far away), or in infrequent news stories about Soviets shutting down churches (not long ago, but still far away, and since my mother was all in favor of shutting down as many churches as possible everywhere, she let me know that she didn't approve of the methods but still considered it progress). For all intents and purposes, Orthodox churches barely crossed my radar, and then only as something outdated and quaint, holdouts for old people who didn't know better. When the old people died out, so would the churches.(It had to be true. My mother said so...)

I've since converted to Christianity, orthodox, small o. I sometimes wonder whether my mother, if she'd lived into the age of the internet, would have discovered she was dead wrong about what churches actually teach and do (she hated a Christianity of her own making, as far as I can tell, in hindsight), or if she'd have found fellow scoffers and become more radical. We'll never know, because she died before the web could expand her horizons and experience a bit. For me, though, the internet has been invaluable, in letting me become acquainted with people outside my neighborhood and family, in enabling me to go to a source instead of having to rely on what I might stumble across on the religion-unfriendly news or in a small town library.

Although I'm not Orthodox (big O), I see God being honored - and God at work - in Orthodox churches. I'm happy to see that missions are being planted, and am happy to help spread the word.

I hope that answers your questions.