Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many Former Protestants Join Orthodox Churches

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many Former Protestants Join Orthodox Churches

Article excerpt

Diane Ott was not unhappy as a Southern Baptist, but her faith seemed bland. Her connection to God in prayer seemed lukewarm.

Before the birth of their first child she and her husband began looking for a church where they might grow spiritually. They found St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Central West End.

They began a study of the 2,000 years worth of church scholarship, history and, especially, the lives of many holy men and women. They enjoyed its art, icons and music.

"Until I became an Orthodox Christian I never really had a sense I was worshiping," Ott said. "I especially love the sacraments of communion and confession. As Baptists we only passed around the oyster crackers and grape juice a couple times a year."

Ott, one of about 20 converts from Prostestantism at St. Nicholas, is part of a national trend. Fifteen years ago, the only converts were spouses of Orthodox members. Today thousands of former Protestants are joining.

In two California seminaries, more than a third of the students are former Protestants. Protestant converts make up about half of members of many Russian and Antioch Orthodox dioceses, once exclusively Russian-speakers or Arab-speakers from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. Whole congregations, most of them Episcopalian, have entered the Orthodox church.

Next weekend at the annual women's lecture, Ott will introduce the country's most visible Protestant convert to Eastern Orthodoxy - Frank Schaeffer. He is the son of Francis Schaeffer, a prominent Protestant theologian. …

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