We congratulate Father’s revamping of the E-Cate, and hope it will provide new and exciting discussion among the Traditional Orthodox Churches. So far this sounds like an excellent mission statement. — DJS.
I was given ownership of the Euphrosynos Café, a Traditional Orthodox website featuring a forum and Orthodox resources [site history], in November 2008, when its founder Nicholas Stanosheck, a former deacon in the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, could no longer support it. He had hopes that I would be able to revitalize it quickly, and restore it to its former glory. I had recently been ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Pavlos, and Nicholas thought a True Orthodox clergyman would be well-suited to the task of breathing new life in to the site.
At the time, I told him that I doubted I could do much with the site, due to time constraints on my end. For starters, I am a missionary priest, attempting to establish missions in North Carolina and surrounding areas. At present, I serve two missions in North Carolina (Raleigh and Greenville) regularly, and a mission in Charlottesville, Virginia 3-4 times a year. I have pastoral care over families who live far from a parish as well. I am the Director of Internet Ministries of the Holy Metropolis G.O.C. of America, and manage numerous parish websites.
Two Different Forums
The other major project that I devote time to is my first forum, OrthodoxChristianity.net. I founded OC.net in May 2002 with two friends, when the three of us were investigating Orthodoxy and had found the existing Orthodox resources behind in technology, or uninviting for inquirers. I had been met with derision and suspicion in some other online venues, and wanted to create a place that while focused on Orthodoxy, was not hostile to non-Orthodox inquirers. Over time, I gravitated towards the Old Calendar, while my co-owners converted to the OCA and the Indian Non-Chalcedonian Church respectively, and I was faced with a dilemma of what to do about my participation there. I did not want to be perceived as supporting a relativistic view, but on the other hand, if I would have curtailed my participation on OC.net, there would be no guarantee that future administrators would be open to Old Calendarists, and in fact, I anticipated it would become openly hostile towards us over time. I also benefited from the knowledge and experience of many of the posters there, even when we did not agree on matters ecclesiological. As such, we made it clear that the site was a forum in the true sense, unaffiliated with any jurisdiction, where each member of the staff participates in accordance with his conscience, and not agreeing to any sort of “pan-Orthodox” view. The discussion there is intended to be equivalent to what might one discuss in an academic setting dedicated to “Orthodox studies” or “Eastern Church studies.” Naturally, it does not always live up to the ideal.
Euphrosynos Café, however, has always been a site that is dedicated to Traditional Orthodoxy, and seeking to promote the traditionalist perspective as the correct one and provide a safe haven where traditionalists can congregate without the continuous need to self-justify to outsiders. As such, there were occasionally jabs between members of the two forums, but the owners were all personal friends and sought to keep things peaceful. It was thus somewhat ironic to me when Nicholas gave me ownership of the Café in 2008. I accepted it with joy, however, because it provides me a venue where I can explicitly promote my Church, as a missionary tool, without limiting myself to academic aspects of the discourse (while not denying the usefulness of such in some circumstances). The Café provides us with a venue to persuade and encourage inquirers actively to join with us, and to support one another in this struggle to preserve and restore traditional Orthodoxy where it has lapsed.
Whereas OC.net has suffered at times from vocal participants pushing their own opinions and presenting traditional Orthodox praxis as but one option among many, the Euphrosynos Café has suffered at times from judgmentalism and contentious posting, with occasional denunciations of the heresy of various other posters, whether real or imagined. As the administration of the site gradually neglected its care, sometimes due to quite legitimate external factors and pressures, but could not find adequate replacements quickly enough, and partly due to lack of diligence, attacks grew and some good posters were lost in the process. After I took ownership, I toyed with finding new moderators, but quite honestly I was too overwhelmed to do much about it. Finally, I received appeals from long-time posters to fix the site, and I realized I had waited too long to act. I ask for your forgiveness in my lack of diligence.
The Future Vision
In February 2010, I redesigned the Café’s template, and migrated some of the previous content over to a content management system (CMS) to better organize it, and provide a framework to support future growth. In addition, I reached out to my friend Jonathan Gress, a layman in our Metropolis of America, to take over the day-to-day administration of the forum. I am confident that Jonathan will be able to both moderate the current posting load, and assist me in drawing back old posters and reaching new ones alike.
Events in worldwide Orthodoxy have continued to develop during our lull time, often in a negative direction. The reunification of the majority of the bishops of the ROCOR with the Moscow Patriarchate was a blow to Orthodoxy, but the dust has settled. New primates have been elected in some local churches who more openly profess modernist preferences. At least one local Church, the Bulgarian, considered and rejected a proposal to return to the Patristic Calendar. People need to be aware of these turns of events, and need to have recourse to a safe place where they can share information and seek fellowship with those who are not accepting of these changes. There are many who are not currently members of True Orthodox parishes who know there is something wrong, but don’t have the words yet to express the situation they experience. Our site will be a place where these individuals can come to discern the call of the Holy Spirit, and find the resources they need to commit to the appropriate course of action.
We have no delusions that our humble site will play any great role in this great conflict between truth and error in our time; however, we are called to reach people on a one-on-one basis, to do what we can do with the resources provided us. We have been reminded that people do benefit from our site, even despite the problems that led some to give up on it in the past. The Café will not try to bite off more than it can chew, but has rather made some incremental improvements, which can be sustained over time. Stability and sustainability are key to the future.
Therefore, going forward, the Euphrosynos Café will strive to:
- Spread the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ to all the nations taking advantage of technology;
- Facilitate the conversion of our hearts and the deepening of our repentance in our daily lives;
- Provide general Orthodox resources to those investigating Orthodoxy;
- Provide Orthodox spiritual texts for the enrichment of Orthodox Christians;
- Present materials that defend the Patristic (Old) Calendar and criticize the Ecumenical movement charitably but firmly;
- Facilitate fellowship and discussion amongst True Orthodox and inquirers with a more closely-engaged moderatorial staff;
- Keep the True Orthodox community updated through partnerships with Dioceses and our partnering News Sources;
- Pray for the restoration of the fullness of the faith in the local Churches that have abandoned it;
- Be a facilitator of increased cooperation between and unity among True Orthodox Churches.
I’ve briefly sketched out the history of our site, and touched upon my own work on the internet these past few years. Some of the challenges we’ve faced as a community have been addressed candidly, and a roadmap has been presented to give everyone a clear idea of the path we hope, through God’s grace, to travel. We entreat your prayers, and welcome your feedback. We’ll be honored if you choose to join us on the forum, and we look forward to the future!
Fr. Anastasios Hudson
February 21/March 6, 2010
Third Saturday of Great Lent