Not infrequently, one hears complaints that the Orthodox Church services are too long. Some people suggest that shortening the services would make it easier for the Church to attract new members. A recent discussion on this subject in the "Letters" section of The Orthodox Observer, a publication of the Greek Archdiocese, prompted these comments from two converts to the Faith (both from Greek parishes):
"The fastest-growing liturgical church in America is the Orthodox Church and among those con-verting to Orthodoxy, a substantial number choose the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which is by far the most observant and strictest branch of Orthodoxy. . .
"Church too long? Catholics complain if Mass lasts more than 20 minutes. In the Russian Church, on the other hand, services regularly last up to two hours or more, and the congregation stands the whole time. If length and language are such problems, why is the Russian Church attracting so many former Catholics? . . . I would be extremely unhappy to see the Greek Church make the same mistakes that the [Roman] Catholic Church did after Vatican II.
"It is precisely the constancy of Orthodox worship, coupled with the Church's contemporary approach to solving modern dilemmas, that so many converts find so appealing. " M. L., New Hampshire
"Who are we to complain about the length of services when many, many Orthodox around the world have suffered greatly, some laying down their very lives to 'get through' church.
"I want our four children to hear the services in their entirety, to appreciate why it is necessary to have lengthy services because there are reasons for everything in our Liturgy.
"I think we can give God the 90 minutes it takes for the Liturgy to be completed. He Who gives us our very lives surely deserves that little. "
(Excerpted from The Orthodox Observer, June, 1995)
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