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Manic street preachers

20 August 2012

To day a group of us had to go to downtown Pretoria to check some things about church land in the municipal and government offices. I went with Fr Athanasius Akunda, Fr Elias Palmos and Reader Angelos Mokau. We were wearing cassocks, as we usually do when on church business.

This attracted some attention, and a few people were sufficiently curious to ask who we were and what church we belonged to. A couple approached Fr Athanasius in the municipal property office, and a couple more approached us as we were walking down the street. They were all young guys, apparently in their twenties, wearing baseball caps and shades.

A couple of them asked if we were Christians, and then what church we belonged to. And then they said, but aren’t Christians supposed to be joyful, shouldn’t you we wearing bright colours? Fr Athanasius explaned that the black showed that Christians were supposed to be dead to the world. If they wanted to see the bright colours, we explained, then they should come to one of the services, and then they would see the bright colours, because then we were in heaven. But ther all remarked that they thought it was cool the way we were dressed.

They asked if we had any tracts or anything like that. We didn’t. We just had title deeds and zoning certificates and things like that. But we thought that perhaps we ought to do the street preacher thing, wander round town with a few tracts. No hard sell, not approaching people, just waiting for them to approach us, like these guys did.

Manic street preachers: Angelos Motau, Fr Athanasius Akunda, Dn Stephen Hayes, Fr Elias Palmos

And then, of course, we get greeted by Muslims with “Salaam alikum.”

We just need to equip ourselves with a few tracts.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 August 2012 10:16 am

    So cool… I suspect would only work in your culture. In Cyprus seeing priests in cassocks is normal and in the UK I suspect would be open to ridicule and abuse.

    • 21 August 2012 11:11 am

      I’m sure you’re right. In a majority Orthodox country, no one would bat an eyelid, it’s just an everyday thing. But my reason for posting it is that some Orthodox, especially in North America, think that Orthodox clergy ourside those countries should disguise themselves as Western clergy, wearing suits and dog collars, than which nothing can be more uncool.

      • 21 August 2012 2:11 pm

        They would bat eyelids. Orthodox priests are honoured… they never queue, everyone gets out of the way of them to let them to the front wherever they are, post office, shops, wherever…

        However, there is a further question as to whether clergy _should_ look different to others anywhere. I know friends of mine in the UK find that clerical garb helps them, and obviously in your case it was VERY positive, but we’re becoming more and more house-church and so different clothing is something I would tend to avoid. Years ago we were at one of our churches in the UK and there were some missionaries present but not introduced. I went straight up to them at the end of the service. Sue asked how I knew. I said their clothing was obvious… something about the way they dressed told me they were in ‘reverse culture stress’ mode.

        BTW did you get the email I sent about style of writing for the book Tim and I are writing?


  2. 21 August 2012 4:25 pm

    Clearly I need one of those long batman cloaks. I don’t get much reaction to street preaching :).

    • 21 August 2012 6:48 pm

      Why don’t you try it some time? But I suspect that most people seeing anyone in a Batman cloak would think that they were selling fast food, like someone dressed as Mickey Mouse.

  3. 21 August 2012 11:23 pm

    You need a nice trifold brochure with a brief explanation of Orthodoxy. There is a wonderful video out called The Ancient church , you can locate it on youtube or purchase it. It is perfect for those that have no clue of the true origins of the church. It is a brief 22 minutes long. I wish Tonsured readers in the US could wear our cassocks outside of the church. This would perhaps stir up more ans much needed questions about our church. Glory to God in all things.
    Rdr. Daniel

  4. Nate permalink
    26 August 2012 1:08 pm

    Great idea to get ready to share to folks who come up to you… You must hv come across this Fr Dn Steven-

    • 26 August 2012 5:49 pm

      Thanks very much, that looks like a useful site.

  5. favask permalink
    28 August 2012 12:39 pm

    Even in an Orthodox country, wearing a cassock is a clear confession of one’s faith. I remember reading that St Luke of Crimea urged all priests of his diocese to wear sacerdotal clothes (and this in the times of Soviet persecutions!) As far as lay people are concerned, in our culture (Belarus), a smile and three kids around serve the same goal of Orthodox witness (been asked about my religion by dozens of people, in fact).

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