Originally printed in our Sounding Blog in January 2017, the OCN is once more sharing this submit as Giannis Antetokounmpo of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks is making information once more.  For extra on this story, take a look at this video from CBS News 60 Minutes. 


There are instances I discover it tough to attend Church.

As a Greek Orthodox parishioner and father of a multi-cultural household, I hear the phrases which can be whispered.

You’re not Greek, are you?

The Church is for Greek folks first.

There are two kinds of folks, Greeks and those that need to be Greek.

Statements like these together with the misuse of phrases like omogenia and xeni solely make one weep. Even extra heartbreaking is the fact that far too many leaders are silent within the face of such conduct permitting it to proceed repeatedly.

However, the face of being Greek is altering. This wave of change is for certain to have an effect on the Greek Orthodox Church. Being Greek is not a matter of 1’s genetics or family tree. Being Greek doesn’t imply being a part of an ethnic tribe. More than ever, being Greek is now a cultural and ethical selection.

This is obvious within the Greek neighborhood’s latest and most famous movie star, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis Antetokounmpo performs skilled basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. The son of Nigerian mother and father who immigrated to Greece, Giannis is taken into account a task mannequin to Greeks all over the world who’ve nicknamed him “The Greek Freak” for his unimaginable basketball expertise. Some have even speculated that Antetokounmpo has the potential to take his place amongst such basketball legends as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Larry Bird.

Recently, video appeared of Antetokounmpo greeting adoring Greek followers exterior Madison Square Garden in New York. What is notable is that this younger man’s humility as he speaks along with his fellow Greeks within the language they share. There was additionally a second of ethical readability when Antetokounmpo declined to signal a Greek Flag saying he wouldn’t desecrate the image of his homeland along with his autograph.

This is the brand new face of being Greek: A son of immigrants and Orthodox Christian proudly embracing Hellenic tradition and serving as a messenger of its virtues for all to see. The fact about being Greek is that it isn’t concerning the shade of 1’s pores and skin, the place of 1’s beginning or the genetics of 1’s mother and father. It’s concerning the selections one makes and the human values one lives day-after-day.

So, what does Giannis Antetokounmpo should do with being Greek Orthodox at this time?

The Church is altering. Greek Orthodoxy is present process a seismic demographic shift. Baptisms, Chrismations and Weddings are at recorded lows. The Greek Orthodox Family is disappearing sooner than ever as 85% of marriages that happen in Greek Orthodox parishes in America embrace one partner who chooses to not be Orthodox. Parishes that had been as soon as giant and affluent now battle to make ends meet as much less folks attend companies, and those who do give smaller quantities of their revenue to the Church.

The Church as a type of nostalgia has failed.

Fr. John Bakas teaches us all of a priceless lesson when he declares “You Don’t Have to Be Greek to Be a Hellene.” He additionally reminds us that “…we can all be Hellenes by emphasizing the Hellenic roots, the Hellenic philosophy, and the Hellenic Character of Christianity…that is what we must do, and we will attract others…” Now greater than ever, the thought of being Greek as a type of nostalgia needs to be put aside.

Greeks all over the world are higher off for welcoming Giannis Antetokounmpo into the Hellenic Family. His public presence is a continuing reminder of what it means to be Greek. The Church ought to study from this instance and open huge its doorways to the many individuals of numerous backgrounds who stay amongst us at this time. The phrase “Greek” in Greek Orthodox is an inclusive time period, not an unique one. There is not any cause that we must always not have a Greek Orthodox Church that returns to its Tradition and boldly embraces evangelism and variety as a core worth.

After all, the historical past of Church reveals that it’s higher to construct a bigger desk than a taller fence.


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