Erie church to share information about Orthodox Christianity

By DANA MASSING, Erie Times-News

Rev. Pimen Simon is photographed inside the Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ in Erie on Sept 25. GREG WOHLFORD//ERIE TIMES-NEWS Rev. Pimen Simon is photographed inside the Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ in Erie on Sept 25. GREG WOHLFORD//ERIE TIMES-NEWS
With its golden domes above the bayfront, Erie's Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ is one of the city's most visible places of worship.

But while many people see it, few know what goes on inside.

"Most people have no idea what Orthodox Christianity is about," said the Rev. Pimen Simon, rector of the church at 251 E. Front St.

He said his congregation is planning a speaker series to not only educate members, but also inform the public about the Orthodox faith practiced by more than 300 million people in the world.

The first talk in the series is scheduled for Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the church.

The speaker will be the Rev. Andrew Stephen Damick of St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus. Simon said a speaker from outside the parish was invited to provide a different voice.

Damick grew up in an evangelical missionary family and began reading about Orthodox Christianity in college, according to information provided by Simon.

"He wasn't born in the Orthodox Church," Simon said.

Damick was received into the church in 1998 and ordained to the priesthood in 2006.

He is the author of "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith" and hosts an "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" podcast.

Damick's Erie talk is titled "As Unknown, and Yet Well Known: Introducing the Orthodox Church in American Culture."

Simon said his parish, which has about 250 people, isn't trying to proselytize or convert people to Orthodox Christianity but wants to let them know what that branch of faith is about.

"Orthodox Christianity represents the historical Christian church, and what you see in Orthodox Christianity is what has existed," he said.

Simon said Orthodox Christianity isn't only for people from certain ethnic backgrounds, and people don't have to be Russian to be an Orthodox Christian. The Erie area also has Greek Orthodox churches, which have some slightly different rituals and traditions from Russian Orthodox churches, he said.

He estimated that there are between 1,500 and 2,000 people in Erie who are Orthodox Christian.

They and anyone else can attend the speaker series. Participants will get a chance to see inside the church building, where icons greet worshippers in the nave and people stand for services. Simon said seats will be provided for the Wednesday talk.

He said church officials will see how that first event goes before deciding how often to schedule future speakers in the series.

Go Erie


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