My journey into the True Church – Timothy Copple, Texas, USA


My journey into the True Church

by Timothy Copple



Each story I’ve heard of how people have come into the Orthodox Church has been different. Sometimes there are some general similarities, but each one has specific issues, specific circumstances and specific problems that they deal with. While I recognize that my own circumstances are not, and in some cases should not be, how others come into Orthodoxy, I do feel there were some key elements that moved me in this direction. Most inquirers/converts to Orthodoxy will deal with these key elements at some point.

So allow me to tell you a little of my own journey.

I was born and raised in Texas. We moved a lot, so over my growing up years I’ve lived in several different cities around south-central Texas. The city that I did a majority of my growing up, mostly during my teen years, was Austin, TX. So I tend to think of that as “home”. Ironically, it was in moving back to Austin after having lived in other places for around 16 years that I became Orthodox.

As I was growing up, my Father, Dalton Copple, was a part-time Baptist preacher while he worked for the local electric company around the Uvalde area. Some of my earliest memories as a kid are from those days. I recall a couple of questions I had back then, which I addressed to my Mom, Alice Fay Kiker.

One time I recall, as we were getting dressed for church, asking Mom why we had to go to church. As many people know, kids are often not really excited about going to church. You want to move, you want to play, you want to do anything but sit in a pew and listen for over an hour to people saying words and singing music. For me, however, that was not the full motivation behind my question. It was those blasted black leather shoes.

We were pretty poor people, but of course being the pastor’s family, the kids had to have decent looking shoes for church. Only problem was that our feet were constantly growing and Mom knew that we would hardly get a pair broke in before we would need a new pair. So, like any Mom aware that she had to Continue reading

Icon corner


Icon corner

The icon corner is a small worship space prepared in the homes of Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The Book of Acts and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul record that in the early Church, Christians used to meet in the homes of the faithful. (Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7-12, 1 Corinthians 16:19, etc.) This tradition of the “House Church” continues to this day in Eastern Christianity. The home is considered to be a microcosm of the Church. The parents (both the husband and the wife) are the “clergy” of the house church, and the children are the “laity”. The wedding ceremony (“crowning”) is analogous to Ordination, and the house is blessed with a rite that is based upon the Consecration of a Church. Once a year, the priest will come to bless the house with Theophany Water.

An Orthodox Christian is expected to pray constantly. According to Bishop Kallistos Ware, “In Orthodox spirituality, there is no separation between liturgy and private devotion”. Thus the house, just like the Temple (church building), is considered to be a consecrated place, and the center of worship in the house is the icon corner.

An icon corner is normally oriented to face east. It is often located in a corner to eliminate worldly distractions and allow prayer to be more concentrated. Here is where the icons that the family owns should be located, normally including at least icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the Patron Saint(s) of the family. An oil lamp normally hangs in front of the icons. The careful trimming of the lamp to keep it burning at all times is interpreted as symbolic of the attentive daily care faithful Christians should take over their souls. Relics of saints (if the family possesses any) and a Gospel Book and a blessing cross would be kept there, as well as incense, holy water, palms and pussywillow from Palm Sunday, candles from Pascha (Easter), and other sacred items, as well as a personal Commemoration Book (containing the names of family and loved ones, both living and departed, to be remembered in prayer).

Ideally, the icon corner is located so that it is visible when one first enters the house from the main entrance. Traditionally, when first entering the house, an Orthodox Christian would venerate the icons before greeting the members of the house.

A traditional Orthodox family will gather together every day for morning and evening prayers. Sometimes, at the end of the prayers, the head of the household will take the hand censer and cense the icons and all of the members of the household.

Often, in addition to the icon corner, a family will hang a small “portal icon” (usually of the Virgin and Christ Child) by the door, which is venerated by family and guests whenever going in or out of the house.

Θαυμαστές εμπειρίες στον τάφο του Μαρτυρικού Ιεραποστόλου του Κονγκό π. Κοσμά Ασλανίδη (+1989)


Θαυμαστές εμπειρίες στον τάφο του

Μαρτυρικού Ιεραποστόλου του Κονγκό π. Κοσμά Ασλανίδη (+1989)

Ο μοναχός Δαμασκηνός Γρηγοριάτης περιγράφει μερικές ακόμη θαυμαστές εμπειρίες που βίωσαν στο Κολουέζι ενάμιση χρόνο μετά την κοίμηση του Μαρτυρικούς Ιεραποστόλου του Κονγκό π. Κοσμά Ασλανίδη (+1989):

«Στις 28 Ιουλίου του 1991, όταν τελειώσαμε το βραδινό μάθημα του ιερατικού σεμιναρίου, μαζί με όλους τους Ιερείς, που ήταν τότε περί τους δεκαπέντε, ξεκινήσαμε για την γειτονική εκκλησία της Ιεραποστολής για το Μικρό Απόδειπνο. Προχωρώντας προς την εκκλησία, οι Ιερείς σταμάτησαν ξαφνικά και εκστατικοί αναφωνούσαν και έλεγαν:

“Κοιτάξτε, τι ακτίνες είναι αυτές που βγαίνουν από τον τάφο του π. Κοσμά!”.

Εγώ τους ακολουθούσα τελευταίος. Αλλά δεν αξιώθηκα να δω αυτό το θαυμαστό σημείο. Τους ρωτούσα να μου πουν, τι έβλεπαν. Και μου περιέγραψαν ότι έβλεπαν να βγαίνει φως σαν ακτίνες του ήλιου από τον τάφο του π. Κοσμά. Ήταν τόσο ψηλές που ξεπερνούσαν στο ύψος και την γύρω δεντροστοιχία!

Μία άλλη φορά, παιδιά του Οικοτροφείου μού ανέφεραν ότι, καθώς έμπαιναν για το Απόδειπνο στην εκκλησία, άκουσαν κουδουνίσματα θυμιατού κοντά στον τάφο του π. Κοσμά, χωρίς να βλέπουν άνθρωπο! Άλλοτε πάλι, αισθάνονταν την οσμή θυμιάματος, χωρίς να λιβανίζει κάποιος!»

Από το βιβλίο: «Γρηγοριάτικο Γεροντικό» του Μοναχού Δαμασκηνού Γρηγοριάτη, Ι. Μ. Οσίου Γρηγορίου, Άγιον Όρος 2005