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Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Terry Mattingly

Terry Mattingly Terry Mattingly is a syndicated journalist and teacher who focuses on religion. He directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and also writes the weekly “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service, which is sent to about 350 newspapers in North America. His writing also appears in The Lookout, Beliefnet.com, Again Magazine, among numerous other publications. He leads the GetReligion.org website that critiques the mainstream media's coverage of religion news.

Terry Mattingly and his family are members of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland.

Visit Terry Mattingly's home page.

Featured

What do the Converts Want?

By Terry Mattingly

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern Baptist congregation.

Baptists worship at several different times during the week -- at least they did in the old days when I was growing up as a Southern Baptist pastor's son. One of those times is on Sunday nights. Back in the early 1980s, I was active in a church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in which the typical Sunday morning crowd would be about 200 to 300 people, which is rather small for a Baptist church, but fairly normal for an Orthodox parish. Then the crowd on Sunday night would be from 40 to 45 people.

Now, that ratio should sound familiar to many priests who lead Vespers services. But the similarities don’t stop there.

Before the age of 30, I became a deacon and the finance chairman of that church -- which, in the Southern Baptist way of doing things, meant that I was the only person, not excluding the pastor, who saw the annual pledge cards. I was the only person in the congregation who knew who was giving what.