How do I address a Greek Orthodox priest in a written communication?
December 31, 2009 1:25 PM   Subscribe

How do I address a Greek Orthodox priest in a written communication? I'm a respectful non-believer.

I need to write the most mundane of emails to the Greek Orthodox priest of the church in my neighborhood (asking permission to park in the church lot!). But I have no idea how to address him.

I want to be respectful, but at the same time, I don't want to say something that implies that I believe in something I don't (organized religion). I.e., I don't know that I really feel comfortable calling him "Father" or something, and I don't even know enough to know if that's the right term anyway!

But it also seems rude to begin with no salutation at all.

posted by lily_bart to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A quick google search yields this:
posted by dfriedman at 1:30 PM on December 31, 2009

Proper forms of address from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. If it's a for a regular priest and not a bishop, it looks like either Father or Reverend is fine.
posted by rtha at 1:32 PM on December 31, 2009

Or what drfriedman said.
posted by rtha at 1:32 PM on December 31, 2009

Brother? Friend? I had a French professor once, who is a Celtic Orthodox Monk. He said that if we didn't feel comfortable calling him "Father (namegoeshere)," we could call him "brother (namegoeshere)" (with brother implying that he is my relative in humanity, rather than any religious connotations - i.e., lower case) or just simply "brother" or "friend."
posted by raztaj at 1:35 PM on December 31, 2009

I don't think he'll interpret your form of address as indicating whether or not you share his beliefs. If he's a bishop, go with "Your Grace"; otherwise "Father".
posted by trip and a half at 1:44 PM on December 31, 2009

There might be a sign somewhere with his name and title on it. Look for it!

Lacking that, I'd probably just go with "Hi, Neighbour!"
posted by Sys Rq at 1:45 PM on December 31, 2009

Thanks everyone! I think I will go with "Dear Reverend."
posted by lily_bart at 1:56 PM on December 31, 2009

For what it's worth, I'm Greek Orthodox and we usually say Father Lastname, or Father Firstname for younger priests. I have never heard anyone say Reverend.
posted by apricot at 2:17 PM on December 31, 2009

"Dear Reverend" isn't good English.

"Reverend" is an adjective--someone having "Reverend" in their title is properly referred to as "the Reverend Ms. So-and-So" or "the Reverend Dr. So-and-So" or "the Reverend Father So-and-So."

In direct address, "Dear Father So-and-So" is correct, as is "Dear Mr. So-and-So." "Dear Reverend So-and-So," though frequently used, isn't really correct--and, as apricot says, not frequently used among the Greek Orthodox in any case.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:35 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

byzantine catholic here. 'father so-and-so' should work just fine.
posted by msconduct at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2009

I don't think that by using a title such as "Father So-and-so" you're necessarily acknowledging a shared belief. I don't know much about the Greek Orthodox church, but Roman Catholic priests go through years of schooling and training before they're ordained. In a measurable way, you could say they've "earned" the title/honorific "Father".

Or you could just view it as an etiquette thing. Take for example President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan. It wasn't an acknowledgement of the emperor's divine right, just proper greeting etiquette in a culture that doesn't shake hands.
posted by sbutler at 3:54 PM on December 31, 2009

Orthodox Christian here..."Father ___" is probably best. The title has more to do with him being the spiritual director of his parishioners than being an acknowledgment of any shared beliefs between the two of you.
posted by flod logic at 4:18 PM on December 31, 2009

If you wanted to park in a private medical clinic's lot, you'd address the letter "Dear Dr. Smith" even though he's not YOUR doctor. "Father" is acknowledging his chosen profession, not submitting to his authority.
posted by esereth at 10:55 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

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