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St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church: to “Come and see” from the Gospel of John

I often start conversations with people at bus stops

Anthony Bahou
Anthony Bahou

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church

  • Contact: 4175 Poplar St., San Diego 858-837-9270 www.saintgeorgesd.org
  • Membership: 200 families
  • Pastor: Father Anthony Bahou
  • Age: 56
  • Born: Damascus, Syria
  • Formation: University of Hawaii, Honolulu; Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu; Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA
  • Years Ordained: 22

San Diego Reader: What is the mission of your church?

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Father Anthony Bahou: The mission of any Orthodox church anywhere in the world is to bring to the people the church of the New Testament that our lord Jesus Christ founded. It is there for anyone who wants to partake of the fullness of the gospels and the Christian traditions… St. George’s seeks to reveal the church to San Diegans. We like to quote the verse from scripture, when Nathaniel was told to come and meet Christ in the Gospel of John: “Come and see” (1:46). That’s what we want people to do here in San Diego—just come and see. We believe we offer a beauty of worship and a relationship with God that is unequal. So, we want them to come and see, and make up their own minds.

SDR: What book has had the most influence on your priesthood?

FB: St. John Chrysostom is a famous saint in our Church. He was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the fourth century—and he also wrote our Divine Liturgy, which we celebrate in the church on most Sundays. St. John wrote a book called, very appropriately, On the Priesthood. In this book, he gives exhortations on what it means to be a priest, the holiness of the office, the responsibility of caring for people spiritually and ministering to them.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

FB: Jesus went and sat with prostitutes and tax collectors, those whom society often overlooked. Jesus ministered to them and many were saved by believing in him and coming to him. I suppose one of the places I could think of like that is a bus stop. I often start conversations with people at bus stops. I don’t know that someone came directly to my church after our conversation, but oftentimes, people started asking me questions about religion and faith when they saw I was a clergyman. Those things are difficult to gauge. Maybe they went to another church. Who knows? But we plant the seed.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

FB: What we know about this, according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, is based on what Jesus tells us from scripture, and what we’ve learned from our fathers in the Church, the theologians and ecumenical teachers of the Church. We don’t teach that there is a physical heaven or hell, but we do know there will be judgment. Hell is a state of existence away from God and his love, and heaven is a state of existence near God where we experience his love fully. Someone who dies is in a state of peaceful suspension and experiences God’s love, whether sparingly or intensely, depending on the life they’ve led. Until Jesus comes back at the second coming and general resurrection, when everyone will be judged, we are all in this state. Then in the final state of existence, we will be with God in heaven in the same bodies we have now. We believe our bodies will have the same substance, for lack of a better word, as the body Jesus had when he rose from the dead… Ultimately, our great confidence is in Jesus Christ, and we look forward to his great mercy.

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Anthony Bahou
Anthony Bahou

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church

  • Contact: 4175 Poplar St., San Diego 858-837-9270 www.saintgeorgesd.org
  • Membership: 200 families
  • Pastor: Father Anthony Bahou
  • Age: 56
  • Born: Damascus, Syria
  • Formation: University of Hawaii, Honolulu; Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu; Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA
  • Years Ordained: 22

San Diego Reader: What is the mission of your church?

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Sponsored

Father Anthony Bahou: The mission of any Orthodox church anywhere in the world is to bring to the people the church of the New Testament that our lord Jesus Christ founded. It is there for anyone who wants to partake of the fullness of the gospels and the Christian traditions… St. George’s seeks to reveal the church to San Diegans. We like to quote the verse from scripture, when Nathaniel was told to come and meet Christ in the Gospel of John: “Come and see” (1:46). That’s what we want people to do here in San Diego—just come and see. We believe we offer a beauty of worship and a relationship with God that is unequal. So, we want them to come and see, and make up their own minds.

SDR: What book has had the most influence on your priesthood?

FB: St. John Chrysostom is a famous saint in our Church. He was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the fourth century—and he also wrote our Divine Liturgy, which we celebrate in the church on most Sundays. St. John wrote a book called, very appropriately, On the Priesthood. In this book, he gives exhortations on what it means to be a priest, the holiness of the office, the responsibility of caring for people spiritually and ministering to them.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

FB: Jesus went and sat with prostitutes and tax collectors, those whom society often overlooked. Jesus ministered to them and many were saved by believing in him and coming to him. I suppose one of the places I could think of like that is a bus stop. I often start conversations with people at bus stops. I don’t know that someone came directly to my church after our conversation, but oftentimes, people started asking me questions about religion and faith when they saw I was a clergyman. Those things are difficult to gauge. Maybe they went to another church. Who knows? But we plant the seed.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

FB: What we know about this, according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, is based on what Jesus tells us from scripture, and what we’ve learned from our fathers in the Church, the theologians and ecumenical teachers of the Church. We don’t teach that there is a physical heaven or hell, but we do know there will be judgment. Hell is a state of existence away from God and his love, and heaven is a state of existence near God where we experience his love fully. Someone who dies is in a state of peaceful suspension and experiences God’s love, whether sparingly or intensely, depending on the life they’ve led. Until Jesus comes back at the second coming and general resurrection, when everyone will be judged, we are all in this state. Then in the final state of existence, we will be with God in heaven in the same bodies we have now. We believe our bodies will have the same substance, for lack of a better word, as the body Jesus had when he rose from the dead… Ultimately, our great confidence is in Jesus Christ, and we look forward to his great mercy.

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