The Eastern Orthodox Church in New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineReligious Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is a study of the Eastern Orthodox Church in New Zealand. It examines both the ethnic jurisdictions and the recent phenomenon of conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. The opening chapter provides a brief history of Eastern Orthodoxy by concentrating on a number of major events. The second chapter describes the ethnic jurisdictions found in New Zealand and examines local origins and subsequent development. The first of two hypotheses tested in this thesis is discussed in Chapter 3. It is argued that Church affiliation inhibits immigrant assimilation into the wider society. Data obtained from an Interview Schedule and personal observations are deployed to test this hypothesis. Those Orthodox Churches which have a high ethnic membership are shown to display signs of ethnoreligion and ethnocentrism. The second hypothesis, discussed in Chapter 4, suggests that converts are motivated to change denominational allegiance because of feelings of deficiency and the desire for an intergrative force in modern society. Because of a lack of evidence the second claim of this hypothesis remains untested. The conclusion is reached that converts to Eastern Orthodoxy are influenced by two different motivations. It is argued that converts to the ethnic jurisdictions are, in general, motivated by a sense of personal searching. In contrast, most converts to the Antiochian Orthodox Church represent, in general, a change of denominational affiliation in reaction to what is perceived as unacceptable doctrinal change in the Anglican Church.