PEORIA - The Orthodox Church is changing in America, and Peoria's All Saints Greek Orthodox Church is changing right along with it.

Changing for the better, but while holding onto the essentials, its leader and members say.

"The church is making the transition between the immigrant church and the church in America," said the Rev. Michael Condos, All Saints' pastor.

Much of the ancient liturgy is being said and sung in English instead of Greek now, as well. Some longtime members said they wouldn't be surprised to see "Greek" dropped from the church's name eventually as its membership changes.

That seems to be the trend as Orthodoxy in America begins to develop its own identity as ethnic affiliations melt together. For instance, Janie Isaacson of Normal, who grew up in All Saints, is one of the early members of the fledgling Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Normal, which is considered "American Orthodox" and has an all- English liturgy.

All Saints' role in the community "is to minister to her own people, but in the community to witness to Orthodoxy," Condos said.

Eastern Orthodoxy has a "different view that's not always heard by Christians in the West," Condos said. The Eastern tradition views sin less as a judicial matter and more as an illness that needs to be healed, he said.

"I really think that what All Saints can do in the Peoria area is to have a voice and offer this other view, which may help other churches find their roots, the very beginning of Christianity - not thinking for a minute that we have all the answers here," Condos said.

"We're struggling like everyone else. There is this big body of Christian tradition which could really further enhance the ministry of not only this church."

That has been demonstrated by cooperative classes between All Saints and the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle, an Episcopal parish on Peoria's North Side.

All Saints is one of the few churches, if not the only church, in Peoria where one can participate in a liturgy that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 1,000 years.

The Orthodox Church was united with what is now known as the Catholic Church until the 11th century, when a split over authority and other issues occurred.

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