Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mayan Orthodoxy website launched!

Witness history as thousands of people enter the Orthodox Church in Guatemala and Mexico.


The Mayan Orthodox are a group of several thousand Guatemalans and Mexicans who came into the Orthodox Church in 2010 under the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico. They are called "Mayan" Orthodox because the majority of the converts are descendants of the ancient Mayan groups who lived in Central America long before Europeans arrived. The Mayans might seem like a relic of ancient history, but there are still millions of Mayan people who live in Central America and speak their native, Mayan languages. Now, a huge group of those Mayans have entered the Orthodox Church.

Note: the technical term for the people is "Maya," but the popular term "Mayan" is used throughout the site.


Most of these people were originally Roman Catholics who fell away for various reasons. Some of the people wanted to stay in the Catholic Church but were alienated because of their non-traditional, often charismatic worship practices. Other people came from a different background that was liturgically conservative, and they left because they thought poorly of their bishops or they disagreed with changes in the Catholic Church (e.g., Vatican II). These diverse communities were all united by the late Fr. Andrés Girón, a former Roman Catholic priest and an active politician. Through his charisma and his leadership in land reform movements, Fr. Andrés united the diverse communities and brought them into the Orthodox Church in 2010.


People from across the world have traveled to the Hogar Rafael Ayau, an Orthodox orphanage in Guatemala City. In terms of its history, the orphanage is not connected with the Mayan communities. The nuns who run the orphanage came into the Orthodox Church through different life events, and they entered into a different church jurisdiction (Antiochian) than that of the Mayan communities (Greek). There has been some interaction between these two different Orthodox groups: two of the Mayan clergy were ordained at the nuns' monastery by Metropolitan Athenagoras, and at one point some of the orphans from the Hogar lived with Fr. Andrés Girón. At this point, however, the collaboration has not developed further. Nevertheless, by God's grace and through the leadership of the hierarchs, the two groups could work more closely in the future to create an even stronger movement towards Orthodoxy in Central America...
More information available here.


  1. What a beautiful and gracefilled website.

  2. What if we start an Anglo Orthodox Church?

    I'm not being snarky, and I wish the Mayan Orthodox all the best. This seems to be the direction things are headed worldwide. People, for whatever reason, seem to gravitate toward an ethno-national expression in their worship. I believe that is actually the idea behind Orthodox ecclesiology: every nation gets its own Church. The Universal Faith, practiced Locally.

    The waters get muddied when a nation-state defined by geographic area and proposition encounters a people who carry their nation with them wherever they go.

    Interesting times ahead.

    1. Hi, Anti-Gnostic! :-)

      I'm the creator of "Mayan Orthodoxy," and I just saw our insightful comment so I wanted to respond. You raise some interesting points here and also in your post on your own blog ( There are some apparent parallels between the way in which the movement in Guatemala is portrayed online and the broader cases of ethnophyletism within Orthodoxy. But the reasoning behind is much simpler and more practical.

      The reason for referring to the movement specifically as "Mayan" Orthodoxy is that all other designations have problems of their own. Referring to the movement as "Orthodoxy in Guatemala" not only associates the movement with a national identity but, more importantly, it fails to capture the significant expansion of this group into Mexico. Further, most people in the broader Orthodox Church associate Guatemala only with the Hogar Orthodox orphanage, so it is helpful to differentiate this new movement from the Hogar by using a unique name. Another option would be to refer to the movement as "Orthodoxy under the Metropolis of Mexico," but that fails to capture the indigenous nature of this movement, which arose among people of parimarily Mayan descent and came into the Orthodox Church completely independently of any serious missionary efforts of the broader church. In short, no designation is perfect. You're perceptive to point out the liabilities of the one chosen ("Mayan Orthodoxy"); I simply hope that the full title ("Mayan Orthodoxy in Guatemala and Mexico") captures as much as possible without encouraging people to focus more on ethnic identities than on Jesus Christ.

      The reason for the subtitle on the homepage ("the story of a native church") is again not to encourage ethnophyletism. In fact, it is just the reverse. The danger in all of the mission fields is that the ethnic identity of the missionaries and the broader church will be imported to the new country. This push towards hellenizing (or russifying, or Americanizing, etc.) is extremely powerful because power politics get wrapped up in the push towards expanding the reach of different jurisdictions in different areas of the world. So highlighting this movement as "the story of a native church" is to deliberately combat that possibility by focusing on the indigenous, non-Greek nature of the movement. These people came knocking on the door of Orthodoxy of their own accord, and our missionary efforts must be aimed simply at helping them grow into the fulness of Jesus Christ in their own time, place, ethnicities, and culture.

      Thank you for your thoughts on this! Best wishes to you, and please keep the people of Guatemala and Mexico in your prayers, along with the missionaries working there! Thank you!

  3. Do they use the Mayan language in the liturgy or Spanish or Greek?
    Why is the website in English?
    Isn't it strange that it claims to draw people who are untraditional and very conservative.

    1. Mayan languages (plural). We are working so that they will have the liturgy in the language of their heart. Prayers for that would be appreciated.