A testimony by Mike and Lynne Karagoulis
My name is Michael Karagoulis. My wife Lynne and I are Eastern Orthodox Christians and proud members of an ecumenical charismatic Christian community since the 1970’s. We find synergy between the ancient, sturdy message and traditions of our church, and the deep personal relationships and daily practical support for Christian life in our ecumenical community. We love that we have two main avenues (two bites of the apple?) to channel our zeal for the Lord, and to try to repay the Lord for what He has done for us (Psalm 116:12-14).
Growing up with an Orthodox immigrant father and a Catholic mother, I felt some confusion, depending on which relatives took me to which church service. However, I would say the greater confusion was my inability to deeply comprehend the Gospel message in either church setting. Until I experienced a deeper indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I found both East and West liturgies perfunctory and not very life changing. For the life changing part, I had to wait for college, where I experienced a greater release of the Holy Spirit via ecumenical charismatic Christian community. I began to understand who Jesus is, who I am, and what I am called to do. Although I was the only Orthodox Christian in my community, I discovered Orthodox members in another ecumenical community nearby. So, when I finished college, I picked up and relocated to The Work of Christ. Having fellowship with other Orthodox Christians who are also community members is extremely supportive, especially around the Pascha (Easter) holiday, since our tradition robustly observes this great feast day.
John Chrysostom (a 4th century saint) said this about celebrating the resurrection: “The Table is richly laden. All of you fare sumptuously on it. The calf is a fatted one; let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith.” This is a nice description of our rich life in ecumenical charismatic Christian community, where our practical unity across a mosaic of historical creeds educates and elevates us all to a higher level of faith and joy under the banner of the risen Christ.
Hi… I’m Lynne. Unlike my husband, my mother was Protestant and my father was Jewish. When I was 24, I was introduced to the Orthodox Church and knew I was home. I was a member of the Work of Christ, but I also desired to belong to a church, so I was Chrismated (confirmed) in 1978. It was more important for me to be Orthodox than to be married (given that the community had few Orthodox single men). However, in 1982 I met my husband Mike and 40 years and 4 kids later we are still serving the Lord together in church and the Work of Christ.
As much as I love my church, I also love the diversity within the Sword of the Spirit. It is so easy to build relationships wherever we go because we all love Jesus and desire to build His kingdom. We are a mosaic. Together we are stronger and as times get darker, we need to band together in strength and unity.
This article and photo is excerpted from © The Sword of the Spirit reflections for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18 – 25 2023.