Even though all canonical Orthodox churches are united — that is, a Russian Orthodox communicant can receive in a Greek Orthodox church, and so forth — they are administratively hopelessly tangled. Excerpt:
Besides violating Orthodox ecclesial order, these disputes also portray Orthodoxy in the most unflattering light imaginable. I have already mentioned over half a dozen Orthodox governing bodies in passing. When he providentially encounters the Church, small in numbers as it is, the unfamiliar American must first navigate all kinds of terminological and organizational hurdles: “Is that church up the street Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or something else? Why are those different, and why should I care, since my grandparents came to America from Norway and Vietnam?”He’s right about that, but as a convert, this hasn’t much bothered me. It’s odd how the Orthodox in this country have been a hot mess when it comes to organized religion, but you generally — generally, I emphasize — don’t have nearly the problems Catholic and Protestant churches do with doctrine and belief. I don’t know why that is, but it’s something I’ve observed. In the end, Orthodox churches are more united in the most important things, or at least it seems so to me. I’m under a ROCOR bishop now; I came into Orthodoxy under an OCA bishop, and I suppose was under an Antiochian bishop for the short time we attended an Antiochian parish in exurban Philly. The only real difference I’ve noticed is in the names of the hierarchs commemorated at the altar, and in the melodies used in the chants and hymns.
I set aside the question of whether he will feel welcome if he does, in fact, choose to visit an unfamiliar church with a strange name. St. Paul has a name for an impediment like those encountered by our hypothetical inquirer: skandalon.
On the other hand, it really is something, as an outsider, to see how worked up some Orthodox get over Judean People’s Front vs. People’s Front of Judea controversies.