Yes! While you may not yet be Orthodox, you may be surprised to learn that many of our members are converts to the Holy Orthodox faith, coming from a variety of other Christian confessions: Evangelical, Reformed, Anglican, Charismatic and non-denominational Christian. Others have come from eastern religions or other traditions and systems of thought. You will find a wide diversity of races, age groups and ethnic groups represented at our parish.
Our parish priest will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have following your visit. No question is dumb or irrelevant.
Following the Sunday Divine Liturgy, you are invited to join us for fellowship. During this time you may wish to meet our parish Priest, or other members of our parish. Some people may feel overwhelmed following their first experience of Orthodox worship and not wish to socialize — you are not expected to engage in social activities.
Great Vespers (Evening prayers - Saturday nights at 5:00 P.M.) are usually 40-60 minutes in length. Matins (Morning prayers - Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M., preceding Divine Liturgy) is about 1 hour in length. Divine Liturgy (Sunday – following Matins) is about 1 1/2 hours in length.
The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church is to stand, as free men and women, before the Living God. As there are pews in the Church, you are free to sit as the need arises. However, it is appropriate to stand during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the distribution of Holy Communion, when the priest gives a blessing, and at the Dismissal. If you are unsure what to do, simply follow the rest of the congregation. As there is generally more commotion towards the back of the Nave, you may wish to sit closer to the front of the Church to avoid distraction.
The veneration of the holy icons, like the lighting of candles, is an important part of Orthodox worship and piety. Icons are pictorial representations of Biblical scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the saints; they are present in every Orthodox Church. You may be surprised to learn that holy icons have been used for prayer since the first centuries of Christianity. History tells us, for example, of the existence of an icon of Christ during his lifetime, the Icon-Not-Made-With-Hands, and of icons of the Theotokos written by the All-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the patron Saint of our Parish. When Orthodox Christians enter a Church they venerate these images with a kiss, not in worship, but in veneration for what is represented in the image. You might think of this kiss as one you would offer to your dearest loved one, or most respected and honored elder. As a visitor, you are not required to venerate the icons in the Narthex of the Church, though you may do so if you wish. Women should remove lipstick before venerating the holy icons.
All Orthodox Christians who have either married or divorced outside the Church are not in good ecclesiastical standing, and thus may not receive the Eucharist. In addition, all Orthodox Christians who have married non-Christians (i.e. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc.) cannot participate in any sacrament of the Church until their spouse willingly accepts to become a Christian and their marriage is blessed in the Church. Furthermore, it is not permissible for an Orthodox Christian to receive Holy Communion if he has consciously slandered anyone, taken a false oath, stolen, deceived anyone, or engaged in adultery or fornication. Nevertheless, all sins can be forgiven. But in order that a sin may be forgiven – whether it is physical or mental – and in order that the Christian be fit to receive Holy Communion, he must confess his sin in the presence of the priest-confessor. The confessor will tell him if and when it is permissible to receive communion.
The services in our Parish are primarily celebrated in English, though you will occasionally hear ancient Greek in some of the hymns and readings. When we recite the Our Father, you will hear many languages representing our ethnically diverse congregation.
While there is no specific dress code, the general rule is for men and women is to dress appropriately, modestly and respectfully, as before the Living God. Traditionally this has meant that women wear dresses or skirts that fall below the knee, while men wear pants. We ask that you not wear shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, low-cut or strapless dresses (unless covered by a sweater, etc.). You may notice that some Orthodox women wear scarves on their heads (not hats), but this is not required. Men are asked not to wear head coverings (baseball caps, etc.) in the nave.
Each parent is responsible to take care of their own children. We have a room for small children on the right hand side of the Narthex, though we encourage children to be present in Church for the services. This participation is part of a child’s spiritual formation. If your baby or child gets fussy, talkative, or has a melt-down, please take him or her out of the Nave until he or she is ready to return to the Church.
Lighting candles is an important part of Orthodox worship and piety. We light candles as we pray, making an offering to accompany our prayers. Orthodox typically light candles when coming into the church, but there are times when candles should not be lit. Candles should not be lit during the Epistle or Gospel readings, during the Little Entrance, and during the sermon. You do not have to be an Orthodox Christian to light a candle and pray in an Orthodox church.
Orthodox priests may only serve the Holy Eucharist to baptized members in good standing of the canonical Orthodox Church, who have prepared to partake of the Holy Eucharist. Preparation includes confession and fasting. The frequency of confession and the rule of fasting is an individual matter, part of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual journey and should be discussed with his / her Spiritual Father. This is the ancient tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church understands the Holy Eucharist as the Mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, not simply as a memorial, or merely in a spiritual sense, as do many other non-Orthodox Christians. Out of respect for the ancient apostolic tradition, we humbly ask that those who have not yet accepted the Holy Orthodox faith remain in their place during the distribution of Holy Communion. However, we invite you to join us in receiving the Blessed bread (Antidoron) at the end of the Divine Liturgy.
Close to seventy-five percent of an Orthodox service is congregational singing. According to ancient tradition, Orthodox do not use instruments in the celebration of worship. In our parish you will hear Byzantine chant, the ancient form of music used by much of the Orthodox Christian world. The music is solemn, prayerful and intended to lead the faithful in their worship of the Triune God.
From this Sacrament and that of Holy Baptism, all the other Sacraments draw grace and power, and contribute also to the eternal redemption of the soul and to man’s salvation.
This most divine Sacrament was instituted by Christ Himself at the Last Supper “on the night” of Holy Thursday “in which He was betrayed” unto to death upon the Cross, in order that the expiatory sacrifice of the Cross be continued within and by the Church throughout the centuries until the consummation of the ages, as a source of forgiveness of the sins of the world and as communion with His all-Holy Body and His Precious Blood.