IS EVERYONE WELCOME?
Of course! 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 “coffee hour” in our hall. During this time of fellowship 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.
The services in our Parish are celebrated in a mix of English, Church Slavonic, and Serbian.
HOW LONG ARE THE SERVICES?
Vespers (Evening prayers – Saturday afternoon/evening) is usually 40-60 minutes in length.
Vigil (Vespers + Matins + 1st hour Saturday evening) is usually 2-2.5 hours in length.
Divine Liturgy (Sunday mid-morning) is usually 1.5 hours.
IS THERE A DRESS CODE?
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.
IS CHILDCARE PROVIDED?
Each parent is responsible to take care of their own children. 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.
STANDING OR SITTING?
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.
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. You do not have to be an Orthodox Christian to light a candle and pray in an Orthodox church.
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.
CAN NON-ORTHODOX RECEIVE THE HOLY EUCHARIST?
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.
WHAT IS ORTHODOX WORSHIP MUSIC LIKE?
Close to seventy-five percent of an Orthodox service is singing. According to ancient tradition, Orthodox do not use instruments in the celebration of worship. In our parish you will hear a mix of Serbian, Russian, and Byzantine chant. These styles of Christian chant are ancient forms 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.
GUIDELINES FOR RESPECTFUL WORSHIP
Probably the most important duty that we each have as worshippers attending church services is to do all that is in our power to see that a proper decorum and atmosphere is maintained so that all of the congregation is able to pray sincerely, peacefully and meaningfully. It is with this fact in mind that we have set forth the following guidelines.
Upon entering the Church, at all times, but especially during services an individual should remember that he or she is in the House of God. Reverence and good manners are required so as not to disturb those who are already engaged in prayer, but, even more importantly, as an expression of sincere faith and awareness of the presence of the Lord. No irrelevant conversations should take place, either in the Narthex or in any part of the Church.
According to actual church service procedures, each and every member of the congregation is required to be seated in the pews at the beginning of the service. It is only by leniency that anyone is allowed to enter the Church once the services have begun. Thus it behooves us not to take undue advantage of this leniency. There are several parts of the service during which no one should be moving about. Wherever a person happens to be at these moments, he or she should stop and stand reverently, until the proper time to proceed.
These parts of the service are:
1. The Procession of the Priest and Altar Boys with the Gospel;
2. The reading of the Epistle and Gospel;
3. The Cherubic Hymn and the Great Procession of the Priest and Altar Boys with the Holy Gifts;
4. The recitation of the Nicene Creed (in which the entire congregation should participate;
5. The hymn, Se Ymnoumen, and the prayers of the consecration of the Holy Gifts;
6. The Lord’s Prayer;
7. Holy Communion;
8. The Sermon;
9. The Dismissal Prayer; and
10. Any special services (memorial services, processions, prayers).
11. One basic rule to follow is that, whenever the Priest is facing the people or outside of the altar, either with the Censer or giving the blessing, everyone should stand wherever they are.
Please remember that the Parish Council members and the ushering staff are required to keep order during services, and all should follow their instruction at all times.
Please also be respectful of other parishioners during services by considering the following:
• Avoid unnecessary conversation
• Refrain from chewing gum