Welcome to St. Anthony’s Orthodox Church! We are delighted to have you join us in worship today! The Orthodox Church is the ancient Church founded by Christ and His Apostles and described in the New Testament. Orthodox worship is exciting, moving, and sometimes confusing for a first- time visitor. If this is your first time visiting a Christian Orthodox Church, we have provided some tips about how we worship. We suggest reading Frederica Mathewes-Green’s 12 Things I’d Wish I’d Known for a fuller explanation of what’s highlighted below. If you want to know what is unique about our parish, scroll down to “Our Unique Parish” below.
Entering the Church
When you first enter the church, you’ll be in the Narthex, where you can light a candle, pray, and make a small donation if you like. Sometimes we forget cash, too, so don’t feel obligated to pay to pray with a candle. Before you go, look up to the icon of St. Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s Mother, greeting Mary, the Mother of God with joy. This is how we welcome you!
Getting Comfortable in the Sanctuary
Enter and please sit where you are comfortable. If you want to see the action, you might get close to the front. You will also be closer to the censer which holds the incense which is used liberally throughout the service. You’ll notice that we dress up for Sunday morning worship. We also don’t necessarily arrive on time. When we do arrive, we sometimes make noise and go up front to light candles. We’re not being rude. It’s just how we do it. If you look at the book rack in every row, there is a Service Book that has the whole liturgy written in it. You can read along if you like, but sometimes it’s best to watch and listen, allowing your senses to experience the service.
We have many images of Saints and of Jesus, often with his mother Mary, the Theotokos. They remind us that we don’t do the Christian life alone, or even only with those on earth today. Many have followed Christ before us and we join them in worship of God. We also believe that they cheer us on to run the race before us (Hebrews 12:1-3). We like to tell their stories and honor them.
Gestures and Kisses
We stand a lot, cross ourselves a lot, and kiss stuff. Sometimes we even prostrate ourselves. Every time Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned, we make the sign of the cross. We might kiss the cross, the chalice, icons, and each other. We’re honoring these things and how Christ blesses us through them. At one point, we greet each other with “Christ is in our midst” and the response is “He is and shall be.” Don’t worry; we don’t always say it right either.
There are four processions conducted in every liturgy. The first two processions feature priests, deacons, and altar servers wearing glittery garments. These vestments have symbolic meaning. The first procession brings out the Gospel Book, large and beautifully decorated, because it contains the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior. The second parade is for the wine and bread that mystically becomes the body and blood of Christ for us. This is called Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist. It is very sacred so we keep our face toward these elements the whole time they are processed around the church. The third and fourth processions are for the people. We go up to receive Holy Communion from a spoon given by the Priest. This bread in wine is reserved only for prepared Orthodox Christians. You are welcome to join the fourth parade to receive blessed bread (this is not the same as the consecrated bread above) and exit the service! If you aren’t comfortable kissing the cross, simply greet the priest instead.
Please join us next door for coffee hour. We’re good at chatting and answering any questions you have! To learn more about the Orthodox church, please visit Our Faith. We hope you will sign our guest register and will introduce yourself to Fr. Michael after the service. To learn about becoming a member of the Orthodox church, “click here”
Our Unique Parish
What makes St. Anthony’s unique among Orthodox churches?