Orthodox Christianity is not familiar to most Americans, even though the community of the Orthodox has existed for nearly 2,000 years and there have been Orthodox Christians in the United States since its founding as a nation.
So, what is Orthodox Christianity?
- The Orthodox Christian faith is "the faith that was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3), passed on to the apostles by Jesus Christ, and then handed down from one generation to the next within the Church, without adding anything or taking anything away.
- The purpose of Orthodox Christianity is the salvation of every human person, uniting us to Christ in the Church, transforming us in holiness, and giving us eternal life. This is the Gospel, the good news, that Jesus is the Messiah, that He rose from the dead, and that we can be saved through Him.
- Historically, the Orthodox Church is the oldest of all Christian churches. Ultimately, all Christian communities can trace their own history back to the Orthodox Church. In the pages of the New Testament we read the beginnings of the Orthodox Church, and even today Orthodox Christianity continues to live on in most of the places mentioned in the New Testament where the Apostles first preached the Gospel. This is the Church that wrote, compiled and canonized the Holy Scriptures, that formulated the traditional doctrines of Christianity, and that has believed and lived the same faith for nearly 2,000 year.
- The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian communion in the world, smaller only than the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox Church is sometimes referred to as “Greek Orthodox” or “Eastern Orthodox,” but the best term is simply Orthodox Christian.
For more information, please watch the video below.
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, formulated at the First and Second Ecumenical Councils (held in Nicea and Constantinople in AD 325 and 381, respectively) is the primary statement of faith of the Orthodox Christian Church. It was composed in response to the Arian heresy and has been understood since its articulation in the 4th century as an expression of the timeless, unchanging faith given by Christ to the Apostles. It is often known simply as The Nicene Creed.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. Scripture references
For the Orthodox Christian, worship is the highest calling of mankind, to fall down at the feet of the Almighty God, the Holy Trinity, and to give ourselves totally to God, becoming united mystically with Him in the holy mysteries (the “sacraments”). To worship God is to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Worship is an experience which involves the entire Church. When each of us comes together for worship, we do so as members of a Church which transcends the boundaries of society, of time, and of space.
Orthodox worship is liturgical. That means that it follows specific ritual patterns and cycles, with music and prayer and symbolic actions. Liturgical worship is conducted in reverent dignity and embraces the whole of the human person—all five senses! Worship has to be done with reverence and awe, because we are entering into the very throne room of the Creator.
Orthodox worship is transformative, bringing us more deeply into communion with God and through cooperation with God gradually changing us into holy people—saints. The pattern of Orthodox worship is based on the worship in Heaven as seen in the Bible, which includes an altar, incense, and chanting. (Is. 6 & 7; Heb. 8:1-6; Rev. 4, 5).
A secondary but essential part of worship in Orthodoxy is to teach the faith, forming the Christian in the doctrines of the Church, which are not mere rational propositions to be agreed with, but are the guide to the Christian life.
The center of Orthodox Christian liturgical life is the Divine Liturgy, the church service where Orthodox believers who are prepared by prayer, fasting and confession, receive the Holy Eucharist, bread and wine which have been mystically changed by God into the Body and Blood of Christ (John 6:47-58). Other major church services include Vespers (evening prayer), Matins (morning prayer), and various traditional "Hours" of prayer throughout the day, following the example of the Apostles (Acts 3:1, 10:9, 10:30). We invite you to come experience the richness of Orthodox worship with us.
Most emphatically NO! The Orthodox Church welcomes anyone for worship and to consider membership. At the present time, the Orthodox churches in the United States are experiencing significant growth from Protestants and Roman Catholics interested in our worship and doctrines. The Orthodox Church is Christ\\\\\\\'s Church and is therefore open to everyone.
Icons, the painted pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints, or sacred events, are very important in Orthodox worship. These icons mean far more to us than ordinary paintings. Icons are windows into the sacred realm, into the kingdom of God. We kiss the icon to show love and respect, even as we might kiss the picture of a family member to show the same. Only God (as Trinity - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is worthy of worship. The Virgin Mary and the saints are worthy of our deepest respec
Our worship is not merely mental—we use all our senses, sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. We ask God that our prayer might rise up to His throne in heaven just like the incense does.
When you walk in, chants and prayers may be already going. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re late—we preface the main service with prayers of preparation. All services at St. Cyril are in English. If you want to help support our church, just put your donation in the labeled basket near where you walk in as we do not take up a collection during services. After the service on Sundays we have refreshments—you are invited to join us in the fellowship hall and there is no charge. If you have children,