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Your First Visit to an Orthodox Church

Orthodox worship can seem strange to someone who has never been to an Orthodox Church before. However, we belive that our worship must be in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24).

Our worship is Biblical

Orthodox worship is rich with scriptures -- not just the reading of the scriptures, but from the hymns to the petitions, everything we do in worship is based on scripture. The Book of Psalms is often called the Hymnbook of the Church, and we sing and read a lot of them! Orthodox Christians often memorize many Psalms simply from hearing them so often in our worship services. 

However, you'll not only hear scripture, you'll see it. The patterns of Orthodox worship, based in the Christian fulfillment of Jewish liturigical worship, is most fully a manifestation of descriptions we read about in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews and in the Book of Revelation. We join into the worship that is eternally sung before the throne of God (Isaiah 6).

You'll also see that Orthodox Christians stand a lot during worship. While there are chairs and pews, able-bodied Orthodox Christians prefer to stand in worship, because they are in the very Presence of God!

The Sacraments Give Us Life

We participate in the new life of the Kingdom of God through the sacraments (mysteries) by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, we die and rise with Christ (Romans 6). In the Eucharist, we are sustained by Christ's Body and Blood (John 6). In Holy Anointing, our sins are forgiven for healing (James 5). Each sacrament is the way faithful Orthodox Christians participate in the Divine Life given to us as a gift here and now, and as a foretaste of our eternal inheiritance.

Icons

The most distinctive feature of Orthodox Churches is their use of iconography or holy images. Simply put, icons testify to the truth of the incarnation of Christ. He became a man, and therefore He can be pictured. Orthodox Christians would say, in fact, that He must be pictured. Otherwise, we can easily forget that He became a real human for our sake, and that He came to redeem humanity. He is, indeed, the God-Man, fully divine as the eternal Word of God (John 1). But He became truly human, like us in everything but sin (Hebrews 4).

We kiss the icons of Christ, His Mother, and the Saints, not out of idolatry (God forbid!), but out of honor. The honor we show passes to the person whose image is depicted.

The Sign of the Cross

You'll see Orthodox Christians trace the sign of the cross on their bodies frequently. This is the traditional way in which we bless ourselves, and in which we are blessed by others. Making the sign of the cross is one of the most ancient practices of Christians, and it is the sign par excellence of Christianity.

Singing

Orthodox Christians love to sing! Our singing is always unaccompanied by any musical instruments. This is another sign that our worship is joined to the heavenly choirs with the angels and all the saints who gather around the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Join in!

We want you to feel welcomed during our services. While Orthodox worship may seem somewhat unfamiliar, we believe fully and without reservation that Orthodox worship is the way worship is supposed to look like. This is worship as it was always meant to be. Discovering it for the first time has been an overwhelming sense of joy for people around the world, and we hope you'll come to discover that too.

Don't Stress, be our Guest!
If this will be your first time in an Orthodox Church service you may feel a little overwhelmed. Orthodox worship is ancient, unchanging, and very unfamiliar to the average American. With that in mind, we encourage you to relax. No one is able to "get it" know what "to do" in their first visit. Simply pray, let the words of the scripture wash over you, and if you have any questions, at the end of the service feel free to ask.  
 
We love kids!

St Innocent enthusiastically pursues our mission to nurture our precious children in the Orthodox Christian faith. From our church school students to the littlest one in arms, you'll find a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for children during our services. Our parents understand that it can be a blessed struggle to raise children properly in the Christian faith, and that includes worship! At St Innocent, you will find a supportive family to help.

The Sacraments of the Church, such as Holy Communion, are offered only to Baptized and/or Chrismated (confirmed) Orthodox Christians.  However, all are invited to receive the blessed bread at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.  The blessed bread is not sacramental but is reminiscent of the agape feast that followed worship in the ancient Church.

After the Divine Liturgy, all are welcome to join us in the Church hall for fellowship and light refreshments.

Please know that we are here to serve you.  If you are interested in learning more about the Orthodox faith we frequently have Newcomers classes throughout the year.  If you have any further questions or concerns please contact Fr. Theophan and let him know.  
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