New to Orthodoxy? New to our parish? This page may help you feel more comfortable.
If you were walking through our door on Camp Meade Road, a member of the parish would greet you and ask whether you want to use a worship book, and would otherwise try to make you feel at home. People arrive on the doorstep of Orthodox churches from many different places. If you're already Orthodox, what you find when you go on through the swinging doors into the temple itself will be mostly familiar. But if this is your first visit to an Orthodox church, a number of things may be unfamiliar; this page is designed to cover those basics.
About Our Faith
The Orthodox faith is held by one universal church, but instead of having a single, world-wide centralized government, it is organized generally at the level of tribe and tongue and people and nations (Revelation 5:9). So there are Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and others, but they are all part of the same communion. Our parish is within the jurisdiction (not denomination) of the Antiochian Archdiocese — the ancient church of Antioch, where the disciples were for the first time called Christians (Acts 11:26).
Perhaps you have already done some reading about Orthodoxy, and are hoping to learn more? We recommend The Orthodox Faith series. You will probably also like to contact Fr. Gregory. He can answer most of your questions, and also regularly holds inquirer classes.
What's Going On
Orthodox worship is different! Some of these differences are apparent, if perplexing, from the first moment you walk in a church. Others become noticeable only over time. Here is some information that may help you feel more at home in Orthodox worship.
What to Do
One of the things that may surprise you, when you step into our temple, is that there are very few chairs. Most worshippers stand for the entire service, and sit (on the floor) only for the sermon. The absence of pews makes the congregation more of a single body, and the practice of standing underscores the respect we show our Lord and King.
But it, along with other Orthodox distinctives, subtly alters the expected "etiquette rules" inside the temple. Feeling unsure of what's right to do makes some feel uncomfortable. These links explain some of the general "Ps & Qs" observed by adults and children in our parish, but please… don't feel intimidated by them!
Come and See!
Though there are a variety of books and other online resources, we do hope that you'll visit an Orthodox Church to become part of it's life and worship. As much as we value the internet, the ancient Christian life is not lived online but in community. Should you visit our community at Holy Cross, we hope that you feel welcome and will continue to join us in the love and worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green