Online Resources for Visitors
12 Things I wish I had known on my first visit to an Orthodox Church. An excellent article by Frederica Mathews-Green before you visit an Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church in America website has wide array questions and answers to encourage you on your path to Orthodoxy.
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of America website has excellent articles on numerous topics about Orthodoxy.
Here are some of the most common questions we get from those interested in visiting Holy Trinity.
The Sunday Divine Liturgy begins at 9:30 am and typically concludes just before noon. Saturday Vespers begins at 5 pm and typically concludes around 5:40 pm. Please join us for our social hour after the Divine Liturgy.
Here are some additional questions!
How ancient are the Orthodox liturgical services?
Eastern Orthodox services trace their beginnings back to the Old Testament liturgical rites and services of the Hebrews. They are a treasury of Scripture readings, prayers, hymns, and canons composed by the Saints and pious Christians throughout the ages. Like our Jewish predecessors, Orthodox services are liturgical, sacramental, and ceremonial. Many of the hymns you hear come from the Psalms. Most of them are sung or chanted, as has been the tradition since the days of Jewish/Christian practice. Some of the ancient document sources of the Orthodox liturgical order of service go back to the second (Justin Martyr, c. A.D. 150) and third centuries (Hippolytus, c. 215 A.D.). Eastern liturgies were developed further in the fourth and fifth centuries. Liturgical practices stabilized in the sixth century, and by the eighth century were so fixed that they have not changed to this day.
Are you Christian?
We are most certainly Christian. We are the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that was established on the day of Pentecost in the first century AD.
Why do you call yourselves “Orthodox”?
The word orthodox was coined by the ancient Christian Fathers of the Church, the name traditionally given to the Christian writers in the first centuries of Christian history. Orthodox is a combination of two Greek words, orthos and doxa. Orthos means “straight” or “correct.” Doxa means at one and the same time “glory,” “worship” and “doctrine.” So the word orthodox signifies both “proper worship” and “correct doctrine.”
Is there any difference between your church and other Orthodox churches?
There is no difference in doctrine between the Orthodox Church in America and any other canonical Orthodox Church in the world. There is a plurality of Orthodox Churches in America and many other countries in the world due to the mass migration of populations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The various ethnic identities of the Orthodox Churches here in America are representative of the lands that Orthodox Christians came from. However, there is absolutely no difference in doctrine or theology.
What do candles represent?
You will see candles burning before the icons and on the altar, signifying the light of truth given by the Lord, illuminating the world with spiritual radiance. Candles also represent the non-created light of the Holy Trinity, for the Lord dwells in an unapproachable light. They also represent the fire of Divinity which destroys our ungodliness and sins. Candles also symbolize our soul’s burning love of God and the spiritual joy and triumph of the Church. The candles before the icon of Christ signify that He is the True Light which lights every man that comes into the world.
Do Orthodox worship icons?
Wall icons and artwork appeared in Jewish temples early in ancient history (note: Duros Europos Temple destroyed in the mid 200’s) even before their use in Christian churches. Because the Son of God took on human flesh and became incarnate as man in Jesus Christ, the Church decreed it was appropriate to portray the glory of God incarnate visually through icons. Icons are NOT idols or graven images (which depicted images of false gods), and their place in Christian worship and piety was clearly articulated, defended and approved at the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Church in the Eighth Century. Byzantine icon style may seem austere and strange at first. They are not meant to depict the natural beauty of the material world, but rather the spiritual beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven and its inhabitants (Saints). Icons are venerated, but not worshipped, by Orthodox Christians.This is a misunderstanding by some in modern Christendom, especially those who have been influenced by Puritan and Anabaptist traditions, and the Islamic tradition, which rejects any and all images.
Why do you make the sign of the cross on yourself?
As a remembrance of Christ’s saving victory over death on the Cross. Orthodox make the sign of the Cross at specific times during every Divine service. The sign of the Cross is made is the following manner: the thumb, index finger and middle finger are placed together symbolizing the Triune God in His Oneness. The ring finger and pinky are placed in the palm of the hand to remind us of Christ’s dual nature, both fully divine and fully human. The motion of making the sign of the Cross is: first to touch the forehead, next the chest (heart), followed by the right shoulder and lastly the left shoulder.
One does not have to be an Orthodox Christian in order to make the sign of the Cross. Anyone who believes in God’s salvation may make the sign of the Cross with reverence and devotion!