(NOTE: It is not the purpose of this page to present exhaustive information on the Orthodox Church. It is merely a beginning point for those who might find this limited information interesting and wish to begin to additional information.)
In 1979, after a long search (much of which we didn't even realize was taking place) my husband and I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. Over the more than 30 years since then, we have, thankfully, grown in our Orthodoxy and this has changed the way we think about God, about the Church, even about the universe. Orthodox Christianity is a way of life and a world view or mindset that differs from that of Western Christianity found (especially) in the United States and Canada (but found in the rest of the Euro-centric parts of the world, also).
The Orthodox Church follows the most ancient and traditional Christian practices. It is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, and does not have a "Pope". It is under Bishops which trace an unbroken, historical line all the way back to the Apostles.
Throughout its history the Orthodox Church has existed in an unbroken line since the Day of Pentecost. Unlike the Western Churches, the Orthodox Church never suffered a Dark Ages and thus had no need for a Reformation or a Renaissance. The average American probably has heard of the Greek Orthodox Church, and may have heard of the Russian Orthodox Church.
There are several national Orthodox Churches, called "jurisdictions", each headed by an ecclesiastical leader called an Archbishop. Some Archbishops have extended authority and are called Metropolitans. Some Metropolitans have further extended authority are are called Patriarchs. The Patriarch is not the "Pope", meaning the sole head of The Church, however, for all Bishops are equal within Orthodoxy. Some Patriarchs use the title "Pope", but by this is meant that they are the "Father or leader of their Church", not that this is a supreme head of all the Orthodox Church. The highest ranking Bishop in a jurisdiction has the honor of "wielding the gavel" at meetings of the Bishops. Before the Great Schism in 1054, the Bishop of Rome had the honor of "chairing" the meetings of the entire group of Bishops - these were called the Great Councils.
The Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople, however, came to a parting of the ways in the 11th Century. This is what is known as The Great Schism. The Bishop of Rome is now called the "Pope" and heads up the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox Churches are not in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Our belief concerning God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is encompassed in the Nicene Creed:
I 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 the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the father; And shall come, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets.
In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the age to come. Amen.
We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We revere it and we read from it daily. We believe not only in the Bible, but in Holy Tradition. The Bible is one part of Holy Tradition. Holy Tradition includes not only all those things that were written in the Bible, but those things that were never written down about Christ and the early Church in the Bible. In addition, it encompasses the writings of the Early Church Fathers, the decisions of the 7 Great Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, and numerous, smaller, regional Councils as well. The decisions and decrees of these Councils taken together comprise the Canons of the Church (the Doctrine). The Doctrine has not changed in the 2000 years of the Orthodox Church. Any "new" teachings about the Nature of God are tested against the Doctrine of the Church (Canons) and those which conflict or which change the understood Nature of God are rejected. It was through the Great Councils that the Canon of Scripture was decided. Of the many books and writings which were available at the time, the Fathers of the Church chose those which were most essential to our learning of God, of Christ and to our salvation. Holy Tradition also encompasses our cycle of liturgical worship and liturgical practices. It includes the Church Calendar and the calculation of the date of Pascha (Easter, the Feast of Feasts and the highpoint of the Orthodox Christian year).
Where the Roman Catholic and Protestant Christian Churches emphasize the Incarnation of Christ and celebrate the high point of their year at Christmas (Nativity), we Orthodox emphasize the Resurrection of Christ and celebrate the high point of our year at Pascha.
Brief summaries of what Orthodox Christians believe can be found by clicking on the sites below. As with any brief summary, there are some problems to be found in each of these articles, but on the whole they are very helpful.
The Orthodox Church is a Sacramental Church. We use the oldest Liturgical practices in Christianity. The Sacramental Life explains much about the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church. Our Liturgical worship includes the veneration of ICONS. Websites containing good graphic images of icons include (but are not limited to!):
Some Orthodox Parish Home Pages have excellent Icons, also. Lists of and/or Links to some Orthodox Parish Home Pages may be found at:
In 1995, as a result of our continuing spiritual journey my husband and I came into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. We attended Our Lady, the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Cumming, Ga. The priest, Fr. Alexis Duncan, is an iconographer who studied under Archimandrite Cyprian, at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. Archimandrite Cyprian of blessed memory was one of the foremost iconographers since the diaspora in the Russian emigration. His work has influenced the Orthodox world like none other and his work surpasses the beauty of even many ancient schools of iconography. Fr. Alexis paints beautiful icons in the most traditional Russian style, and the Church will grow in beauty with his work.
My husband was the director of our choir at Our Lady, the Joy of All Who Sorrow for 5 years. For over 20 years, I sang in the choirs at various Orthodox Churches. In the past several years, however, we both have become physically debilitated, and now are not able to attend Church nearly as frequently as we once did.
UPDATE 2007 Recently, we have begun attending a ROCOR Parish that is a little closer to us, St. Mary of Egypt which is the ROCOR continuation of our original parish, and at which the priest who catechized and chrismated us still serves! Circles completing, indeed! We still feel close to Our Lady, Joy of All Who Sorrow, but at nearly an hour distant, it is just too far for us to travel anymore.
UPDATE 2008 - With my Rheumatoid Arthritis progressing, and with St. Mary of Egypt having moved to a new building much farther away, we are unable to attend most of the time. Fr. John and Fr. Steven are most kind to tend to us by bringing the Holy Gifts to us every 4 - 8 weeks. We are most blessed and so thankful to have such loving priests.
UPDATE (Nov 2009) As things once again have changed, and illnesses gotten still worse, we are now occasionally attending Sts. Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church, which is only 15 minutes away. It is small, but Fr. Sasa is very welcoming. Don't yet know if we will join the parish, but we can attend services and receive the Gifts.
I developed the Choir Cues for each non-Festal Sunday for 8 years, then in 2006 had to turn it over to a **very** capable person - Meg Lark. She is doing a wonderful job with it. I have moderated the Orthodox Women's List for a little over 10 years, and hope to be able to continue to do so for a while longer. But I have a helper who can carry on when I fail.
If you desire more information about the Orthodox Church, please take the time to investigate the Orthodox Links I have compiled. They will provide a beginning.
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(wherein I post about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia)
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The Ol' Curmudgeon's Blog:
Rumblings of an Ol' Curmudgeon
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Broken links and some revisions: 12/8/09.
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