Frequently Asked Questions
All visitors are welcome! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we encounter when visitors come for the first time to an Orthodox Church, or contact us about attending a service:
Can I receive Holy Communion?
Only baptized, Orthodox Christians who have recently made a confession are able to receive the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church. We consider the Eucharist to be the literal Body and Blood of Christ, and also a symbol of unity, oneness of mind and doctrine between Orthodox Christians.
How should I dress for a visit?
Please dress respectfully as befitting for a holy service. It’s traditional Orthodox practice for women to have a head-covering and wear a dress or skirt. Men wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Also, it is general practice that women stand together on the left side of the church and men stand together on the right. However, our community consists mostly of converts to Orthodoxy, so we understand that these traditions might be new to you. In all, we want you to feel comfortable and at home.
What language will the service be in?
Even through our services are performed according the Russian tradition, our services are 100% in English with some parts repeated in Old Church Slavonic. For example, the Epistle reading is in both English and Russian. Some hymns are also chanted in a combination of English and Slavonic. While our parish is a part of the canonical Russian Orthodox Church, we are largely a result of the Russian missionary efforts that started in the 18th century. In fact, our community is indeed home to many ethnicities, yet we are all “one in the Body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27). So, don’t be surprised if you hear some Slavonic in our services; just know that nothing is being left out in the English language.
Why do Orthodox Christians stand during the service?
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ directs us to stand during prayer (Mark 11:25), and the Apostle Paul says: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (I Cor. 16:13); ”Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth (Ephes. 6:14); “Stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1). If a Christian must always stand on guard spiritually over his salvation, then he must do so even more during the divine church services which represent an expression and an enrichment to private everyday service to God.
St. Nicholas, like many other Orthodox churches, is not furnished with pews. However, sitting is sometimes necessary for those with infants in arms, the elderly, and persons with handicaps or other conditions that make standing difficult or impossible. Visitors who are unaccustomed to standing for long periods of time may also need to take a break. There is seating along the back of the nave in case you need it.
Do children attend the service?
Children attend the entire service as they are considered to be full members of the Orthodox Church upon baptism. Although you might expect that this would cause chaos, even young children behave very well throughout the typical 90-minute Liturgy on Sunday. Children should stay in close proximity to their parents. We have a room set aside for those who are trying to manage crying children. Ask for directions if you are in need.
How does one become an Orthodox Christian?
One enters the Holy Orthodox Church by becoming a Catechuman. This involves not only study of the history and doctrines of the Orthodox Church, but also regular attendance of the cycle of services. In a word, it’s about becoming a member of the Body of Christ through your local Orthodox community. If you are interested in joining the Orthodox Church, the first step is to contact the parish priest, who will guide you through the process.
I have other questions, but I’d like to ask them in person. What’s the best way to proceed?
If you are with us on a Sunday, please join us for lunch (called the trapeza) following the service. The atmosphere is informal and you will have an opportunity to meet Fr. Steven and other members of the parish. Alternatively, you can reach Fr. Steven by phone or email. His contact information is at the bottom of every page on this website.