What is the Antiochian Orthodox Church?
The Orthodox Church is the most traditional of all Christian churches. In the early centuries of Christianity there was one church, one faith. When important questions arose about the faith, the Bishops for each branch would come together in council to debate and decide the answers to the questions.
Eventually, the Bishop of Rome came to hold a position of greater visibility and then began to use that position to make changes to the faith including changes to the Nicene Creed, our statement of faith. Finally around 1054, a time known as the Great Schism, the Western (Roman) and Eastern branches of the church separated. The church under Rome became known as the Roman Catholic Church and the bishop as Pope of Rome, and the churches in the East (Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Russia) became known as the Orthodox Church with a Bishop for each branch and with the branches together sharing the same faith.
Our branch of the Orthodox Church is named for the city of Antioch mentioned in Acts, "...and they were first called Christians at Antioch." Until the city of Antioch was destroyed, our bishop was seated there. Now Damascus, Syria is the city for our Patriarch (bishop), currently, His Beatitude Patriarch John X. Our bishop of North America is Metropolitan JOSEPH.
Our church holds the faith and traditions from earliest Christianity and those have been handed down since before the Bible was compiled some time around 300 A.D. All the branches share the same faith and doctrine but over time different ways of worship have developed, generally adapting somewhat to the local culture. The Western Europeans, the Slavik peoples, the Middle Eastern peoples, etc. have all developed forms of liturgy (worship) which still teach and pass on the faith and traditions, but do so in ways beautiful to each culture.
What is Our Worship Like?
Many of the Antiochian churches use the Byzantine Rite liturgy, Middle Eastern in style. Our parish is one of about 10% of the Antiochian parishes who use the Western Rite, traditional Episcopalian/Roman Catholic in style and fully Orthodox Christian in content. The order of the service is Western and familiar to Americans from liturgical churches, our choir sings simple Gregorian chant for the propers, and the congregation sings Western hymns (i.e Love Divine All Loves Excelling, Be Thou My Vision, Away in a Manger, etc.).
May I take Communion?
Communion to Orthodox Christians is a sacrament taken with preparation and fasting. Those who are not Orthodox Christians and who do not share the Orthodox understanding of Holy Communion may not take Communion. If you are not Orthodox, you may, however, approach the altar rail at Communion time, cross your arms over your chest, receive a blessing from the priest, and receive the blessed bread (Antidoron) from the basket.
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