Planning a Visit
New Visitors - Welcome To Annunciation!
All of our facilities are handicap accessible!
Please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) for suggestions regarding group visits. This may include a visit for educational purposes. Please let us know if you would like to meet with someone to ask questions about the Orthodox Faith.
The time to arrive at Church is before the Divine Liturgy starts. If you should arrive after the service begins, follow the guidelines under “Entering the Church” below so your entrance does not interrupt the service. The best way to avoid entering the Church at an inappropriate time is to arrive on time.
Cell phones and beepers must be silenced before entering the Church and any usage in Church is prohibited. In case of an emergency, please exit the nave and proceed directly into the exo-narthex.
Do I have to be Greek?
No. The descriptor "greek" identifies us as descendants of the original Christian churches in the countries that comprised the eastern half of the Roman Empire, the common language of which was Greek. This linguistic heritage is preserved in some of the hymns and readingfs that you will hear but our services are predominantly in English.
Some may be overwhelmed by our adherence to traditional forms of Christian worship rooted in Judaism (the first Christians were Jews): ancient music, burning of incense, vestments. If you are adventurous, come and see! If not, finish reading this section and/or schedule a visit with the Parish Priest before attending services. You are invited to the coffee/fellowship afterward to inquire Father Stavros about the faith.
Are non-Orthodox visitors welcome?
Yes! While you may not yet be Orthodox, you may be surprised to learn that many of our members are converts to the Holy Orthodox faith, coming from a variety of other Christian confessions. Others have come from eastern religions or other traditions and systems of thought. You will find a wide diversity of races, age groups and ethnic groups represented at our parish.
Our parish priest will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have following your visit. No question is dumb or irrelevant.
So, how should I behave?
The best form of etiquette when visiting any place of worship is to stand, sit, or kneel when the faithful do. Otherwise, you are not expected to do anything else except to pray and experience the Apostolic Church in its fullest.
I am visiting an Orthodox Church for the first time. What should I expect?
It depends upon your own religious background. If you are Roman Catholic, Anglican, or, to a lesser extent, Lutheran, you will see and hear some familiar liturgics, as these churches draw their worship from the ancient liturgies celebrated in the Orthodox Church. The same clergy (bishop, priest, and deacon) celebrate, entrances with the Gospel and with the Chalice and Paten occur, the sign of the cross is used often, censing of God's Temple is performed, candles abound, and the Eucharist is always offered during the Divine Liturgy. All divine services are sung in their entirety, as the Early Church celebrated before God. Holy Images, called icons, cover the interior, reminding us of the presence of all God's holy people from all time at each service. Finally, the worship is antiphonal, that is, shared between the clergy, chanters, choir, and people, as one whole out of many parts, with Christ at the head. Even the word "liturgy" has its origins in a Greek word leitourgia, which means "work of the people."
I only know of two kinds of Christians, Protestant and Catholic. How can you claim you are neither?
From the Orthodox point of view, Roman Catholicism is an early medieval modification of the original Orthodoxy of the Church in Western Europe, and Protestantism is a later attempt to return to the original Faith. To our way of thinking, however, the Reformation did not go far enough.
We respectfully differ with Roman Catholicism on the questions of papal authority, the nature of the Church, the approach to salvation, and a number of other consequent issues. Historically, the Orthodox Church is both “pre- Protestant” and “pre-Roman Catholic” in the sense that many modern Roman Catholic teachings were developed much later in Christian history.
The word catholic is a Greek word meaning “having the fulness.” We do consider ourselves “Catholic” in that sense of the word, that is, as proclaiming and practicing “the Whole Faith.” In fact, we proclaim our Church to be “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.”
Protestants can often relate to Orthodoxy’s emphasis on a personal experience of faith and on the Holy Scriptures. Roman Catholics easily identify with Orthodoxy’s rich liturgical worship and sacramental life. Roman Catholic visitors often comment, “in lots of ways your Liturgy reminds me of how our old High Mass used to be.”
Many of the “polarities” between Protestants and the Roman Communion (i.e., “Word versus Sacrament,” “Faith versus Works” or “Symbol versus Reality”) have never arisen in the Orthodox Church.
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.”
The Orthodox Church today is the same as the undivided Church in ancient times. The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther once remarked that he believed the pure Faith of primitive Christianity is to be found in the Orthodox Church.
Visiting Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Is there a dress code?
Not specifically. Traditionally, our people wore their “Sunday best” to church. Our elderly still follow the dress code of their day: shirt, slacks, suit coat and tie for the men and dresses or skirts that fall below the knee for the women. Feel free to do so yourself.
Today, “Sunday best” is informal. Informal does not mean sloppy, careless, inattentive or “God accepts me as I am.” Rather, informal means neat, modest, respecting of God and the community, directing attention to God and not to us. Informality makes it difficult to say what to wear, so we ask that adolescents and adults do not wear:
Clothing with messages or advertising, revealing clothing like shorts, mini-skirts, mini dresses, tank tops, low-cut or strapless dresses (unless covered by a sweater, etc.). Women may wear head coverings (scarves, hats) and men may not. Tattoos should be covered up as much as possible. Body piercings are discouraged.
Is childcare provided?
As a small community, parents are responsible for their own children. We are a family friendly church, but when children become the center of attention, then it is time to take them out. Parents may take children to the narthex or to the small multi-purpose room to the left of the candle stand or outside until the child is ready to return.
What you will see upon entering the church building:
* As visitors, you are NOT required or expected to do the following four things or to contribute to the collection trays at the end of the service. If you wish, please accept a “Welcome To Our Church” sheet from one of our greeters or take one yourself, fill it out, and place it in the collection tray at the end of service as your offering. Help yourself to weekly bulletin.
Upon entering the narthex, Orthodox Christians 1) make offerings, 2) light candles, 3) venerate icons, and 4) cross themselves.
Offerings, aside from the practicality of covering candle costs, have biblical precedent as one way of thanking God for his many blessings (Deut. 16:17).
Candles, aside from the practicality of giving light (when there was no electricity), are a means of prayer. It has even been written, “to light a candle is to pray.” Through this pious act the faithful pray to God for specific needs. Lit candles remind the faithful of Christ (the Light of the world) and of our temporal lives (that eventually “burn out”).
Veneration (kissing) of icons is love and honor given to the event or person(s) depicted. We do not worship the icons as God. Icons are not idols but pictorial representations of Biblical scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the ongoing life of the Church, portraits of Christ, the Ever-Virgin Mary, the martyrs and holy personages.
Crossing one’s self is a pious act imbued with real power against the Devil and the powers of darkness. It is also a non-verbal confession of our faith in the Holy Trinity and of Jesus Christ’s life-giving death through his crucifixion.
The faithful cross themselves spontaneously (and sometimes repeatedly) and also at prescribed times: when lighting candles, venerating icons, and when the services reference “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” and the Virgin Mary.
THE NAVE (WORSHIP AREA)
Standing and sitting?
Historically, Orthodox churches had no pews. Except for seats around the perimeter for the elderly and infirm, all stood for the whole service. Today, this is not so in most Orthodox churches. Sit and stand with the congregation and do not be alarmed if you see someone standing while everyone else is sitting. The infirm or incapacitated can stand, as they are able.
Byzantine Chant is the official music of the Greek Orthodox Church. Our chanters follow the Byzantine notation in the Orthros (Matins) service and our choir sings an adaptation of it in Western notation at the Divine Liturgy following the Orthros. Byzantine Chant is composed of a melodic line supported by an underlying accompaniment. When executed properly, it is reverent, prayerful, and spiritual and devoid of musical instrumentation and multi-part harmonies that evoke sentimentality, gaiety, and emotion.
Can non-Orthodox receive Holy Communion?
No. The Chalice represents a unity of faith (in the fullness of the one Apostolic teaching) that does not exist and for which we must all pray:
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Cor. 1:10)