Planning a Visit
To Our Visitors - Welcome to Annunciation!
All of our facilities are handicap accessible (the classroom building attached to the church through the side door only). Bathrooms are in the classroom building and in the free standing fellowship hall behind the church (there are no bathroom facilities in the church building).
Visit: Contact the church office at (423) 629-4881.
Saturday: Great Vespers: 4:00-4:45 PM
Sunday: Orthros/Matins: 8:45-10:00 AM
Sunday: Divine Liturgy: 10-11:30 AM
*See the rolling calendar at the bottom of the home page for week-day services.
Must I be Greek?
No. The descriptor “Greek” in Greek Orthodox Church identifies us as descendants of the original Christian churches in the eastern half of the Roman Empire whose common language was Greek. Regardless of ethnicity, these churches came to be regarded by the eighth century as Greek Orthodox. Our parish community was formally established by immigrants from Greece in 1939. Today, we are a mixed congregation, doing mostly English and a little Greek in our services.
There is no childcare. We rely on parents to control their own children and not permit them to run free. We are a family friendly church and encourage families to worship together. As a general rule of thumb, when the children command more attention than God, then we ask parents to take the little ones out from the main worship area (the nave) for a change of scenery until they have quieted down. There is a small cry room off the narthex to the right of the candles. Some spend most of the liturgy in the cry room and narthex areas.
Church Dress Code
Of the various jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox have always dressed up on Sundays. Today, “dressed up” does not mean what it did in the past. The following guidelines should be of help:
Cover up for God, for the most part (that includes shoulders)
Dress up for God (as when going somewhere special)
No advertising or images on clothing
No short pants (except very young children)
No form-fitting clothes that accentuate body parts
Women’s clothing must be distinguishable from men’s clothing; ideally, skirts/dresses for women and slacks for men. If women must wear pants suits, they must distinguishable from men’s pants and loose fitting.
Women may wear head coverings, men may not (1 Cor. 11:1-16)
Body piercings discouraged (please remove them if at all possible)
Cover up tattoos (as much as possible)
Thank you for your cooperation!
Nothing is expected of visitors except, if you wish, to fill out a visitor card (on the table next to the candles) and place it in the offering tray as your offering.
The following is what you will see Orthodox Christians do upon entering the church:
In the Narthex (Foyer or Vestibule)
Upon entering the church, Orthodox Christians:
- Cross themselves
Make a monetary offering (if able) and take a candle(s)
Cross themselves after lighting candles and venerating (kissing) the icons
Pick up a weekly bulletin and enter the main worship area (aka the nave)
of the church. The following explains the first three of these actions:
Crossing Ourselves: The act of crossing oneself (forehead, chest, right and left shoulders) by putting the thumb, index, and middle fingers together (Holy Trinity) while closing down the ring and pinky fingers against the palm of the hand (Christ is both God and man) is a pious expression of our faith, an act of worship of God, and an actual weapon against the Devil and his demons. It is done spontaneously (when lighting candles, venerating icons, and when we are so moved), and specifically when the services reference “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” the Virgin Mary and the names of saints and martyrs.
Monetary Offerings: Are a means of thanking God for his many blessings (Deuteronomy 16:17), not to mention helping to defray candle costs.
Candles: Aside from the practicality of giving light when there was no electricity, the lighting of candles is a means of prayer. It has been written, “to light a candle is to pray.” Through this pious act the faithful pray to God for specific needs. Lit candles also remind the faithful of Christ the Light of the World and of our temporal and mortal lives that eventually “burn out.”
Icon Veneration: The kissing of icons is veneration of the event or person(s) depicted. We do not worship the icons as God, which is idolatry. Icons are 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 of the Church.
In the Nave (main worship area)
Standing, Sitting, Kneeling: Just follow along with everyone else. Historically, except for seats around the perimeter for the infirm and elderly, Orthodox churches were devoid of pews. All stood (for hours) out of respect for God (Judges 3:20). Our elderly and infirm may stay seated when everyone is standing, so do not be confused by this.
Books: The books in the pews for the Divine Liturgy are formatted in four columns on two pages. The text from left to right is in Greek, phonetics, English, and an explanation of the liturgy. Do your best to follow along as some parts of the liturgy are simultaneously done (priest praying while choir is singing). If you get lost, just close the book and hear the liturgy. This is how the early Church worshipped anyway.
Music and singing: Adapted to Western notation, the ancient Byzantine Chant is the official music of the Greek Orthodox Church. Devoid of musical instrumentation and multi-part harmonies that evoke sentimentality, gaiety, and emotion, this Chant contains a melodic line supported by an underlying accompaniment that is reverent, prayerful, and spiritual in tone.
Can non-Orthodox receive Holy Communion?
No. The Chalice represents an official union of faith 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 Corinthians 1:10)
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, schedule a visit with the parish priest before attending services. As an extension of the liturgy, you are invited to the fellowship hall aferward to socialize and share your experience of worshiping with us (we would appreciate your feedback). We leave you with a Westerner’s observation of the historic Apostolic (Orthodox) church that he refers to as “the old tree.”
“Describing a visit to a country church in Greece, John Betjeman stresses the element of antiquity, but he also stresses something more:
... The domed interior swallows up the day.
Here, where to light a candle is to pray,
The candle flame shows up the almond eyes
Of local saints who view with no surprise
Their martyrdoms depicted upon walls
On which the filtered daylight faintly falls.
The flame shows up the cracked paint – sea-green blue
And red and gold, with grained wood showing through –
Of much kissed ikons, dating from, perhaps,
The fourteenth century ...
Thus vigorously does the old tree grow,
By persecution pruned, watered with blood,
Its living roots deep in pre-Christian mud.
It needs no bureaucratical protection.
It is its own perpetual resurrection.”
(taken from “The Orthodox Way,” Kallistos Ware, pp. 8-9)