Visiting for the First Time
"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."
Visiting a new church is always stressful. What if I look dumb? What if I make a mistake? What if I don't know what I'm doing? We can be very self-conscious when we go to new places. An Orthodox church can seem exotic, maybe even strange at first. We want you to know that we welcome all visitors who would come through our doors. Here are a few points:
1 - Just come and be yourself. You can come and sit down and just observe. That's ok.
2 - People will move around a bit. There's a lot of crossing ourselves, some bowing, etc. and it's not always done in unison. This may seem odd when you come from some of the more liturgical western churches. It's ok if you don't do those things, or if you don't know when, etc. Nobody is watching to see where you might "mess up."
3 - We have a Liturgy book so that you can follow along, but it's not like the hymnals you may be used to. A nearby member will be happy to point out where we are if you need help. It's easy to get "lost" if you aren't familiar with the Liturgy, and some of the prayers are in Slavonic, some in English.
4 - There's smoke...and candles...and bells. Orthodox worship and prayer incorporates the whole person, therefore, in addition to the movement you see, be prepared to have your senses engaged by incense, iconography, stained glass, candles, music, and so on.
5 - No instruments. Orthodox services are typically conducted without accompaniment. No organ, no piano, no praise band. This A Capela, Au Naturale music creates a peaceful and organic setting.
6 - We won't embarrass you or point you out. Have you ever visited a church where the visitors were asked to stand up? We won't do that to you at St. Nicholas. We will talk to you a little after the service or at the coffee hour, but we won't put you on the spot in front of everyone.
7 - Just come and be yourself. You can come and sit down and just observe. That's Ok.
Orthodox Christianity is a faith, a way of life, and an experience. We welcome you to visit with us to experience the Divine Liturgy, the healing presence of God Who is truly present, along with the angels and saints and all the company of heaven!
If you would like to correspond or talk with someone before you visit, feel free to email or call with any questions you may have. If you do visit, we hope you feel at home, and we hope you feel free to ask questions about anything you wish to know more about.
We look forward to welcoming you!
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org