But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him (John 4:23).
Many Americans have friends who are Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox, and they have some sense that both of these Christian Churches are part of something called “Eastern Orthodoxy”. And this is true!
The Orthodox Churches of Greece and Russia are sister churches. What they teach and what they proclaim in worship are the same. The languages in which they worship are of course different, and each church has its own spiritual leader (leading bishop), but otherwise each Church is committed to the same set of truths about the Holy Trinity, the Church, and the hope for human kind through the crucified, raised, and glorified Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
But the family of Orthodox Churches is BIG — there are more than just these two sisters! The Church from its founding in Jerusalem has been a missionary Church, and until the 20th century a total of fourteen such sister churches were founded by Orthodox missionaries through the centuries. Perhaps you have also heard of the Churches of Antioch, Albania, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria … just to name a few members of the Eastern Orthodox communion.
Orthodoxy first came to North America in 1794 through the efforts of holy missionaries sent by the Russian Orthodox Church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who lived in Alaska. And in 1970, the Church of Russia granted independence to its missionary parishes here in America. And so in 1970, a fifteenth sister was added to the world-wide family of Orthodox Churches, and this new sister Church was named “The Orthodox Church in America.”
And so who are we? Here is who we are.
- Our parish was founded in Salem in 1901 by immigrants from Galicia (now part of western Ukraine, roughly) and became part of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1908.
- In 1970, with hundreds of other parishes across the country, St Nicholas became part of the newly established Orthodox Church in America.
- Like all churches in the OCA, we are now entrusted with the responsibility to spread the Gospel of Christ throughout the American lands.
- Our parish welcomes faithful followers of Jesus Christ from all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, and we promote unity and salvation by offering all services in English. (To honor our heritage, we sing hymns on occasion in Slavonic.)
- We seek to spread the good news of God’s love to all, and we do so by upholding the teachings handed down by Jesus Christ to His Apostles and maintained through the centuries by the communion of Orthodox Churches throughout the world.
- We seek to grow in holiness — to become more and more like our Lord — through “worship in spirit and in truth” and through expressing our faith through lives of repentance, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and constant prayer.