Frequently Asked Questions
I am not Orthodox. Am I allowed to be here?
. Yes! Our doors are open to all. When our Lord was calling His Apostles, they asked Jesus where he was staying. “Come and see!” was the Master’s reply to those who wished to see His dwelling place (John 1:39), and that is our reply to the whole world!
While you are here, join us as we worship. Feel free to sing the responses, as you are able. You will find that the melodies for “Amen” and “Lord have mercy” become familiar quite quickly! Service books are also available at the candle desk if you would like to follow along.
Are children welcome at Liturgy?
. Absolutely. Orthodox worship appeals to ALL the senses: to taste, touch, sight, hearing, and even smell. For children (and adults!) Orthodox worship is both exciting and involving. Also, children are welcome to both sing in the choir and assist during the Liturgy. And we have a Church School program, to deepen their understanding of God’s love.
Someone has offered me a piece of bread. What should I do?
. Enjoy it! Holy Communion is offered only to Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves through fasting and repentance, and after receiving Communion, the Orthodox faithful often “return to earth” by eating bread that has been set aside with an earlier blessing. This bread is not the bread of communion, and it is often shared with others by Orthodox Christians as a sign of hospitality and love. If someone offers you a piece of blessed bread, they have recognized you as a visitor. We often say welcome with food in the Orthodox Church!
Where are your restrooms?
. Downstairs, and so is our Social Hall! We host a coffee hour after the Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings. Please come and share a time of food and fellowship with us after worship. Again, we want to greet you with food!
Who’s in charge?
. The Head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ. There is no earthly head of the Church. However, the pastor of our parish is Father Theophan. (You can easily spot an Orthodox priest. Just look for a large pectoral cross worn around the neck.) Father Theophan is happy to answer any questions, and he is always eager to greet our visitors. Father Theophan works with the dedicated members of our Parish Council to make sure that our parish ministries are on track.
How does one “become Orthodox”?
. We encourage all, but hurry none. Those who desire to become members of the Orthodox Church are received as “catechumens.” This is simply a word for those who are preparing through prayer and study to become Orthodox Christians. Father meets weekly with our catechumens over the course of several months, covering a series of topics related to Orthodox faith, history, and living. Since our parish is small, these meetings are customized by Father according to the background of the catechumen.
I have questions. What should I do?
. First, contact Father Theophan. You can also leave your contact information at the candle desk using the included card, and Father will reach out to you. In the meantime, take a look at the materials in this packet. And be sure to visit our parish website at www.orthodoxsalem.com. You will get a good sense of our life and faith here at Saint Nicholas by exploring the photos, sermons, newsletters, and other resources.
I’m not sure what to ask. Any suggestions?
. There is a wonderful essay about visiting an Orthodox Church entitled “12 Things I Wish I’d Known.” The author is Frederica Matthewes-Green, a well-known Orthodox writer. You will find a copy in our Welcome Packet. Take a look! You can also find it on her website (with so much more!): www.frederica.com/12-things.