First Time Visitor? Want to know what to expect?
I've never been to an Orthodox church before, and I'm not Orthodox. Is it ok to visit?
Yes! Most of our members were not born into the Orthodox church, but have come from a variety of religious backgrounds including various Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic, New Age, Eastern religions, and atheism.
What about kids and infants?
Bring them too! Families worship together at Holy Transfiguration. If your little one needs a break, you can take him into the back of the narthex or perhaps the patio, then bring him back in when you're both ready. The floors in the worship area are hardwood, so you may want to bring toys that are soft and don't clatter when dropped.
What can I expect to see and hear?
Worship as it's been done since the early centuries of Christianity. Worship that involves not just the ears, listening to a sermon and music, but which also involves the sight of the "great cloud of witnesses" which surround us (via the icons), and the smell of incense (as used in Old Testament worship and portrayed in the book of Revelation). Please take a few minutes to read 12 Things I Wish I'd Known before you attend your first service, then please, Come and See!
What does it mean that you're a "Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox" church? I don't speak Bulgarian!
For the purposes of worship in this parish, it means very little. This is an English speaking church, with people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds: a typical mix of Americans with a few from other countries. As an historical and organizational matter, all Orthodox churches are associated with one of the historic centers of the Orthodox faith. Our parish was sponsored by and is associated with the Bulgarian Diocese, but this is not a parish organized on ethnic background.
Why would I want to attend an Orthodox service?
If you want to see how Christians have worshiped since the early days of the Church, come and see. If you want to hear Scripture, Psalms, and the ancient hymns of Christian worship, come and listen. If you want to participate in the ancient rhythms of life in the Church calendar, come and learn. If you want to connect with the ancient faith, and are tired of the unrest of modern forms of worship, come and find rest in the ancient Church. As Philip said to Nathanael, "Come and See"! (John 1:45-46)
Vespers, Matins, Divine Liturgy - what are these? Which should I come to?
Vespers (from the Greek word for "evening") is a late afternoon, early evening service that's relatively brief (30-60 minutes), quiet, and softly lit. A good introduction to the Orthodox church for newcomers.
Matins (from the Latin word for "of the morning") is the service which precedes the Divine Liturgy. Matins is a preparatory service for Divine Liturgy and lasts around 90 minutes. Possibly the most difficult service for a newcomer to follow.
Divine Liturgy: This is the chief service of the week. There is no break between Matins and the Divine Liturgy, so starting time is approximate, and people tend to trickle in around the beginning of the Liturgy. The Liturgy follows the pattern established long ago in the early centuries of the Church, and includes prayers, hymns, a reading from an Epistle, a reading from the Gospel, a brief sermon, and then most importantly, the Eucharist (Communion). Note that only those received into the Orthodox Church may receive the Eucharist, but all are welcome to receive a blessing and blessed bread at the conclusion of the Liturgy. (For more information on why Communion is "closed", see item 6 in this article, the section concerning Blessed Bread and Consecrated Bread.) After Divine Liturgy, please join us for coffee and a light snack. We'd love to get to know you and answer any questions you may have.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
I was raised Lutheran and my husband was raised Evangelical United Brethren. We were very active where we worshiped for many years. We were introduced to Orthodoxy by one of our sons who is serving as a Deacon in Boston with his family. We have bounced back and forth from church to church looking to where we could draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. We felt "lost"...and now we are "found." We found "HOME" at last!
— Vickie and Fred, Syracuse, NY