The Symbol of Faith
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. In One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Apostles’ Teaching, and the Fellowship, the Breaking of the Bread, and the Prayers
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
The Apostles’ Teaching
The Faith we believe and teach has always been believed and taught, everywhere, and by all Orthodox Christians, from the early days when the Eastern and Western churches held the same Orthodox Faith and were in communion with each other based on the Faith of the Apostles. What Our Lord taught the Apostles, the Apostles taught the Church. The Tradition of the Church was to record that teaching by passing it down and writing it down.
We have the writings of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit: The Gospels, The Acts of the Apostles, The Epistles, and the Apocrypha. This, commonly called “New Testament,” was seen by the Church as the completion and perfection of the revelation given in the Torah and Tanach, the “Old Testament”. This, together with a body of writings called “The Fathers of the Church”, which shows the tradition of interpreting the Scriptures, becomes the source of our understanding of Apostolic Teaching. The Bible of the Orthodox Church is the Greek Septuagint. Click here for the online Brenton’s edition (Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton), by Hendrickson Publishers. This English translation of the Septuagint was originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851.
The hierarchy of The Church was established very early on. The Apostles were called by Christ. When they found themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities of overseeing the Christian Communities they took council together and appointed Deacons. As more Churches were established, they placed over them men who were with them the longest, and who witnessed the mighty works of the Holy Spirit. These bishops, together as a college, were the successors of The Apostles. The old men who were the Bishops’ closest collaborators in the ministry (presbyters) were soon delegated to go to outlying communities to teach and celebrate the Eucharist. So very early on the ministry of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon was seen within the Church. This does not mean that they were the only ministers. Indeed many others, doorkeepers, exorcists, acolytes, readers, sub-deacons were all part of the Christian fellowship, The Church. In some parts of the Church, notably the Johannine Communities (those started by Saint John) there were many charismatic ministries.
Unfortunately, when the whole Johannine Community fell into the heresy of Gnosticism, the Orthodox Church no longer saw them as beneficial to the doctrinal purity of the Church. Indeed, some, through private revelation, were promoting a different Gospel than that received and preserved by the Orthodox Community of Faith. To this day in both the Eastern and Western expressions of the Orthodox Catholic Faith the minor orders as mentioned above, as well as the Episcopacy, the Presbyterate, and the Diaconate is the continuing Apostolic Ministry through succession among us. This succession is not simply tactile through ordination, but also by “paradosis,” the handing down of the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Faith and morals to the present age. Through the holding, preserving, and spreading of this Faith and succession we are one Orthodox Church though found in many jurisdictions and countries.
Our faith is summarized in the Nicene Creed as revealed and believed by the Orthodox Church since it was formalized in the Council. Therefore it does NOT contain the later filioque clause (regarding Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son) which changes the theology of the Holy Trinity as inserted unilaterally by the Roman Catholic Church hundreds of years after the Council. Our focus is on building wholesome, living communities of faith, prayer, and ministries that honor the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the faith of the martyrs throughout all of the ages.
We urge our people to avail themselves of confession on a regular basis to be as pure as they can be for the reception of the Holy Mysteries. We observe the fasts and abstinences.
Our vision and hope for the many Orthodox jurisdictions in America, created by an accident of history, is to work for administrative unity not only with Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America jurisdictions but also those not currently in the Assembly as well. We always seek means to build up relationships with other Orthodox without compromising the principles of our faith in “false ecumenism”.
The Breaking of the Bread
During the Last Supper, Our Lord Jesus commanded the Apostles to celebrate the sacred mystery of communion with Christ. This act, called the Eucharist is a central part of Orthodox Catholic worship called The Divine Liturgy. Throughout the centuries, the Church has been faithful to Our Lord’s command to mystically participate in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Liturgy celebrates the presence of Christ in his Word, in the Community gathered in His name, and in the Holy Mysteries of His Body and Blood made present by the Holy Spirit. The centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Orthodox Church is well known by the way The Church celebrates this act with the best that humanity can offer to God. The Liturgy, in its word and sacrament celebrates the dwelling of God with Man. And Man shows forth his joy by worshipping with all of his senses. Taste, touch, sound, smell, sight all express the inexpressible. No one doubts the experience of heaven on earth that the Liturgy evokes. The Liturgies of Saint James, Saint Basil the Great, Saint John Chrysostom, and even the restored Western Orthodox Liturgies of the Old Roman, Gallican, Ambrosian, Sarum, and Mozarabic may be used in our Western Rite parishes with the approval of the Bishop.
Our church is a traditional Orthodox Christian jurisdiction. We are traditional, but not legalistic. Our Faith is the faith of the Holy Apostles, as taught to them by the Lord Jesus Christ, and handed down through successive generations of Christian faithful. We are Orthodox Christians first and foremost and acknowledge our ancestry as an accident of birth. Christ asked that the Gospel be preached to all nations; therefore one culture is not to be elevated above the other. We are called to serve all the people of the country we find ourselves in: America, and are building spiritual home for persons of all ethnic backgrounds based on truth, love, ministry and fellowship, as blessed by God. Find all that hard to believe? Come and see! May God bless you most abundantly and keep you in His grace!
Perhaps one of the most important functions of the Church is to give God glory in worship and prayer. The hours of the day are sanctified by the observance of the times of prayer. Our parish clergy and people are called to pray the offices of Matins, Noonday, Vespers and Compline every day. Monastics also pray the other hours of Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, and None. For clergy, the Divine Office, as it is called in the West, is the Scriptural sustenance which daily feeds the mind and spirit of the clergy. Many laypeople join in the daily cycle of prayer on different levels of commitment. All Orthodox Christians take the obligation to pray for ourselves and others quite seriously. Many times one may see the older generation make the sign of the cross before starting a journey placing all that they have and all that they are into the hands of the Holy Trinity.