I think I'm in the Diocese of the South (I'm in Florida). Thank you for the link.
The veneration of icons after the service...Venerating icons is honoring the person represented in the icons, right? How does everybody do that together?
Also, what is Matins?
As far as "Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us."....is that just asking Mary to intercede on your behalf?
Sorry to ask so many questions!
Yes, going to an OCA parish in Florida would be in the Diocese of the South. The diocesan web page is www.ocados.org
. I am also in this diocese, but I reside in South Carolina.
You are correct that veneration of icons is honoring the person (as well as the image and likeness of God within that person). Usually, people get in line and venerate(cross themselves in front of, then kiss) the icons on stands in the middle of the church one by one. If at this point you are uncomfortable doing this, no one will think less of you for not participating. It took me a while to actually kiss the icons, but once I did it seemed like something I had done from birth.
Matins is another service that follows Great Vespers. It consists of prayers, readings, and choral music. Sensing a theme here?
Not all parishes have Matins. At my parish we do Matins about once a month. Sometimes we will accompany it with a reading from the Synaxarion(lives of the Saints).
As far as declaring, "Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us" that is asking for intercesseion from the Theotokos, but it also confirms the Orthodox belief that no one is saved in isolation. In Protestantism, you can often find people saying that it's just "Me and Jesus." This is alien to Orthodoxy's view that to join the Church is to become part of the Body of Christ. We're all in this together, and such we have the responsibility to pray for others and ask others for their prayers. And what better member of the body of Christ can you ask for intercession than the Mother of God?
I can confirm your observations on the Presbyterians with that of Reformed(and in most cases Southern) Baptists. I was a religion major at a Calvinistic Southern Baptist college when I decided to convert to Orthodoxy. That did not go over well at all, and I was eventually forced to leave the school.
If you have any more questions, don't hesistate to ask!