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Quinault
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What about frogs? I like frogs!


« on: August 18, 2008, 02:02:56 PM »

I dropped my daughter off at a local Greek Orthodox parish for vacation church school. But I don't know what to do at this parish!

The icons were all in the back, laying side by side on a high table. It was almost like a attached open narthex area. The doors from the street opened directly into this open little area. Very small area, about the size of a small walk-in closet. It was only slightly separate visually from the nave. No doors, more like a small threshold, with another small area on the opposite side for candles. No one venerated them or really paid any attention to them whatsoever. The flowers were wilted and brown. The aisle was quite long and there were pews in rows all along both sides. The holy doors were this brass open plating.

Typically when we enter the narthex we cross ourselves, then as we enter the nave we cross ourselves. The floor plan is open without seating and we venerate the icons-one is in the middle of the room and then two right in front of the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. There is a big red strip of carpet down the center of the nave that is the exact width of the Holy doors. We don't walk/stand on it unless absolutely necessary and you cross yourself and bow slightly everytime you cross over it. And as you leave the nave you walk semi backward and cross yourself with a slight bow. In other words; you don't turn your back on the Holy Doors if it is at all possible. And you always venerate at LEAST the center of the room icon as you enter and leave.

 I can't walk backward the entire length of the nave. And I have to seat my daughter at the front of the nave close to the Holy doors. It seems that no one cares about crossing yourself at all as you enter and leave, or in reference to the Holy Doors. And I have to say I find it really strange to see thru the holy doors even though they are closed. My one year old HATED the pews, he wanted to kick them. And I have to say I felt weird/bad turning my back and walking up the aisle with my back to the Holy Doors.

We have raised our kids to behave in certain ways as they enter and leave an Orthodox church. They really seem to like to do it. But the floorplan of the parish is such that it is hard to know how to do what we typically do. I don't want to make my homeschooled child with a huge vocabulary to seem more of a freak that she already is. But I also don't want to undo all the things that she already knows are expected of her as far as behaviour/reverence in the nave. I don't want to be a stick in the mud either.

I did have all the kids reverence the icons in the back, the girls wore their headcoverings and they crossed themselves as they entered. I left her there for the day. But I need to be able to spell out how she can have proper behavior in this parish that is so different from our own. She will still be attending a day camp there for the next four days.

Does anyone attend a GOC and have a floorplan like this? What do you typically do?
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 02:31:17 PM by Quinault » Logged
Quinault
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 02:18:24 PM »

It is pretty small, but here is a photo of the iconostasis.
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EofK
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2008, 02:30:53 PM »

My parish is a lot like the one you're used to going but I have been in other parishes with similar layouts to the Greek parish.  

With entering and venerating, I think you've done just fine.  The idea is to pay respect to the icons wherever they may be.  With regard to not turning your back on the icons at the front or the holy doors, just do what you can.  In some churches, there just isn't room to go backwards without tripping over pews or people behind you or a candle stand.  The idea there, again, is to pay respect.  It was explained to me that we try not to turn our backs just the same as you wouldn't turn your back to earthly royalty.  Just do what you can in the space allotted.  You may have to venerate and then shuffle off to one side or just turn around anyway.  

As far as teaching your kiddos, it makes a good opportunity to explain why we venerate and how as well as respect for the icons and saints and respect for the church (as for the pews).  Once they know why we venerate, they won't be as confused when things seem out of place.  Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to do when I'm in unfamiliar territory, but it makes it easier knowing that some things don't change between parishes.
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2008, 02:38:03 PM »

Thanks EofK, that is good advice.
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2008, 03:33:16 PM »

LOL! Turning my back to the altar was a sure-fire way of getting a boxed ear from my grandmother (pews, aisles, etc - notwithstanding).
I don't know the history of that particular temple, its age, or its size, but it seems you've stepped in a non-Slavic parish for the first time. We've a similar "Greek" parish (large, and relatively old) in Pittsburgh which is so odd in interior architecture that it is distracting to me...but I know Christ is there. On the other hand, most Carpatho-Russian parishes remind me more of Greek ones than Russian, but with some oddities that drive me nuts. But again, the worship is in our hearts.
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2008, 03:37:12 PM »

^LOL!  It's a pretty good way to get the Glare of Death from the babushkas in my parish, but you do what you can when you have a squirmy baby and 20 more people standing behind you.  I'd get the Glare of Death if I stepped on someone or dropped the baby, too. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2008, 03:40:07 PM »

^LOL!  It's a pretty good way to get the Glare of Death from the babushkas in my parish, but you do what you can when you have a squirmy baby and 20 more people standing behind you.  I'd get the Glare of Death if I stepped on someone or dropped the baby, too. 

I know this can't apply for you, but I just handed daughter to that grandmother, the professional at that sort of thing.
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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2008, 03:42:37 PM »

^Luckily, there are usually several people willing to hold her while I venerate or do whatever needs to be done.  The toughest part is communion, when Mr. Y is holding the cloth and I'm next to commune.  I've learned not to wear high heels and long skirts at the same time now... it's nearly impossible to get up and down the stairs from the choir loft to the sanctuary if I'm tripping over my skirt and carrying the baby.
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2008, 03:42:55 PM »

The mural icons on the walls are beautiful. The iconostasis is like this weird 70's era gold mosaic type thing.

My eldest was estatic that they had her patron saint (Paraskeve) painted nearly life size on the wall.
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2008, 03:45:51 PM »

Well, I think the most important thing to remember is that most "traditions" we learn in our parishes about how to conduct ourselves in the church (such as how to enter a church, where to stand/sit, etc) are specific to the parish and not absolute laws. That's something that was hard for me as a convert when I branched out and went to other parishes, realizing that many things that I had learned as absolutes were really just my parish. The best thing to do is just look at what other people in the parish you are visiting are doing, and do likewise.

Being from the Seattle area just like you, and having been to both your parish and the one you are talking about now, I can give you some more specific advice though.  At Assumption, when you are in the gated area just outside the doors to the church, people cross themselves three times before entering the narthex, then upon entering the narthex, they venerate the icons in the narthex.  Then, you go find your pew by walking along the SIDE aisles (not down the center).  They normally cross themselves before entering the pew.  Also, they sit a lot. When they leave the church, some people cross themselves three times, some just leave. 
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2008, 03:48:51 PM »

zebu; thanks!

I didn't see anyone do any of that. But I will be sure to have the kids and I do that tommorrow.
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2008, 03:57:08 PM »

Oh, and none of the women at Assumption cover their hair.  It might be best not to do that...Again, I think the most important thing in visiting other parishes is to not make a scene of ourselves and to try to do what everyone else does, so that the worship remains orderly and about God, so that we don't distract anyone or make ourselves a temptation for others to judge us.
Why not cover her head, if that is what she wishes to do? I prefer to stand in churches even with pews and the priests love it. Mine thinks I am showing a example and indeed, after several years of this, about half the rest there do this now as well.
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2008, 07:51:03 PM »

Why not cover her head, if that is what she wishes to do? I prefer to stand in churches even with pews and the priests love it. Mine thinks I am showing a example and indeed, after several years of this, about half the rest there do this now as well.

Yes, I stand too.  It is not odd that Orthodox praxis is to stand but yet some pew books instruct the faithful when to sit stand and or kneel during Divine Liturgy or the Divine Services?
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2008, 09:54:01 PM »

I've split off the topic of Hair Coverings to another thread to keep this one on track.  Thanks!

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,17124.0.html
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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2008, 09:15:53 PM »

I dropped my daughter off at a local Greek Orthodox parish for vacation church school. But I don't know what to do at this parish!

The icons were all in the back, laying side by side on a high table. It was almost like a attached open narthex area. The doors from the street opened directly into this open little area. Very small area, about the size of a small walk-in closet. It was only slightly separate visually from the nave. No doors, more like a small threshold, with another small area on the opposite side for candles. No one venerated them or really paid any attention to them whatsoever. The flowers were wilted and brown. The aisle was quite long and there were pews in rows all along both sides. The holy doors were this brass open plating.

Typically when we enter the narthex we cross ourselves, then as we enter the nave we cross ourselves. The floor plan is open without seating and we venerate the icons-one is in the middle of the room and then two right in front of the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. There is a big red strip of carpet down the center of the nave that is the exact width of the Holy doors. We don't walk/stand on it unless absolutely necessary and you cross yourself and bow slightly everytime you cross over it. And as you leave the nave you walk semi backward and cross yourself with a slight bow. In other words; you don't turn your back on the Holy Doors if it is at all possible. And you always venerate at LEAST the center of the room icon as you enter and leave.

 I can't walk backward the entire length of the nave. And I have to seat my daughter at the front of the nave close to the Holy doors. It seems that no one cares about crossing yourself at all as you enter and leave, or in reference to the Holy Doors. And I have to say I find it really strange to see thru the holy doors even though they are closed. My one year old HATED the pews, he wanted to kick them. And I have to say I felt weird/bad turning my back and walking up the aisle with my back to the Holy Doors.

We have raised our kids to behave in certain ways as they enter and leave an Orthodox church. They really seem to like to do it. But the floorplan of the parish is such that it is hard to know how to do what we typically do. I don't want to make my homeschooled child with a huge vocabulary to seem more of a freak that she already is. But I also don't want to undo all the things that she already knows are expected of her as far as behaviour/reverence in the nave. I don't want to be a stick in the mud either.

I did have all the kids reverence the icons in the back, the girls wore their headcoverings and they crossed themselves as they entered. I left her there for the day. But I need to be able to spell out how she can have proper behavior in this parish that is so different from our own. She will still be attending a day camp there for the next four days.

Does anyone attend a GOC and have a floorplan like this? What do you typically do?

Our church used to be a little Catholic school, so it probably isn't typical of other church floorplans.  But we have a little area outside the nave with candles and a few icons.  We light a candle, cross ourselves, kiss an icon, perhaps say prayers, then enter the church.

I'm still learning the behaviors of the church.  Sometimes I see people cross themselves when going in the church, sometimes not.  I haven't noticed anyone trying not to turn their backs on the altar.  We also do use the middle aisle.
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2008, 11:21:45 AM »

Yes, I stand too.  It is not odd that Orthodox praxis is to stand but yet some pew books instruct the faithful when to sit stand and or kneel during Divine Liturgy or the Divine Services?

My understanding is that the fact that the books say this is a concession so that the people do NOT sit when it is most inappropriate (like during the Gospel, for example).  This is because of the existence of the pews.  People just figure that because they're there, it's okay to sit.  And of course the reason that the pews are there is because back in the day Orthodox Churches would buy churches that were formerly another denomination and the pews were already there.  So basically, the development was first the pew, then people beginning to sit, then the books telling the congregants when it is and isn't okay to sit.  Someone more knowledgeable feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here.

Personally, I think the books are more of a distraction than a help, and pews act like a magnet that just pulls us down.  I never have a problem not sitting when there is no pew, but when there is a pew, I'm much more conscious of my feet hurting and wanting to sit down.  Like a magnet...

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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2008, 11:46:26 AM »

Does anyone attend a GOC and have a floorplan like this? What do you typically do?
From your description I think this GOC parish is typical of the churches you will find in both Greek and Antiochian parishes in this country. It sounds more like the parish you go to normally is the exception (not a bad thing). The picture of the iconostasis you posted is very much like the iconostasis that you would see in the Late Byzantine Period and I personally like it because it allows the people to see what is going on back there (means the altar boys have to behave).
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2008, 07:56:54 PM »

I like the pews.  All that standing gets very tiring.
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2008, 08:03:00 PM »

I don't like pews, my kids like to climb under them Roll Eyes
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2008, 08:23:45 PM »

I've gotten used to pews especially when I wear poor fitting shoes and my feet go numb after long periods of standing.

I'm almost tempted to bring my folding chair to some OCA and Antiochian Churches without pews - not that I would sit in the folding chair for the entire service.   Wink
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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2008, 08:47:23 PM »

For everyone's benefit, here are links to a few threads about pews in church. There is a wealth of information on this subject on this very site.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?action=tags;id=1822


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« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2008, 09:53:55 PM »

I've gotten used to pews especially when I wear poor fitting shoes and my feet go numb after long periods of standing.

I'm almost tempted to bring my folding chair to some OCA and Antiochian Churches without pews - not that I would sit in the folding chair for the entire service.   Wink

Here's something for you, SolEX01, when you visit those OCA, Antiochian, ROCOR etc. parishes without pews. I got the idea from J Jacobs website (the author of "One Year of Living Biblically"). http://www.lifewithease.com/sprtshseat.html
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2008, 10:39:09 PM »

Here's something for you, SolEX01, when you visit those OCA, Antiochian, ROCOR etc. parishes without pews. I got the idea from J Jacobs website (the author of "One Year of Living Biblically"). http://www.lifewithease.com/sprtshseat.html

I have no physical impediment which merits the use of such a chair although the idea was very thoughtful - Thanks.   Wink

I noticed that carpeted floors help lessen the foot numbness.  Wood floors aggravate the foot numbness.
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2008, 10:44:52 PM »

I hasten to belatedly explain that was meant very much TIC! Wink
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« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2008, 01:25:29 AM »

This is a warning to all, NO PEW TALK IN THIS THREAD!!!! Take it to the never ending thread on pews that exist already in the section, a link has already been placed in this thread. If anyone talks about pews in this thread from hence forth and forever more they will be on the receiving end of my wrath.

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« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2008, 03:53:29 AM »

Well, the haircoverings have been split off and the P-word is out now, both from the OP, veneration of icons and general respect have been covered...anything else left for the OP?
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