Author Topic: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church  (Read 3532 times)

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Offline Chelsea

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First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« on: May 17, 2010, 05:46:21 PM »
Hello again,
(I thank you for your prayers and guidance when I posted asking for help on prayer.  I am still uncertain of the condition of my health and I am praying and hoping for the best.)

I have found an Orthodox church in my town.  I would like to attend a service, but I don't know what to expect.  (The church is Antiochian.)  Should I attend a Sunday Liturgy or Saturday Vespers?  Should I cover my head?  (I am a woman.)  Is there anything I should not do?  Is it likely that they'll be bothered by a woman attending alone?  (I am single.)  Will the service be in English?

I have ordered books on the Orthodox faith, but is it OK to attend a service before I read them?
Chelsea

Offline Heorhij

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2010, 05:49:56 PM »
Chelsea, - maybe you will find this useful: http://www.frederica.com/12-things/
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Offline That person

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox ChurchA
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2010, 07:54:01 PM »
If the parish has a website, it'd probably be best to look at that for info about what they expect, since there can be significant variety among Orthodox. That being said, if it's Antiochian, I can almost garuntee you that the service would be in English. There aren't many Middle-Eastern Americans who are also Orthodox Christian outside of Detroit, so most are very convert-oriented. Because of this, they tend not to get up-tight about lack of experience with the liturgy, since many in the congregation started in the same place. Of course, this could be all wrong, so your best bet would be to go and see what happens. The Frederica link should serve as a good guideline.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2010, 08:19:11 PM »
Should I cover my head?  (I am a woman.)

This usually depends on the jurisdiction and maybe the individual parish practice too. Chances are, if it's a Greek or Antiochian parish, you won't need to. If it's ROCOR, then yes. With OCA there might be more variation. Maybe bring a scarf in your pocket just in case.

Quote
Is there anything I should not do?  Is it likely that they'll be bothered by a woman attending alone?  (I am single.) 

I would be very surprised if this were an issue for anyone. I've never heard of that being a problem.

Quote
I have ordered books on the Orthodox faith, but is it OK to attend a service before I read them?

Of course! That's how most people learn start learning about the faith anyway- from the services.
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Is to doubt a fit reply." - William Blake

Offline Chelsea

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2010, 08:26:28 PM »
Thank you for the replies.

Heorhij - Thanks.  I looked at that website and it does look a little intimidating for a newcomer.  Would it be alright to quietly observe for the first few times I go?

That person - I looked at their website and it doesn't offer much specific information about services or what's expected.

Iconodule - I will tuck a scarf in my bag just in case.  Good advice.

More questions:  Can I wear pants?  What is the difference between liturgy and vespers?  Is one of them more appropriate for a newcomer?

Offline Radost

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2010, 10:02:52 PM »
Hello Chelsea.  I'm new too at going to Orthodox Church.   :) The place I go to speaks mostly Russian and they do their services all in Slavonic.  We cover our heads in a Russian Orthodox Church.  I don't know if it would be different in the place you are going to. 

Offline bogdan

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2010, 10:43:38 PM »
For your first visit, I might recommend going to Saturday Vespers. It's a shorter service than Divine Liturgy (at my parish, around 45 minutes), and typically not as many people go. If a larger Sunday crowd is intimidating, going to Vespers is a good option. You may also have a better shot at speaking with the priest after Vespers, if you are inclined to introduce yourself (since after Liturgy he will be busy with his post-liturgy prayers and talking to parishioners).

That said, my first visit was a Divine Liturgy, and it was amazing. Go with whatever you feel most comfortable with. But most important: go. :)

Don't worry about participating or doing the wrong thing. I was worried at first too, but remember: if someone is watching you, they are not praying. That is their problem, not yours. :)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2010, 10:44:52 PM by bogdan »

Offline Radost

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2010, 10:49:48 PM »
Oh I love that!  It's so true what you said.  If someone is too focused on watching, they aren't praying.  Yes I agree.  Go there because of your love for God. What matters is that God and His Saints welcome you.  Those are the Ones you want to welcome you.  If you go for Them alone, you'll see that things with people around you will automatically work out.   ;)

Offline LBK

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2010, 11:13:16 PM »
For your first visit, I might recommend going to Saturday Vespers. It's a shorter service than Divine Liturgy (at my parish, around 45 minutes), and typically not as many people go.

Greek and Antiochian churches typically conduct Vespers only on the eves of feasts or on Saturday nights, as they do a quite shortened form of Matins before the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. The Russian/Slavic custom is to combine Vespers and Matins, as I described earlier.
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Offline Thankful

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2010, 11:33:45 PM »

I have found an Orthodox church in my town.  I would like to attend a service, but I don't know what to expect.  (The church is Antiochian.)  Should I attend a Sunday Liturgy or Saturday Vespers?  Should I cover my head?  (I am a woman.)  Is there anything I should not do?  Is it likely that they'll be bothered by a woman attending alone?  (I am single.)  Will the service be in English?

Chelsea, we attend an Antiochian Orthodox church and it is a custom for the women to wear head coverings; greater than 90% do on a Sunday morning -- you'll have to check out the one close to you as I hear that our priest is very traditional in this and that this may not be common in the Antiochian jurisdiction. 

Enjoy your visit to the Orthodox church!  It's become such a rich treasure in our lives.  We began attending about 14 months ago and are so, so thankful for the gift God has given. 

Offline Feanor

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2010, 02:06:33 AM »
In the Antiochian parish I attend, only a few women wear headscarfs, no one minds if they do or do not. Single women are just as welcome as everyone else. I don't think wearing pants would be a problem either. The Antiochians are more relaxed than the Russians about such things, I think.

Offline Chelsea

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2010, 03:47:00 PM »
Thank you.  Saturday Vespers with a scarf in my bag it is.

Offline Thankful

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2010, 07:27:14 PM »
Thank you.  Saturday Vespers with a scarf in my bag it is.

Please come back and tell us what you thought!  :)

Offline EmptyBe

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Re: First Time Visiting an Orthodox Church
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2010, 10:01:20 PM »
http://www.theophany.org/orthodoxFaith_etiquette.htm

This was helpful to me when I started going!

ICXC NIKA,
Matthew