Welcome to St John The Divine
Greek Orthodox Church
Thank you for visiting our website. On behalf of our parish priest. Rev. Dr. Nicholas G. Louh we hope you take a moment to watch a brief welcome message and learn more about what the Orthodox faith has to offer you in your walk of faith.
There are actually two separate services that occur every Sunday: the Orthros or Matins and the Divine Liturgy. Orthros is a service of preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ during the Divine Liturgy.
Orthros begins every Sunday at 9:00 am, you can live stream it on our church website or on our app. Our main worship service, the Divine Liturgy, begins at 10:00 am. Every Sunday we celebrate the good news of the Resurrection of Christ with the Divine Liturgy and Orthros/Matins or the preliminary service beforehand. We may have one or several memorial services to commemorate the memory of someone from our community that has passed away, and occasionally a churching which is the bringing of a 40-day old infant into the Church to be blessed.
Orthodox worshipers may arrive at any point from the beginning of Matins through the early part of the Divine Liturgy.
In the Orthodox tradition, when we pray, we are encouraged to be standing. If our worship is an offering to God, we want to be fully present and attentive, sitting is seen as a casual position. If you are in the presence of an important figure such as the President of the United States, let alone Christ, the King of Kings, you would certainly be standing. We believe that when we are in the presence of God we should all stand and be attentive. If you need to sit at any point you may certainly do so, we have pews for this reason.
Our Divine Liturgy begins at 10:00 am. People typically sit when we read the epistle of the day and stand when the Gospel is read. The faithful are seated for the sermon and then stand for most of the rest of Liturgy. The liturgy continues until 11:30 am, Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful towards the end of the service and we typically read announcements before distributing the blessed bread or the antidoron.
As Orthodox Christians, we typically sign ourselves with the sign of the cross whenever the Trinity is invoked, whenever we venerate or kiss an object out of respect, and all throughout the service. The sign of the cross is always done with your right hand by putting your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers together to make one point your ring and pinky fingers are tucked into your palm. You then go over your body beginning with the forehead, then down to your navel, to your right shoulder and across your chest to the left shoulder.
When we first come into the church, we kiss the icons. You may also notice that some people kiss the cross, the chalice, relics, and other things. We greet each other before we receive Communion (“Greet one another with a kiss of love,” 1 Peter 5:14). The usual greeting is, “Christ is in our midst.” The response is, “He is and always shall be.” Some of the faithful greet each other by shaking hands, while others kiss each other on each cheek. This greeting or “kiss of peace” is a liturgical act, a sign of mystical unity.
The priest takes on the role of a spiritual father or the leader of the community, and is the one who offers the sacraments such as communion, baptism, etc. to the faithful. That role is a very important and historic one and entails continuing the earthly ministry that St. Paul and the apostles brought to the people. We refer to our priests as “father”, out of respect to them, because they are both servants of the Lord and the leaders of the congregation. Similar to how St. Paul referred to himself as father of his flock (1 Corinthians 4:14-15), the faithful refer to him in the same way as a way to honor the position of the priesthood. We allow clergy to be married in the Orthodox Church as long as they get married before they are ordained to the priesthood. If the priest is married his wife has the title: “Presbytera” (Greek), which means “priest’s wife.”
At St. John the Divine, the clergy, the chanters and the choir lead the people in congregational singing. Traditionally, the hymns of Matins are done in a style of chanting called Byzantine chant and the Divine Liturgy is sung by the choir and the congregation.
If you have any questions, please remain in the church after our services to meet our priests and other members of our Church Family. We will get you connected to any ministries you might be interested in and contact you later in the week to get to know you better.