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Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER

Church Etiquette Bulletin Articles

What are the basic practices when entering an Orthodox church? Specifically, what should I “do” when I enter Saint Nicholas parish church in Grand Junction, Colorado?

We are glad you asked! Read on...

How We Enter the Church — Part 1
January 8, 2012

Orthodox Christians do not simply walk into their church and sit down in a vacant seat.

All that we do should honor and glorify God. We start the day with morning prayers, we make the Sign of the Cross before we start the car, and we offer a prayer before we begin any work.

Especially when we enter the church to begin our worship of the One, True, God, we begin with certain “formalities” in the narthex.

The moment we step over the threshold and walk into the church we make the Sign of the Cross.

We then place our offering in the Pangári (the candle-stand), and take a candle (or candles). The connection between our offering and the candle is very specific. We give our monetary gift to God, and to signify that it is totally giver over to him (with “no strings attached”!), we light a candle which is likewise totally burned up and thus given completely to God. We do not “sell” or “buy” candles, rather the Church provides them to accompany the monetary offering of our stewardship.

Next, we venerate the icons in the narthex. We make the Sign of the Cross three times, bowing, and then kiss the Icon of Christ, of Saint Nicholas, and of any other Saints in the narthex.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

How We Enter the Church — Part 2
January 22, 2012

As we said in the last bulletin, Orthodox Christians do not simply walk into their church and sit down in a vacant seat. Everything that we do should honor and glorify God, especially when we enter His holy house: our parish church.

After we enter the narthex, we place our weekly offering in the Pangári (the candle-stand), light a candle (or candles), and venerate the icons in the narthex. This was described last time.

We venerate the icon of Christ our God, asking Him to have mercy on us and to hear our prayers. We also venerate the icons of the saints, asking them to pray to Christ with us and for us.

At Saint Nicholas we proceed quietly from the narthex, across the back of the church hall, and stop before the icon-stand at the back of the sanctuary. Again we venerate the icon there, pick up a bulletin, and take our place.

Some of the faithful may choose to bring a candle (or candles) with them from the narthex, to place them in the manouália (the brass candle stands) before the iconostasion.

They may also wish to venerate the icons on the iconostasion, and perhaps those on the walls of the sanctuary as well, before taking their place in the church.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

How We Enter the Church — Part 3
February 5, 2012

As noted in the last two bulletins, Orthodox Christians do not simply walk into their church and sit down in a vacant seat. Everything that we do should honor and glorify God, especially when we enter His holy house: our parish church.

After we enter the narthex, we place our weekly offering in the Pangári (the candle-stand), light a candle (or candles), and venerate the icons in the narthex.

We then proceed into the church and either take a seat, or we may choose to bring a candle from the narthex to be placed in the manouália (the brass candle stands) before the iconostasion.

This brings up another question, “When is it okay to enter the church, and when should we wait in the hall or the narthex?”

Generally speaking, if the priest is facing the people or outside the Holy of Holies we should wait before entering. These include the Small and Great Entrances and the reading of the Gospel.

It is also not appropriate to enter while the chanter is reading the Epistle or during the sermon. This is because it disrupts others who are trying to pay attention to the spoken word.

All of this is simply common sense. The Orthodox Church does not have “rules” – as such – for behavior but is simply realistic.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

What we do in the Church — Part 1
February 19, 2012

In the past three bulletins we described how Orthodox Christians enter a church. We do not simply walk into our church and sit down in a vacant seat. Rather, everything we do honors and glorifies God, especially in His holy house: our parish church.

Once we have properly entered the church, and have taken our place in the congregation, we should be prepared to focus our attention on God.

As Orthodox Christians we believe that God is good, indeed all good. He never causes suffering, pain or death. He is life, love, light, and the source of boundless joy and peace. When we pray we are entering into an active relationship with our God.

We can, and must, “pray without ceasing.” At all times and during every activity. This is why we learn the “Jesus Prayer:” Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. And we repeat it constantly: with our lips, in our thoughts, and ultimately within our heart.

But there is something profoundly unique about praying in the church. Only in an Orthodox church are the Sacraments and Divine Services celebrated. Only in the church do we encounter our Lord Jesus Christ in Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, and especially in Holy Communion.

Only in the church can we pray together, in one heart and one mind, with our fellow Orthodox Christians. Our communal prayer is powerful, very powerful, as we beseech our good, loving, and merciful God for every thing good and beneficial to our souls and for peace in the world.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

What we do in the Church — Part 2
July 8, 2012

In the past four bulletins we described how Orthodox Christians enter a church, reverence the holy icons, and take their place among the congregation. Let us now consider how we glorify God, especially in His holy house: our parish church.

Church Order
So that the faithful can participate in the Divine services, certain norms are followed in the church. There are times to enter, and to move about in, the church. There are also times to stand still and attentive.

When to Enter, or Move About in, the Church
It is appropriate to enter the church, to place our offering in the pangari (candlestand), and to venerate the icons in the narthex. It is also appropriate to enter the sanctuary, place a candle in the manoualia (brass candlestands), and venerate the icons.

When Not to Enter, or Move about in, the Church
However, it is not appropriate to enter the church – or to walk around or to exit the church – during the reading of the Gospel, during the sermon, or during the processions (small and great entrances). The faithful wait, quietly and respectfully, in the narthex or the hall until these are over.

Standing During Worship
Standing is the normal posture for worship in the Orthodox Church. The faithful kneel during the consecration of the Holy Gifts. They also may sit during the Epistle readings and during the sermon. Those who are ill, disabled, elderly, or otherwise unable to stand generally sit as necessary, but they always try to stand at least for the Gospel.

Children in Church
Children need to attend the Divine Services — just as adults do. But they must be taught to be attentive and respectful of others. Their attention span is shorter than adults, so parents must take restless and noisy children out of the church for a brief time until they calm down.

Sometimes it is more convenient for toddlers to be near the back of the sanctuary, so they can be taken to the hall or outside as necessary.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

What we do in the Church — Part 3
July 22, 2012

In the past five bulletins we described how Orthodox Christians enter a church, reverence the holy icons, and take their place among the congregation to glorify God. Equally important is how we conclude the services and depart from the Lord’s House.

During Holy Communion
In the ancient Church the faithful received Holy Communion in absolute silence. This expressed their profound awe and respect for the Sacred Mystery that takes place upon the Holy Altar, and for the great Gift of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful Orthodox Christians still maintain personal silence, focusing all their attention on receiving Communion. The chanters, and the congregation may sing an appropriate Hymn. This covers unavoidable sounds of people moving forward to receive the Sacred Mysteries.

It is totally inappropriate to “visit” or “chat” while the faithful are coming forward to receive Holy Communion.

“Sunday School”
Regrettably, in our modern age it is very difficult to schedule religious education classes for our youth during the week. Frankly, there are too many competing demands for their extracurricular time and, sadly, religious education is not a priority for many families.

To afford an opportunity for a minimum of religious education, the youth in most parishes today go to “Sunday School” following Holy Communion. Please let our children go to Communion first, so they can expeditiously proceed to their classes.

After the Divine Liturgy — Do not rush out!
Arthodox faithful and our Guests: Please do not leave the parish church without coming forward after the end of the Divine Liturgy to greet the priest and to receive a piece of Antidoron (the “blessed bread”).

As our Saint Nicholas parish has grown, it does take a while for everyone to come forward. And it means that the priest often is not able to come to the fellowship hour before many people have left. Father Luke looks forward to seeing all of you on Sunday —especially our visitors!

A Final Note: Please maintain peaceful quiet in the church ...
After all have received Antidoron, the Priest consumes the remaining Holy Communion. Please maintain respectful quiet in the church while he does, and as the pious faithful read Prayers after Holy Communion.

To be continued in the next bulletin!

Stewardship
August 19, 2012

Our beloved Saint Nicholas parish is supported 100% by free will donations from you, the faithful. All of our operating expenses (priest salary, utilities, supplies, etc.) are paid from your personal stewardship offerings. None of these expenses are paid by Festival proceeds.

The personal goal for each parishioner-steward is the Scriptural norm of a “tithe.” A tithe is 10% of income: God gives you 100% of everything you have, and He asks that you keep 90% for your family’s needs and He asks that you set aside 10% for the work of His Church.

The first check we should write each time we sit down to pay bills is our tithe to the Church. It is remarkable that when we follow this practice we always have enough to pay our other bills; when we don’t, we usually end up short! What is God trying to tell us?!?

How to Submit Your Stewardship Offering
At Saint Nicholas parish we do not interrupt the services to “take up a collection.” We simply put our offering in the narthex pangári (candlestand), light a candle, and enter the church to worship God.

Stewardship
Our beloved Saint Nicholas parish is supported 100% by free will donations from you, the faithful. All of our operating expenses (priest salary, utilities, supplies, etc.) are paid from your personal offerings.

None of these expenses are paid by Festival proceeds, all of which are used exclusively for capital improvements (e.g., iconography or repairs).

Personal Stewardship
The personal goal for each parishioner-steward is the Scriptural norm of a “tithe.” A tithe is 10% of income: God gives you 100% of everything you have, and He asks that you keep 90% for your family’s needs and He asks that you set aside 10% for the work of His Church.

The first check we should write each time we sit down to pay bills is our tithe to the Church. It is remarkable that when we follow this practice we always have enough to pay our other bills; when we don’t, we usually end up short! What is God trying to tell us?!?

Parish Administration and General Assemblies
November 18, 2012

Annual Autumn Parish Assembly
Our Annual Parish Assembly will be held following the Divine Liturgy today. At the Assembly we discuss routine administrative matters and approve the following year budget.

Parish Administration
The Priest as head of the Parish, by virtue of the ecclesiastical authority vested in him, shall guide and oversee the Parish. The Priest, together with the Parish Council, is responsible to the Metropolitan for the whole life and activities of his Parish.

Parish Assembly
A Parish Assembly is convened for matters other than those involving canonical and dogmatic issues. The Parish Assembly is the general meeting of the Parishioners in good standing of the Parish, and is the general policy-making and appropriating body of the Parish.

A Parish Assembly consists of parishioners in good standing of the Parish. New parishioners may vote at Parish Assemblies if they have been parishioners in good standing for at least three months.

Parish Assembly Decisions and Voting
Routine decisions are taken at a Parish Assembly by majority vote (over 50%) of the numbers in good standing present.

Matters concerning parish real estate, church physical structure, property and infrastructure, as well as iconography require a two-thirds vote of approval by the numbers in good standing present at a Parish Assembly. These matters are further subject to canonical review and must in all cases be ratified by the Metropolitan.

The Parish Council cannot take any action not expressly directed by the Parish General Assembly. The Parish Council is not a decision-making body, but rather it is the executive body carrying out the decisions made by the Parish Assembly.

Parish Assembly Chairman and Secretary
The Chairman of the Parish Assembly is elected by the parishioners in good standing present. The Secretary of the Parish Assembly is appointed by the Chairman, and shall record the minutes of the Assembly. The minutes of the Parish Assembly shall be signed by the Priest, the Chairman, and the Secretary of the Parish Assembly.

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