Proper Church Behavior
The Orthodox Faith holds that our physical church structures are more than meeting-houses for the faithful, and even more than a temple. It is quite literally a physical manifestation of Christ's sacrifice to the world. We ask that you consider a visit to our church a visit to God's dwelling-place, and remember that on every altar, there are relics of saints that we venerate and love. If you are offended or confused by some of our customs, please ask Fr. Nathan to explain our reasoning behind our requests.

Dress modestly but presentable. Flashy or loud clothes detract from other individual's ability to pray. Services can be long and involve significant amounts of sitting, standing, and prostrations (bowing), so wearing comfortable-fitting clothing is a good idea. For men, it is asked that you wear long pants and a presentable shirt, preferably one with a collar. For women, it is asked that you do not wear skirts that go above the knees, and consider a dress that would reach to your ankle. Pants are acceptable, but a long-cut dress is the traditional clothes for women in church. A comfortable pair of dress shoes for both men and women is best. Tank tops and shorts are considered unacceptable, as are clothes with large logos or statements on them. Hats are strictly forbidden inside the church.

Please do not bring food, drink or personal items into the worship area. If at all possible, leave it in your vehicle or bring it downstairs, or at the very least, put it by the clothes rack. It is unacceptable for anyone to bring food or drink into the service. If you have a very specific and unique circumstance, please speak to Fr. Nathan or Presbytera Heidi beforehand and they will offer advice.

Turn your cell phone off. If you have forgotten to turn it off after services have begun, please do so as quietly as you can.

Do not bring pets or other animals within the church. Seeing-eye dogs for the visually impaired are, of course, acceptable.

Arrive on time. It is best to arrive at least 10 minutes before any service begins. Arriving early allows you to prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually for the upcoming service. You will also be able to observe the priest, deacon and altar servers preparing for the service, and possibly hear our reader chant some prayers. We realize that it is not always possible to arrive early, but at least try to come on time. Arriving late can distract from the services, but it is better than not coming at all!

Light candles and fill out prayer requests quietly and, if possible, before services. Guests, Orthodox or not, are welcome and encouraged to take part in this beloved custom of commemoration. In the Orthodox faith, lighting candles for the living and the reposed, for devotion to a particular saint or feast day, and as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, is part of our regular liturgical practice. We have candles available in the rear of the nave (the area where our parishioners worship during services). We ask for a $1.00 donation per candle. We also commemorate special requests for specific prayers during services. This is done by filling out a prayer request on a notepad in the back of the church. There is one pad that is for the living, and one pad for the reposed. List the first name of the individual that you wish to commemorate. Prayer requests can then be dropped off in front of the iconostasis by the small door on the left hand side. Please be aware that not all prayer requests can be mentioned, and that Fr. Nathan may feel it necessary to edit or omit any list submitted. If you have any questions, please ask a parishioner.

Please keep gentle control over your children. As all of us have either been former children, or are parents, or both, we understand that it is not always possible to keep control over children for long periods of time. Orthodox services can be a challenge for children who are not used to standing or sitting for a long period of time, and we recognize that with babies and toddlers, it can be an increased challenge. If you are having problems keeping your children from crying or behaving properly, do not feel embarrassed. Just excuse yourself to the children's room in the back, or step outside the doors of the entrance of the church, and then come back in when you can.

Please observe silence and stillness when you feel it is correct to do so. Orthodox services are not a personal representation of feelings or emotions that one may have at a certain time. We do not shout out during services or display individual forms of joy or sadness, in the sense that evangelical Christians do. As you attend services, you will get a natural feel for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable as you observe, or more appropriately, partake in our celebrations. The best way to accomplish this is by practicing inner silence and stillness, which is also a major theological concept of Orthodoxy. We do not expect non-Orthodox to cross themselves our way, or to stand for the entire length of the service, or to bow or prostrate themselves as we do. We do ask that you refrain from engaging in your own church or faith group's practices if they will interfere with the service at hand.

Avoid talking during the services.Talk or ask questions in lowered voices if you can't wait until after the service. It is acceptable to ask questions or to speak briefly during services to another parishioner, but we ask that you do so briefly and quietly.

Move around or leave the nave if you have to, but do so quietly and as economically as possible. The bathrooms are located downstairs past the kitchen area.

Do not proceed past the iconostasis or open up the door to the right of the iconostasis unless you have received a blessing from Father Nathan. In addition, do not walk directly across the main entrance to the iconostasis (Royal Doors), and do not go through the doors. Please understand that this area is the most sacred location in the church; only the priest and those that serve in the altar are typically allowed in this area unless there is need for maintenance or a dire emergency.

Please come forward to receive a blessing at the end of the service, but refrain from coming forward to receive Holy Communion if you are not Orthodox. Communion is a blessed sacrament in the Orthodox Church; it is not a symbolic act. For a variety of different reasons, our church fathers have restricted Communion only to those within the Orthodox Faith. Unfortunately, this does not extend to our Roman Catholic visitors. In the past we have had guests who have had to be turned away from receiving communion because of a misunderstanding of this circumstance. We stress that this is not done out of sense of elitism, and we apologize for any embarrassment that this may cause. If you have any questions about this, or belong to an Eastern Catholic faith (Ukrainian Uniate, Byzantine Catholic, Coptic, Armenian or Chaldean) please contact us beforehand and we will discuss your specific situation with you. Also, please read the page on Rules for Holy Communion for more information.

If you wish to speak to Fr. Nathan, please contact us before the day of the services or wait until after the services, but not immediately before or during the services. Part of the responsibilities of the priest before services is to engage in a series of preparations for Liturgy. Because of this, we ask that you wait until the end of the services or contact Fr. Nathan beforehand so that he has adequate time to prepare. Fr. Nathan or anyone else will be more than happy to speak with you after services.
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