What Is The Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian Church in the world, founded by Jesus Christ and with its beginnings chronicled in the New Testament. (Our own Patriarchate of Antioch was originally founded in A.D. 34 by Ss. Peter and Paul.) All other Christian Churches and groups can be traced historically back to it. With more than 225 million members worldwide, Orthodoxy is second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church. In North America, there are about 6 million members. However, in spite of its size, relatively few Americans are aware that it exists.

You need to know about the Orthodox Church — and the Orthodox Church needs to know about you. Our Church has deep and lasting roots in Christian antiquity and is steeped in rich Biblical tradition. It has been the context of Christian living for millions of Christians for almost twenty centuries.

Yet, you cannot understand the Orthodox Church merely by reading about it. Just as reading a biography about someone is no substitute for knowing the biography’s subject personally, Orthodox Christianity must be experienced firsthand to be understood.

If you are in the Raleigh area, we welcome and invite you to come worship with us, to “come, taste and see” (Psalms 34:8). The Lord is good!

Even though Orthodox Christianity must be experienced directly to realize the fullness of its life, there are questions which are commonly asked when first visiting an Orthodox Church that can hopefully have some light shed upon them with a few brief words. Following are some links to documents that should help you get a better feel for Orthodoxy.

First Visit to an Orthodox Church–Twelve Things I Wish I’d Known: This article, written by Frederica Mathewes-Green (the wife of an Orthodox priest in Maryland) provides a handy introduction to some of the things you’re likely to encounter when you first step into an Orthodox Christian church.

Connections to the World of Orthodoxy at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church: Hosted by Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden, Connecticut (of the Orthodox Church in America), this site provides links to many hundreds of websites dealing with Orthodoxy, vast and all quite well sorted. It’s highly recommended. The Orthodox Christian Resources on the Internet site also provides a similar service.

Glossary of Orthodox Terminology: Just what you think it is, provided by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Also check out their Articles on a Variety of Topics for a wide number of treatments on various Orthodox issues.

The Saint Pachomius Library: This library provides much reading in the serious “meat” of Orthodoxy, volumes and volumes of patristic writings, the wisdom of Orthodox Christian saints on hundreds of topics throughout the last 2000 years.

It is probably already patently obvious to you that not everything you read about most things on the Internet is necessarily reliable or well-written, and the same is true of things available online about the Orthodox Church. So, we recommend that you take a look at a couple of books which are pretty universally regarded as accurate and trustworthy introductory sources: The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware gives a decent summary of Orthodox history and also an outline of faith and worship. Also by Bishop Kallistos is The Orthodox Way, which goes into more detail concerning Orthodox theology and practice. Both are excellent and quite readable.

Hopefully, these links should help with some of what you may be wondering about. Orthodoxy can seem very foreign and different at first, but will eventually feel like home for someone who chooses it as time goes by. If you have any other questions, you can certainly feel free to come to our parish and ask us, to call us (919-859-1332), or to email our pastor. You are certainly always welcome to visit and worship with us.