In the years after Jesus’ Resurrection, apostles and missionaries traveled throughout the known world spreading the Gospel. Soon five major locations were established as centers for the faith: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. In the year 1054 the Roman church broke from this united Church, and five hundred years later Protestant churches began breaking away from Rome. But the original Church has remained united in the Apostolic Faith since the first century. This is Orthodoxy.
One of the tasks of the early Church was explicating and defending Orthodox theology against the battering waves of heresies. These heresies often appeared in disputes over the nature of the Trinity, or the nature of Jesus the Christ as being both God and Man. Church Councils were called to search the Scriptures and put into words the common faith, forming a bedrock of certainty that could stand for all ages.
From this time, the Church has been called “Orthodox,” which means “right belief” or “right praise.” The Nicene Creed (see reverse) originated at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, and is the central Orthodox statement of faith, a preeminent example of the work of the Councils. Built on the foundation of Christ and His Apostles, nothing has been added to our faith, and nothing can be added. It is complete, whole, lacking nothing ie catholic in its original understanding.
The Orthodox churches preserves the worship practiced in the first centuries. Our worship is based to a great extent on passages from holy Scripture. We sing most of the service, joining our voices in simple harmony to ancient melodies.
Our worship is focused on God, not on our own enjoyment, fulfillment, or fellowship. We come into the presence of God with awe, aware of our fallenness and His great mercy. We seek forgiveness and rejoice in the great gift of salvation so freely given. Orthodox worship is filled with repentance, gratitude, and unending praise.
We try, as best we can, to make our worship beautiful. The example of Scripture shows us that God’s design for the Old Testament tabernacle and temple worship (Exodus 25, 26) included gold, silver, precious stones, blue and purple cloth, embroidery, incense, bells, and anointing oil. Likewise, in Saint John’s vision of heavenly worship (Revelation 4) there are precious stones, gold, thrones, crowns, white robes, crystal, and incense. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, worship is offered with as much beauty as possible. While a new mission’s finances may call for simple appointments, our hearts come to worship seeking to pour out at the feet of Christ all the precious ointment we possess.
A common misconception is that awe-filled, beautiful worship must be rigid, formal, and cold. Orthodox worship shatters that stereotype. The liturgy is not a performance, but an opportunity to come together as a family of faith before our beloved God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. True Orthodox worship is both comfortable, warm, and joyful as well as majestic, reverent, and beautiful. It could be nothing less in His heavenly presence.
The Christian Church was founded in 33 A.D. in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Virtually all Christians believe that. But what may come as a surprise, is that this original Church has continued throughout history until today. There is one body in Christendom which has kept intact the faith as revealed in the New Testament. That body is the Orthodox Christian Church, the second largest Christian Church in the world (approximately 250 million people).
IF ORTHODOXY IS THE SECOND LARGEST CHRISTIAN GROUP IN THE WORLD, WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE ALL THE ORTHODOX?
The Church founded by Christ quickly expanded beyond Jerusalem. The first large number of Gentiles were converted to Christianity in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26). Indeed, the first time the disciples were called Christians was in Antioch (Acts 11 :26). Midway through the first century the Church spread from Antioch to many other countries through her missionary efforts. Our parish, Saint Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, is a direct descendant of that ancient Church. But only in about the last 200 years has the Orthodox Church come to America through immigrants. Many Orthodox Churches have been relatively isolated within the ethnic communities they served, often with services (Divine Liturgy) being offered only in their native language. Today, however, The Holy Orthodox Church, because of widespread interest by scholars, students and members of other denominations, is growing dramatically in America. Increasingly The Divine Liturgy is offered in English. Such is the case here at St. Anthony.
Orthodox believers are right, left, and center on many issues. But where Scripture and the witness of the early Church guide us, there is no controversy. We uphold and obey God’s will.
Very simply, it is the order of service, prayers and celebration of Communion. The heart of the Divine Liturgy is the worship of God and was developed in the early Church beginning with the Apostles, through the bishops and the early gatherings of the Church
What is known as the “Great Schism” officially occurred1054 A.D. Although there had been problems between the Bishop of Rome and all the rest of the Church prior to that date, it was from that time that all the Patriarchs of the ancient Church (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople) rejected certain doctrines and practices as innovations by the Roman Bishop and contrary to the teaching of the one historic Church. The departure of Rome from the unity of the ancient faith is one of the most regrettable chapters in Church history.
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, as we currently use today, was formally adopted as the canon of faith by the bishops at the Council of Nicaea and subsequently at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. Unfortunately this was later changed unilaterally by Rome. This change added the words “and the Son” to the Creed. The Church had consistently confessed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, not from the Father and the Son. The procession from the Father alone was stated by Jesus Himself in John 15:26. This addition of the Latin word “filioque” (meaning “and the Son”) created considerable doctrinal issues because it affects our understanding of the Trinity and the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
A second major issue was that the Bishop of Rome claimed he was head of the entire Church and all other bishops were subservient to his authority. Historically this had never been the case. As in the New Testament itself (Acts 15:6-35) the Church had made decisions by councils… local, regional or ecumenical. Since Rome’s departure from communion with the other patriarchs of the Church, many other changes have since been made by Rome, including the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith, the concept of purgatory, the practice of indulgences, the forced celibacy of all Clergy, and the belief of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, to name a few.
About 500 years after the Pope of Rome separated from the Orthodox Church, Christians in many Western countries could no longer tolerate Rome’s changes of the biblical faith. The first notable separation occurred when a German Roman Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the church in Wittenburg in 1517. The formation of the Lutheran Church followed shortly thereafter. Also at this time Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Methodists, Church of England (Episcopalians) and many others (collectively referred to as “Protestants”) broke away, each with their own interpretation of Scripture, in reaction against the Roman Catholic changes to the biblical faith.
Throughout the last 2000 years The Holy Orthodox Church has retained in unbroken continuity the faith “once for all delivered” (Jude 3) by Christ Himself and His Apostles. In fact the word, Orthodox means “straight (or true) teaching or worship.”
We believe what was handed down from Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the early Fathers of the Church. This faith was put into a Creed by the bishops of the early Church.
Absolutely. Christ founded his Church for all ages and for all people. Increasingly, our members are coming from various denominations, as Christians as well as non-believers seek the Church which Christ founded. In response, the Orthodox Church has translated the ancient Divine Liturgy and all of her services into English. If you have not experienced this Liturgy, you are in for a rare treat. Many have said they are transformed spiritually by the Liturgy itself.
Yes, in English only. Our schedule of services is listed here for your convenience. We cordially invite you to join us. You will likely meet other persons from your religious background in the congregation.
By all means. Regardless of your background, Saint Anthony Orthodox Church invites you to “come home” to the ancient Christian Faith.
That is the beauty of the Orthodox Church, each parish by itself is the full manifestation of the kingdom of heaven and at the same time it is part of other members
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