On behalf of our parish priest Fr. Nicholas Louh, and the clergy and Church Family of St. John the Divine we look forward to welcoming you to be part of our spiritual home.
We welcome all those that are visiting for the first time. We are a church that we hope empowers, engages, and enables our church family to witness to others the life and the teachings of Christ. We hope that from the very first moment you enter our church you will experience the power and the presence of the almighty God.
The Orthodox Church is celebrated throughout the world as the apostolic continuation of the ancient Christian Church, with its roots founded in the ancient Christian communities of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
Our worship culminates in the service of the Divine Liturgy which we celebrate every Sunday and on specific feast days as the common action of Orthodox Christians gathered in a living expression of God’s Kingdom through participating in the Eucharist, worship, prayer, thanksgiving, and listening to God’s word. Our worship experience involves the entirety of the human being from our heart and mind to all of our senses. The experience of our worship has been so powerful to those that have experienced it in the past that they have said things such as “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men.” (Russian Primary Chronicle).
When you visit please keep in mind that Orthodox Churches offer the sacrament of communion exclusively to baptized Orthodox Christians. We do however offer blessed bread or antidoron for all to receive at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy. If you would like to learn more about the Orthodox way of life, or have any questions about worship or Holy Communion, please approach Fr. Nicholas or one of the other clergy following the Liturgy.
Thank you for visiting our website. Please join us for one of our many services, either on Sunday morning or during the week. Please see our calendar for a complete schedule of services. If you have questions, you may contact our parish office: (904) 396-5383 or Email.
7 Things You Should Know Before Your First Visit to an Orthodox Church
1. Our worship services.
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.
2. Wisdom, let us be attentive! We stand while we pray.
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.
3. People make the sign of the Cross.
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.
4. We venerate/kiss things.
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.
5. How Are the Clergy/Priests Greeted?
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.”
6. Hymnology That Draws Us To Pray
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.
7. What if I have questions about the service?
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.