“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”
Visiting St. George Greek Catholic Melkite Church
To make your first visit to St. George a little more comfortable, let’s go over some basics.
You enter the Church from the West. The porch or exonarthex is a place where parishioners visit with each other before and after liturgical services in the Church.
When you go through the large wooden doors, you are in the narthex of the Church. This is a transition space between the ‘outside world’ and the interior of the Church where heaven and earth come together.
Once through the doors, we do not use full voice, except in worship. We usually try to keep conversation to a minimum in the Church. However, during your first visit, if parishioners come to greet you and offer to orient you to the worship service, you are free to talk with them in a low voice.
We ask that those who enter the Church use discretion in their apparel. Most members dress in ‘business casual.’ We ask that you dress modestly and that you not wear t-shirts with large logos or inappropriate pictures or text.
To the left in the narthex is the baptistery where new Christians are born in water and the Holy Spirit. It is in the back of the Church because those who are baptized are welcomed into the Church family through the Baptism and Chrismation that happen there.
You will notice thin candles for sale. Candle donations go in the slot under the candle holders. You may purchase these candles to light and place in one of the three candle sand boxes in the Church. The closest sand box to you is inside the nave, or main part of the Church, to the right against the back right-hand wall, in front of the tomb of Christ. The other two candle boxes are in the front of the nave before the icons of Jesus and Mary. We light candles so that our prayers for the living and the dead might shine before God.
As you enter the nave you will notice an icon in front of you on a stand and one icon on either side of the aisle. These are kissing icons. We greet Jesus or Mary and the Saints who are depicted on the icons. We do not worship icons. Our Church teaches that when we kiss an icon, light a candle or burn incense in front of it, the worship we give to God or the honor we give to Mary and the Saints passes from the icon before us to the one depicted. You are welcome to venerate (kiss) the icons if you wish, but you do not have to. You will notice some parishioners venerating certain icons around the Church. People will often kiss the icon of a feast or a particular saint because of the special significance it holds for them.
The time before a service begins allows for private prayer. You may sit wherever you wish or may walk around the Church for prayer and reflection upon the icons.
We are a multi-generational community. We have lots of young families and love kids. If you have young children with you, you are welcome to remain in the nave of the Church rather than sitting in the crying room located at the front right of the nave. If a child has a brief outburst, there is no need to move. If the child has a ‘melt down,’ you can use the crying room, the narthex or the two side hallways to give the child a minute to calm down. We are very comfortable with movement during the service, so there is no need to feel like you are being disruptive by moving. We also have lots of members who are happy to help parents with child care in Church.
The church has two unisex restrooms, one on either side located at the end of the short hallway.
The nave ends at the Iconostasis or Icon Screen. This barrier has three doors: two ‘Deacon Doors’ and the ‘Holy Doors.’ You will notice that the Deacon Doors are used for regular movement in the Liturgy. Clergy pass through the Holy Doors only when celebrating the Divine Liturgy and only at certain times. Only clergy and altar servers have access to the bema or Holy Place beyond the Icon Screen.
Our Divine Liturgy is the celebration of the Word of God and the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. Many members come up during the reading of the Gospel with lighted candles. You are most welcome to join them. All Catholic and Orthodox Christians in good standing are welcome to approach for Holy Communion. We ask that other visitors refrain from receiving Holy Communion and join us from their seat in silent prayer for the healing of divisions in the Church of Christ. We believe that the bread and wine we receive is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. If you share that belief, you are welcome to speak to the priest or deacon after the Divine Liturgy about the process of joining our Church so that you can receive Holy Communion.
The benches have copies of the text of our Divine Liturgy. Members around you will be happy to point you to the right page so that you can follow along. If this is your first visit, you might want to forget the book and just take in the whole experience. Our worship is different from Western Christian styles of prayer. You might miss some of the movement and symbolism of the Liturgy while trying to navigate the text.
You will notice that we stand a lot during the Divine Liturgy. Standing is, in itself, an act of worship, since only human beings can stand upright. For health reasons or fatigue, you may sit whenever you need to and stand up again when you are ready or able.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, everyone approaches to kiss the Cross or icon that the priest holds. They take a piece of bread called the antidoron. This is the bread that is left over from the preparation of Holy Communion. The priest blesses this bread during the Liturgy, but it is not the Body of Christ. You may approach and take a piece of the antidoron and/or kiss the Cross if you wish. Otherwise, the prayers are finished, and you are welcome to join the parishioners out on the exonarthex (porch) for social time. Sometimes, there are coffee and sweets available. We are really glad that you came and hope that you will join us again often!
Weekly Service Schedule
Wednesdays: 6pm Evening Prayer
Saturdays: 5pm Divine Liturgy
Sunday: 9am Morning Prayers
10:30am Divine Liturgy
We are really glad that you want to visit our parish and hope that you will join us again often!