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Introducing the Orthodox Christian Church

The Orthodox Christian Church is characterized by its continuity with the Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ, and follows the faith and practices of the original Christian Church as defined by what are referred to as the first seven Ecumenical Councils during the first 800 years of Christianity. The word "Orthodox" signifies both "right believing" and "right worshipping", and so the Orthodox Church recognizes itself as the bearer of an uninterrupted living tradition of true faith in God lived out in worship since the time of Christ.

Teachings

For the Orthodox Christians, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity underlies all theology and spirituality. Salvation is personal and underlines particularity. Yet salvation is also communal and implies sharing; there is a uniqueness and wholeness in the human person, in humanity and in creation. It is also on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity that the concilliar and hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church rests.

The mystery of the Trinity is revealed in the supreme act of love, the Incarnation of the divine "Word that became flesh" in the person of Jesus Christ, assuming and healing humanity and creation entirely through his birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Participation in the deified humanity of Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal of the Christian life, accomplished through the Holy Spirit. In the Sacraments and in the life of the Church, each person is called to theosis, or deification, for "God became human in order that humanity might be divinized".

When expressing these beliefs, the Orthodox look for consistency with Scripture and Tradition, as manifested in the life of the Church and the early Church Fathers. Orthodox Christians seek, experience, and witness to the living experience of truth accessible in the communion of Saints. Thus they are reluctant to define matters of faith with too much precision, in the firm conviction that truth is never exhausted. The apophatic, or negative, approach safeguards the transcendence of God even while designating His immanence; it also affirms the uniqueness of each person - divine and human - that they may never be reduced to anything less than a mystery.

Worship

The Orthodox Church experiences and expresses its theology in its Liturgy, which has in fact often accounted for the survival of the Church in times of turmoil. It was the liturgical dimension of the Church, for example, that encouraged and educated Orthodox faithful during the 400 years of Ottoman occupation of Byzantium (1453 - 1821), as well as, more recently, during persecutions in post-revolutionary Russia.

The Church is most authentically itself when it prays as a worshipping community. Hymns and music, incense and candles, gestures and prostrations, symbols and architecture, bread and wine and oil - all convey the content of the Christian faith in a variety of ways, appealing to each person in a tangible manner.

The chief characteristic of the Orthodox liturgical cycle is its emphasis on celebration and joy. There is a desire to capture the heavenly beauty and to reveal this in the services.

Icons

Integral to the long history and tradition of the Orthodox Christian faith are icons, which further reflect the divine glory and beauty. The Incarnation of Christ implies that God became fully human and therefore accessible and describable. God is not only understood but, at the Incarnation, is looked upon and seen. An Orthodox Church is, therefore, filled with icons invariably depicting Christ or the Saints of the Church, and an Orthodox Christian kisses and assigns veneration to those depicted in them. Icons are never worshipped. They are the Christian faith and history depicted in images, and reflect the transfigured cosmos.

Unity in diversity

The Orthodox Church today is the second largest body of Christians in the world numbering approximately 300 million faithful. Geographically, its primary area of distribution lies in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Russia and along the coasts of the Mediterranean. However, Orthodox Christians and Churches can be found through out the world, including Europe, Africa, South America, Japan, China, New Zealand, and Australia. The Orthodox Church has over 200 years of history here in North America.

It is composed of a family of self-governing or "autocephalous" and autonomous Churches which are a form of international federation. While each self-ruling Church cares for the specific needs of its faithful in unique ways, all Orthodox Churches are united in the same faith and liturgy. Today people tend to think of the Church as a vast, world-wide institution. Yet the concept of universality as expressed in the local community is a fundamental principle of Orthodox doctrine. Each local Eucharistic gathering manifests the Church as a whole.

St. Christina of Tyre Orthodox Church was founded in 2004 as a mission of 
the Diocese of the West in the Orthodox Church in America.

All are welcome to join us for worship and fellowship.

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