The Orthodox Church

Though sometimes called the Greek Orthodox Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church is by no means limited to any nationality or region. It is, quite simply, the Church that Jesus Christ founded 2,000 years ago.

The Church is not a cluster of denominations, all possessing varying beliefs and a percentage of the Truth. The Church is a physical entity, an organization that was never lost, nor corrupted, nor divided. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:4-5).

The Orthodox Church began on Pentecost, when, "suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (Acts 2:2-3).

In the following years, the apostles preached the Gospel throughout the world. Along the way, they set up local churches and ordained episkopoi (bishops), presbyteroi (priests), and diakonoi (deacons). All of these local churches shared a common faith and manner of worship, as well as the Divine Mysteries (including the Holy Eucharist). The apostles and their successors passed down the faith, worship, and Mysteries through the generations, and we are the grateful recipients and guardians of that "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).

...we are the grateful recipients and guardians of that "faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
—Jude 1:3

Countless Christians have stood fast and held these traditions against the adversaries of the Church, whether from paganism, Islam, or Communism, confessing and even laying down their lives to preserve the True Faith and win the "pearl of great price."

The teachings of the Orthodox (a word which simply means "right belief") Church are derived from Holy Scripture and the rest of Holy Tradition (the context within which the Scriptures were written and within which they are interpreted). Our beliefs are best summarized in our Symbol of Faith, or Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, composed at the First and Second Ecumenical Councils (325 A.D and 381 A.D., respectively):

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And arose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into the Heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

As Bishop Alexander Mileant eloquently and succinctly put it, the Orthodox Church is "Holy through its sanctification by its Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, and through the operation of the Holy Spirit. It is Catholic, since it is universal, and knows no limitations of place or time. It is Apostolic since it was established by the holy apostles and has maintained unbroken the apostolic succession of the episcopacy through the Laying-on of Hands."

Summarized by St. Athanasius, "Orthodoxy is what Christ taught, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept."