We have attempted to answer, here on our website, some of the most frequently asked questions people have about the Orthodox Church, and, specifically about our church here in Lexington. If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact our Parish Priest, Fr. William. To send him a message with your question, please click here.
Absolutely not! In the Orthodox Church, worship is reserved for God alone. We worship God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — the Trinity, one in essence, and undivided.
In the Orthodox Church, all churches are named after a patronal feast or saint. Our small parish in Lexington, Kentucky is one of only two in the entire world named after the Theotokos under the appelation "Panagia Pantovasilissa" (lit. All-Holy, All-Ruling). We understand this title as a reflection of her role as the new Eve, who unites her will to that of God, thereby becoming the vessel of God, who is the Author of our salvation. For the history on why our parish in Lexington decided upon that name, click here.
The Orthodox Church believes, according to the Nicene Creed, that God is the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Though the word "Trinity" is not contained in the Scriptures, the doctrine is. We see it in both the Old and New Testaments. God creates the cosmos with His Word (Christ, the Logos), who does the will of the Father, as the Holy Spirit hovers over and sanctifies that which is created.
The Orthodox Church believes, according to the teaching of Scripture, the Fathers, and the Councils, that Christ is both Perfect Man and Perfect God. He possesses two wills, where His human will inerrantly follows His divine will, thereby rectifying the consequence of the fall (i.e. the turning of the will away from God). In this sense, Jesus Christ is both a microcosm of our salvation, as well as the vehicle through which we achieve it. It is only because Christ is Who He Is that we can become what we were created by Him to be. And it is only through Christ that we can be saved.
The Orthodox Church teaches, in accordance with Scripture, that Man is a composite being comprised of the body (from the dust of the earth) and soul (the living breath of God). Man/Woman is created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to enter into a loving and worshipful relationship with Him. God created all men and women to be priests of Creation, sanctifying it, and offering it up to Him, that he might sanctify it by His grace, and offer it back to us.
The understanding of "original sin" in the Orthodox Church is quite different from that developed in the medieval Catholic Church. We believe that the image of God in Man was disfigured, but not destroyed, by the Fall. We do not share in the guilt of our ultimate ancestors, but we do experience, as a result of our generation from them, corruption. This corruption manifests itself in the fallen world in various ways (e.g. as temptation, sickness, death). It is the purpose of our lives to continue to polish the layers of corruption off of the image and likeness in which we were created, thereby restoring, by our reception of the grace of God, that which was wounded.
Salvation is a process of becoming by God's grace what He is in His nature. We cannot merit it, but neither are we passive participants. Since God created us to be in relationship with Him, he wishes us to participate with Him in the process of our salvation. Our participation consists of receiving that grace which He freely offers, and aligning our will with His. It is a process that comprises an active faith, manifested by good works; a lifelong prayerful dialogue, both private and corporate; and the frequent reception of the Lord's ultimate gift, the Eucharist, which is His Body and Blood. God asks us to particpate with him not because He needs us, but rather because He wants us.
Heaven is the blessed afterlife to be enjoyed by those who have received God's freely given love and grace, and, consequently, have become like unto Him. Heaven is eternal presence and acceptance of the love of God.
Hell is not the absence of the love of God. God's love can never be absent! Hell is, rather, the experience of the love of God as pain by those who have chosen to reject it.
It is clear from Scripture that Christ and His Apostles established a single Church. It was Christ's prayer that we would "all be one," just as He and the Father were one. In addition to Scripture, common sense teaches us that the fractured denominationalism and disunity present in 21st century Christianity is a case where we have failed to live up to Christ's call and expectation of us. Yet we praise God that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the ancient Church founded by Christ should be found in its fullness in a small parish in Lexington, as surely as in the Holy City of Jerusalem!
Yes. That is an awesome and frightful claim, but it is one that we are obligated to make out of love and concern for the truth that has been given to us by Christ, as well as our fellow Christians. If you trace theology, history, and tradition from the Scriptures to the present, the only Church that has kept the faith entirely whole, without artificially adding to or subtracting from it is the Orthodox Church. This does not mean that the Church is perfect; the Church is composed of fallible human beings. It does mean that She has preserved the perfect faith, as guarded and led by the Holy Spirit. "The Church contains heavenly treasures in earthen vessels".
The Orthodox Church is the only Church that possesses the fullness of the Truth. That does not mean that we believe that the Orthodox Church is the only Church that possesses any part of the truth. Because all men and women were created in the image and likeness of God, the spark or seed of Christ the Word (Logos) is present in all. Therefore, every man, woman, and child possesses parts of the Truth as their patrimony from their Creator. The Orthodox Church is the standard of the teachings of Christ, and the only Church in which our Faith in Him is preserved entirely pure.
Of course! Technically speaking, it is not even our Church: It is the Lord's! God has made His home here in Lexington, and His Light shines throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky to guide us to his holy halls. Everyone is always welcome in the House of God!
The Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. We may say many things about this. We may say that it sounds ridiculous. We may say that it violates our scientific understanding of the universe. We may say that it contradicts our knowledge of how matter generally behaves. The fact, however, remains, that this was the universal belief of Christians throughout the world for the first millenium after the Resurrection of Christ. This understanding of the Eucharist is a product of the promise of Christ. It was the teaching of the Apostles. It is set forth in the Scriptures. It was preserved by the Fathers. And it remains our belief today. In the Eucharist, Christ true Body and Blood are made mystically present at His table in bread and wine, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
While we welcome all to worship with us, only Baptized and Christmated Orthodox Christians who have prepared by prayer and fasting may receive the Body and Blood of Christ. This follows Pauline teaching, and is intended to protect both the faith of the Church in Christ's promise, as well as the person seeking to commune. For the Orthodox Church, the Eucharist is the ultimate expression of unity, rather than a vehicle used to achieve unity. We earnestly pray for the day when all Christians may once again gather together around the Lord's table, but until there is unity of faith according to the teaching of Christ and the Apostles as preserved in Scripture and Tradition, it would be a violation of conscience and of our sacred calling to pretend that unity exists. Those who are not Orthodox, as well as those who are not prepared to receive, are free to come up to receive a blessing from the priest, as well as the blessed bread (antidoron - lit. "instead of the gifts).
Sacraments are the grace of God poured forth upon the faithful through the Church to which He has granted His authority and the presence of His Holy Spirit. In Baptism, we are cleansed by water and the Spirit of our sins; in Chrismation, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was poured forth upon the world at Pentecost; in Confession, our sins are forgiven through the authority granted by Christ to His Church; in Unction, we are anointed for the healing of soul and body, and the forgiveness of sins. in Matrimony, we are untied with a spouse to live a life of sacrifice and to bear future generations; in Ordination, those who are called to the priesthood are appointed with authority for service to Christ.
Since salvation is a process, whereby we become like unto God by grace (theosis), it also follows that those who have undergone this process of sanctification are united to Him more perfectly. These men and women are termed "saints" ("agioi", lit. "holy ones"). The Theotokos, by her utter submission of her own will to the Divine Will, is foremost among these saints. We see from the Scriptures that the Church in heaven is intimately concerned with prayers for the Church which is still struggling on the earth. Consequently, just as we ask each other to pray for us when we stand in need of Christ's help, so do we ask these intercessors, who are alive in Him, to intercede with Him for our salvation. The Church commemorates various feasts for the saints throughout each year. The list of saints in our calendar is not exhaustive, however. There are undoubtedly saints known unto God alone.
Faith in Christ is more than a mere rational acceptance of a set of principles or beliefs. Christian faith is experiential in nature. It must be practiced. The local parish is the location where we become united to one another in Christ, and, through that unity in the Eucharist, become partakers of the divine nature. Though there is a personal dimension to salvation, we are never saved alone. Rather we are saved through our unity within the Body of Christ. A Christian cannot practice the faith alone, as Christ calls us all to be one. The Sunday Liturgy is the gathering of the entire Body of Christ around the Lord's Table, according to His command. It is the ultimate manifestation of that unity to which he calls us. There are also other times throughout the week where we gather to ensure that we remain united together in worship as we seek to be more fully united to Him. Perfect worship and prayer can never be divorced from this communal context.
To get started, simply show up! We always welcome visitors at all of our services and events. We worship regularly during the week, and have a variety of fellowship events. If you would like to get a better sense of who we are and what we do, you can like us on Facebook. If you would like to know when our regular worship times are, you can check out our Worship Page. If you would like to know when our upcoming events are, check out our Calendar. If you have any questions for our priest, feel free to contact Fr. William. There are as many ways to get involved as there are things to do at our parish. And remember: At Holy Mother Queen of All, you'll never walk alone!