I attended a church service at the Orthodox Church in San Francisco, which is at 1520 Green Street. I had never been to a church before, and thus it was an entirely new experience for me. According to the information that I gathered from the available congregants, the Holy Trinity Cathedral was established in the area sometimes mid Seventeenth century, even though no one could give me the specific dates. During 1868, Father Nicholas Korvrigin was appointed as the first permanent minister to serve in the church.
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The current temple was constructed in 1909 to replace the previous one, which had been damaged by an earthquake in 1906. Holy Trinity Cathedral is a community of devoted Christians who congregate to praise and give thanks to their almighty God in the tradition of the Orthodox Christian church. In modern times, this church attracts members from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and they are all united by their faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. The church is open to all Christians, which attracts many converts, thus becoming a Christian home for those looking for a place to worship.
Organization of the church
As aforementioned, the church draws members across the city of San Francisco regardless of one’s background. Therefore, the constituents of the church are autonomous denominations, which share common values and beliefs. The local churches have the mandate to elect their own leaders and bishops. A council of leaders determines all doctrinal practices, and they decide the timing of every event that is to be carried out.
The Orthodox Church ascribes to the ancient traditions of Christianity involving the same sacraments as the Roman Catholics. The infants in the Orthodox Church receive the Eucharist and confirmation. Apostolic succession is practiced among the priesthood and the episcopate. This faithful belief in the birth of Jesus via a virtuous woman named Mary, and they hold that she can intercede for them. One of the traditions of the Orthodox Church is the use of the Common Book of Prayer during the liturgy.
Theology and practice
The Orthodox Church presents a quiet and calm spiritual atmosphere, not the silence of the people who do not talk, but they believe that their silent souls are communicating to God face-to-face. The church discourages Christians from receiving Holy Communion with empty souls. The members believe that there is something great to be expected in the future, which highlights a belief in the eternal presence before God with the fullness of joy and peace. Desire to live in salvation is natural and deeply developed in every Christian.
The Orthodox Church believes that through the death of Christ on the cross, all believers were relieved of the original sins, and through baptism, personal fate is decided by own conduct and direction of personal will. The Orthodox Christians practice faith, and they believe that even sinners have faith, thus it is not just faith, but faith connected to love and Godly actions. The church encourages love for others, as God himself showed love to humanity by letting his son die for the sins of the world, and thus God expects true Christians to express love to others in need.
In orthodox societies, naming is based on the core values of a Christian community. Their first names are those of Saints, and people joining the Orthodox Church are free to keep their names so long as they reflect good Christian naming. They also practice the Palm Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Believers congregate on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning. The service comprises all ages, different races, social classes, and diverse nationalities. Upon entering the Orthodox Church, one sees many icons symbolizing the faith and presence of spiritual realities. People come together in the temple, stand calmly with reverence, and wait faithfully.
The presence of the clergy and fellow servers with lighting candles brings a spiritual atmosphere connecting to the believer’s senses. The worship involves the person’s mind as well as all his/her senses. Then the singing of the choir guides the congregation to lively worship. The songs are so powerful and spiritually moving, thus creating a feeling of emotional connection to the Holy Spirit. After a series of praise songs, the priest leads the congregation through the selected sermon of the day. The sermon is based on the Orthodox Christian beliefs and traditions, which include repentance, forgiveness, peace, and doing others good as one expects goodness to be shown to him/her.
The priest draws teachings from the Holy Scriptures. After the sermon, the servers lead the congregation to give their offering towards the mission of growing the church and spreading the gospel. Finally, the priest says a word of blessing to the congregation, after which members are released to leave at will. In conclusion, the Orthodox Church does not differ greatly from other churches across the world, according to the literature that I have read on the same.