Throughout the nearly two thousand years of Her history, the Orthodox Church has continued to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles. The Orthodox Church guards the outpourings of the Holy Spirit down the centuries, always including new inspirations in what we call ‘Sacred Tradition’.
So, Orthodox Christians keep the Apostolic traditions, creed and, as far as is possible, the Apostolic calendar. This means that, for most Orthodox Christians, Christmas is celebrated on what is called 7 January. As for Orthodox Easter, by far the most important feast of the Church Year, it generally falls after, sometimes as much as five weeks after, the modern Easter.
Until a few generations ago, owing to persecution, Orthodox Christianity was confined to the peoples of the Biblical lands of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Today, however, the Orthodox Church is multinational, having spread all over the world. From Jerusalem to Tokyo, Washington to Moscow, Athens to Shanghai, from India to Siberia, New Zealand to Argentina, Alaska to Kenya, Indonesia to Syria, China to Norway, we all follow our unchanging Orthodox Faith.
Orthodox Christianity strongly believes in the importance of prayer and fasting. This is in accordance with the Gospel teachings of Our Lord, Who stands at the heart of our Faith. Confession and Holy Communion are no less important. Orthodox clergy are married, just like the Apostles, and although the Orthodox Church is administrated by our bishops, there is no Pope. Another difference is that worship is still Apostolic, so there are no pews in Orthodox churches, no musical instruments, and church walls are covered with frescoes and holy images, as in ancient times.
The Orthodox Church is made up of a family of freely associated Local Orthodox Churches, today with some 200 million followers worldwide. However, by far the largest Orthodox Church with some 75% of the faithful is undoubtedly the Russian Orthodox Church, which plays an important role among the others because it is multinational and multilingual. Locally the Russian Orthodox Church is represented by its parish in Colchester (website: www.orthodoxengland.org.uk). Here, several peoples gather for worship under the patronage of St John the Wonderworker (+ 1966), who was our Archbishop in London.
A community and a sense of belonging to something holy, something far greater and far older than ourselves. These are what sum up our Orthodox Christian values and beliefs.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips