The Greek Orthodox Church




The Greek Orthodox Church


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The Greek Orthodox Church


The word ‘orthodox’ means true or right worship, and Orthodox Churches trace their history back to the beginnings of Christianity.  Orthodox churches grew up in Russia, Greece and Armenia and have now spread all over the world.  They do not recognise the absolute power of any one leader; authority usually lies with a group of bishops. 




All senses are awakened in a Greek Orthodox church during a service.  The smell and smoke of incense drifts through the air, the priest chants the words of the service and is answered in song by the choir and the people.  Holy pictures are often richly decorated with gold paint and they often have candles all around them.  People move around while worshipping and they pray to these, bowing and kissing them as a sign of respect.  The whole building is often only lit by candles.


The Church


The Orthodox Church is designed to represent the Universe.  The ceiling stands for heaven and that is where pictures of Jesus usually appear.  The floor represents the world and most churches don’t have seats.  People stand and move about during services.


At the far end of the church is the sanctuary.  There is a huge screen separating this from the rest of the church and only the priests are allowed behind the screen. This represents the belief that people cannot clearly see God and in the same way they cannot clearly see what is behind the screen. 


The Divine Liturgy


Every Sunday and on other special days the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate their most important service: The Divine Liturgy.  It is seen as a re-enactment of the birth, life, death and ressurection of Jesus.  During this service the priest carries bread and wine to the altar behind the screen.  When he returns, it is believed, the bread and wine has been transformed by the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Jesus.  In this way the people share Jesus’ sacrifice.





People wait in a dark church the night before Easter Sunday.  At midnight a new light is created on the altar and carried out into the church.  From the first light other candles are lit, until everyone holds part of what they believe Jesus represents: the ‘light of the world’.  Then bells ring and the celebration of Easter begins with processions, singing and services of thanksgiving.


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The Greek Orthodox Church


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The Greek Orthodox Church