THE FAITH OF THE FIRST CHRISTIANS

The Orthodox Church in America

 With beginnings in 1794, when a small group of missionaries landed on Kodiak Island, Alaska, Orthodoxy in America has expanded to comprise a church of over two million faithful. Though its history reaches back to the time of Christ, Orthodoxy has something to say to American society.

“As a fish cannot swim without water, and as a bird cannot fly without air, so a Christian cannot advance a single step without Christ.”
St. Gregory the Theologian

Orthodoxy FAQ

The Orthodox Church is the original, undivided Church that was instituted on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. It has existed in an unbroken continuity since that day.

The term ‘orthodox’ means ‘right belief’ or ‘right practice,’ and as such we follow the teaching of the first Apostles of Jesus Christ, and maintain those teachings and practices as taught by the very first Christians.

Across the globe, hundreds of denominations and groups call themselves ‘Christian,’ but their beliefs and practices can vary widely. Many seekers wonder if the true Church even exists anymore. The Orthodox Church answers that question with a resounding “yes.”

The Western church, known today as the Roman Catholic Church, split off from the Orthodox Church in the 11th century, and developed along with the progression of Western Civilization. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century further splintered Western Christianity. In the intervening centuries, more and more divisions in doctrine, belief and practice emerged.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church has followed the same traditions as the ancient church. Practicing the same faith of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, they have maintained a steady path throughout the centuries. The original churches mentioned in the New Testament still exist and are still active to this very day.

Orthodox Christians worship God alone through his Son Jesus Christ. We believe that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God. Through her He Who was God before the ages took on our human nature without relinquishing His divine nature or confusing or “meshing” it with the human nature in any way.

We believe that the Mother of God was sinless of her own free will, that she remains ever-virgin, and that she is the “living tabernacle” of God inasmuch as her womb, as one hymn states, becomes “more spacious than the heavens” by carrying within it the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

Properly speaking, Orthodox Christians do not “pray to” the Mother of God instead of God; we seek her intercession before her Son, asking her to pray on our behalf; another Orthodox hymn states that “the prayers of a mother availeth much before her Son.”

The clearest and most concise explanation of the Orthodox faith can be found in the ancient Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, formally drawn up at the first ecumenical council in Nicea (325) and at the second ecumenical council in Constantinople (381). It is as follows:

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 was made man;

And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;

And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;

And ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;

And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;

And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the Resurrection of the dead,

And the Life of the age to come. Amen.

The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, which means “I believe.” In the Orthodox Church the creed is usually called The Symbol of Faith, which means literally the “bringing together” and the “expression” or “confession” of the faith. This Creed, always recited at Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, is the official expression of the common and inherited faith that joins Orthodox Christian congregations throughout the world and throughout history.

MEET OUR CLERGY

Father Daniel Hickman
Fr. Daniel graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and received his Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Oviedo, FL. He served four years as youth minister and pastoral intern at Lake Sherwood Orthodox Presbyterian where he met his wife, Marcy. They were received into Holy Orthodoxy at St. Stephen’s on Pentecost 2005.

Later that year they were married and the following year left for St. Vladimir’s Seminary in NY. In December of 2009, Fr. Daniel was assigned as Acting Rector at St. Stephen’s. He and Matushka Marcy returned to Florida with two children, Gabriel and Cassiana, and they have since added a third, Jude.

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Father John Ealy
Fr. Ealy served St. Stephen Orthodox from 1974-2002. Under his leadership it grew from a small mission into a thriving parish. He served as dean of the Central Florida Deanery during much of that time and helped start St. Justin Martyr Orthodox Church in Jacksonville.

Since his his retirement, he has continued serving parishes in Central Florida as needed. He and his wife Barbara have three children and three grandchildren.

Protodeacon Michael Malanowski
Deacon Michael was chrismated into the Orthodox Church in 1978. He was tonsured Reader in 1982, and ordained a Sub-Deacon in 1985. After completing the Late Vocations Program in Orthodox Theology for the Holy Diaconate in 1986, he and his family moved to Orlando.

He was ordained Deacon by Archbishop Dmitri at the Orthodox Church of St. Stephen the Protomartyr and elevated to Protodeacon in 2003.

Michael and his wife Gloria have three children – Andrea, Michael, and Stephen – that we raised in the Orthodox faith.

EXPERIENCE ORTHODOXY

The best way to understand Orthodoxy is to experience it in person. We invite you to visit St. Stephen the Protomartyr and see the ancient faith in practice.

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