Before You Visit

Come One, Come All!

As the arms of the Lord Jesus are continually open, He welcomes all into His loving embrace. In the same way, all are welcome to this Church, which is the house of God. Holy Transfiguration Church is a com­mu­nity made up of both cradle-born Ortho­dox Chris­tians and those who have con­verted to the Faith. If you are already an Oriental Orthodox Christian (which includes Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and Coptic Orthodox Church) we will be delighted to pray and worship with you.

Any­one who wishes to dis­cover ancient Cop­tic Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity is also warmly invited. We sincerely welcome you and look forward to meeting you! We will do our very best to assist all visitors and newcomers to follow along with the church services. Please feel free to ask questions at any time or call ahead so we can better coordinate your visit.

On Fire for God

When you enter the church, some­one may greet you and direct you to a place to sit. We have books of our Divine Liturgy in Eng­lish, Cop­tic, and Ara­bic for every­one. In addi­tion, we have a large Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion that streams con­tin­u­ously and follows the prayers. You may fol­low the ser­vice text, or, if you pre­fer, sim­ply close your eyes and meditate with the congregation (body of Christ) as they wor­ship.

Upon entering a place of worship, many orthodox will make the sign of the Cross upon themselves, offer a prayer to the Lord, and even light a candle before an icon (holy picture of a Saint) while offering a short prayer. Light­ing can­dles is an impor­tant part of Ortho­dox wor­ship and piety. We light can­dles as we pray, mak­ing an offer­ing to accom­pany our prayers. All are welcome light a can­dle and pray!

Hats Off, Head Covers On

The gen­eral rule for men and women is to dress mod­estly and respect­fully, as we stand before the liv­ing God. We humbly ask that all visitors respectfully dress in modestly — no bare shoulders and no shorts. This also includes no tight fitting, or revealing clothing.

You will notice that the women cover their heads with veils during the Liturgy. We engage this practice because St. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 11:15 to humble ourselves, to cover our glory and beauty when we stand before the King. In contrast, the priest covers his head when he stands before the altar in prayer, as this reminds us of the royalty of Christ the King. You may participate in any of these practices with us if you like.

Holy Smokes!

You may notice the priest walking around the church with the censer offering sweet smelling incense before the altar (Ephesians 5:2). St. John the beloved Apostle saw the raising of incense in heaven which, he writes, “are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 8:5). Similarly, as the priest raises incense around the Church, he gathers the prayers and supplications of the people and offers them to the Lord at the altar. He also asks the Lord to send them blessings in return.

No Shoes, Service

Those who serve in the sanctuary (front part of the Church behind the wall of icons called the iconstasis), are mainly the priests and deacons. This is also where the altar (holy table) is located. They should not enter that area unless they are clothed with the garments of service, and remove their shoes. This is done in remembrance of when the Lord God appeared to Moses the Prophet and commanded him to remove his shoes in the burning bush passage (Exodus 3:5). Out of respect, many parishioners also prefer to pray with their shoes off. In Addition, any one who is prepared to take the Holy Communion should approach after taking their shoes off.

Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist in the Orthodox Christian faith is not a mere symbol or memorial reenactment of the Mystical Supper. Rather, it is truly the Body and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, in order for one to partake of Holy Communion one must be a member of one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, be in good standing before God, and be properly prepared to receive the Holy Body and the Precious Blood of our Savior. As a general rule, proper preparation includes keeping the fasts of the Church, being in a continual state of repentance, having confessed recently (within the last month or so), is at peace with others (Matthew 5:24), and arriving to Divine Services on time (at the very latest before the Reading of the Holy Gospel).

Taking Communion

Orthodox priests may only serve the Holy Eucharist to baptized members in good standing of the canonical Orthodox Church, who have a confession Father and are prepared (spiritually and physically) for receiving the Holy Mysteries. This is the ancient tradition of the Holy Church for the 2,000 years of its history.

Rather than trying to accommodate to often varying “interpretations” or revisions of the doctrine of our ancient faith, we simply ask that you respect the ancient, apostolic tradition and join us in receiving the Eulogia (blessed bread), at the end of the Divine Liturgy after the announcements.

Are We Done Yet?

On Sat­ur­day evenings, the Evening Rais­ing of Incense ser­vice (Ves­pers) is gen­er­ally 30–45 min­utes in length, includ­ing a short homily in Ara­bic or Eng­lish. On Sun­day morn­ings, a sim­i­lar ser­vice is cel­e­brated before the Divine Liturgy. After­wards, the Divine Liturgy is approx­i­mately 3 hours in length with an Eng­lish homily at approx­i­mately 9:30 a.m. and the Dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Mys­tery of the Eucharist from 10:30–11:00 a.m. We under­stand this may seem like a long service, but we know that when you have par­tic­i­pated in an Ortho­dox ser­vice you will feel like you have truly wor­shipped and participated in Heaven’s praises to the liv­ing God.

Sit or Stand?

The tra­di­tional pos­ture for prayer and wor­ship in the Ortho­dox Church is to stand, for we stand before the King of the uni­verse! In many churches in Egypt, there are typ­i­cally no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usu­ally reserved for the elderly and infirmed. In Amer­ica, we build our churches with pews or chairs, so you may sit. How­ever, it is minimally expected to stand dur­ing the Gospel read­ing, the Anaphora through the Insti­tu­tion Nar­ra­tive, the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Holy Mys­tery, when the priest gives the final bless­ing, and at the Dismissal.

Hymns: Praise & Worship

What are Coptic Orthodox worship hymns like? Between 65–75% of the tra­di­tional Cop­tic Liturgy involves con­gre­ga­tional singing. Cop­tic Chris­tians do not use contemporary musi­cal instru­ments. Rather we praise with ancient instruments of the cym­bals and tri­an­gle, which are used to keep musi­cal time. A choir of dea­cons leads the con­gre­ga­tion in har­mo­nious chant, usu­ally in Cop­tic, Eng­lish, and Arabic. Our hymns are solemn, prayer­ful and intended to lead the faith­ful to wor­ship the liv­ing God. They follow Arabic contemplative melodic tune. Feel free to sing and praise along with us!

Is there Childcare?

Each par­ent is respon­si­ble to take care of their child. We encour­age chil­dren to be present in Church for the ser­vices. This par­tic­i­pa­tion is a vital part of a child’s spir­i­tual for­ma­tion. Also the more they are in the Church, the more they get used to worshipping properly. How­ever, if your baby or child is extremely loud, overly talk­a­tive, or is having a difficult time, please take him or her out of the Church until he or she is ready to return. We have a cry room in the back of the Church for this purpose. This is to facilitate a peaceful, reverent environment for all to pray, as well as educate the child what is proper worship for the House of God.

However, after the service, parents may leave their children in their respective Sunday school class.

After the Service

Following the Divine Liturgy, Sun­day school is provided in small groups for 3 year olds through high school.

Sun­day school begins after the dismal and lasts about 45 minutes. During this time, adults are welcome to attend the adult Bible Study upstairs.

Fol­low­ing this, all are invited to join our Agape brunch of love and brotherhood, which is a good time to get to know our parish mem­bers and meet our priests.

New vis­i­tors will find there are many new things to expe­ri­ence in a Cop­tic Ortho­dox Church ser­vice. Feel free to go at your own pace, ask any ques­tions, and know you are most wel­come to come, learn, and pray with us.

Any Questions?

Orthodox Christianity is filled with many treasures and many mysteries. Even those who have been in the Church all their lives still have questions about God, the Church, and the prayers. We would love to help answer your questions and spend time getting to know you. Our beloved Fathers the priests are also interested in meeting personally with you to help you any way they can. Please feel free to introduce yourself to the priests after the service, if they are available. Also, kindly fill out an information card so we can keep in touch with you. We have a google calendar, weekly email, and various ministries you can be a part of.