For first time visitors to our site, and to our Church, we welcome you! This page contains some basic information about our parish and Orthodox worship for those who haven’t experienced it yet.
The visitors and members of our Church are as varied as the culture around us. Our experience is that expectations vary widely (and sometimes wildly!), so this page will get you started!
What is Orthodox Christianity? We are catholic, but not Roman. We are Orthodox, but not Jewish. We are evangelical and charismatic, but not Protestant or Evangelical. We are not a denomination, we are pre-denominational. The Orthodox Church is the original Church, an ancient faith for a modern world tortured by doubt, despondency, and loneliness; and searching for something real, eternal, and salvific.
What is Ukrainian Orthodoxy? It is the ancient faith as developed within the context of Kyivan Rus' and Ukraine, and now - here in the United States. The process of "baptizing all nations" does not homogenize local cultures; rather it blesses them, giving even more depth of goodness to those things that are already good within a culture and weaning out those things that are not. This is what happened in Ukraine after King Volodymyr of Kyiv invited Greek Orthodox missionaries to baptize his nation of Kyivan Rus' and it has been happening here in the community of St. Mary's in Allentown for the past 100+ years. Orthodoxy is unchanging, but it is always experienced and preached within its local cultural and linguistic context. For example, 100 years ago our community worshipped exclusively in Church Slavonic but now it worships almost exclusively in English. This adaptability is one of the beautiful things about Orthodoxy in general and a great charisma of Ukrainian Orthodoxy in particular.
That sounds great, but what about me?
To start with, we want you to know at least this much:
- You are welcome here. We are always honored to have visitors join us for prayer and worship. You do not have to be Orthodox to pray and worship with us nor do you have to be Ukrainian to become a member. Our priest was not born Orthodox and has no Ukrainian ancestry. Everyone is welcome here.
- You won’t be asked to do anything which would make you uncomfortable. You may not be familiar with ritual actions like crossing yourself, kneeling, or kissing the cross; no one expects you to do them or minds that you do not. If you would like to learn why we do these things and how they are done, Father Anthony would love to teach you - but for now, please just open your heart to the way Christ presents himself to you and loves you here in this parish.
- We don’t expect visitors to contribute anything to the financial support of our parish or our programs. You are our guests; please enjoy our hospitality!
- Our children worship with us. If you have young children, they are welcome here, too. If your children cry, fuss, or fidget; or you need to step to the back of the Church with them for any reason, you are not disturbing us. We love having children with us - not "perfect" children who never move or make noise, but real children who wiggle, laugh, sing, and cry. We are saved in community (the Church!) and their presence helps them, you, and us grow in perfection through Christ.
- Our facilities are handicap accessible. We have handicap parking in the rear and an elevator. If you need any assistance at all, please let us know. We are here to be of service to you.
- If you are an Orthodox Christian, and you have prepared yourself to receive Holy Communion according to your Spiritual Father’s direction, be sure to introduce yourself to our priest before the service. You are welcome to approach the chalice.
We are part of the worldwide Orthodox Church – the oldest Christian Church in the world. This is not a theological statement, it is an historical one. And in every part of the world, there are Orthodox Christians, Churches and missions: in traditionally Orthodox countries like Ukraine, Greece, Russia, Romania, Serbia, and the Middle East, but also in India, Japan, China, the Philippines, throughout Europe including Poland, Germany, France, Finland, across the British Isles, throughout the African continent including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and across Central and South America.
In fact, the only religious structure of any kind on the entire continent of Antarctica is the Orthodox Christian one!