How do I become an Orthodox Christian?

 

            At All Saints of North America, we take the education of new members seriously.  In obedience to our synod of Bishops, any and all catechumens at our parish will undergo a one year period of catechesis.  This may seem a long time at first; however, in the ancient Church, an elaborate period of catechism developed which lasted for three years.  It was an intense period of intellectual as well as moral preparation.  Then, after three years, catechumens were received into the Church and allowed access to the mysteries (sacraments) of the Church.  These days, it has been determined that a twelve month catechesis is sufficient.  This allows you to 1) learn the Orthodox Christian faith, 2) experience an entire liturgical year with all of its fasts, feasts, etc. and 3) help you form solid friendships with your new spiritual family.  Here is what is involved:

 

·        Fr. Steven will personally catechize you.  You and Fr. Steven will meet regularly to discuss assigned readings and to answer any questions that you might have.

·        Based on your previous background and knowledge, Fr. Steven will determine what study materials will be most beneficial to your catechism.

·        It is vitally important to your spiritual formation that you be involved in the liturgical, spiritual, and community life of the Church.  Catechumens (as all parishioners) are expected to:

o   Regularly attend Sunday services

o   Regularly attend as many weekday services as possible.  This includes vespers, festal liturgies, Lenten services, etc.

o   Become financial stewards of the mission

o   Participate in the community life of the Church such as coffee hours, parish clean-up days, etc.

o   Participate in Christian Education classes (Sunday School) – both children and adults.

·        As the time for your reception into the Church approaches, you will need to pick a sponsor, i.e. Godparent.  This is someone who is an Orthodox Christian (preferably a fellow parishioner) who will guide and support you in all things Orthodox in the years to come.

·        Catechumens are received into the Church by two means – Baptism or Chrismation.

o   Those with a valid Trinitarian baptism with water in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (not Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, not “Jesus only,” nor any other formula) and with valid documentation for that sacrament will be received by the sacrament of Chrismation.

o   Those who have not had a valid Trinitarian baptism, those whose baptisms are not recognized by the Church (ex. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses), non-Christians who have never been baptized, or those without proper valid documentation of prior baptism, will be received by the sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation.

o   Fr. Steven will do his best to set the date of your reception into the Church during a major feast such as Pascha, Pentecost, Theophany, etc. so that the anniversary of your reception into the Church will always be a “special” day.