If this is your first visit to an Orthodox Church there may be some new things that you haven't seen in church services before.
The below information aims to give you a quick overview of what it will be like when you attend our church.
If you would like to see our services beforehand, you can watch previously live-streamed services here: https://www.facebook.com/HolyAnnunciation/live
There are two entrances to our church: one is the steps that you see when coming up the driveway, and the other is our ramp via the backyard. If you are in need of ramp access, it is best to park in the backyard which will give you closer access to the ramp. The bathroom facilities are located underneath the church.
(Google Street view, showing driveway and stairs entrance into the church).
When you enter the church, you will see a candle desk located on your left. If you have any questions about the service, you are able to ask the person behind this desk and they can assist you. There is also a basket beside the main entrance that has service books in them. The service books are designed so that people can read them during the service, so please feel free to take one. Some people find it beneficial to follow along with a book during the service.
Before the Divine Liturgy service, our Priests are usually in the altar preparing for the services. Except by prior arrangement, they are not able to talk before the service; however, they will be glad to meet you and chat during our Coffee Hour (which is held from 11am on Sundays, after the Divine Liturgy).
On Sunday mornings, we currently have 2 Divine Liturgy services. Our first service is at 7am until about 8:45am, and our second Divine Liturgy starts at 9am until about 11am. (While this service is live streamed, no one in attendance is visible on the live stream). After this service, Coffee Hour with food & drinks is held in the church courtyard, and our visitors are most welcome to attend.
Orthodox Christians worship with their whole bodies as well as with words. At times you will see people bow, make the sign of the cross, venerate (kiss) icons, light candles and stand for the majority of the service. If you are new to our church, no one expects you to do these things - please feel free to sit or stand, and to participate to the degree that you are comfortable with.
(Inside our church, decorated for Palm Sunday)
As a visitor you are most welcome to: light candles in front of icons, venerate the icon or gospel book on the centre stand and kiss the Priest's blessing cross and receive blessed bread at the conclusion of the service. That said, Holy Communion is only for Orthodox Christians - the people receiving Holy Communion will have prepared themselves with prayer, fasting and a recent Confession.
(If this Confession has been with someone who is not a priest at the parish, please ensure you have a blessing from your Confessor and contact Fr Andrew during the week prior to the service).
Visitors will often ask what they should wear to services, our goal with church clothing is to allow us to remain modest in the presence of our God and focus on prayer, worship, repentance, and communion with Him.
While also being considerate of those around us, by not wearing clothing that will distract anyone from prayer.
You may also see some women wearing head coverings, (usually scarves). Women wear these for multiple different reasons, it is not expected that a visitor would wear a head covering. Men are asked to please remove their hats before entering the church.
We ask that no photos or videos are taken during our services. This helps to contribute to a prayerful atmosphere. We have an AV team that looks after photos and videos taken during the service.
We do not have a separate program for children during our Divine Liturgy service. We welcome children at our services, and we believe it is most appropriate and beneficial for children to be in services as much as they are able.
We do have Sunday School that is held after the service at 11:30am-12pm. The Sunday School is run by Fr Stephen and is aimed at children aged between 5-8 years old, for more information see: https://www.HolyAnnunciation.net/SundaySchool
We look forward to welcoming you at church soon.