Etiquette & Protocol
Of course, there will be exceptions for certain circumstances. However, I ask that anyone who sees someone not dressed "appropriately" to use extreme discretion before discussing the issue with that person. Perhaps it is that person's first time in our church. Perhaps they don't have anything better to wear. Gentle teaching and outreach will go much further than scorn - we want that person to be an active member of our Saint Nicholas community!
Church Grounds (in honor of our new home):
- We should respect all church property, including places like the parking lot, the fellowship hall, restrooms, classrooms, and particularly the Narthex (just outside the sanctuary doors) and the Nave (inside the doors). This is God’s house and we should treat it even better than our own.
- When entering the Narthex, we need to refrain from all conversations other than brief greetings.
- We do not run in the Nave of the church.
- Crossing legs in church. Crossing one's legs at the knees is inappropriate in church. It's inappropriate because it gives a message of casualness that is not proper for church. When we enter the House of God, we are entering for a formal purpose of worship and the respect accorded to our surroundings and to God should lead us to sit and stand properly, not causally in Church. Crossing feet at the ankles is fine.
- It is appropriate to wait until we exit the chapel, after receiving antidoron, to have our conversations.
When arriving at the Church:
Please do not enter inside the Church but wait in the Narthex (this would be at the back of the Church just inside the inner doors near the candles). There are several parts of the service during which no one should be moving about. Wherever a person happens to be at these moments, he or she should stop and stand reverently, until the proper time to proceed.
These parts of the service are:
- When the Priest faces the congregation
- When there is a Procession in progress
- When the Priest is censing
- When the Priest is blessing
- When the Priest and the congregation are kneeling
- When the Holy Gospel or the Epistle is read
- The Cherubic Hymn and the Great Procession of the Priest and Altar Boys with the Holy Gifts
- The recitation of the Nicene Creed (in which the entire congregation should participate)
- The prayers of "Take eat, and…" and the prayers of consecration of the Holy Gifts
- When the Priest is delivering a sermon
- Any special services (memorial services, processions, prayers)
One basic rule to follow is that, whenever the Priest is facing the people or outside of the altar, either with the censer or giving the blessing, everyone should stand wherever they are.
Please remember that the Parish Council members and the ushering staff are required to keep order during services, and all should follow their instructions at all times.
Making the sign of the cross:
You can and should do your cross any time you wish, but particularly there are certain times during the Liturgy when we all do our cross:
- When entering the Nave (sanctuary).
- Whenever we hear the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Whenever we hear the name of the Virgin Mary.
- Whenever we hear the name of our patron saint.
- When we enter the altar area.
- Whenever we cross in front of the altar.
- When entering the House of God, we should do so formally and with respect and devotion. We are going to a place that is not typical. When we offer something to God, it should always be our best, even in our dress. This does not mean we wear tuxedos and ball-gowns to church. However, it means that we should attempt to wear something special - better than we normally wear - when coming to church. If someone only has a pair of jeans, God bless him! Come as you are! But if you have something a bit more formal, it would be appropriate to wear.
- Women: dresses are not necessary, especially in winter. Pants may be worn. However, please make sure that skirts come to around the knee and that blouses are neither too tight nor revealing.
- Men: sport coats and suits are appropriate (I know ties are going out of style, though they are nice) but please don't leave a shirt unbuttoned to the mid-chest.
- For boys on Acolyte (Altar) duty, please make sure your hair is combed and if you have a pair of good shoes as opposed to sneakers, wear the good shoes. See Rules and Etiquette of the HOLY ALTAR for Saint Nicholas Acolytes (Altar Boys)
When taking communion:
- Please always follow the instructions of the Ushers, who receive their instructions from the priest, so that everyone approaches in an orderly fashion.
- If you are receiving communion, quietly move up the center aisle toward the Priest. Do not come forward with hands in pockets. Refrain from chatting with anyone else in line or in the pews. This should instead be a time of prayer - spiritual preparation at home should have already taken place.
- To receive the Holy Communion, please come and stand in front of the Priest (not sideways). When the Priest calls you forward, you should be prepared, with the "fear of God, faith and love," not with hands in pockets.
If wearing any, please remove all lipstick or lip balm before approaching for communion so that the spoon will not be stained. Give the priest your Baptismal name.
- Place a child in your right arm if you need to hold him. Give the priest his Baptismal name.
- The Acolytes (Altar Boys) will hold the corner (not the middle) of the red cloth hanging from the Holy Chalice and set it under your chin, so that no Holy Communion may fall on the floor. Keep your head up (never stoop or kneel when receiving Holy Communion), open your mouth and allow the Priest to put the spoon into your mouth.
After taking communion use the red cloth to dry your lips and then release the cloth.
- Visitors please note: Holy Communion is reserved for Orthodox Christians. Visitors are welcome to receive the Antidoron (Blessed Bread) which is distributed at the end of the Divine Liturgy.
Andithoron (the blessed bread):
- When receiving Andithoron from the Priest, we should kiss his hand as we receive it. We should then keep it cupped in our hands until we have eaten it. We put both our hands together in the form of a cross and cup them so that we can catch the crumbs.
- If you see a crumb or piece that has fallen to the floor, you should pick it up, kiss it, and either eat it or place it somewhere people do not step.
- We never throw Andithoron into a trash can; after all, it's not trash, it's blessed bread. If there is leftover Andithoron, it is to be given to the faithful and the crumbs are placed where they may be eaten by the birds.
- Please watch children as they eat their Andithoron so they don't leave it on the pew or other inappropriate places.
The Cry Room:
The Cry Room is located in the south-west rear of the Church and is available for the convenience of parents if the infants or toddlers become restless during the Divine Liturgy. Let us keep in mind that the cry room is also the Church and conversation, if possible, should not take place in order to maintain proper atmosphere conducive to prayer and worship. Thank you for your cooperation.