2148 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

Church Building

church1In the long his­to­ry of the Ortho­dox Church a def­i­nite style of church archi­tec­ture has devel­oped. This style is char­ac­ter­ized by the attempt to reveal the fun­da­men­tal expe­ri­ence of Ortho­dox Chris­tian­i­ty: God is with us.

The fact that Christ the Immanuel (which trans­lat­ed means “God with us”) has come, deter­mines the form of the Ortho­dox church build­ing. God is with man in Christ through the Holy Spir­it. The dwelling place of God is with man. “The Most High does not dwell in hous­es made with hands,” says St Stephen quot­ing the Old Tes­ta­ment prophets. St Paul says that men are the tem­ples of God:

Christ Jesus him­self (is) the cor­ner­stone, in whom the whole struc­ture is joined togeth­er and grows into a holy tem­ple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spir­it. (Eph­esians 2:21–22)

The words of St Peter are very much the same.

Come to him (Christ) to that liv­ing stone…and like liv­ing stones be your­selves built into a spir­i­tu­al house…to offer spir­i­tu­al sac­ri­fices accept­able to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter :4–5)

We are the tem­ple of the liv­ing God…” (II Corinthi­ans 6:16). And it is exact­ly this con­vic­tion and expe­ri­ence that Ortho­dox Church archi­tec­ture wish­es to convey.

Ortho­dox Church archi­tec­ture reveals that God is with men, dwelling in them and liv­ing in them through Christ and the Spir­it. It does so by using the dome or the vault­ed ceil­ing to crown the Chris­t­ian church build­ing, the house of the Church which is the Peo­ple of God. Unlike the point­ed arch­es which point to God far up in the heav­ens, the dome or the spa­cious all-embrac­ing ceil­ing gives the impres­sion that in the King­dom of God, and in the Church, Christ “unites all things in him­self, things in heav­en and things on earth,” (Eph­esians 1:10) and that in Him we are all “filled with all the full­ness of God.” (Eph­esians 3:19)

The inte­ri­or of the Ortho­dox Church build­ing is par­tic­u­lar­ly styled to give the expe­ri­ence of the uni­ty of all things in God. It is not con­struct­ed to repro­duce the upper room of the Last Sup­per, nor to be sim­ply a meet­ing hall for men whose life exists sole­ly with­in the bounds of this earth. The church build­ing is pat­terned after the image of God’s King­dom in the Book of Rev­e­la­tion. Before us is the altar table on which Christ is enthroned, both as the Word of God in the Gospels and as the Lamb of God in the eucharis­tic sac­ri­fice. Around the table are the angels and saints, the ser­vants of the Word and the Lamb who glo­ri­fy him — and through him, God the Father — in the per­pet­u­al ado­ra­tion inspired by the Holy Spir­it. The faith­ful Chris­tians on earth who already belong to that holy assem­bly â??”…fel­low cit­i­zens with the saints and mem­bers of the house­hold of God…” (Eph­esians 2:19) â??enter into the eter­nal wor­ship of God’s King­dom in the Church. Thus, in Ortho­dox prac­tice the vestibule sym­bol­izes this world. The nave is the place of the Church under­stood as the assem­bly and peo­ple of God. The altar area, called the sanc­tu­ary or the holy place, stands for the King­dom of God.


Volume 2: Worship — Selected Bibliography

The Divine Litur­gy. Offi­cial trans­la­tion of the Ortho­dox Church in Amer­i­ca, New York, 1967.

The Fes­tal Menaion. Trans­lat­ed from the orig­i­nal Greek by Moth­er Mary and Archi­man­drite Kallis­tos Ware, Faber and Faber, Lon­don, 1969.

Ser­vice Book of the Holy Ortho­dox-Catholic Apos­tolic Church. Trans­lat­ed by Isabel F. Hap­good, Syr­i­an Anti­ochi­an Ortho­dox Arch­dio­cese, New York, 1956.

Cabasi­las, Nicholas, A Com­men­tary on the Divine Litur­gy, Trans­lat­ed by J. M. Hussey and P. A. McNul­ty, with an intro­duc­tion by R. M. French, Lon­don, SPCK, 1960.

Danielou, Jean, The Bible and the Litur­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 1956.

Meyen­dorff, John, Mar­riage: An Ortho­dox Per­spec­tive, 2nd Edi­tion St. Vladimir’s Sem­i­nary Press, Crest­wood, 1975.

Ous­pen­sky, L. and Lossky, V., The Mean­ing of Icons, Olten, 1952.

Schme­mann, A., Intro­duc­tion to Litur­gi­cal The­ol­o­gy, Trans­lat­ed by A. Moor­house, The Faith Press, Lon­don, 1966.

For the Life of the World; Sacra­ments and Ortho­doxy, St. Vladimir’s Sem­i­nary Press, Crest­wood, 1973.

Great Lent, St. Vladimir’s Sem­i­nary Press, Crest­wood, 1969.

Of Water and the Spir­it, St. Vladimir’s Sem­i­nary Press, Crest­wood, 1975.

Litur­gy and Life, Depart­ment of Reli­gious Edu­ca­tion, Ortho­dox Church in Amer­i­ca, New York, 1975.

BOOKLETS ON WORSHIP pub­lished by The Depart­ment of Reli­gious Edu­ca­tion of The Ortho­dox Church in America

The Great Bless­ing of Water. Trans­la­tion by Bish­op Dmitri. Intro­duc­tion by Father Thomas Hopko.

For­give­ness Sun­day Ves­pers. Intro­duc­tion by Father Alexan­der Schmemann.

Great Lent. Father Alexan­der Schmemann.

Litur­gy of the Pre­sanc­ti­fied Gifts. Intro­duc­tion by Father Thomas Hopko.

Holy. Week. Father Alexan­der Schmemann.

The Pas­sion Gospels. Intro­duc­tion by Father Paul Lazor.

Great and Holy Fri­day Ves­pers. Intro­duc­tion by Father Paul Lazor.

The Prais­es. Intro­duc­tion by Father John Meyendorff.

Great and Holy Sat­ur­day. Ves­pers and Liturgy.

The Ves­pers of Pen­te­cost. Trans­lat­ed by Bish­op Dmitri.

Bap­tism. Intro­duc­tion by Father Paul Lazor.

Holy Mat­ri­mo­ny. Intro­duc­tion by Father John Meyendorff.

We Return to God. Child’s prepa­ra­tion for con­fes­sion by Con­stance Tarasar.

We Praise God. The Divine Litur­gy in pic­tures for children.

The Divine Litur­gy. Stu­dents’ Edition.

If We Con­fess Our Sins. Adult’s prepa­ra­tion for con­fes­sion by Father Thomas Hopko.

Ortho­dox Tracts, Sets 1, II and IV (Num­bers 1–20; 31–40) also deal exclu­sive­ly with themes of worship.