St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church is a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Our congregation draws people from a wide variety of backgrounds, but all are united in the desire to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Ours is a warm-hearted, family-like community that seeks to worship Christ "in Spirit and in Truth."
All services are in English with some Church Slavonic to facilitate full understanding and participation in the traditional Orthodox services.
The Orthodox Church is sometimes called "the Ancient Church" because only the Orthodox Church can trace its history and teachings without change back to the Apostles.
We invite you to join with us and experience the ancient Church, proclaiming the timeless Gospel to the modern world.
Christians of the Eastern Churches call themselves Orthodox. This description comes to us from the Fifth Century and means true worship. To bless, praise, and glorify God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- is the fundamental purpose of the Church. All her activities are directed toward this goal.
It is not unusual for titles such as Greek, Russian, and Serbian, etc., to be used in describing Orthodox temples. These designations refer to the national roots of a particular parish. However, a typical Orthodox parish is comprised of many different nationalities. In addition, Orthodoxy has established missions to evangelize peoples throughout the world.
What We Believe
Our beliefs are well summed up by the ancient Nicene Creed, which was written in 325 A.D.:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father ; by Whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried; and arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Sprit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets.
In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the age to come. Amen.
Our beliefs are expressed in both the worship and the spirituality of the Church.
Since worship is so important to Orthodoxy, the best introduction to the Orthodox Church is for the non-Orthodox to attend the Divine Liturgy. It is in worship that the distinctive flavor, rich traditions, and living faith of Orthodoxy are truly experienced.
Worship in the Orthodox Church is expressed in four principle ways:
The Eucharist, which is the most important worship experience of Orthodoxy, means thanksgiving. It is known in the Orthodox Church as the Divine Liturgy. The origin of the Eucharist is found in the Last Supper where Christ instructed His disciples to offer bread and wine in His memory. The Eucharist is the most distinctive event of Orthodox worship. In it the Church gathers to remember and celebrate the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, and, thereby, participates in the mystery of Salvation through partaking of His life-giving Body and Blood.
The Sacraments affirm God's presence and action in the important events of our Christian lives. All the major Sacraments are closely related to the Eucharist. These are: Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Marriage, Ordination, and Anointing of the sick.
Special Services and Blessings also affirm God's presence and action in all the events, needs and tasks of our life.
The Daily Offices are the services of prayer that take place at appointed hours during the day.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Ps 50:10)
The Orthodox Church proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Greek language, the word for Gospel is Evangelion, which means literally, "the good news." The good news of Orthodox Christianity is a proclamation of God's unbounded and sacrificial love for mankind, as well as the revelation of our true destiny. Reflecting on the joyous message of the Gospel, Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes in the Fourth Century: "The good news is that man is no longer an outcast nor expelled from God's Kingdom; but that he is again a son, again God's subject."
The fundamental goal of each and every person is to share in the life of God. We have been created by God to live in fellowship with Him. The descent of God in the Person of Jesus Christ has made possible the human ascent to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's task is to incorporate us into the life of the Holy Trinity. However, the Spirit always recognizes our human freedom and invites our active cooperation in perfecting the "image and likeness of God" in which each of us is created.
Our participation in the life of the Holy Trinity takes place within the Church. For the Orthodox, the Church is the meeting place between God and His people. The Holy Spirit and the Church are organically linked.
In the Second Century, Saint Irenaeus reminded us of this by saying: "Where the Church is there is the Spirit, and where the Spirit is there is the Church." The Holy Spirit moves through the life of the Church to reveal our common humanity in Christ and to unite us with the Father.
We acquire the Holy Spirit through our celebration of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion, through our participation in the Sacraments, through our discipline of daily prayer, and through living a Christ-like life.
The Individual and the Church
Orthodoxy believes that each person has an intrinsic value and importance by virtue of his or her unique relationship to God. A human being is never seen as being totally depraved. The "image of God" which can be distorted by sin can never be eradicated. Through the life of the Church, there is always the opportunity for fulfillment.
When the Sacraments are administered, they are always offered to the individual by name. This action not only reminds us of the dignity of each person but also emphasizes the responsibility each person has for his or her relationship to God.
While Orthodoxy recognizes the value of the person, it does not believe that we are meant to be isolated or self-sufficient. Each person is called to be a member of the Church. Orthodoxy believes that one cannot be fully a Christian without being a part of the Church.
Beauty and the Church
The Orthodox Church believes that God is the Creator of heaven and earth. The Creator is present through His handiwork. This means that the material world, being valuable and good, is an important means through which God expresses Himself. The Orthodox Church affirms this conviction through her extensive use of material creation not only for the embellishment of her places of worship, but also in the materials used for worship. For example, when the bread and wine - "the first fruits of creation" - are offered in the Eucharist, they are also a symbolic offering of all creation to God its Creator.
Since there is no hesitation in using the gifts of creation, the interior of an Orthodox church is very beautiful Designed to create an atmosphere that is special, the building is filled with a feeling of joy and an appreciation of God's bounty. Orthodoxy recognizes that beauty is an important dimension of human life. Through iconography and church appointments, the beauty of creation becomes an important means of praising God. The divine gifts of the material world are shaped and fashioned by human hands into an expression of beauty that glorifies the Creator. As the pious woman poured her most precious oil on the feet of our Lord, Orthodoxy seeks always to offer to God what is best and most beautiful.
The Church Interior
The interior of the church is both the background and the setting for Orthodox worship. The art and architecture are designed to contribute to the total experience of worship, which involves one's intellect, feelings, and senses. The Eucharist and the other sacraments bear witness to God's presence and actions. Therefore, there is a strong feeling that the church is the House of God and the place where His glory dwells. For this reason, all Orthodox churches are blessed, consecrated, and set aside for worship alone.
The church is generally constructed in the form of a cross and is divided into three areas: the narthex, the nave, and the sanctuary.
The Narthex is the entrance area. Centuries ago this area was the place where catechumens (unbaptized learners) and penitents remained during parts of the services. In many Orthodox parishes, the narthex is the area where the faithful make an offering, receive a candle, and offer a personal prayer before joining the congregation.
The Nave is the large center area of the church. Here the faithful gather for worship. Our parish follows the ancient tradition of having an open nave with no pews.
The Sanctuary is considered the most sacred part of the church, and the area reserved for the clergy and their assistants. It contains the Holy Table and is separated from the nave by the icon screen. This division serves to remind us that we often find ourselves separated from God through sin. However, during the Divine Liturgy, when we have access to the Eucharist, we are reminded that through Christ heaven and earth are united and that through Him, we have access to the Father.
We enter the Holy of Holies, and the scene becomes one of Heaven on earth. It should be noted that not all services take place within the sanctuary. Many are celebrated in the center of the nave, in the midst of the congregation. In so doing, Orthodoxy emphasizes the fact that the worship of the Church is offered by and for all the people.
What You See
The Holy Table is the heart and focal point of the Orthodox Church. It is here that Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine are offered to the Father as Christ commanded us to do. The Holy Table, which is usually square in shape, stands away from the wall and is richly adorned. A tabernacle, with reserved Holy Communion for the sick or dying, is set upon the Altar, together with candles, when the Divine Liturgy is not being celebrated, the Book of Gospels rests on the Altar. Behind the Holy Table is a large cross and icon of Christ's Resurrection.
The Iconostas is the panel of icons that separates the sanctuary from the nave. The origin of this very distinctive part of an Orthodox church is the ancient custom of placing icons on a low wall before the sanctuary. In time, the icons became fixed on a standing wall, hence the term iconostas.
The iconostas has three entrances that are used during services. There is a Deacon Door on either side of the center entrance and its Royal Doors or Beautiful Gates. A curtain usually conceals the sanctuary when services are not being celebrated. On the right-hand side of the Iconostas is the icon of the Savior. On the left-hand side is the icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God).
An icon is a holy image, which is the distinctive art form of the Orthodox Church. Icons depict such figures as Christ, Mary His Mother, the saints, and angels. They may also portray events from the Scriptures or the history of the Church, such as Christmas, Easter, etc.
Icons occupy a very prominent place in Orthodox worship and theology. The icon is not simply decorative, inspirational or educational. The icon is like a window that links heaven and earth. When we worship we do so as part of the Church, which includes the living and the departed. We never lose contact with those who are with the Lord in glory. This belief is expressed every time one venerates an icon or places a candle before it. It should be noted that icons are never worshiped, but only venerated as worship is reserved for God alone.
(From "A Visitor's Guide to Orthodox Worship," published with the blessing of the Most Reverend Peter, Archbishop of Chicago and Mid-America)
- His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
- His Eminence the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR)
- His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America (ruling hierarch).
V. Rev. Fr. Martin Swanson, Rector
Rev. Fr. Sergei Alekseev, Assistant Rector
V. Rev. Fr. Radomir Chkautovich, Retired-Attached
Rev. Fr. Deacon Ephraim Galloway
Saturday Evening Vigil 5:00 p.m.
Sunday Morning Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.
Feast Day Eve 6:00 p.m.
Feast Day Divine Liturgy 8:00 a.m.
(Saturday Feasts 9:00 a.m.)