St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Diocese of New York - New Jersey

For Inquirers:


What is Orthodoxy?

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow
Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow
Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow
Orthodox Christians often find it hard to describe the Orthodox Church. Often called the "best kept secret in American religion," there are perhaps 2 million Orthodox Christians in North America, and 300 million around the world. The Orthodox Church is the original Church, founded in 33 A.D., on the day of Pentecost, and has been bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever since.

We believe and stand firm in the unchanging truths as revealed by God in the Holy Scriptures. No such thing as compromising the Gospel or substituting man-made doctrines for those of the God who has revealed himself in Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ancient worship that is relevant to and speaks to modern man and society here and now, with no watered-down, majority-vote doctrine, fad-of-the-moment teaching, or "make-it-up-as-you-go-along" worship. 

Instead, we preach Christ: crucified in the flesh and raised from the dead for the remission of sins and eternal and everlasting life; the Faith "once and for all time delivered to the Saints" (Jude 3). Ancient unchanging truths for a modern world, preached, taught, and lived in all the fullness of Christ revealed through time and history in His incarnation, death, and resurrection from the dead.

What Happened to the Church the Apostles Left Behind?

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

In the years after Jesus’ Resurrection, apostles and missionaries spread the Gospel throughout the known world. Soon, five major locations were established as centers for the faith: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. In the year 1054, the Roman church broke from this united Church, and 500 years later Protestant churches began breaking away from Rome. But the original Church has remained united in the Apostolic Faith since the 1st century. This is Orthodoxy. 

One of the tasks of the early Church was defining and defending orthodox theology against the battering waves of heresies, which often appeared in disputes over the nature of the Trinity, or how Jesus could be both God and man. Church Councils met, searched the Scriptures, and formulated the common Faith that has stood the test of time for 2,000 years. From this time, the Church has been called "Orthodox," which means "right belief" or "right praise." 

Built on the foundation of Christ and His Apostles, nothing has been added to our faith, and nothing can be taken away. It is complete. It is of God. It is forever.

Divine Worship

Proclaiming the Gospel
Proclaiming the Gospel
Proclaiming the Gospel

Orthodox churches still use forms of worship that were practiced in the first centuries. Our worship is based to a great extent on passages from Scripture. We sing most of the service, joining our voices in simple harmony to ancient melodies. 

Our worship is focused on God, not on our own enjoyment, fulfillment, or fellowship. We come into the presence of God with awe, aware of our fallenness and His great mercy. We seek forgiveness and rejoice in the great gift of salvation so freely given. Orthodox worship is filled with repentance, gratitude, and unending praise. 

We try, as best we can, to make our worship beautiful. The example of Scripture shows us that God’s design for tabernacle worship (Ex. 25, 26) as well as for heavenly worship (Rev. 4) is that worship which is offered with as much beauty as possible. 

A common misconception is that awe-filled, beautiful worship must be rigid, formal, and cold. Orthodox worship shatters that stereotype. The liturgy is not a performance, but an opportunity to come together as a family of faith before our beloved Father. True Orthodox worship is comfortable, warm, and joyful. It could be nothing less in His heavenly presence.

Orthodox Christian Values

Washington, D.C. March for Life
Washington, D.C. March for Life
Washington, D.C. March for Life

Values that are usually termed "Judeo-Christian" have never left Orthodoxy. We believe that sexual expression is a treasured gift, one to be exercised only within marriage. Marriage is a commitment for life. Divorce is a very grave action, and remarriage after divorce is a concession to human weakness, undertaken with repentance. Persons with homosexual or other extramarital sexual impulses are welcomed as fellow servants of God, receiving loving support as they make an offering to God of their chastity. 

Orthodoxy is a pro-life Church in every way: she has stood against abortion since the earliest days of the Church. The Didache (circa A.D. 110) states, "Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant." In the midst of a culture which freely practiced abortion, infanticide, and the exposure of infants, early Christians were a consistent voice against violence, as the Orthodox Church continues to be today. In the same spirit, we oppose capital punishment and euthanasia, suuporting and upholding the principles of the value and worth of God-given life in every way.

Caring for the poor and disadvantaged has always been a concern for the Orthodox. The strong sermons of St. John Chrysostom, written in the 4th century, bear witness to the importance of this Christian responsibility. The Church continues to see its mission in light of the whole person, body and soul.

Orthodox believers are right, left, and center on many issues. But where Scripture and the witness of the early Church guide us, there is no controversy. It’s simple. We uphold and obey God’s will, not our own.


Below are some articles on various topics of the Orthodox Faith. We hope you find them interesting and informative. If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about the Orthodox Christian Faith, please contact us!
Q & A

The Orthodox Church in America has an excellent Q&A section containing numerous topics divided by category.  Click here to learn more and browse the extensive listing.

If you would like to ask a question of your own, and have it answered by the Rector of St. John's, the Rev. Jonathan Ivanoff, please use the e-mail form provided below.  Father Jonathan will get back to you within a day or two.  Thank you for you inquiry!  May God bless you as you continue to seek and search for the Truth.

If you would like more information about the Holy Orthodox Faith and the Orthodox Church, please e-mail us at: or call us at 631-587-9460 and we would be delighted to send you some free information for your further consideration.

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