As the local community of the Church of the Mother of God, this parish, exists for the purpose of worshiping God according to the Holy Scriptures and Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, to encourage union with God among the members of the parish, to seek out the lost, the searching, and the un-churched and to strive to bring them into union with the Church, to provide religious education to its members and potential members, provide charitable aid, and to defend, promote, and witness to theOrthodox Christian Faith in southern New Jersey.
This website is a tool to help in this purpose. Primarily to publicize our existence in southern New Jersey, and hopefully, encourage people to “come and see”.
The many pages on this website contain information we hope is helpful.
Our website has two main menus, one will lead you to information about our parish, and the other will lead you to information about the Orthodox Church.
Who is the Orthodox Church in America?
The Orthodox Church in America is a local autocephalous (self governing) Church of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and faithfully transmitted through Her Scriptures, worship and prayer life and the teachings of the Holy Fathers. The Church makes known the Kingdom of God which, while yet to come, is already among us and which is supremely proclaimed and revealed in the Divine Liturgy. It is in this Eucharistic concelebration that the gathering of bishops, priests, deacons and laity are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the living body of Christ. Within this Eucharistic context the Orthodox Church in America strives to be both hierarchical, with authority rooted in mutual love, and conciliar, with clergy and laity working together for the life of the world and its salvation.
The Church’s North American mission began in 1794 when the first Orthodox monks arrived in Alaska to bring the Gospel to the Native people. This mission to “Go and make disciples” must always be our mission. The Gospel is be spread throughout North America in a conciliar Church that includes bishops, priests, deacons, and laity working together to plan for the future. This conciliarity is part of the heritage the Orthodox Church in America received from its mother Church, the Russian Orthodox Church and the church council of 1917-1918. In 1970, the Russian Orthodox Church granted us self-governance (autocephaly) in a document call the Tomos of Autocephaly. In reflecting on the intervening 40 years since we have been granted autocephaly, the Holy Synod of Bishops has affirmed the following principles:
- We understand ourselves to be an indigenous, multi-ethnic, missionary Church, laboring to bring Orthodox Christianity to all citizens of this continent.
- We affirm that our historical reality derives from the Russian Orthodox Church and that we have humbly received and faithfully maintain the inheritance of the Russian Mission of 1794, the Diocese of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands in 1840; the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska in 1870 and its relocation to San Francisco in 1872; the Diocese of the Aleutians and North America in 1900 and its relocation to New York in 1905; and the Autocephaly of 1970
- As directed by the Tomos, we live as other self-governing Churches do: electing our own bishops and Primate, without confirmation by any other Synod, maintaining inter-Church relationships with all other Churches; and consecrating our own chrism.
- As envisioned in the Tomos, we believe that the autocephaly given to us will be fully realized when the promise of Orthodox unity in North America is fulfilled, and the Orthodox Church in America together with all the Orthodox faithful in North America become one united Autocephalous Church of America, recognized by all other Orthodox Churches.
- We commit ourselves to work within the Episcopal Assembly in order to realize the goal of unity.
Where are we going?
As we move into the future, we will focus on:
- Internal spiritual renewal and growth, so that we may radiate the life in Christ and be seen and known by all those around us. They will see that we live in peace, joy, and the love of the Lord;
- Reaching out to others to fulfill the Savior’s commandment to love one another as He has loved us (Jn. 13:34) as we draw near to the other who is hungry, thirsty, naked or in prison (Mt. 25); and
- Actively cooperating and participating in the formation and establishment of a fully united territorial and autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, embracing all Orthodox Christians, with one Synod of Bishops.
In doing so, we will be guided by:
- The belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived and conveyed by the Church through the Holy Spirit. The Church is the living body of Christ and its life and Tradition continue to develop in and through the Holy Spirit.
- The belief that the Church administers itself by the irreducible principle of hierarchy/conciliarity rooted in the Holy Trinity, which involves the participation of its entire people to the highest degree possible and which manifests itself in love, obedience, trust, integrity, sacrifice, humility, and commitment.
- The belief that all men and women are created in the image of God, each with their own unique gifts to be used for the greater glory of God and the building up of His Holy Church.
- The belief that God created the world in all its goodness and that as a result of sin it has fallen. Through the incarnation of God the Word, Christ is restoring creation to its proper relation to Himself.
- The belief that its unity is expressed through the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful and through the participation of the faithful in the sacramental life of the Church.
- The belief that the membership of the Church is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual and that members of Christ’s Body are, as the Apostle Paul, prepared to be “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22), so that “Christ can be all and in all” (Col.3:11).
- The belief that missionary and charitable works are essential to the life of the Church.
- The belief that the spiritual fruit of an ascetic life of all the faithful contributes to the building up of life in the Church.
- The belief that both monasticism and ‘life in, but not of, the world’ are integral parts of the life of the Church.
- The belief that the work of the Church should be conducted in an open and transparent manner in accordance with the highest ethical and moral precepts, the civil laws of the land within which it exists, and with the consent of its people.
“As the Prophets beheld, As the Apostles taught, As the Church received, As the Teachers dogmatized, As the Universe agreed, As Grace illumined, As the Truth revealed, As falsehood passed away, As Wisdom presented, As Christ awarded,
Thus we declare, Thus we assert, Thus we proclaim Christ our true God and honor His saints,
In words, In writings, In sacrifices, In churches, In holy icons.
On the one hand, worshiping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord. And on the other hand, honoring and venerating His Saints as true servants of the same Lord.
This is the Faith of the Apostles. This is the Faith of the Fathers. This is the Faith of the Orthodox. This is the Faith which has established the Universe.”
(From the Seventh Ecumenical Council)