Information for Guests
People often ask what the ‘done thing’ is when attending Holy Ascension. There’s a bit of a rule that guests are exempt from rules and regulations – an encounter with God at church is enough! However, after receiving many questions, we’ve made a list of guidelines to suggest to people who visit our Mission – not as laws, but as aids for reverent worship.
The first and biggest ‘rule’ is to be respectful. Really, once you’re following that rule, everything else will come naturally.
If you’re looking for more detail, though, read on…
The most common question we receive is about clothing.
In short: don’t dress to impress – rather, dress to respect. God accepts where we are and how we are clothed, but: we must attend to what we do to prepare for Him.
It’s not necessary, but if you’re looking for more guidance, just have a look at some of the photos on our website. Among other things, you’ll notice that clothes should generally cover from the shoulders to the knees (i.e., dresses, skirts for females. Pants for males – no shorts).
Also, please do not wear lipstick or lip gloss to church. Not even the non-stick stuff. As Orthodox Christians, we tend to kiss icons, receive Communion, kiss the cross, kiss the priest’s hand… and no matter how non-stick the lipstick says that it is, it isn’t. Feel free to apply this after the service has finished.
Generally, when entering a church, Orthodox Christians will make the sign of the cross over themselves, go to the candle desk where they can get candles to light them (in prayer for people), and then venerate icons (on the hands, please, not the face). At our Mission, these candles are available by donation. If you are visiting, you can simply walk in and find a place to be – no one will mind!
Why candles? The short story is that they represent our prayers. We make a donation so that it is ours to offer (rather than offering something of someone else’s).
Similarly, please plan to stay until the end of the service. We attempt to post approximate finishing times so that people can plan ahead. We also have morning tea after the service, so please stay around! We’d love to meet you.
Remember: please put your mobile phone on silent.
Children are always welcome at our Mission – and we have quite a number of them. A good rule of thumb here is that, well, kids will be kids! We actually encourage children to be in church for the service (and not doing a different activity while church is going on) – put another way, we teach our children how to behave in church by being in church.
Please keep in mind our chapel is a small space and noise does carry. We ask that during the sermon, if your children are being particularly boisterous, please quietly exit the chapel with your children just for a few minutes, until the conclusion of the sermon.
Standing and Sitting
We don’t have many seats in our Mission, but you are welcome to sit down if you need. We do ask that if there are people who need seats – the disabled, the elderly, or anyone that you should stand for on public transport – that seats are made available for them.
There are some special times during our services. A good rule of thumb is that if the service is in progress, and if either the priest is in the main body of the church or the deacon is carrying something in the main body of the church, there’s a good chance that it’s a special time in the service. During such times, it is generally most proper to stand reverently and follow what most people are doing.
If you’re standing remember: hands out of pockets. It suggests a relaxed posture inappropriate in a worshipful setting.
If you’re sitting remember: both feet on the floor. Crossing your legs (or arms) also suggests a relaxed posture as if we are here to be amused or entertained. It makes a mockery of the Cross of Christ.
Conduct in church
While in church, remember that we should be communicating with God. Please take this opportunity to talk to God through prayers, hymns and giving thanks – He is waiting to hear from you.
Even outside of services, when in church one should aim to keep conversations to a minimum. One can easily step outside to have a chat.
During our Divine Liturgy service, there is a distribution of Holy Communion. It is our practice that only baptised Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves may commune – please speak to the clergy for more information.
At the end of our Liturgy, people will come up to the priest, venerate (‘kiss’) the blessing cross that the priest is holding, and receive a piece of blessed bread. This blessed bread is called ‘Antidoron’ (meaning ‘instead of the Gifts’). Anyone who wishes may venerate the cross and receive the bread, and we ask that you treat and consume the bread with respect (particularly: please make sure no crumbs are dropped).
But, above all…
Just be respectful. Once you’ve attended a few times, you’ll see the way we do what we do. Remember that Orthodox Christians are in church to unite together in prayer as a community, in humility and love. Truly, everything else will come naturally if that rule is being followed.
We hope to see you soon! Check out our schedule of services.