“ And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” St. Mark 16: 15 Obedient to His instruction, St. Thomas, our Lord’s Apostle, brought the Gospel to the southwest coast of India and converted many into Christianity in 52 AD. Under his leadership, the Indian Orthodox Church took form in India. The Lord Jesus Christ, Who remains in it forever as its Head, founded the Church. Christ entrusts His own Being to the Church, handing down divine Revelation, in oral form, and later recorded in written form to constitute Tradition at large. The Church maintains that it hold God’s eternal truths as revealed by Jesus Christ and preserved in living Tradition of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The true orthodox way of thought has always been historical, has always included the past, but has never been enslaved by it. . . [for] the strength of the Church is not in the past, present, or future, but in Christ. - Fr. Alexander Schmemann
The word “Orthodox” comes to us from the fifth century and has two meanings, which are closely related. The first definition means true teaching. The Orthodox Church believes that she has maintained and handed down the Christian faith, free from error and distortion from the days of the Apostles. The second definition, which is actually the more preferred, means true praise. To bless, praise, and glorify God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--is the fundamental purpose of the Church. All her activities, even her doctrinal formulations, are directed toward this goal. Occasionally, the word Catholic is also used to describe the Orthodox Church. This description dating back to the second century, is embodied in the Nicene Creed, which acknowledges One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. From the Orthodox perspective, Catholic means that the Church is universal and also that she includes persons of all races and cultures. It also affirms that the Church has preserved the fullness of the Christian faith. It is not unusual for titles such as Indian, Armenian, Greek, Russian and Antiochian to be used in describing Orthodox Churches. These appellations refer to the cultural or national roots of a particular parish, diocese, or archdiocese.
Faith and Worship
The teachings and the practices of the Orthodox Church are to be found in the Scriptures and Sacred Apostolic Tradition, which have been handed down to the Church of Christ in the Revelation of God. These sacred Sources are essentials not only for correct teaching and worship, but also especially as Sources of the promises and covenants of God fulfilled in the Person of Christ. The Father, out of love and compassion, sent Christ to save mankind to remain forever in the Church, which He founded. It is imperative for all Christians to understand the content of these sacred Sources in order to strengthen their faith in God and to accept Jesus Christ as the only Redeemer by Whom and in Whom man's personal salvation is wrought. The fundamental truth of the Orthodox Church is the faith revealed in the True God: the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is in reality the declaration of the Christian faith.
The Eucharist is at the heart of the Orthodox experience and worship and is celebrated in the service of the Divine Liturgy. The most characteristic aspect
of Orthodox Christianity is its worship. Though rich in tradition of doctrine, morality, canon law, social concern, personal faith, and monasticism, to name only a few of its objects, the core of Orthodox Christian life is to be found in its worship. Worship is central to the life of the Church because it is the place where the most important relationship for human life occurs: the relationship with God. Worship includes the chief means by which God has revealed Himself to humanity: Scripture and the living Tradition of the Faith. No worship service in the Orthodox Church is without the use of the Bible. Furthermore, worship brings all of life into the life of the Kingdom of God. The Orthodox Church orders its worship so that time is sanctified, as are all aspects of human life. For example, when Orthodox Christians buy a new home or open a new business, it is customary for the priest to bless it with sanctified water. Worship also makes alive and present for the believer all of the mighty acts of salvation history. Most feasts are presented in worship services as occurring now, "today." The chief example of this is Holy Week, which serves to help the faithful relive the events of Christ's death and resurrection. The seven sacraments affirm God’s presence and action in the important events of the Orthodox Christian’s life. Baptism introduces the believer into the life of the Kingdom. Holy anointing or Chrismation grants the gift of the Holy Spirit for growth in the image and likeness of God. The Eucharist realizes the Kingdom of God everywhere it is celebrated, and unites the communicant with the very body and blood of the Lord. The sacrament of Penance serves to grant and assure the penitent Christian of God's forgiveness. Marriage unites a man and a woman, incorporating the natural union into the life of the Kingdom, "in the Lord." Ordination sets aside a small number of the believers for special service to the altar. Unction mediates healing and forgiving grace to believers. It is around these worship experiences that the Orthodox Christian lives his or her Christian life. Hence worship cannot be other than central to the life of the Church. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed summarizes the doctrinal truths to which the faithful adhere, and is recited at each Divine Liturgy and other services.
The head of the Indian Orthodox Church is the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan whose seat is at Kottayam, Kerala, India. The Church has dioceses and churches in most parts of India as well as in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Persian Gulf nations, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. The official title of the head of the Church is the “Catholicos of the East, Catholicos of the Apostolic throne of St. Thomas, and the Malankara Metropolitan”. The present Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan is His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I. Today, the Indian Orthodox Christians are primarily concentrated in the State of Kerala in India and number over 2.5 million faithful worldwide. We are one of the 60 plus Indian Orthodox churches in the United States under the leadership of our Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas and Assistant Metropolitan, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos , headquartered in New York.
Our Spiritual Journey
St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church of Greater Washington was founded in 1982 and incorporated in Maryland in 1992. Because of our financial shortfalls and not having our own church building, we have been moving from community hall to community hall and basement to basement on every Sunday to conduct the Liturgy and other meetings. Finally, after many years of prayers and hard labor, in 2000, we have purchased our church property located at 2337 Fairland Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904 for our continued existence in Washington Metropolitan Area. Through the dedication of our members, we have grown from a handful of families to one of the largest churches in the American Diocese with over 80 families today. The active Sunday school, Youth Movement (MGOCSM), Ladies Auxiliary (Martha Mariyam Samajam), and regular prayer meetings provide the spiritual nourishment for our faithful. More than 100 children of all ages are the building blocks of our future. Our children are very active in assisting various community charitable events such as the soup kitchens, feeding the hungry, visiting the orphanages and old age homes, etc.
The work, ministry, mission of our church include proclaiming the Gospel, sanctifying the faithful through God's grace in worship, the Divine Liturgy and the other Sacraments and Devotional Services, enhancing their spiritual life, adding to their numbers by instructing others and receiving them into the Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation, catechizing them in the Orthodox Faith through various programs, schools and charitable activities, and implementing Christian ministries. Laying a strong Orthodox Christian foundation with high moral values has been our primary objective. We have been able to safeguard these children from complex society and its negative influences. We have been able to implant our tradition, culture, and Biblical Values in the lives of these children, and over 15 children are serving in the altar.
When Christ said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." he commissioned us to transform the parish into an agency of Christian outreach. The American culture offers us great opportunities to conduct successful parish renewal, outreach and evangelism. It is our duty and obligation not to hide our light under the bushel, but to let it shine before all people. We must let our light so shine - because unless people see in us the light and the love of Christ, they will not believe.
The mission of our church is to respond to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ, to minister to those who are suffering and are in need throughout the world, sharing with them God's gifts of food, shelter, economic self-sufficiency and hope. All assistance is provided solely on the basis of need, going to some of the most vulnerable people, including orphans, refugees and displaced persons, the elderly, school children, families and people with disabilities.
Our Service Schedule
Our regular Sunday Holy Liturgy begins with morning prayers at 8:30 AM. Sunday School classes, Youth Bible classes, and ladies auxiliary meetings are held after the Holy Liturgy. The Holy Liturgy and prayer meetings are conducted in our native language (Malayalam) and English for the coming generation. We have sandhya prathana every Saturday 6:30PM at church, except when our monthly Maryland and Virginia area prayer meetings are held on the first and third Saturdays at 6:30 PM, respectively. We welcome people all color and race to our worship service.