Welcome from Father Tom
St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church was established 2006 to bring the Orthodox Christian Faith to the western areas of Northern Virginia. Our parish is part of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (a self-governing church with historical roots in the ancient patriarchate of Antioch). Our church is under the care of His Eminence, Metropolitan Saba, and His Grace, Bishop Thomas, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.
The services at St. Raphael are all conducted in English. Our common musical tradition is rooted in the liturgical tradition of the Patriarchate of Antioch. But much of our music in the Divine Liturgy comes from the Russian tradition.
Visiting today, you will find us aspiring to live the fullness of Christian life together as it has been preserved and handed down to us. The members of St. Raphael come from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds – about one fourth of us are relatively new to Orthodoxy. Many of us are “cradle Orthodox,” but some of us have come from traditions, such as Evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, non-denominational, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, and Lutheran. St. Raphael is a multi-generational, “kid-friendly,” and welcoming place to explore the Orthodox Faith, and to make a parish home with a fellowship of new friends.
As a local parish, we are devoted to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. We encourage the ministry of the laity through the recognition and use of spiritual gifts, an understanding of the priesthood of all believers, and an emphasis on spiritual disciplines given by the Church, including fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. We retain the traditional understanding of the church as a spiritual hospital where we can receive divine help in the struggle to purify our hearts and to be healed in soul and body.
The Orthodox Church, which some have called “the best kept secret” in the America, understands itself to be the first Christian Church, founded by the Lord Jesus Christ. Her history can be traced in unbroken continuity back to the original Pentecost in AD 33 with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Orthodox Church has continued her faith and practice without addition or subtraction, and thus her apostolic doctrine, worship, and structure remain intact.
For that reason, we consider our Orthodox Church the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” (in the words of the ancient Nicene Creed). The word Catholic means “whole” and “universal,” indicating that the Church teaches all that is necessary for human salvation and that the church holds the same beliefs everywhere. The word “Orthodox” means “right belief” or “right glory,” and was used from the first centuries to distinguish true apostolic doctrine and worship from heresies that arose in the early church. In the 11th century the “Great Schism” took place, when the Roman Catholic Church, under the pope, separated itself from the rest of the ancient Orthodox churches, with the “filioque” addition to the Nicene Creed and increasing claims of papal authority. Later, various other changes in doctrine and practice were made on the part of the Roman church that further widened the gap between the two churches. The ensuing Protestant Reformation in the 16th century splintered the Roman church and scattered the faithful even more into a multitude of other denominations.
Today, the Orthodox Church is a single, unified body, comprised of several autocephalous (self-governing) churches, such as the Antiochian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Orthodox Church in America, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox. It is held together not by a universal head, but by the double bond of unity in the faith and communion in the sacraments. Although reflecting diversity of language and culture, these churches are in full agreement on all matters of doctrine and between them is full sacramental communion, celebrating the same Divine Liturgy and reciting the same Creed week in and week out around the world.
Our congregation is a loving, welcoming community. You will be greeted and made to feel at home. We exist to bring the Orthodox faith to our area. We are working to become a home for all people--both Orthodox and those who are searching for a church home. Our congregation extends open arms to those who are inquiring about the Orthodox Church. I, too, was once an inquirer and a catechumen, joining the Orthodox Church, with my entire family, in 1999. I am happy to help inquirers learn more about the Orthodox Church. When inquirers decide that they wish to make the Orthodox faith their own, they enter the catechumenate. During this time, they enter a time of spiritual formation that is intended to prepare them for baptism and chrismation. Normally, if they have been baptized in a Christian faith that upholds the confession of the Holy Trinity, they will be received by chrismation (the anointing of the Holy Spirit). If not, then they will be received by baptism and chrismation.
Please take a few minutes to read our mission and vision statements below. Three key words describe why we exist: 1) to experience God's presence in prayer and worship and his grace in the Sacraments; 2) to learn more about our God and the faith of His Church through preaching and teaching; 3) to equip our congregation and its members to share the good news of Christ and the salvation He has accomplished and offers to all people. Simply put, our mission is the Great Commission of Christ: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even to end of the age." (Matthew 28: 19, 20).
If I can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to phone (703-303-3047) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me. I am here to serve you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are striving to build a congregation where God's love and truth permeates all that we say and do. Please join us on our exciting journey of faith!
The Mission of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Mission is to offer the fullness of the Orthodox faith to all who desire to learn, experience, and share Christ's life in the liturgical, catechetical, and sacramental life of His Church.
The Vision of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Mission is to become a loving, growing, dynamic congregation, seeking to emulate the ideals and life of our patron, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, and serving as a model of Orthodox unity in America.