The Church of the Apostles . . .
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 about the first one thousand years of Christian history, there was (in the words of the ancient Nicene Creed) “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” 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 numerous other denominations.
Today, the Orthodox Church is a single, unified body comprised of several autocephalous (self-governing) churches, such as the Greek Orthodox, Orthodox Church in America, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Antiochian 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.