First Time Visiting

Welcome to St. Aidan Orthodox Church!

All services are in English to accommodate our diverse multicultural community.

How to Participate in the services . . .

Not surprisingly, many of our visitors are unfamiliar with the worship services of the Orthodox Church. If you have any questions, please ask!

Service/Prayer Books:

These contain the words for most of our services. However, please feel comfortable just “enjoying the action”. Worship with us by listening to the prayers. If you do want to follow in a prayer book, someone will be pleased to assist you. The written prayers and hymns are the same ones Orthodox Christians have sung for centuries and do not change every week, except for the ones based on the daily Scripture Readings.

The prayers of a person at home differ from those in church, since personal prayer is not the same as the communal prayer of the Church. This does not mean that we do not bring our personal cares, desires, troubles, questions and joys to the prayer of the Church. We certainly can, and we do. But we bring ourselves and our concerns to church to unite them to the prayer of the Church, to the eternal prayer of Christ, the Mother of God, the saints and the brothers and sisters of our own particular church community.

The church services are not designed for silent prayer. They exist for the prayerful fellowship of all God’s people with each other, with Christ and with God. In church we pray with others, and we should therefore discipline ourselves to pray all together as one body in the unity of one mind, one heart and one soul. Each one of us must put his own person with his own personal uniqueness into the common prayer of Christ with his Body. This is what enriches the prayer of the Church and makes it meaningful and beautiful.

 The formal Church services are normally rather long in the Orthodox Church. This is so because we go to church not merely to pray. We go to church to be together, to sing together, to meditate on the meaning of the faith together, to learn together and to have union and communion together with God. 

Standing and Sitting:

In thanks for Christ’s resurrection and anticipation of His return, Orthodox Christians make a particular effort to stand during worship. We especially make an effort to stand for the Gospel Reading, the Great Entrance (of the bread and wine) and the Creed. However, this does take some getting used to so feel free to sit if you need to.

Receiving Communion:

The Orthodox understand Holy Communion to be the receiving of the “Holy Mysteries” of the Body (bread) and Blood (wine) of Christ, a sign of our “full participation” in the Church. Orthodox Christian visitors who have prepared themselves through repentance, prayer, and fasting (the night before) should receive Communion. (However, please notify the priest beforehand.) If so desired, our non-Orthodox Christian guests may come forward during Communion for a blessing and may also partake of “fellowship” bread and Holy Water (which is placed off to one side for all).


Jesus invited children to Himself, and we believe it is right and good for them to participate as much as they can in our services. We do not expect them to be able to be attentive like adults however, so if you feel the need to step out to feed or comfort a fussy child, please feel free to do so, and return when you are ready. Head over to our Family Education page for information on our Sunday School Programs.

Fellowship (Agape) Lunch:

After our worship please join us for lunch and fellowship downstairs. We welcome the opportunity to get to know you better and answer any questions you may have.

The Divine Liturgy:

Our prayer and worship service when it includes Holy Communion, typically celebrated on Sunday mornings. It includes:

Litanies: responsive prayers, when the choir and congregation answer prayers chanted by the clergy.

Psalms: songs of praise and honour to our Lord, sung by the choir and congregation.

The Little Entrance: the Gospel Book is carried in procession through the church.

Troparia and Kontakia: hymns for the day, sung by the choir and congregation.

Trisagion Hymn: the ‘thrice holy’ hymn of praise (“Holy God, Holy Mighty, …”)

Epistle and Gospel Readings: Scripture Readings of the day.

Sermon: the congregation sits as the priest gives a lesson based on the Scriptures of the day.

Catechumen Prayers: for those who are seeking baptism and reception into the Church. Although it says “Catechumens depart”, they no longer have to leave the church building as they once did centuries ago.

The Great Entrance: with thanksgiving (“eucharista”), the gifts of bread and wine are carried in procession through the church and offered to God on the Holy Table (altar).

The Creed: the summary of our faith, chanted together.

The Anaphora: the “Eucharistic Prayer” wherein we lift up our hearts with all of heaven to recall and thank the Father for what his Son Jesus Christ has done for us, and we ask the Holy Spirit to transform us and the bread and wine into the Body of Christ.

Communion: Receiving the “Holy Mysteries” of the Body (bread) and Blood (wine) of Christ.

Some Explanations of what you will see and hear in church . . .


Chanting and singing are led by the choir and done without musical instruments so as to allow worshippers’ voices to exult unto God, and to help everyone concentrate on the meaning of the words.


Icons are a particular form of ‘theological art’ that depict Christ, angels, saints, and/or biblical and historical events in the life of the Church. Icons were part of godly worship from very ancient times. Often with a kiss we honour (not worship) those depicted in the icons, acknowledging God’s grace in them, and our eternal union with those who have gone before us.

Incense, Candles, and Vestments:

These items speak of the imagery and our participation in heavenly life and worship. Again, God’s people have used them since ancient times. They each represent and remind us of awe-inspiring spiritual realities and responsibilities. Incense reminds us of our prayers, that rise to Him in the smoke. Candles remind us of the light of Christ. Vestments represent the clothing of God’s grace on our clergy.

The Sign of the Cross

The sign of the cross is made during the service whenever the words “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” are said, and when entering or leaving the church, when passing in front of the altar area, and when venerating an icon or cross.

We understand that the symbol of the cross, once a primitive means of torture and capital punishment, now reminds us of Christ’s victory over death. Making the sign of the cross is a physical prayer to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit; a way to express our love and faith.

The Orthodox place their first two fingers and thumb together to form a sign of the Holy Trinity. The ring and “pinky” fingers represent the two natures of Christ (fully God and fully human). These two fingers come down to touch the palm of the hand, which symbolizes Christ descending to earth. With the fingers and thumb positioned like this, they cross themselves from the forehead to the chest and from shoulder to shoulder, right to left. 

When an Orthodox priest faces the people and blesses them, they literally trace his blessing on themselves as they make the sign of the Cross. Hence, the priest moves his hand from left to right, while the faithful touch their shoulders from right to left, thereby moving in the same direction at the same time.