Welcome to St. Paul Orthodox Christian Church. We are an Orthodox Christian community from all walks of life and ages located in Naples, Florida, the west side of south Florida on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you are a guest, an inquirer, or a visitor from another parish, we are pleased you are here. The purpose of our web site is to introduce you to our parish community, and to provide you with a brief overview of the Orthodox Church and faith. Our priest, Fr. Paul Girgis is personally available to answer any questions you may have about Orthodox Christianity, or about your spiritual experience, or personal faith journey.
As a visitor to Saint Paul, we want you to be as comfortable as possible on your visit with us. This section covers some of the practical questions you may have as a newcomer or inquirer. In addition, some of these questions and others are covered more extensively in some of the other sections. To know what to expect during your visit, check out the “What to Expect When Visiting St. Paul’s page.
Are non-Orthodox Visitors Welcome?
Yes! Many in our community are converts to the Orthodox Church so we are very comfortable with newcomers, inquirers and visitors. We come from all racial, age, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. Every sincere lover or seeker of Christ, or non-Christian inquirer is welcome. We can probably anticipate many of your questions about the Orthodox Christian faith. We’ve all been there! So don’t be afraid to ask questions about what we do and why (at the appropriate time, of course!). Our bookstore as well as visitors table contain books and pamphlets that can help answer a variety of questions. Speak with Fr. Paul about discovering more about Christian church history, theology, catechism, Orthodox spirituality, inspiration, prayer, the lives of the Saints, and stories about others who have journeyed to the Orthodox Faith – that are many!
If you visit on a Sunday, a greeter will welcome you, hand you a bulletin, and help you navigate your way around. We have printed service texts of the Divine Liturgy available in the pews where the congregation worships. Our normal Sunday service is the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is the liturgical service followed by all Orthodox Churches word-wide. You may follow the service text, or, if you prefer, simply close your eyes and enter into the Church’s beautiful worship of God.
Following the Sunday Divine Liturgy, you are invited to join us for our Fellowship hour which is a good time to get to know our parish members and meet our priest. If you are not interested in social interaction at first, that’s fine. You are always welcome to follow your own pace and level of interest.
How long are the services?
- Great Vespers (Saturdays – 5:00 P.M.); About 45- 50 minutes in length.
- Matins (Sundays – 8:15 A.M., preceding Divine Liturgy); About 60-90mins in length.
- Divine Liturgy (Sundays – 9:30am); About 90mins in length.
We think that when you have participated in an Orthodox service you will feel like – as visitors often put it – “you have truly worshiped God!”
Is there a dress code?
The general rule for men and women is to dress appropriately, modestly and respectfully, because we stand before the living God. Visitors however wear everything from jeans to suits, long dresses to skirts, tee shirts to shirts with ties, dress shoes to sneakers. We ask, however, that you do not wear shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, low-cut or strapless dresses (unless covered by a sweater, etc.). Some Orthodox Christian women choose to hold to the ancient Christian tradition and wear a simple head covering. Men are asked not to wear head coverings (baseball caps, etc.) in the nave.
Is childcare provided?
Each parent is responsible to take care of their child. We encourage children to be present in Church for the services. This participation is part of a child’s spiritual formation. However, if your baby or child gets fussy, talkative, or has a melt-down, please take him or her out of the nave until he or she is ready to return quietly!
Is Sunday school for children available?
On Sundays, we currently provide Christian Education for children ages 3-7. With our growing congregation, there are plans to begin our Christian Education program for the next ages as well . Sunday school is held immediately after the Dismissal of the Divine Liturgy. If you are visiting with children, please feel free to have them join the class.
Standing or sitting?
The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church is to stand before the King of the universe, which is why there are typically no pews in Orthodox Christian churches – chairs or benches on the side walls are usually reserved for the elderly and infirm. In North America however we tend to build our churches with pews or chairs. So you are free to sit. However, it is appropriate to stand during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the distribution of Holy Communion, when the priest gives a blessing, and at the Dismissal. Just follow the congregation.
Lighting candles is an important part of Orthodox worship and piety. We light candles as we pray, making an offering to God accompany our prayers. Orthodox Christians typically light candles when coming into the church. By the way, you do not have to be an Orthodox Christian to light a candle and pray in an Orthodox church
Can non-Orthodox receive the Holy Eucharist?
Orthodox priests may only serve the Holy Eucharist to baptized members in good standing of the canonical Orthodox Church, who have recently confessed, and fasted before partaking of the Holy Eucharist. This is the ancient tradition of the Holy Church for the 2,000 years of its history. The Orthodox Church understands the Holy Eucharist as a mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, not simply as a memorial, or merely in a spiritual sense, as many other non-Orthodox Christians do. Rather than trying to accommodate to often varying “interpretations” or revisions of this and other doctrines of the ancient faith, we simply ask that you respect the ancient, apostolic tradition and join us in receiving the Fellowship bread at the veneration of the cross, at the end of the Divine Liturgy.
Learn more here: “Monogamous Communion: A Defense of ‘Closed’ Communion”
What is Orthodox worship music like?
Close to seventy-five percent of an Orthodox service is congregational singing. Traditionally, Orthodox do not use instruments. Usually a choir leads the people in a capella harmony, with the level of congregational response varying from parish to parish. The style of music varies as well, from very traditional Byzantine-sounding chant in some parishes, to more Western-sounding four-part harmony in a Russian church, with lots of variation in between. The music is solemn, prayerful and intended to lead the faithful to worship the living God.
New visitors will find there are many new things to experience in a Holy Orthodox Church service. Feel free to go at your own pace, ask any questions you want, and know you are most welcome to “come and see”.
What if I have further questions?
Feel free to contact us, or talk to one of our faithful, or Fr. Paul, after one of the services or during Fellowship hour following Sunday Divine Liturgy. If your need is of a pastoral nature, you can call the office or leave an email request to schedule an appointment to meet with our priest.