8) “Stole Fees”: There are no set fees but donations/gifts to the church are always appreciated. Traditionally these are offered by the Sponsor(s). (Back to Top)
1) At the Hour of Death
: The Church provides a series of services on behalf of the departed. If possible, this begins with the prayers for the newly departed at the time of death itself, either at home or the hospital. If death is imminent, please do not hesitate to call the Parish Priest at any hour (see also Prayers for the Sick/Dying
2) Funeral Director: The Parish Priest will need to coordinate with you and your Funeral Director/provider as soon as possible.
3) Orthodox Cemeteries
: At this time, there are no uniquely Orthodox cemeteries in Stark County. The Serbian monastery New Marcha in Richfield, Ohio, is the closest. Most local cemeteries are acceptable for burial – if there any questions, contact the Parish Priest
4) Burial: The Orthodox Christian method of interment is through burial, not cremation. The funeral service presumed a body to bury and there is no service to be said over “cremains.” Whenever possible, the service should be offered with the body in the Church and not at the funeral home.
5) Headstones/Monuments for Orthodox Christians are traditionally in the form of a Cross, or have a Cross clearly engraved upon them. There is a separate service for the blessing of the monument, which is often served many months after burial so that the grave can be subside and solidify.
6) Visitation: traditional Orthodox visitation of the departed lying in state can be done not only in the funeral home but also the church (and in some countries, at home!) If done in the church, then it is traditional also to leave the coffin in the sanctuary throughout the night in anticipation of the funeral service in the morning. In those circumstances sometimes friends and family keep vigil and read the psalter through the evening as well, in imitation of the vigil on Holy Friday. If visitation is held in the church we encourage families to set up a reception area in the social hall as the sanctuary is not an appropriate place for socializing with others after greeting the family and offering condolences.
7) The Wake Service (Serbian: “Mali Pomen”): The evening before the funeral during visitation there is a special memorial known as the Wake, which takes approximately 10-15 minutes, and is usually held toward the end of the evening’s visitation period, either at church or funeral home.
8) The Funeral: The funeral service is usually held in the morning of the day of the interment but this may not always be so. The departed is brought in the casket/coffin to the church and placed before the altar facing it. The service entails prayers for the forgiveness of their sins, meditation on the meaning of life and death, and proclamation of hope in the resurrection—which celebrates their eternal life in Christ. The end of the service includes an opportunity for “the final kiss” in which each person present may personally say farewell to their departed brother/sister in Christ. The casket is then closed and carried solemnly to the hearse and hence to the place of burial. The funeral service in the church runs approximately 35-45 minutes. Families may also request a Liturgy to be served prior to the funeral service (1 hour).
9) Interment: The burial proper typically follows immediately after the funeral service as the faithful gathered process to the graveside for the completion of the service. If the burial is taking place on another day (due to out of state interment or because of other requirements (e.g. weather or military burial)) the service will be concluded on sight with a simple dismissal at the hearse. The graveside service itself is simple.
10) Mercy/Memorial Meal (Serbian: “Daca“): Orthodox Christians traditionally hold a memorial meal after the funeral as an offering in memory of their beloved departed. The St. George social hall room is available for this and other related receptions/refreshments. Please note that if it is a fast day, Lenten observation must be followed at the Church. Contact the parish secretary at 330-494-2712 to schedule.
11) Post-Funeral Memorials: At various times after an Orthodox Christian departs this life, it is desirable to remember them in prayer. For the first forty days after death they are remembered by name in the Liturgy, and on the 40th day a special memorial is served (Parastasis). Different customs are observed across Orthodox countries. At St. George’s we encourage the tradition of offering boiled wheat (Koljivo) often sweetened with sugar, candies, etc. according to desired recipe. This wheat is lifted rhythmically up to the heaven by all those in attendance during the final hymn, “Memory Eternal,” in the Romanian Orthodox practice that we follow. A similar service is also served typically on the 6 month and one year anniversary. Families may wish to hold these memorials on continuing anniversaries as well. These occasions, starting with the 40 day memorial, are also good times to offer memorial meals as well.
12) Blessing of Graves: On the American Holiday of Memorial Day, the St George Community gathers at various cemeteries throughout Stark County to offer prayers and remembrance for those who have departed this life before us. Throughout the year, the Parish Priest is available to visit the graves with you as well to offer a short memorial graveside.
13) Memorials on a Sunday: Because Sunday is the day of Resurrection and a time for joyful celebration, we typically do not serve a memorial at the end of liturgy unless it is for a parishioner who has recently fallen asleep, or for our parish anniversary and the yearly remembrance of those founders departed this life or other special circumstances. There are a number of Memorial Saturdays (Soul Saturdays, Saturdays of the Dead, etc.) during the year on which memorial services are served for all those remembered in the parish lists and any additional lists you wish to submit.
14) Donations: Often donations are solicited by families for the church or charity at the time of a parishioner’s death. Please consult with the Parish Priest and Parish Council if you are interested in making memorial donations (including special liturgical items, or designated funds) in memory of loved ones. Funeral directors can also give advice on appropriate gifts to parish or clergy for funeral services.
15) Funerals for Non-Orthodox: There is a funeral service for non-Orthodox departed that may be served. Please contact the Parish Priest if you have need. Note: Catechumens who are preparing to be received into the Orthodox Church and pass away before that is possible are buried as if fully Orthodox.
16) Funerals During Bright Week: If someone should be so blessed as to repose during the week of Easter, the Church remembers them in a special, Bright Paschal version of the burial service.
17) Funerals for Children/Stillborn: Recognizing the tragedy of losing a child and the teachings of the Lord on their innocence before Him, the funeral service for young children is different than that of adult lay people or older children who have begun coming to confession, and does not focus on the forgiveness of sins as much as the recognition of God’s infinite mercy. Likewise, since the standard funeral service has as its primary purpose prays for forgiveness, and we do not believe the unborn who die do not suffer the stain of any personal sins, the service for remembering and interring them is of a different nature, with an eye to bringing healing and peace to the parents who have lost a child. There are also prayers for the convalescence of a mother after a miscarriage that are done separately. See also this article concerning miscarriage and healing. (Back to Top)
PRAYERS FOR THE SICK/DYING
: If you or a loved one are suffering from an illness, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Priest to be put on the prayer list. You may specify whether you want to be on the list recited out loud during services or just in silent prayers for privacy’s sake. Last names are never used nor personal information distributed. See also “Shut-ins
” above for information on pastoral home visits for the sick.
2) Hospitalization: If you or a loved one are hospitalized, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Priest and request a pastoral visit. It is worthwhile to bring the church in early to support the hospitalized person as well as the family through prayer, presence, and counsel. Often, the sacrament of Holy Communion and Confession can be offered and this can strengthen one’s faith through the trial of sickness and recovery. Once a person becomes non-responsive or NPO (nothing by mouth) they can no longer receive some sacraments, so please do not wait.
3) Holy Unction (Rom. Maslul; Gr.: Evchelion): Next to Communion and Confession, the Sacrament of Holy Anointing or Unction can be of great benefit. It is not meant to be a last rite (c.f. “Extreme Unction”) but a prayer for the healing of soul and body, though it is usually one of the last sacraments a person receives when dying. Holy Unction may be served not only in the Church but at the hospital, hospice, or home at the bedside of the sick.
4) Last Rites: There is a Canon of Supplication to the Mother of God which we sing for the soul of a person as it is ready to depart from the body. There is also a service we may sing after the departure of the soul which is in effect, the first memorial service. These are typically done at the side of the person if possible. Before these services it is recommended that the person received the sacraments listed above. Please do not hesitate to call at any time of the day or night if a loved one should repose, and preferably, beforehand, so that your priest maybe with you and them. Ideally, your Parish Priest will already be aware of the situation and on heightened alert, awaiting your call.
5) Freely Received, Freely Given: There are no “stole fees” for pastoral visits. Visiting the sick and praying for healing is just what the church does, as Christ commanded.
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1) Announcements: Let your Parish Priest know that you are expecting and the due date so that he may pray for you. Let Him also know when and if He may pray publicly for you during services as one of the expectant mothers—usually once you’ve made the announcement to those you wished to tell privately.
2) Showers: The parish social hall is available for baby showers held by parishioners at a member/steward rate – contact the parish secretary for details at 330-494-2712.
3) Day of Birth: Please have someone call the Priest on the day you go into labor and where. This way he may pray for a safe delivery and be ready in case of any complications to be at your family’s side. There is an Emergency Rite of Baptism should the health of the baby be in any way under question, and if need be, you may baptize your baby yourself if time does not permit the priest to arrive.
4) Prayers of Convalescence: It is traditional for the Priest to visit you later on the day of birth or the day after to say prayers for convalescence and recovery, and to bless the place with holy water. This may be done at home or hospital as needed.
5) 8th Day Prayers: The eighth day was the traditional day of circumcision in the Old Testament and it was also the day on which Jesus formally received His name (or, rather, it was revealed that day). It is traditional for the Priest to come and bless the child on that day, and it’s a good time to discuss baptism (see above) and other concerns about raising a child as an Orthodox Christian. Orthodox Mothers are not expected to attend church until the 40th day after birth (see below), a kind of liturgical maternity leave.
6) 40th day prayers/ Churching: On the 40th day Christ was brought to the Temple in accordance with the Law. Now Orthodox Christian mothers come to the church with their children in imitation of the Virgin Mother and her Son. These prayers are meant primarily for the mother as she returns to Church after her time away. They include prayers of forgiveness for any sins incurred during pregnancy or after birth (we recognize it is far from an easy experience!) and prayers to prepare her to once again receive communion. Mothers who are otherwise prepared for communion that day should approach the chalice. Welcome home!
7) Church with Infants/Toddlers: At first, attending church with your infant is usually fairly trouble free in the beginning, but as they grow and make their needs known more vocally and physically, it can become challenging. Talk with your Parish Priest and other experienced mothers in the church about what worked or didn’t work for them and their children. See also the article “Toddlers in the Temple”. (Back to Top)
1) An Orthodox Christian must be in good standing, having had a recent confession and communion to be married in the Church.
2) Scheduling: One of the first things you will need to do is contact the Parish Priest to determine an eligible date. There are certain times of the year when weddings are not normally permitted, such as fasts or on great feasts, when our attention is meant to be directed elsewhere. As for the time of the day, most times are permissible. The length of the service itself is approximately 45 minutes to one hour.
3) Pre-Marital Education: Long before the wedding day, a couple should have met with the Parish Priest or other designated catechist for pre-marital education. This may range from 2-3 meetings to longer depending on schedules and need. Understanding the Scriptural basis of marriage, the symbolism of the Orthodox wedding service, and the key skills to making your marriage thrive will make your wedding day and the years that follow all the brighter!
4) Alternate Wedding Locations: Orthodox wedding services are meant to be conducted in an Orthodox Church. If there is not an Orthodox Church located in the city/town where you will be married or require a larger venue than St. George, please discuss with the Parish Priest about options.
5) Inter-faith marriage
: An Orthodox Christian may marry another Orthodox Christian or a Christian of a Trinitarian faith (e.g. Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, and most Protestants) but not
a non-Christian (e.g. Jewish, Muslim, Hindu), non-Trinitarian Christian (e.g., Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Unitarian), or atheist (including lapsed Christians). A non-Orthodox partner is encouraged to be received into the Orthodox Church (see Adult Baptism/Chrismation above
) or, short of that, to be in good standing with their own chosen Trinitarian Christian tradition. One of the greatest gifts you can give to each other is a united life in Christ and a shared understanding of the purpose of your life together as husband and wife.
6) Legal Issues: The Orthodox Christian understanding of marriage is that it must be blessed by God and can only be accomplished between a man and a woman. The couple must otherwise abide by the requirements of legally recognized marriage in their state, and present a valid marriage license before the service to be completed by the Officiant. Couples are not to cohabitate (live together) before marriage. Couples who have been civilly married before the church wedding must still present their legal documents and a copy of a completed marriage certificate.
7) A Marriage Dispensation from the diocese is required in certain circumstances: a) marriage to be held on a Saturday (the traditional day is Sunday); b) a second marriage for either partner; c) a mixed marriage between an Orthodox and non-Orthodox but Trinitarian Christians (as above). In the case of a second marriage please be ready to present a valid certificate of divorce. In the case of an inter-faith marriage, please be able to present a baptismal certificate for the non-Orthodox partner. In the case where one or both husband and wife are previously married, it is typical to use the Rite of Second Marriage, which is slightly shorter in length. The Priest will assist you through this simple process, and there is a small fee involved.
8) Sponsors (Serbian: “Kum” or “Kumovi“): A couple requires at least one Orthodox sponsor (member in good standing) who will assist in the service. A married Orthodox couple is preferred and traditional. Like the Godparents at a Baptism, these sponsors assist in the wedding service itself and lead you through your first steps as husband and wife. As the Sponsors will be standing up with you and your wedding party during the service, please remember to coordinate with them dress style, candles, flowers, and color schemes, etc., as they have a prominent role in the service.
9) Best Man / Maid of Honor: Sponsors may or may not be the same people who fulfill the role of the Best Man/ Maid of Honor, since those roles do not have a liturgical/religious component. Wedding Parties may be as expansive and inclusive as you like, or limited to just you and your sponsors, or anywhere in between. In cases where a large attendance is expected, we recommend that 2 or more designated Ushers be assigned to assist your guests in seating.
10) Items to Bring: The service requires a pair of rings and candles. The parish does not supply elaborate candles for baptisms/weddings, so you may wish to purchase your own. These are often supplied by the Sponsors.
11) Crowns are provided by the church but many couples also purchase their own (or receive them as gifts from their sponsor(s)). There are many options of style: floral or metal wreaths, tiaras, and Russian crowns. St. George has tiaras – silver and ‘gold’. Tiaras are worn on the head.
12) Gowns/Dresses: Please remember that the wedding is a church service and attire should remain modest. No strapless, deep-plunge, or see-through bodice gowns/dresses. If strapless is the only option of fashion, a wrap/shawl should be worn to cover the upper arms/shoulders during the service. The bride will be walking around the wedding table with the groom and sponsors, so please take into consideration the length of the train and size of the skirt when selecting the gown. It is highly recommended to wear low heel shoes/flats for the sake of comfort. The wedding party will be standing the entire time.
13) Decoration: Some couples wish to decorate the church with floral arrangements, bows, or use floor runners and flower petals during the service. As long as things are done tastefully and someone from your family/party is clearly assigned to cleaning it up, this is generally permitted.
14) Photography: Photographers and videographers are welcome but must observe the protocols set for them by the Parish Priest. Taking group photos after the service in the church is welcome and we encourage you to make sure you give it sufficient time in your schedule.
15) Rehearsals: A wedding rehearsal is recommended, especially for those who have never attended or “stood” as part of the wedding party in an Orthodox wedding service. You may have specific customs you wish to observe in entering the church or as part of the service and should be finalized at this time.
16) Getting Ready: Classrooms downstairs are available for the bridal party as needed.
17) “Stole Fees”
: There no set fees but donations/gifts to the church/clergy/chanter/choir are appreciated.
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