What is Orthodoxy?

Christians in the West often see their faith as divided between Roman Catholics and Protestants. In fact, Christianity is divided into three groups, with the Orthodox Church numbering about 300 million adherents worldwide. It's the second-largest Christian denomination behind Catholicism; Protestants, while numbering more than Orthodox believers, are divided among dozens of denominations.

  • The breakup: The Orthodox Church broke with Rome in 1054. As the West saw the ascendancy of the Roman Catholic Church and the fracturing of Christendom during the Protestant Reformation, Orthodoxy continued in its age-old traditions, spreading to countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia.
  • A new world: Orthodoxy came to North America in the mid-18th century.
  • System of belief: Orthodox believers light candles, cross themselves and bend down to kiss icons as they enter the church sanctuary. The Sunday service is called the "Divine Liturgy," a nearly two-hour recitation of hymns and Scripture readings culminating in the feast of the bread and wine, or Holy Eucharist.
  • Local churches: In the Triangle, there are Greek Orthodox Churches in Raleigh and Durham, a Russian Orthodox Church in Durham and an Antiochian Orthodox Church in Raleigh.

Yonat Shimron