About Us

Although Three Hierarchs community celebrated its first services in Wenatchee in August of 2006, it is part of the worldwide Orthodox Christian Church that began on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem as described in the Acts of the Apostles, and today spans the globe from Palestine to Japan, Greece to Tanzania, Russia to Argentina, England to Korea, Romania to Kenya.  Our parish thoroughly represents the American Orthodox experience.  The vast majority of our members are born and raised in the USA and came to the Orthodox Church from a variety of spiritual backgrounds or none at all.  All of our services are in English and visitors are always welcome!

We are a small, but dynamic and growing community committed to the worship of God the Holy Trinity, living the life in Christ and the Holy Spirit, and sharing the good news of God’s kingdom.  We are a friendly and welcoming community characterized by hospitality and love and look forward to having you come worship and fellowship with us!  If there is anything we can do to assist you in your interest in Orthodox Christianity do not hesitate to contact us: http://www.wenorthodox.com/contact-us

Our local parish is under the pastoral care of the Archbishop Joseph of the  Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, which is dedicated to preaching, teaching, and living out the Apostolic Faith of the ancient Church, which has been preserved whole in the “Eastern Orthodox Church.”  The “Mother Church” of our Archdiocese is the Church of Antioch (where the disciples were first called Christians, Acts 11:26).  Patriarch John X of Antioch is the 165th successor of the Holy Apostle Peter.    Our pastor is Fr. Michael Shanbour.  You may contact Fr. Michael here:  http://www.wenorthodox.com/contact-us

The Orthodox churches throughout the world constitutes “one faith, one Lord, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).  Rather than following a central authority, the Orthodox continue in the early Christian model of governance, being made up of many regional and national churches in a communion of doctrine, worship, and practice.  The Church is neither “organized religion” nor an unrelated group of independent congregations.  Rather Orthodox Christians share a common faith handed down from earliest times.  This responsibility for guarding this faith lies with every Orthodox Christian but pastorally by the local bishop who is accountable to his brother bishops and to the people of God.  The Church is not a human institution but the “Body of Christ,” the Divine-Human organism whose Head is Jesus Christ, and therefore lives by faith in God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Three Hierarchs is a local expression of this communion of faith within the Orthodox Church at large.

If you thirst for God and would like to deepen your experience of Him, we invite you to explore the treasures of the ancient Orthodox Christian Church which is alive and well in the Wenatchee Valley and  throughout the world!

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The following provides answers to some common question about the Orthodox Church:

How did the Orthodox Church begin?  Is it a denomination?

The Orthodox Church constitutes the second largest body of Christians in the world.  It is not a denomination; it pre-dates the existence of denominations by at least 1,500 years.  The Orthodox Church has an unbroken, organic continuous 2, 000 year history spanning from the time of Jesus’ apostles to the present day – a verifiable fact affirmed by historians and scholars.  What we now call the Orthodox Church was simply the Christian churches of the eastern Roman Empire where the Christian faith originated – Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc.

What are the origins of various denominations?

In the year 1054 a fissure occurred between the churches of the western Roman Empire under the jurisdiction of the bishop (“Pope”) of Rome and the Eastern churches represented by the bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.  The Eastern churches rejected the claim of the Pope to a universal authority over the whole Church.  This break, called the “Great Schism,” led to two distinct Christian bodies.

Some 500 years later certain Roman Catholics broke from the communion of Rome in hopes of returning to a more pristine Christian faith.  This is known as the Protestant Reformation.  The reformers hoped to find agreement by using the Bible alone.  Even in this first generation, however, they could not reach agreement, leading to several distinct branches of Protestantism.  The splintering continued quickly multiplying the number of differing Christian bodies.  Today an estimated 30,000 denominations exist, each claiming authority in the Bible.

The Orthodox Church never experienced a reformation and continues in the beliefs and practices of the first 1,000 years of Christian history.  It is unified world-wide in doctrine, worship, and spiritual life.

Who is the head of the Orthodox Church?  Who makes the decisions?

The Orthodox insist that Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church.  There is no singular or unilateral authority in Orthodoxy like a Pope.  All bishops are equal and equally responsible for guarding the faith.  They are accountable to one another and to all the Orthodox believers.  No one is considered infallible.  The Church is held together by a common faith, not by a central authority.  The Orthodox understand the Holy Spirit to be the authority that guides the Church.  In times of crisis the local bishops gather to articulate in a new situation what the Church has always believed.

But aren’t the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches two different things?

No!  They are simply the Orthodox Church from different countries of origin.  The faith is identical.  Just as in the New Testament, the churches of Ephesus and Thessalonica and Philippi were all one, the Orthodox Church is a communion of national or regional churches united in one faith and practice.  Unfortunately Orthodox Christians in America have often retained the name of their country of origin, giving the impression they are distinct from other Orthodox churches.  They have sometimes been slow to let go of the language of origin as well.  However all Orthodox churches share the same creed, sacraments, and liturgical services and form one Church in America and elsewhere.

What does “orthodox” mean?  Are you Jewish?

Not unless Jews worship Jesus as the Messiah!  Orthodox Christians confess and worship Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior, the incarnate Son and Word of God.  Also the Christian doctrine of the Trinity has been espoused and defended by the Orthodox from earliest times.  The word “orthodox” is an adjective meaning “proper belief and worship” and was used from the 2nd century onward to designate Christians who maintained the teachings as passed down by the apostles.

But the Orthodox Church is Eastern, not Western, right?

Yes, No, and Maybe!  It depends on our perspective and what one means by “Eastern.”  Ready for a shock?: Christianity is an “Eastern Religion”!  It began in the Middle East by eastern, Semitic peoples.  Out of 44 local churches personally founded by the apostles of Jesus, only 2 were established in Western Europe.  The west was not the center of the Christian Church but the mission field. 

What would we see if we walked into a church in Ravenna, Italy in the 6th century?   We know because they still exist.  We see “Byzantine” architecture and “Byzantine” mosaic iconography everywhere.  We would have heard “Byzantine” chant, adapted later by Pope Gregory in the 7th c., i.e. “Gregorian” chant.  Monasticism too was imported from Egypt and Palestine to the west by John Cassian (“the Roman”) and others.

What we now understand to be “western” is the result of the “Renaissance” which was based on a fascination for…Greek philosophy, particularly Aristotle.  With the Renaissance came a transformation of the western Church: new ways of thinking and theologizing, new music, new art.  All of these were departures from early Christianity.

While some describe Orthodox Christian worship as “different” or “foreign,” what they are actually experiencing is something more ancient and otherworldly.  Early Christian worship was patterned on heavenly worship, such as that seen in Isaiah 6 and Revelations 4 and 5.  It is meant to be otherworldly.  It is meant to be “foreign” to the fallen man and appeal to something greater.

So the Orthodox Church is old.  Doesn’t that mean boring or out-of-date?  Why doesn’t the Church change with the times?

Orthodox Christian worship is anything but boring.  It is profound and rich.  It is  challenging and engaging, grace-filled and majestic, overflowing with scriptural reading and imagery.  The testimony of the early Church Fathers confirm that this worship has been largely unchanged.  But it’s not “entertainment”!  It is not meant to be an experience of this world, but of the world to come.  It is an encounter with the living God.  There’s nothing in Scripture that suggests we should “modernize” the worship of God.  Instead it tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). 

What is the mission of the Orthodox Church?

There is only one mission: To bring human beings into a personal union with God, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, now while yet in this life.  This is salvation.  Salvation is not merely “going to heaven” when you die.  It is not a legal arrangement brokered by God.  It is a real transformation of the heart by the grace of God through repentance which can heal the human person and bring them into communion with God.