Question - Are all Orthodox Christians "Greek Orthodox" or "Russian Orthodox"?
No. The Orthodox Church is One Church. Currently, Church organization in North America is divided among several different "jurisdictions," or
governing bodies of  varying national origin within the One Church. The Greek or Russian Church is just one of many.

Question - Does your church practice "Open Communion?"
No. In the Orthodox Church, to receive Holy Communion, or any other Sacrament (Mystery), one must  declare themselves to the total
commitment into the Orthodox Faith. While we warmly welcome visitors to our services, it is understood that only those communicant members  
(baptized in the Orthodox Church) who are prepared by confession and fasting will approach the Holy Mysteries.

Question - Why do you have all those pictures in your church?
Icons are not pictures in the sense of naturalistic representations. They are rather stylized and symbolic expressions of divinized humanity. (See II
Peter 1:4; I John 3:2.) Icons for the Orthodox are sacramental signs of God's Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). We do not worship icons.
Rather, we experience icons as Windows into Heaven. Like the Bible, icons are earthly points of contact with transcendent Reality.

Question - What is the meaning behind the censing done by the priest or deacon?
The Psalmist is quoted as saying, “Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense and the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.” (Ps 140)  
Censing is done in the Orthodox Church as a reminder to lift our hearts in prayer up to God.

Question - Why do you enter the Church from the east?
Orthodox build churches facing East to represent the light. The sun sets in the west, therefore one enters from the world of darkness into a world
of light.

Question - Why do the priests have beards?
Orthodox Christian piety begins in the Holy Tradition of the Old Testament. Our relationship to the Lord God, holiness, worship, and morality was
formed in the ancient times of the Bible. At the time of the foundation of the priesthood, the Lord gave the following commandments to the priests
during periods of mourning, And ye shall not shave your head for the dead [a pagan practice] with a baldness on the top; and they shall not
shave their beard... (Lev. 21:5), and to all men in general, Ye shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard
(Lev. 19:27). The significance of these commandments is to illustrate that the clergy are to devote themselves completely to serving the Lord.
Questions & Answers
St. James Orthodox Church - 195 North Main St. Milpitas, Ca 95035 - (408) 934-1794