The Orthodox Faith
Holy Orthodoxy is the oldest Christian community in existence. Orthodoxy is a Greek word; it means ‘right worship’ or ‘right belief’. Typically, when Americans think about Orthodox Christianity, they also add an ethnic adjective such as ‘Serbian’ or ‘Russian’, and there are many Orthodox parishes in this country which have those kinds of cultural roots. But our parish community is part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and Antiochian is not an ethnic reference. It’s a Biblical reference. In fact, it refers to the ancient city of Antioch, which is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. For example, it was in Antioch that “the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11.26), and it was from Antioch that St Paul was sent forth on his missionary journeys (Acts 13.1-3).
The people who were first called Christians and who sent out the first Christian missionaries are the same people who started the Antiochian Orthodox Church. In 1342, because of political and economic factors, the ‘headquarters’ of the Church was relocated from Antioch to Damascus, Syria, and that is where our Patriarch, our head bishop, resides today. Nevertheless, Antiochian Orthodoxy still retains its distinctly Biblical roots, because the office complex and the main church buildings are located on the “Street called Straight” where St Paul was baptized (Acts 9.11).
However, our connection with Apostolic Christianity goes beyond our roots in Biblical geography, because we still believe, teach, and proclaim the same Faith as the first Christians. The most personal way in which this connection is expressed is through what is called Apostolic Succession; that term refers to an unbroken series of bishops stretching all the way back to the original apostles–and it is this succession of bishops that links our parish in Central Texas to the Faith of the first Christians.
Here’s what those links look like. In this list of the Patriarchs of Antioch; notice that the 168th Patriarch from St Peter was a man named Theodosius Abourjaily (or Theodosius VI); in 1964, Patriarch Theodosius consecrated the man who is currently our Metropolitan Archbishop, Philip Saliba; in 1992, Metropolitan Philip consecrated the man who is our diocesan bishop, Basil Essey, and in 1999, Bishop Basil ordained the man who is currently our priest, Father Aidan Wilcoxson. So, counting back from the priest who serves our parish community here in Central Texas, there is Bishop Basil and Metropolitan Philip and Patriarch Theodosius VI–and then just 167 men until you get to St Peter, the chief of the apostles.
That’s a connection that is real and personal and tangible, and it’s that connection which guarantees the authenticity of our worship and our doctrine and our practice. If you would like to be a part of a Christian community that has that kind of depth and that kind of background and that kind of authority, we hope that you will get in touch with us or simply come by and join us for one of our classes or services.