St. Barnabas D.C.
Orthodoxy in Every Heart

Thank you for your interest in us.  You have two options to know about us, option #1, the 'so-so' way - read a summary our roots: our faith, Orthodoxy, West Syriac and Indian heritage, and the vision and mission of St. Barnabas, Washington D.C. - and option #2, the best way: visit and join us in worship at the Lord's table.

Our Faith

Our Faith is summarized best by the Nicene Creed.  The text, composed by the Fathers of the Church in AD 325 at the Council of Nicea, captures the essence of our belief.

We believe in One True God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, True God of True God begotten, not made, being of one essence with the Father and by Whom all things were made.  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, +And was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man, +And was crucified for us, in the days of Pontius Pilate and suffered, and died, and was buried, +And on the third day He rose again according to His Will, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of His Father, and shall come again in His great glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the One Living Holy Spirit, the life-giving Lord of all, Who proceeds from the Father, and Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets and the apostles.

And in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  And we Confess One Baptism for the remission of sins, and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the new life in the world to come.

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is primarily a community, which has inherited the Christian faith as the raison de etra of its existence in the world. In order to have the faith made a dynamic reality in the lives of its members one of the important means adopted by Orthodoxy is its worship. Infact, in Orthodox worship, liturgy and theology are so combined that the latter is made part of the devotional life of the people throughout the former.  This fact may be illustrated by referring to four ideas repeatedly noted in Orthodox worship.

  1. The worship invariably begins and ends with the Trinitarian affirmation of God's nature. It begins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and it ends with the Trinitarian benediction. Besides, God the Holy Trinity is remembered and invoked or glorified on various occasions in the course of the worship itself. This repeated remembrance of the Holy Trinity should, whatever it may imply otherwise, enable the people to commit their lives to God, who included in Himself the foundation of fatherhood, sonship and the love that binds them together. In this way the Trinitarian understanding of God's nature would lead us to realise our task in building up our human community. Created in the image of God, amen reflect His Creator and grow into His perfection, and this is to be accomplished in a community.
  2. Orthodox worship is Christ-centered. God the eternal son has redeemed us by His incarnation making His saving grace available to us through His death and resurrection. We are called upon to receive this grace in faith, both spiritually and sacramentaly and lead life worthy or our calling. Here the doctrine of incarnation is taken seriously and, like the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, its value for everyday living is proclaimed. Orthodox worship recognised the fact in the historical realm man needs salvation, which has been given to us by God in His eternal son throughout the death and resurrection endured in His incarnation.
  3. There is no worship in Orthodoxy, which does not include `the Communion of Saints'. Saints on earth and saints who have gone behind the veil are commemorated, praying to God to them and asking for their prayers. By so doing, it is the reality of the Churches fullness, in which the local congregations is a part, that is brought to the mind of the worshipping the congregation for their contemplation. Through his death and resurrection Jesus Christ has brought in to being in His own Person, a new human community, in which the entire human race is expected to participate.
  4. In the context of these ideas, Orthodox worships presents our life on earth, its need and problems to the Triune God. Prayers are offered to God, asking for His blessings all that we do and beseeching Him to direct our steps so long as we leave in this transitory world. Those in sickness or any kind or human trouble as well as those who have fallen in evil ways are remembered. So also the wider community with rulers and leaders as well as the world of nature are committed to God's care and protection.

Orthodox worship is thus aimed to strengthen the community in the faith, inorder that the community as a whole and its members individually may become confirmed in the Christian calling and character.

West Syriac Heritage

The West Syrian Church, known to many as “Jacobite” (after Jacob Baradeus, the 6th century reorganizer of the West Syrian Church) and as Monophysite (after the erroneous idea prevailing in Byzantium and the Latin West that the West Syrians believed only in the divine nature of Christ), historically inherited the Semitic, Palestinian tradition of Christianity, though not uninfluenced by the Hellenic milieu in which they lived.

The West Syrian church has probably the richest and most diverse heritage in the matter of eucharistic anaphorae - the Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy during which the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ - and canonical offices. In addition to these are the rites of baptism and Chrismation of which three different forms are known. Ordination rites also vary substantially; the whole liturgical corpus also includes rites of matrimony (separate rites for first and second marriages), burial (different for clergy, laymen, women and children), anointing of the sick (not extreme unction - again different for clergy and laity), profession of monks, consecration of churches and altars, translation of relics etc.

During the celebration of the Divine Liturgy the officiating priest and the people alternate practically in all the prayers; the deacon plays an important role too, admonishing and directing the people to stand with fear, pray and understand the nature of the event that is going on in the Liturgy; and choirs are not allowed to usurp the place of the congregation as in certain other certain liturgies.

The principal anaphora, the Anaphora of St. James, was written by the early church in Jerusalem during apostolic times; more were added until the 14th centuries.  The ones most commonly used are St. James (on all principal feasts, for the first Eucharist offered by a priest, or offered at a new altar), Dionysius Bar Salibhi, St. John Chrysostom and St. John the Evangelist.  A major feature of the Eucharistic liturgy and the daily offices is the Sedro, a long meditative - homiletical prayer, preceded by a Promeon - an elaborated form of the Gloria. These prayers are rich in theological content, and play a considerable role in the religious education of the faithful, especially in the absence of biblical preaching.

Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who came to India in A.D. 52. The Indians inherited the East Syrian language and liturgies, and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians. In the seventeenth century, the Indian Church came in to relationship with the Antiochene Church, from whom it received West Syrian liturgies and practices. The Indian Church entered into a new phase in its history with the establishment of an autocephalous Catholicate in 1912.

The faith of the Indian Church is that which was established by the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Ephesus (A.D. 431). It is in communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches - Syriac, Alexandrian, Armenian, Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches.

The Catholicos, H.H. Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, who is seated in Kottayam, Kerala, India, is the chief shepherd of the Indian Church which consists of about 2.5 million members who are spread all over the world.  The Indian Church is divided into 30 dioceses, each of which is served by a bishop, one of whom is our shepherd H.G. Zachariah Mor Nicolovos of the Northeast American Diocese.

St. Barnabas, Washington, D.C.

Our patron, St. Barnabas, epitomizes our purpose: to plant Orthodoxy in your heart and encourage you our your spiritual journey of theosis.

St. Barnabas, born Joseph, was an early Christian. He was moved by the Word and was so committed to preaching the Gospel that he sold also his possesisions and gave the money to the apostles; recognizing his commitment, the apostles named him Barnabas, meaning 'son of encouragement.'

Our primary mission is to plant Orthodoxy is your heart and, like St. Barnabas, to encourage you on your spiritual journey.  In doing so, we hope and pray to inspire the next generation of believers to keep alive the faith, the teachings and the traditions of the Holy Church - invaluable treasures we inherited from our parents.

We are encouraged and strengthed daily by the prayers and intercession of the Holy Theotokos, our patron St. Barnabas, and all the Saints and Fathers of the Holy Church.