The Orthodox Church throughout the ages has maintained a continuity of faith and love with the apostolic community which was founded by Christ and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that she has preserved and taught the historic Christian Faith, free from error and distortion, from the time of the Apostles. She also believes that there is nothing in the body of her teachings that is contrary to truth or which inhibits real union with God. The air of antiquity and timelessness that often characterizes Eastern Christianity is an expression of her desire to remain loyal to the authentic Christian Faith. 

Orthodoxy believes that the Christian Faith and the Church are inseparable. It is impossible to know Christ, to share in the life of the Holy Trinity, or to be considered a Christian apart from the Church. It is in the Church that the Christian Faith is proclaimed and maintained. It is through the Church that an individual is nurtured in the Faith.

  • Based on an article by Frederica Matthews-Green, and adapted by our parish priest Fr. Nectarios.


Whether you are visiting the Orthodox Church for the first time or are visiting
from another Orthodox parish, we’d like to welcome you home to Saints
Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.

Located in the heart of Boise, we are a warm, welcoming family of Orthodox
Christians who embrace visitors and inquirers from all traditions, and people from
all backgrounds.  
The parishioners of Saints Constantine and Helen look forward to welcoming and
meeting you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a liturgy and how long is it?

The Sunday morning service at an Orthodox Parish is called the Divine
Liturgy. There are four different liturgies that are celebrated throughout the year.
The Divine Liturgy that we typically celebrate was written by Saint John
Chrysostom of Constantinople around 400 AD. Yes, much of today’s liturgy is
over 1,600 years old!
A typical Sunday liturgy lasts about 75 to 90 minutes. The first half is focused on
hymns, scripture, and the sermon, and the second half is focused on the
consecration and distribution of the eucharist. At Saints Constantine & Helen, we
also celebrate a service called matins or orthros just before the divine liturgy.
Orthros lasts about an hour. Feel free to come to orthros, or arrive just before the
divine liturgy starts.

We Stand When We Pray

Various Orthodox traditions allow for those able, to stand or sit during different
parts of the service. At Saints Constantine & Helen, there are a few times where it
is important to stand, if possible; during the procession of the elements through the
congregation, during the reading of the Gospels, the reciting of the Creed and
Lord’s Prayer, and during the distribution of the Eucharist. Otherwise, feel free to

remain seated if you need to, or to stand along with the congregation. It may feel
like there’s a lot of up and down, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
The liturgy at Sts. Constantine and Helen begins at 10:30AM. By 10:50 we hear
the reading to the Epistle (everyone sits) and then the Gospel lesson for the day is
read (everyone stands). These readings are followed by the sermon. Then the
liturgy continues until around 11:15 when Communion is given and the faithful
then remain in church for the conclusion of the liturgy around 11:45.

Orthodox People Venerate

When we first come into the church, we light a candle, and we kiss (venerate) the
icons. You’ll also may notice that some kiss the chalice after receiving holy
communion, when the priest comes in procession some touch the edge of his
vestments as he passes by. The acolytes kiss his hand when they give him the
censer, and we all line up to kiss the priest’s hand at the end of the service as we
receive the blessed bread. When we talk about “venerating” we simply mean
showing reverence. The reason for kissing the hand of the priest has to do with our
understanding that during the liturgy the hands of the priest are Christ’s hands. The
priest also holds in his hands the “body of Christ” while he prepares the chalice. It
is also through the laying on of hands that ordinations are done by the bishops. The
laying on of hands goes back to the Apostles in the Orthodox Church.

People Make the Sign of the Cross

We sign ourselves whenever the Trinity is invoked, whenever we venerate the
cross or an icon, and on many other occasions in the course of the Liturgy. People
however, aren’t expected to do everything the same way. Some cross themselves
three times in a row, and some finish by sweeping their right hand to the floor.

How will I know what to do during Liturgy?

Your first visit to an Orthodox liturgy can seem strange and overwhelming,
especially if you come from a Protestant or non-Christian background. Just
remember that many of us have been where you are, and we love to help! We are
all here to worship, and we’re glad that you’ve joined us.
Please remember that the most important thing you can do in liturgy is to be
present. Rather than focusing on imitating the actions of the people around you, we
recommend that you simply enter into worship and focus on God’s beauty and
majesty as revealed in the service. You’ll get the hang of the actions soon enough.

I’m not Greek. Am I still welcome?

YES! YES! YES! Our services are almost entirely in English, with some Greek
(and occasionally other languages) woven in.
We are a parish under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and we have
many families in our community with Greek heritage, but we are first and foremost
a family of Orthodox Christian faithful with many different ethnic and faith
Currently the largest America jurisdictions are the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese,
The Orthodox Church in America, (Russian Roots) and the Antiochian
Archdiocese (Arabic Roots). The liturgy is substantially the same in all, though
there may be variation in language used and type of music.

Am I allowed to take Communion?

Those who have been baptized as Orthodox Christians or have been chrismated
(anointed with holy oil, or chrism, and received into the Church) may receive
communion, if they are spiritually prepared. We handle the Eucharist with more
gravity than many denominations do, further explaining why we guard it from
common access. We believe it is truly the Body and Blood of Christ.
Only Orthodox may take communion, but anyone may have some of the blessed
bread (Andithoron) offered at the conclusion of the liturgy. As we file past the
priest, we come upon a container of blessed bread. People will take portions for
themselves and for visitors and non-Orthodox friends around them. If someone
hands you a piece of blessed bread, do not panic, it is not the eucharistic Body. It is
a sign of fellowship.

What denomination is Orthodoxy?

Orthodox Christianity pre-dates modern denominations, and together with the
Roman Catholic Church comprised the original Christian Church for the first
millennium after Christ’s Resurrection. Orthodoxy encompasses the fullness of the
Christian faith as expressed in scripture and the teachings of the first Seven
Ecumenical Councils.
The Orthodox faith has been handed down and preserved from the time of the
Apostles through apostolic succession. Every bishop of the Orthodox Church can
trace his ordination and spiritual lineage back through time directly to Christ’s Apostles.

In fact, our bishop, Metropolitan ISAIAH, can trace his succession
directly back to the Saint Andrew the Apostle. That succession then continues to
the priests and deacons whom the bishops ordain.
Originally, the early Christian Church was led by five patriarchs in Jerusalem,
Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Rome. These patriarchs, through the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, made decisions together in council and operated as
one until 1054 AD, when the Great Schism occurred. The four Eastern patriarchs
remained in unity, but there was a separation from the bishop, or pope, of Rome.
For the first time in history, the Christian faith was divided into two churches, East
and West. Five hundred years later, the Protestant Reformation resulted in a split in
the West as the Reformers and those who followed them broke away from the
Catholic Church and, over time, splintered into multiple groups. The result in
history is the existence of three branches of Christianity: Eastern Orthodoxy,
Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism with its many denominations.

Why are there so many different Orthodox churches?

For the first thousand years of Christian history, the Church was united—one
Church with five patriarchal centers: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and
Constantinople. These patriarchates formed a cohesive whole, living in full
communion and community with one another. Occasionally, heretical disputes
(errant teachings) would occur, and the responses to these were recorded in what is
now known as the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Some schismatic groups did depart
from the Church at various times, yet her core was unified until the 11th century,
when the Roman Patriarch separated from the rest, resulting in the Great Schism.
For the nearly thousand years after the Great Schism, the other four patriarchal
centers have remained in full communion and virtually identical in practice to the
Apostolic Church since New Testament times.
In the United States—a very young country—immigrants from all over the world
came from their old countries and established churches according to their ethnic
backgrounds, still under the oversight of the bishop of their country of origin.
Thus, there exist Russian, Greek, Syrian, and other Orthodox churches in
neighborhoods, but we all have the same faith. All of the bishops worldwide
recognize that there should ultimately be a unified oversight of the Orthodox
Church in North America and are working together to determine the healthiest way
to address the current situation.

Currently the largest America jurisdictions are the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese,
The Orthodox Church in America, (Russian Roots) and the Antiochian
Archdiocese (Arabic Roots). The liturgy is substantially the same in all, though
there may be variation in language used and type of music.

Do you believe in the Scriptures?

Absolutely! We believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. The Bible and
Holy Tradition are the two sources of authority in the Church. Holy Tradition is
defined as the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church over time. In fact, the New
Testament as we know it today was not officially recognized until the early fourth
century. It was within this context, guided by the Holy Spirit, that the 27 books of
the New Testament were canonized in the early 300’s. Essentially, Holy Tradition
within the Church gave birth to the New Testament.

Hymnology (Religious Song) Draws Us to Pray

At Sts. Constantine and Helen, the Choir is meant to lead the people in
congregational singing. Traditionally, hymns are sung acapella, although many
Orthodox churches in America use organs as well.

There are paintings everywhere!

When you attend an Orthodox Church for the first time, you will notice painting on
the walls called icons. From time to time, people may be confused by Orthodox
icons because of a misunderstanding of the second commandment from the Old
Testament: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of
any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). However, when we learn what they are and
what they mean, we can appreciate how vital they are to our relationship with God
and His Saints.  As windows to heaven, they act as guideposts on our way to the
Kingdom of Heaven!

The Three Doors

Every Orthodox church will have an iconostasis before its altar. “Iconostasis”
means “icon-stand”, and it can be as simple as a large image of Christ on the right
and a corresponding image of the Virgin and Child on the left. The basic set-up of
two large icons creates, if you use your imagination, three doors. The central one,
in front of the altar itself, is called the “Holy Doors” or “Royal Doors,” because

there the King of Glory comes out to the congregation in the Eucharist. Only the
priest and deacons, who bear the Eucharist, use the Holy Doors.
The openings on the other sides of the icons, if there is a complete iconostasis,
have doors with icons of angels; they are termed the “Deacon’s Doors.” Altar boys
and others with business behind the altar use these, although no one is to go
through any of the doors without an appropriate reason.

The Virgin Mary

A constant feature of Orthodox worship is veneration of the Virgin Mary, the
“champion leader” of all Christians. We often address her as “Theotokos,” which
means “Mother of God.” In providing the physical means for God to become man,
she made possible our salvation.
We honor her, as Scripture foretold (“All generations will call me blessed,” Luke
1:48). When we sing “Through the intercession of the Theotokos, Savior, save us,”
we don’t mean that she grants us eternal salvation, but that we seek her prayers for
our protection and growth in faith. They’re not dead, after all, just departed to the
other side. Icons surround us to remind us of all the saints who are joining us
invisibly in worship.