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Cathedral Heights

Dean

the Rev. Dr. John T. Tavlarides

Associate

the Rev. Steven P. Zorzos

Congregation Size

1,400

Service Length

2 hours

Proportion of Service Spent Standing

approximately 75 percent

Donation Price for Candle

$1

Sample Worshipper Dress

black suit, dark tie, and sunglasses

Congregational Fervor

While its reliance on chants and incense is deeply immersing, the ancient Orthodox liturgy is light on congregational participation. Activity is generally limited to the occasional recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, in both Greek and English, and periodic shifts between standing, sitting, and kneeling.

Food for the Soul

During a recent sermon, Zorzos took a few moments to discuss the approaching Advent season. Acknowledging that Christmas is an exciting and sentimental time for many reasons, he sought to pull worshippers’ focus away from Santa Claus. “The mystery of Christ in Orthodoxy is primarily a paschal one,” he said, reminding churchgoers that Easter is the bigger cause for celebration.

Food for the Body

At Saint Sophia, post-service hunger is generally handled with more spiritual reverence than snacky abandon. As congregants depart, they stop to kiss the hand of Tavlarides, who, in turn, dispenses a handful of sweet-bread morsels. Altar boys also hold bushels of plain holy bread for congregants to sample as they head out the door.

Overall Worship Power Rating

Saint Sophia Cathedral attendees worship in a gorgeous and sensual environment. In addition to the ornate and detailed icons that adorn the walls and the heavy aroma of incense, a small choir chants hymns in traditional Byzantine style. In the words of the church’s Web site, “It has seemed to many that the peculiar gift of Orthodox peoples is the power of perceiving the beauty of the spiritual world and expressing this beauty in their worship.”