Western Rite

Most people are unaware that before the Great Schism of A.D. 1054, all of England was Orthodox! Thus the way we worship is taken in part from the ancient liturgy of the West. The Western Rite of the Orthodox Church proclaims the same eternal and unchanging faith and beliefs as that of our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters.

Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics and Methodists would certainly recognize parts of the liturgy while Baptists and Presbyterians would be familiar with many of our hymns.

Before A.D. 1054 the Latin speaking Christians of the West were in communion with the Christians in the East. The Church was undivided. The worship services of Christians in Scotland, Ireland, England and Continental Europe were as Orthodox as those in Constantinople. In the first thousand years of Christendom all the far-flung churches that were in communion with the Five Historic Patriarchates (Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome) were Orthodox. When the Latin or Roman Church separated itself from the unity of the Orthodox Church in A.D. 1054, the ancient Western liturgy that was used in England and the Western Europe was lost to the Church.

In the Nineteenth Century, Westerners seeking the apostolic purity of the ancient, unchanging Orthodox Faith and Liturgy approached the Church. They sought to restore their own familiar and theologically Orthodox liturgical forms and hymnody, which had been used before the Great Schism.

In 1903, The Holy Synod of Moscow responded by approving the restored form of the ancient Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great. The Liturgy of St. Tikhon, based on the Book of Common Prayer, was produced by the Church in Moscow in response to Episcopalians who wished to convert to Orthodoxy.

Later the Patriarch of Antioch established the Western Rite Vicariate for North America. The purpose of the Western Rite is to provide a home in the Orthodox Church for western people of non-Byzantine cultural and religious backgrounds and to be a witness to the Catholicity of the Orthodox Church to her Byzantine Rite people, priests and theologians.

Although relatively new and few in numbers, Western Rite Orthodoxy now exists throughout the world, in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. It is an excellent missionary outreach those coming to the Eastern Orthodox Faith from a western ethos. It stands as a beacon to the unchanging and eternal truth of Jesus Christ.