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Behavior in church

An Orthodox church is a special place of Godís presence on earth. We must behave ourselves reverently in church, so as not to offend the dignity of the sacred place and not to call Godís wrath on ourselves. We should come 5-10 minutes before the service begins. Coming into church we must make the sign of the cross and bow. On entering a church, men are to remove their headwear. Women should cover their heads, and dress according to their sex, there must be no lipstick left on their lips. We must be dressed appropriately and neatly. We should not speak loudly, keep our hand in pockets, or chew the gum in church. We should not wander around needlessly in church.

We must put candles and venerate icons so that we do not interfere with other people praying in church. Any conversation should be restricted to the very minimum. You can greet your acquaintances briefly and postpone talking to them for a later time. Having come to church with children you must prevent them from running, misbehaving and laughing. A crying child who cannot be calmed down, should be taken out of church by the parent.

We can join the singing chorus very softly. If the entire parish is singing, we must prevent "loud cries." While in church one can be sitting only due to illness or extreme fatigue. One should not sit with his or her legs crossed. If all the praying people kneel, you should join them. It is prohibited to smoke on a church-porch. Animals or birds are not allowed in church.

No walking or talking is allowed during Gospel reading or when the Cherubic hymn is sung, as well as while Eucharistic Canon (from "The Symbol of Creed" to "Our Father") is read. During that time it is also advised to refrain from putting candles and venerating icons. One can correct a fellow parishioner only in a soft and delicate manner. It would be better not to make any remarks unless a person behaves like an impertinent hooligan. Finally we should stay in church till the end of service. You may leave earlier only due to bad health condition or if a very serious matter requires it.

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