It must be clearly understood that Holy Orthodoxy is a Christian Faith, following the teachings of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. The faithful within the Orthodox Church believe with love in their souls and hearts that we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ, His living Church, and we are in the company of innumerable saints, martyrs, prophets, apostles, holy fathers, ascetics, and choirs of holy angels - amazing thought! -and also the Most holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, who bore Christ Our Lord at His birth. While we still live on earth, whatever our status, whatever our occupation, we are citizens together with them of the Kingdom of God.Our Holy Orthodox Church listens to and adheres to Holy Scripture (both of the Old and New Testament), which is at the heart of the living Church. As we study and adhere to the teachings of Scripture, a confident peace descends upon us and we know with a wonderful certainty that God is guiding, helping, and saving us. We, as Orthodox Christians, also turn with great devotion to the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church, which help and guide us in fully understanding what we have listened to or had read from the Holy Scriptures. We do not seek to interpret the Holy Scriptures on our own, however, turning to our parish priest to guide us along the path of belief shown us by the Holy Fathers.The faithful of the Holy Orthodox Church participates also in the very Body and Blood of Our Savior, a ceremony called Holy Communion and often referred to as the Holy Mysteries. We believe that when we all partake of these Holy Mysteries we partake of His divine nature, sharing in His victory over sin and setting foot on the spiritual path which leads to Christ-likeness.We believe as an Orthodox Church in the Creed (The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed), which has been presented above. Close to two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and founded the Church through His apostles and disciples for the salvation of men. The teachings of the apostles and the Church spread far in the years which followed; many Churches were founded, but all were united in Faith, worship and partaking of the sacraments, also known as the Holy Mysteries of the Church.To the group of Churches founded by the apostles themselves belong the five Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome. The Church of Constantinople was founded by St. Andrew, the Church of Alexandria by St. Mark, the Church of Antioch by St. Paul, the Church of Jersusalem by St. Peter and St. James, and the Church of Rome by St. Peter and St. Paul. Those founded in later years through the missionary activity of the first Churches were the Churches of Sinai, Russia, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania and many more.All of these Churches are independent in their administration, yet they are in full communion with one another, with the exception of the Church of Rome, which separated in the year 1054. In Faith, doctrine, apostolic Tradition, sacraments, liturgies and services they are exactly alike. Regardless of the language of each, they exist in fellowship and together constitute and call themselves the Orthodox Church.The Faith and doctrines of the Church can be found in the Holy Scriptures, the writings of the Church Fathers and the canons and decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, the Savior, and the Son begotten of the same substance of the Father before all ages. He is also truly man, like us in all respects except sin. We believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, this being confirmed by the Second Ecumenical Council in the words used in the Symbol of Faith: "And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father…" The Orthodox worship God in Trinity, and honor and venerate the saints and ask their intercession before God. Of the saints, the Mother of God holds a special place because of the supreme grace and call she received from God. According to the canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, we venerate the sacred icons and relics not in themselves but as representations of God and the saints.We recognize seven sacraments and consider them to be holy: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion), Confession, Ordination, Marriage and Holy Unction. Holy Baptism and Holy Chrismation (Confirmation) are the means of entrance for the Christian into the Church. For without dying to the old man and putting on the new in Holy Baptism, we cannot receive the inheritance of the Kingdom which is Christ restored to us. With Holy Chrismation, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit of God in the form of a dove alighted on Christ, we receive Him in the Holy Chrism, becoming partakers of the fullness of Christ. In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we partake of the true Body and precious Blood of Christ, in the form of bread and wine, for the remission of sins and for life eternal. As it is written: "Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have not life in you." In Holy Confession we receive forgiveness of the sins we commit after Holy Baptism if we truly repent of them. The foregoing three sacraments are essential for the life of all Christians.In regards to Holy Ordination: by the laying-on of hands of a canonical bishop, divine grace descends upon him who is being ordained. This basic sacrament has provided uninterrupted succession to the Orthodox clergy from the holy apostles and the establishment of the Church on the day of Pentecost. Divine grace sanctifies the union of two people in Holy Matrimony as Christ blessed the wedding at Cana by His presence and performance of His first public miracle. Infirmities of the body and soul are healed through the sacrament of Holy Unction.These, briefly, are some characteristics of the beliefs of the Holy Orthodox Church. The Church is one because our Lord Jesus Christ founded only one Church. It is holy through the sanctification of its Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, and the operation of the Holy Spirit. It is catholic in that it is universal, and knows no limitations of place or time. It is apostolic because it was founded by the holy apostles. This is the Holy Orthodox Church - the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we all love and witness!Apostolic succession, in Christianity, the teaching that bishops represent a direct, uninterrupted line of continuity from the Apostles of Jesus Christ. According to this teaching, bishops possess certain special powers handed down to them from the Apostles; these consist primarily of the right to confirm church members, to ordain priests, to consecrate other bishops, and to rule over the clergy and church members in their diocese (an area made up of several congregations). The origins of the doctrine are obscure, and the New Testament records are variously interpreted. Those who accept apostolic succession as necessary for a valid ministry argue that it was necessary for Christ to establish a ministry to carry out his work and that he commissioned his Apostles to do this (Matthew 28:19–20). The Apostles in turn consecrated others to assist them and to carry on the work. Supporters of the doctrine also argue that evidence indicates that the doctrine was accepted in the very early church. About AD 95 Clement, bishop of Rome, in his letter to the church in Corinth (First Letter of Clement), expressed the view that bishops succeeded the Apostles. A number of Christian churches believe that the apostolic succession and church government based on bishops are unnecessary for a valid ministry. They argue that the New Testament gives no clear direction concerning the ministry, that various types of ministers existed in the early church, that the apostolic succession cannot be established historically, and that true succession is spiritual and doctrinal rather than ritualistic. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholic, Swedish Lutheran, and Anglican churches accept the doctrine of apostolic succession and believe that the only valid ministry is based on bishops whose office has descended from the Apostles. This does not mean, however, that each of these groups necessarily accepts the ministries of the other groups as valid. Roman Catholics, for example, generally regard the ministry of the Eastern Orthodox churches as valid but do not accept the Anglican ministry. Some Anglicans, on the other hand, consider episcopacy necessary to the “well-being” but not to the “being” of the church; therefore, they not only accept the ministries of the other groups as valid but also have entered into close associations with Protestant groups that do not accept apostolic succession.