St. Nicholas Orthodox Church


64 Forrester Street
Salem, MA 01970

(978) 744-5869




Divine Liturgy:
Sunday mornings at 10:00AM


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are your services in English?


  • I'm not Orthdox. Am I allowed to be here?

    Yes! Our doors are open to all. When our Lord was calling His Apostles, they asked Jesus where he was staying. “Come and see!” was the Master’s reply to those who wished to see His dwelling place (John 1:39), and that is our reply to the whole world! While you are here, join us as we worship. Feel free to sing the responses, as you are able. You will find that the melodies for “Amen” and “Lord have mercy” become familiar quite quickly! Service books are also available at the candle desk if you would like to follow along.

  • Are children welcome at the Liturgy?

    Absolutely. Orthodox worship appeals to ALL the senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and even smell. For children (and adults!) Orthodox worship is both exciting and involving. Also, children are welcome to both sing in the choir and assist during the Liturgy. And we have a Church School program, to deepen their understanding of God’s love. Read more.

  • Someone offered me a piece of bread. What should I do?

    Enjoy it! Holy Communion is offered only to Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves through fasting and repentance, and after receiving Communion, the Orthodox faithful often “return to earth” by eating bread that has been set aside with an earlier blessing. This bread is not the bread of communion, and it is often shared with others by Orthodox Christians as a sign of hospitality and love. If someone offers you a piece of blessed bread, they have recognized you as a visitor. We often say welcome with food in the Orthodox Church!

  • Who's in charge?

    The Head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ. There is no earthly head of the Church. However, the pastor of our parish is Father Theophan — you can easily spot an Orthodox priest by the large pectoral cross worn around his neck. Father is happy to answer any questions, and he is always eager to greet our visitors. Father Theophan works with the dedicated members of our Parish Council to make sure that our parish ministries are on track.

  • How does someone "become Orthodox"?

    We encourage all, but hurry none. Those who desire to become members of the Orthodox Church are received as “catechumens.” This is simply a word for those who are preparing through prayer and study to become Orthodox Christians. Father meets weekly with our catechumens over the course of several months, covering a series of topics related to Orthodox faith, history, and living. Since our parish is relatively small, these meetings are customized by Father according to the background of the catechumen.

  • Where are your restrooms?

    Downstairs, and so is our Social Hall! We host a coffee hour after the Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings. Please come and share a time of food and fellowship with us after worship.

  • I have more questions, what should I do?

    First, contact Father Theophan. You can also leave your contact information at the candle desk using the included card, and Father will reach out to you.

  • I’m not sure what to ask... any suggestions?

    There is a wonderful essay about visiting an Orthodox Church by Frederica Matthewes-Green, a well-known Orthodox writer, entitled “12 Things I Wish I’d Known.”



Orthodoxy first came to North America in 1794 through the efforts of holy missionaries sent by the Russian Orthodox Church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who lived in Alaska. In time, Orthodox missionary parishes spread throughout North America. In 1970, the Church of Russia granted independence to its missionary parishes here in America, giving birth to the the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) - the newest sister in the world-wide communion of Orthodox Churches.


St. Nicholas parish was founded in Salem in 1901 by immigrants from Galicia (now part of western Ukraine, "roughly") and became part of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1908. In 1970, alongside hundreds of other parishes across the country, St. Nicholas became part of the newly established Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Like all churches in the OCA, we are now entrusted with the responsibility to spread the Gospel of Christ throughout the American lands.


Key Dates


Orthodoxy arrives in North America via Alaska


Saint Nicholas was founded by Galician immigrants.


Saint Nicholas was received into the Russian Orthodox Church.


Saint Nicholas becomes part of the newly established Orthodox Church in America (OCA).


Life in the Spirit

At the center of our life is the worship of the One God and Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is our source and our goal. Orthodox worship reaches its high point each Sunday at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. At this service, the body and blood of Christ (the Eucharist) is offered to all Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves. For us, the Divine Liturgy is our foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the fullest experience of the joyous Heavenly banquet presently possible.


Alongside our liturgical life, we offer Christian education for children and adults. Our Church School program for the children and youth of the parish runs from September to June each year, and for adults we have offered a range of classes recently: Bible studies, book discussions, as well as topics connected to Orthodox worship, prayer, and history. Classes are also offered for those who seek to be received into the Orthodox Church.


An important ministry in the Orthodox Church is the ministry of singing. Orthodox worship is conducted through continuous chant and song. Plus, we have no instruments in church  —  we sing a capella! And so our choir members are vital participants in the life of worship.

We have an active ministry to the elderly and homebound. Our sewing guild prepares magnificent vestments and altar cloths. Parish bakers assist with our weekly needs at St Nicholas as well as with seasonal fundraisers. And we have a dedicated and involved parish council. Lay leadership at St Nicholas is a valued part of parish life!

And keeping before us the words of our Lord concerning ministry to the “least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:40), we strive each year to deepen our involvement in ministries at the local, regional, and national levels. And just as we ask our parishioners to give a first portion their income to the church, the church itself gives a first portion of its income to charitable causes in Salem, the North Shore, and around the world.