I visited an Orthodox Church service with one of my friends, who are a member in the church. I was excited to learn about different ethnicity’s activities. The Orthodox Church comprises of many segments worldwide, with each geographically distinct body exercising self-governing measures. The ethnic designation of this church refers to the parish rules and regulations that govern members of a particular geographical location (Cai, 2010). During the first twenty minutes of the service, the church seemed to be in a noisy mode with people interacting and getting ready for the leaders to begin the sermon. Some people at the altar, however, were praying facing the standing icons in the front part of the church. This situation was amazing to me; it was my first time to gain familiarity with such practices. People were communicating in high tones; there were different groups discussing various issues or praying loudly.
There is only one Eucharistic service per Sunday in the Orthodox Church. Matins’ service, which is another one-hour long service, precedes the Eucharistic service. There is no break between the two services, and people are advised to be punctual. The members stand closely when communicating to each other, mostly in whispers. They tend to use many gestures when talking, some of which I cannot relate to as they are confined to their specific ethnic groups. People communicate in one common language as they touch each other; many believers in this church hold hands when talking to each other or during the prayer sessions.
The dressing code is unique as it reflects the religion aspects of the Orthodox Church. Most women dress in decent casual wear while men are dressed in suits. The clergy has long white robes that distinguish them from the rest of the congregation. These robes signify the strong orthodox cultural aspects. The members show a sense of theological and moral unity in their interactions, which distinguishes them from individuals from different ethnicities. The people have developed their own ethnic structure according to their ethnic beliefs. The dressing code among the members of the congregation shows a high level of the religion and ethnic beliefs.
The experience broadened my intercultural perception; the interaction nature of the members allowed me to learn and embrace cultural differences. Communication is an essential element in building relationships among members of a society (Cai, 2010). People communicate in English, which made it easy for me to understand. Some members, however, used different languages and gestures that were unfamiliar to me. I appreciated their general confessions activity, which is different from our denomination.
The Orthodox members talk to the priest and confess their sins, as they perceive him to be a spiritual being. This communication takes place in a confined area, and in low tones. I noticed a difference in their way of singing, especially the Nicene Creed. The members sing in high tones, but do not bow during the prayer.
The diverse experiences at the Orthodox Church gave me a different perception of how various ethnic groups conduct their activities. I was scared for the first thirty minutes, but got comfortable as I learned more about the church. The different communication skills enabled me to embrace the diversity in intercultural relations. People seemed to understand each other as they interacted by the use of both gestures and verbal communication skills. It is essential for an individual to interact with people from different ethnic groups to learn and appreciate their ways of communication.
Cai, D. A. (2010). Intercultural communication. Los Angeles, Calif: SAGE