Preparing for Easter
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St. George Greek Orthodox Church to conclude Easter observance Sunday

DOWNEY —St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 10830 Downey Ave., will conclude a week of Easter services this Sunday.

Easter is celebrated later than other religions as the Eastern Orthodox church uses the Julian calendar while most western churches use the Gregorian calendar, thus the observance falls on different dates each year, explains Father John Constantine, pastor of the 200-family Downey congregation since 2001.

Services took place Tuesday and Wednesday and continue at 7 p.m. Thursday at which time the 12 Gospels are read.

There are Good Friday services at 3 and 7 p.m., resurrection services at 10 a.m. and midnight Saturday, followed by Easter Sunday services at 11 a.m., Constantine said.

On Friday, eight men will carry a heavy wooden structure signifying the tomb of Christ. They must carry it around the congregation, seated in the nave of the church, three times, said congregation council president Georgia Covell.

“It’s a heavy burden we share with the burden of Jesus carrying the cross,” she said.

Constantine said his favorite part of Easter Week is the Saturday morning resurrection service when he comes out of the sanctuary and announces the news that Christ has risen. He then throws leaves or floral materials to the congregation. It is a joyful time and there is singing, he added.

The sanctuary or altar area is separated from the nave (the main seating areas) by two ornately decorated gates. It contains the holy table, also representing the tomb of Christ.

The walls are adorned with icons, which are stylized painting of saints and members of the holy family. Only the clergy or those taking part in the service may enter the sanctuary, Constantine said.

Covell noted that the church interior Saturday morning will be decorated with flowers. People bring pots and pans and bang on them when they hear the announcement, Covell added.

The parish, covering most of Downey and the surrounding area, was founded in 1982 by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. The current church was erected in 2002 and consecrated in 2010.

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