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Iconography, architecture highlight tours at Orthodox Christian church in Oklahoma City

Guided church tours will be offered during the annual St. Elijah Food Festival set for Nov. 2-3 at St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, 15000 N May, Oklahoma City.
by Carla Hinton Modified: October 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm •  Published: October 27, 2012

It is the nave or sanctuary, rich with iconography, vibrant stained-glass windows and other visual symbols of faith, where many visitors become captivated, Davis said.

He said iconography is a high priority whenever an Orthodox church is built, and most of St. Elijah's icons are found in its nave.

“These images make these people who are so important to us present to us,” he said. “They have special significance for the Orthodox Church. They are not just pictures.”

The eye-catching iconography in the church's dome — a symbol of Christ in the heavens — takes center stage, but other iconography, including an icon of the church's patron St. Elijah, also is featured prominently.

“We say icons are written not painted, because they are a visual word,” Davis said.

He said ancient churches were covered with iconography — “there was no white space” — because it was the church's way to depict biblical history and the individuals important in the history of the church.

“When we look around in the church, we see our great-, great-, great-grandfathers of the faith who committed these things down to us,” Davis said, looking around the large room. “We remember them this way, and it's also a way for us to share them with others.”

Sharing history

Davis said visitors also will visit the church's St. George's Chapel, which includes many items from the church's former church building.

He said the chapel is set up similar to the church's much smaller former home, with the same pews and altar.

“It's a nostalgic setting because it has furnishings from the previous church building,” Davis said.

He said the chapel, which seats about 80 people, is often the site of various ceremonies because of the historic nature of many of the items there, such as a baptismal font.

“We will talk about how it (chapel) fits in the history of the church.”

Davis said he is one of about 10 people who will give the guided tours of the church over the two days of the festival.

He said each person will end up giving five or six tours.

“We're glad to be able to share our church with the community,” Davis said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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