St. George Melkite Greek-Catholic Church
1620 Bell Street · POB 660425 · Sacramento, CA 95866 · (916) 920-2900

THE MELKITE GREEK-CATHOLIC CHURCH

The Christian Church was born in the Holy Land — what we call the Middle East today. As the church spread, it took on the ways of the nations that accepted it. In America, most Christian churches are Western because their roots are in Western Europe, and their ways reflect the culture of the Western Europeans who founded them.

Some American churches, including ours, were started by people from Eastern Europe or the Middle East. They still keep the ways of the Holy Land: Jerusalem, where Christ founded His Church; Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians"; Damascus, where Saint Paul was converted; Tyre and Sidon, where the Lord healed the Syro-Phoenician woman. Because our ways reflect this Eastern culture, we are called an Eastern Church.

At the time of the Early Church, there were several rich cultures in the Middle East, and each of them gave rise to a different church tradition. The traditions of our church reflect the Greek or Byzantine culture, and so we are called Greek Catholics, or Byzantine Catholics (from Byzantium, the ancient name for Constantinople).

Greek Catholics in the Middle East were also called Melkite because they followed the faith of the Byzantine emperor (melek) in supporting the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon.

As Eastern Christians, we have a particular style of Christian living all our own. We especially stress:
  • A belief in our call to be divinized, "to become", as Saint Peter the Apostle says, "partakers of the divine nature"
  • Union with God through the Holy Mysteries
  • A public life of worship, fellowship, and service
  • A personal life of prayer, fasting, and sharing with others
As members of God's family, we belong to one another, and so we live an active Community Life as Church. Most importantly, we join one another in worship. Our style of worship in the Eastern Churches reflects the presence of the risen Christ among us in glory and joy. All the senses take part in our worship to express this glory. We see icons, vestments, candles; we smell incense and perfumes; we hear continual singing; we taste blessed foods; and, we use physical gestures such as bowing, prostrating and crossing ourselves to express our wonder at the glory of God.

Another important aspect of our Community Life is our joy in each other's company, expressed in the frequent meals and social times we share. Finally, we open ourselves to support one another in the trials of daily life. In this way, the unity we celebrate at the Eucharist is lived out day by day.

Our beliefs and practices date from the earliest days of Christianity in the Holy Land. By continuing to observe them, we maintain a living connection with the early Church. We cherish our Tradition as a continuous stream flowing from the first Christians to us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.