"We are the temple of the living God..." (II Cor. 6:16) It is exactly this conviction and experience that our Orthodox Church architecture wishes to convey.
We have spent several years working to obtain approval from the City of Saratoga to build our proposed Orthodox Temple – a beautiful and functional sanctuary to replace our temporary chapel. We have faced many unexpected challenges in the process, but with God’s help we persevere and are getting close to obtaining approval.
Our architects, Paul Bunton and Samer Kawar of BC|A in Fremont, have designed for us a beautiful structure that reflects the traditional styles of Byzantine architecture from Orthodox Serbia, but also echoes the traditional California Mission style, so prevalent in our area.
The interior design of the building will be true to the teachings of our Faith. To better understand and appreciate that aspect, one must understand the functions it provides to the ones who are using it.
Our church will consist of three parts: Narthex, Nave, and Sanctuary.
The entrance of the church is the Narthex. This is where the Orthodox Christian prepares for worship by making offerings and lighting candles as a symbol of prayer and confessing that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
The Nave is the area where the parishioners participate in the services. The arched ceiling is symbolic of the truth that God is eternal. It serves to bring a little of heaven down to earth. The design, as well as, the traditional adornment of the interior of our church is based on this concept. Our church will include a dome in which there will be a large icon of Jesus Christ the Pantocrator (Lord of All). Unlike the pointed arches which point to God far up in the heavens, the dome gives the impression that in the Kingdom of God, and in the Church, Christ "unites all things in himself, things in heaven and things on earth," (Ephesians 1:10) As our eyes descend from the ceiling we see on each side Saints of the Church which remind us that when we worship, we do so in the Community of the Saints.
Separating the Sanctuary (Holy Altar) from the Nave is the Iconostas (icon Screen) which symbolized the curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem that separated the people from the Holy of Holies. Between the Iconostas and the parishioners is an area called the Solea. It is an open area (sometimes slightly elevated above the floor of the Nave) where baptisms, weddings and other sacraments are performed. The holiest place in the church is located behind the iconostas. Through the Royal Entrance one will see the Holy Altar Table. It represents the Heavenly Banquet Table in the Kingdom of God. Above the Holy Altar the icon of the Mother of God will be located in the Apse (half dome). This icon of the Virgin Mary with her arms outstretched and Christ appearing within her is called the "Platytera." The Virgin Mary is the example for the entire assembly of believers who choose to live Christ-centered lives.
The construction of a proper sanctuary for our Liturgical Services is essential for our spiritual growth. We are committed to using our time, talents and treasures to reach this ultimate goal which will truly glorify God. We are given strength by the words of St. Paul who said, "...stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).