The central section of the temple is called the nave. It corresponds to the Hekhal of the Old Testament temple–the Holy Place–and represents the world redeemed by Christ Jesus. It is here that the faithful gather to pray and it is here that the bishop is vested in the midst of the faithful.

Bema and Solea
The ambo was a kind of stage that historically arose in the midst of the nave which the deacon ascended to proclaim the Gospel and intone the litanies. The solea was a walkway that lead from the sanctuary out to the ambo. Over time, the solea shortened so that it became today’s small area outside the iconostas. In the middle of the solea, outside the holy doors, the deacon proclaims the Gospel. This area is called the bema. As the laity do not ascend the solea, many churches including St. Sophia’s place icons out in the nave, such as the one on the tetrapod, for the faithful to venerate.
Our bema has a beautiful and portable stand, carved and decorated in the same style as our iconostas. When not in use, the stand is against the wall behind the south deacon’s door.

Kathedra and Tetrapod
In the front center of the nave is an area called the kathedra. At hierarchical divine services, it is at the kathedra where the bishop presides and is vested, hence the area’s name. The tetrapod is a table which stands in the kathedra.
Our patronal icon or an appropriate festal icon is set out on the tetrapod for veneration. Likewise, the Gospel is brought out to the kathedra for veneration during matins.

In the preface to the American edition of his book The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite, Hugh Wybrew explained one distinctive part of the American church:

In North America Orthodox liturgical practice has changed in a number of important respects in recent decades, and the setting in which the Liturgy is celebrated has been modified, too. In most Orthodox churches, of whatever national background, the congregation is provided with pews. Only in more traditionalist Russian parishes, and parishes made up of converts to Orthodoxy zealous for tradition, does the congregation still stand throughout the service.

The same is true by-and-large for Eastern Catholic churches in the United States, including St. Sophia’s, which does have pews.

On the ceiling over the nave, a series of icons are traditionally seen. St. Sophia’s, being a mission parish, has not yet undertaken this work, though we look forward to doing so.
At the highest point of the traditionally domed ceiling is the Pantokrator, an icon of Christ “Ruler of the All,” which proclaims the ultimate victory of love. By placing Christ over and above us, in the center of the church, we give Him the ultimate honor of being the center of our worship and ruler of our lives.
Around the Pantokrator icon are icons of the angels. These icons include the cherubim and six-winged seraphim and might include the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:10).” Beside the angels are usually icons of St. John the Baptist and the Holy Theotokos.
Outside the angels will often be prophets and ancestors in the faith such as Samuel, Daniel, Habbakuk, Isaiah, David, Moses, Jacob, Malachi, Hosea, Jeremiah, Micah, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Ruth and Boaz, Elizabeth and Zachary, or Joachim and Anna. While the same general categories can be seen and strict adherence to iconographic tradition is used, the shape and size of the nave, the church’s patronage and interests, their budget and time allotted for iconography, and the iconographer together make the icons seen at every church unique.