The Eastern Orthodox Church operates independently from the Orthodox Church of America. The assembly of canonical bishops, made up of more than fifty members, is working slowly to address jurisdictional concerns. Joint statements on recent issues have been issued by the Assembly of Canonical Bishops. The Church of the East and the Orthodox Church of America share many common practices and beliefs. Let us look at what these practices mean for the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of America.
American Orthodox Catholic Church
While the membership of the American Orthodox Catholic Church is unknown, there are parishes in several midwestern and western states. In the 1970s, the church counted as its member Abp. Bartholomew Cunningham, noted for his efforts to increase Orthodoxy among Americans and for his contacts with ethnic Orthodox hierarchs. The church is organized into the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Berkeley, which both follow the Old Calendar. The church traces its episcopal orders back to the independent Old Calendar Greek Archbishop Christopher Contogeorge and the Albanian Archbishop Theophan Noli.
In 1932, Archbishop Aftimios added two more Bishops, Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians and Ignatius (Nichols) for Western Rite groups. The newly organized Church struggled to find congregations to accommodate its Bishops. This, along with Russian hostility, led to significant challenges to the fledgling Church. It was also unable to gain recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarch, who refused to recognize the new church.
The American Orthodox Catholic Church is a religious community that accepts the teachings of seven ecumenical councils. Its diocese is comprised of two missions: St. Francis of Assisi Orthodox Mission in Michigan, and Queen of Peace Orthodox Center in Washington. Women are also accepted into the ministry and are often ordained as deacons. However, the organization has a long way to go to become a full-fledged Orthodox Catholic Church.
Archbishop Aftimios and his wife Nicolai were married in April 1933, violating canon laws and Orthodox tradition. In June of that year, the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Catholic Church approved the marriage and a statement defending it. The marriage became a divisive issue, which the Orthodox Church has since tried to resolve. However, the controversy continues to linger.
The Albanian Orthodox Diocese in America was formed in 1950 and is a member of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Americas. The church was founded by the St. George Monastery on March 23, 1982. As of 2001, it had two parishes, 1,300 members and two priests. These congregations share the same faith as the American Orthodox Catholic Church, but have their own separate priests.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the United States is located in New York City. The eparchy is part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and its current primate is Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. It is one of the largest Greek Orthodox eparches in the world, and is one of the most prominent in the United States.
The Archdiocese’s problems are not new. In the 1970s, the Archdiocese faced a serious crisis with the Greek community in New York. Archbishop Iakovos made bold recommendations to the Clergy-Laity Congress that included introducing English during Sunday liturgy. He also suggested making decisions on practical matters without consulting the Patriarchate.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a mission. It aims to preach and teach the Orthodox Christian faith to all people living in the United States. Through Divine Worship, preaching, and teaching, the Archdiocese seeks to sanctify and build the spiritual life of its faithful. The Archdiocese follows the guidelines of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. If you are searching for an Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, you’ve come to the right place.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America was first formed in 1922. Before this, the Orthodox Church of America was under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, it was separated in 1996 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, leaving the Church of America alone. Its leadership of the church in the United States was under the control of the Archdiocese of North and South America.
The Archdiocese of North and South America is home to the Holy Cross School of Theology and Hellenic College, which are two of the largest and most important Greek Orthodox colleges in the United States. The Holy Cross School of Theology is an academic institution that educates seminarians from other jurisdictions. It is a member of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.