The Russian Orthodox Church in America

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The Orthodox Church in America has a rich heritage. It was founded upon the devotion of immigrants from Greece, Russia and other lands who came here seeking freedom and opportunity.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) has a substantial presence in the United States, boasting an estimated membership of 480,000. Yet recent research has revealed that its adherents are growing increasingly disillusioned with social and demographic change in this country.


The Russian Orthodox Church in America, with its roots in Constantinople and later New York City, was originally formed to serve Russian immigrants. Early parishes included Worcester and Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Despite its spiritual authority, the Church was challenged by political leaders who sought to undermine its authority. Emigres from its fold brought their traditions with them as they moved away.

In the 18th century, many seminaries were established to foster academic learning. Unfortunately, this effort often led to in error.

But the Russian Church had hope. Throughout the 19th century, she experienced an upsurge in religious interest among intellectuals and an undogmatic desire to pursue a spiritual path.


Worship in the Orthodox Church is an intensely personal and sacred experience. It unites all members of the Church, guided by a synod of bishops.

Though customized to the needs of each congregation, Services follow a prescribed order and contain many elements that have remained constant throughout Christian history. These include chants, hymns, readings and responses.

The worship service provides an opportunity for people from various ethnic backgrounds to come together in worship of God and gain a deeper appreciation for Orthodox faith and traditions.


At Holy Cross, students receive an academically challenging education that blends faith, learning and service. This is done within a community rooted in prayer, shared Christian values and Orthodoxy’s rich heritage.

Priests are the spiritual leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and must complete extensive training before being ordained to the priesthood. This includes earning a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, three years of seminary study, as well as job shadowing with an existing priest while they perform sacraments and spread faith.

Patriarch Kirill, like his predecessor Filaret (Drozdov), is a fiercely dedicated leader who puts the needs of his Church first. He has carefully formulated Church policy in a way that avoids extreme views and fosters unity between believers and non-believers alike.


The Russian Orthodox Church, like all Orthodox churches, has the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ among peoples of every nation. This has been the driving force behind their work for two thousand years.

The church has a significant presence in sub-Saharan Africa, where large numbers of Orthodox Christians are now found across Kenya and Uganda. Additionally, it has an established history working in Asia – particularly China and the Philippines.


The Orthodox Church holds that war is a sin. It forbids priests from becoming combatants or soldiers, and any priest who kills another person violates his ordination.

Moreover, the Orthodox Church follows a variety of traditions and regulations. One such practice is consecration – wherein a priest invokes the Holy Spirit to transform bread and wine into physical representations of Jesus’ body and blood.

The Orthodox Church consists of multiple autocephalous and autonomous synods, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as its head. Some schismatic churches do not recognize any other orthodox bodies; one example being True Orthodoxy which rejects both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all other orthodox churches while adhering to an outdated Julian calendar system.

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