Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

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Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York City

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) of America.


Before the establishment of a Greek Archdiocese in the Western Hemisphere there were numerous communities of Greek Orthodox Christians. The first Greek Orthodox community in the Americas was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by a small colony of Greek merchants. History also records that on June 26, 1768, the first Greek colonists landed at St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America. The first permanent community was founded in New York City in 1892, today’s Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the See of the Archbishop of America.

In 1918, the Church of Greece received authority over the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America was incorporated in 1921 and officially recognized by the State of New York in 1922. In 1922, Patriarch Meletius IV transferred the archdiocese back to the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople.

In 1996, the one Archdiocese was split by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dividing the administration of the two continents into four parts (America, Canada, Central America, and South America) and leaving only the territory of the United States for the Archdiocese of America.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Jurisdiction Constantinople
Diocese type Archdiocese
Founded 1921
Current bishop Abp. Elpidophoros
See(s) New York
Headquarters New York, New York
Territory United States
Liturgical language(s) English, Greek
Musical tradition Byzantine Chant
Calendar Revised Julian
Population estimate 440,000 to 2,000,000
Official website Greek Archdiocese

Recent History

In recent years, there has been much tension between the Archdiocese and the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, especially regarding the level of autonomy the former has with regard to the latter. One of the important incidents in this ongoing tension was the allegedly forced retirement in 1996 of Archbishop Iakovos after his leadership during the Ligonier Meeting in 1994, where many of the Orthodox hierarchs in America came together to begin the formation of a unified Orthodox Church of America. Iakovos was replaced with Archbishop Spyridon, whose 'tempestuous' tenure as archbishop lasted only 3 years, seeing his allegedly forced retirement in 1999 and replacement by Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis).

A strong movement of laity in the Archdiocese has been engaged in the tensions with Constantinople, as well, especially a particular group known as Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), which includes some of the wealthiest members of the Archdiocese. In 2004, 35 plaintiffs unsuccessfully sued Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek Archdiocese in an attempt to force it to invalidate the 2003 charter granted by Constantinople; their lawsuit stated that the Greek hierarchy had imposed the rewritten charter without approval from delegates at the national Clergy-Laity Congress, violating the terms of the 1978 charter. The main aim of the suit was to attempt to gain more autonomy from the Church of Constantinople, especially regarding the choice of the American Archdiocese's primate.

The suit met with condemnation by the Greek hierarchy in America, which stated that the plaintiffs had "sued Christ Himself" (a quote from Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago). It was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, on grounds that the Greek Archdiocese was hierarchical and therefore acting within its proper bounds, that the courts did not have the authority to intervene in such matters.

This conflict is far from over, and OCL continues to organize resistance to what it regards as papal pretensions on the part of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

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The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is composed of an Archdiocesan District (New York City) and eight metropolises: New Jersey, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Boston and Denver. It is governed by the Archbishop and the Eparchial Synod of Bishops. The Synod of Bishops is headed by the archbishop and comprised of the bishops who oversee the ministry of the metropolises. It has all the authority and responsibility which the Church canons provide for a provincial synod.

Seal of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

There are about 540 parishes, 800 priests and approximately 440,000 to 2 million faithful in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, depending on the source of reports and the counting method being used.[1] The number of parishes in the Greek Archdiocese rose by about 9% in the decade from 1990 to 2000, and membership growth has largely been in terms of existing members having children.[2]

The Archdiocese receives within its ranks and under its spiritual aegis and pastoral care Orthodox Christians, who either as individuals or as organized groups in Metropolises and Parishes have voluntarily come to it and which acknowledge the ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Archdiocese also includes 21 monastic communities, 17 of which were founded by Elder Ephraim (former abbot of Philotheou Monastery (Athos)). The largest of these is St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery (Florence, Arizona).

Additionally, one seminary is operated by the Greek Archdiocese, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, which educates not only Greek Archdiocese seminarians but also those from other jurisdictions, as well.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is also a member of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America which superseded SCOBA.

Archdiocesan structure

The Episcopacy

Diocesan bishops

Titular bishops

Archbishops of America

Former diocesan hierarchs

Former titular hierarchs

External links

Further Reading

  • Charles C. Moskos. Greek Americans, Struggle and Success. 2nd Ed.. Transaction Publishers, 1989. 204 pp. ISBN 9780887387784
  • Rev. George Pappaioannou. The Historical Development of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. In: F.K. Litsas (Ed.). A Companion to the Greek Orthodox Church. New York, N.Y.: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, 1984. (pp. 178-206).