Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is the sole jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch in the USA and Canada with exclusive jurisdiction over the Antiochian Orthodox faithful in those countries, though these faithful were originally cared for by the Church of Russia in America.
History of the Archdiocese
The first Orthodox bishop consecrated in North America, St. Raphael Hawaweeny, was consecrated by the Russian Orthodox Church in America to care for the Orthodox Arab faithful in the USA and Canada. Through his efforts, what is known today as the Antiochian Archdiocese came into being.
However, after the Bolshevik Revolution threw the Russian Orthodox Church and its faithful abroad into chaos, the Orthodox Arab faithful in North America, simultaneously shaken by the death of their beloved bishop St. Raphael, chose to come under the direct care of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Due to internal conflicts, however, the Antiochian Orthodox faithful in North America were divided between two archdioceses, those of New York and Toledo, generally representing those who were loyal to the Church of Antioch and the Church of Russia, respectively.
With the signing of the Articles of Reunification by Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) and Metropolitan Michael (Shaheen) in 1975, the two Antiochian Orthodox archdioceses were united as one Archdiocese of North America (now with its headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey). Metropolitan Philip became the primate and Metropolitan Michael became an auxiliary archbishop. Since then the Archdiocese has experienced rapid and significant growth through the conversion of a number of Evangelical Protestants (both individually and as congregations) and also through ongoing evangelization and the immigration of Orthodox Arabs from the Middle East.
The Archdiocese Today
Its current primate is Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), who has six other diocesan bishops assisting him in caring for the nine dioceses of the growing Archdiocese, which is the third largest Orthodox Christian jurisdiction in North America, having over 200 parishes and missions and, and estimates of the number of faithful range from about 85,000 to 500,000 depending on the counting method being used. The number of new Antiochian parishes in the decade between 1990 and 2000 rose by approximately 33%, and the primary membership growth in the Archdiocese has been from American converts. It also includes the Western Rite Vicariate, a group of about 20 parishes including roughly 10,000 faithful who worship according to the Western Rite.
On October 9, 2003 the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch granted the Archdiocese's request to be granted self-rule (as distinct from autonomy, and though the words have the same literal meaning in English, they are distinct in Arabic) to allow it to better govern itself, improve and increase its outreach efforts, internally organize itself into several dioceses, and progress further on the road to the administrative unity of the Orthodox Church in the Americas. Three new bishops were consecrated in December of 2004 to assist in the governance of the reorganized Archdiocese.
The Antiochian Archdiocese is also a member of SCOBA.
- Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of New York and the Archdiocesan District, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Worcester and New England
- Bishop Antoun (Khouri) of Miami and the Southeast
- Bishop Basil (Essey) of Wichita and Mid-America
- Bishop Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) of Los Angeles and the West, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest
- Bishop Thomas (Joseph) of Pittsburgh and the East
- Bishop Mark (Maymon) of Toledo and the Midwest
- Bishop Alexander (Mufarrij) of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York
Former hierarchs of the Archdiocese:
- Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) of New York (1936-1966), deceased
- Archbishop Michael (Shaheen) of Toledo (1958-1975), deceased
- Bishop Demetri (Khoury), auxiliary bishop for Toledo, retired