Genuine Greek Orthodox Church of America
The Genuine Greek Orthodox Church of America is the largest and oldest Old Calendarist church in North America.
The American Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Church of America is an autonomous diocese of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece (GOC). It is also known as the Hellenic Orthodox Traditionalist Church of America, or simply as the Greek Old Calendarist Church.
Prior to the establishment of this diocese, there were still several independent Greek parishes in North America that had not been regularized by Archbishop Athenagoras, who had been going from parish to parish for several years, bringing independents into the fold of the Greek Archdiocese. These independent parishes sometimes looked to Greece for priests, and sometimes turned to vagante bishops such as Christopher Contogeorge. The situation in general in the 1930's and 40's was one of ecclesiastical confusion, and Old Calendarism per se could be seen in some cases as a side effect of the parish remaining independent rather than as a purely idealogical position.
Arrival of Archimandrite Petros
In 1951, Archimandrite Petros (Astyfides) arrived in New York at the invitation of Arsenios Saltas, whom he understood to be the Greek Old Calendarist bishop of America. Soon learning that this was not the case, Archimandrite Petros resolved to return to Greece. However, two women in Queens persuaded him to begin services for them, and by 1954 Saint Markella's Cathedral was established.
Archimandrite Petros began to gather various independent parishes until a diocese was formed. During this time, he was under the Metropolia and then the ROCOR. Two ROCOR bishops--Seraphim and Leonty--consecrated him to the episcopacy in November 1962. This consecration was not technically canonical, as it was done in secret; however, by 1969 the ROCOR had recognized the necessity of this and other Old Calendarist consecrations, and recognized the Greek Old Calendarist bishops. At this time, Metropolitan Petros joined with the Synod in Greece officially.
Dispute over Grace
In 1974, the Synod of the Greek Old Calendarist Church reiterated its belief that the New Calendar Church was schismatic and devoid of grace. Metropolitan Petros was opposed to this decision and asked the ROCOR bishops what to do, since they had consecrated him, and his consecration certificate stated that he would defer to the Synod if any question arose. While this may seem a simplistic reasoning, the Metropolitan was concerned about keeping his pledge.
By not signing the declaration, Metropolitan Petros was forced out of the Synod of the GOC, and as a result the Metropolis of North and South America passed first to Metropolitan Anthony and then Archimandrite Paisios (Loulourgas). The later was eventually consecrated a bishop in 1979 and took his Cathedral seat at Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Queens. From this point on he was the bishop of the Metropolis.
Reunion in 1985
In 1985, Metropolitan Petros began talks with the Synod culminating in his return to the Synod. He was given a title of Metropolitan of Astoria, which was irregular since Metropolitan Paisios, the Metropolitan of North and South America, resided down the street. Nevertheless, this was an attempt to find peace in the church, which lasted until Metropolitan Paisios left the Synod again in 1995 to join the Lamian Synod, and then from it the Athanasian Synod, and finally found himself joining the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1998. From 1995 on, Metropolitan Petros can be considered as the Metropolitan of North and South America.
Ascension of Metropolitan Pavlos
In 1997, Metropolitan Petros reposed, and in 1998 his grandnephew, Archimandrite Pavlos (Stratigeas) was elected as the Metropolitan of North and South America. He was installed in March 1998. In 2000, Archimandrite Christodoulos was consecrated titular Bishop of Theopoulis to assist Metropolitan Pavlos.
In February 2006, Metropolitan Pavlos suffered a stroke and was incapacitated. The Archbishop became locum tenens and at present no move is being made until the extent of Metropolitan Pavlos's recovery is known. As of December 2006, there has been tremendous progress in Metropolitan Pavlos's recovery.
Currently there are 20 parishes and missions and 4 monastic communities in the U.S, and 6 parish and missions and 1 convent in Canada.