When deaths in their community occurred, the Albanians sometimes had to journey to a Syrian Orthodox [[priest]] in Lowell, Massachusetts, a great distance for many of them, as Greek Orthodox churches in the local areas sometimes would not perform funerals for those considered nationalist extremists. The death of the young man, Kristaq Dishnica, spurred the community toward forming their own church in New England. As their leader, the community picked [[ Theophan (Noli) of Durres|Fan Noli]]. As there wasn’t any Albanian clergy, Noli decided that God was calling him and he petitioned Abp. [[Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of New York|Platon]] of the Russian Mission to [[ordination|ordain]] him to the [[priest]]hood to serve the Albanian community. With Abp. Platon’s consent, Fan Noli was ordained on [[March 18]], 1908, after receiving [[monasticism|monastic]] [[tonsure]] with his birth name name Theophan.
Fr. Noli, having already prepared an Albanian translation of the Liturgy, served his first liturgy in Albanian on [[March 22]], 1908 in Boston, Massachusetts. While Albania had been in the sphere of the Byzantine empire, the official liturgical language was Greek, although many services such as baptisms and funerals were conducted in Albanian. Later, under the Ottoman Turks,
and the teaching of Albanian was not allowed by the Turkish government. The liturgy in Boston thus became a cornerstone of an Albanian renaissance. Ten years later, the Albanian Orthodox community had grown, so that Bp. [[Alexander (Nemolovsky) of Brussels|Alexander]], the ruling bishop of the Russian Mission, raised Fr. Noli to the rank of mitred [[archimandrite]] and appointed him on [[March 24]], 1918 administrator of the Albanian Orthodox Mission in America.
Fr. Noli took an active part in obtaining world political interest for
the independent Albania including Albania’s recognition by the League of Nations. Active in the affairs of the independent nation of Albania, he left the United States in the early 1920s. In Albania, Fr. Noli was consecrated bishop and named to lead the newly-declared Orthodox [[Church of Albania]], as the [[Archbishop]] of Korca and [[Metropolitan]] of Durres. Also active politically, Metr. Noli was appointed Foreign Minister of the Albania.
After about six months in office as Prime Minister he was forced to flee due to a coup led by future king Ahmed Bey Zogu, leave Albania, and take up residence in Germany. Metr. Noli eventually returned to the United States in 1932 as a permanent resident and reassumed leadership of the American [[diocese]]. He directed the activities of diocese through World War II. As early as the 1930s the diocese and Metr. Theofan recognized the need to serve the young English speaking generation. As he had done with Albanian translations, he produced translations of the services into English to support introduction of English into the parishes.
In the United States he led in discussions with Metr. [[Leonty (Turkevich) of New York|Leonty]] of the Metropolia on the need for a single Orthodox jurisdiction in America. It was left, however, to his successor to fulfill the idea of joining into a single jurisdiction. After Metr. Noli’s death on [[March 13]], 1965, without a diocesan nomination, Fr. Steven Lasko was consecrated bishop for the Albanian diocese by the communist-influenced Synod of the Church of Albania. The Church of Albania had never claimed any jurisdiction in North America.