Timeline of Church History (Post-Communist Era (1991-Present))
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The History of the Church is a vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. Orthodox Christians are defined significantly by their continuity with all those who have gone before, those who first received and preached the truth of Jesus Christ to the world, those who helped to formulate the expression and worship of our faith, and those who continue to move forward in the unchanging yet ever-dynamic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Post-Communist era (1991-Present)
- 1991 Soviet Union collapses, ending Cold War; representatives of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches meet in Chambesy, Switzerland, discussing relations with World Council of Churches; Ruthenian Byzantine rite Catholic Church in Transcarpathia was restored as a separate entity from Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church based in Galicia, having about 23% of Transcarpathia's parishes compared to 60% of the Orthodox total there; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe is created; death of Episcopal priest Robert Elwin Terwilliger, especially known for his efforts to reunite Anglican and Orthodox Christians, having served on the Episcopal Church's Council on Eastern Churches (1969-91), and the International Anglican Theological Commission for Joint Doctrinal Discussion with the Orthodox Churches (1971-91).
- 1992 Civil war begins in former Yugoslavia; synaxis of primates of Orthodox churches in Constantinople; Patriarch Diodoros I of Jerusalem presented a list of firm declarations of Orthodox convictions of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which was entered into the minutes of the assembly of Orthodox leaders at the Phanar on the Sunday of Orthodoxy; Orthodox-Reformed dialogue in Kappel-am-Albis, Switzerland issues Agreed Statement on the Holy Trinity; Romanian Orthodox Church canonizes Constantin Brâncoveanu (+1714); General Synod of the Church of England approves the ordination of women.
- 1993 Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Theological Commission meets in Balamand, Lebanon, issuing common document "Uniatism: Method of Union of the Past, and Present. Search for Full Communion" (the "Balamand document"); Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "The Ecumenical Councils."
- 1993 Church of Cyprus condemns Freemasonry; Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms published; Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church becomes autocephalous; martyrdom of New Martyrs of Optina Pustyn; in southern Africa, some of the bishops and clergy of the "African Orthodox Church" were received into membership of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria, and became known as the "African Coptic Orthodox Church".
- 1994 Ligonier Meeting in Western Pennsylvania at Antiochian Village held by the majority of Orthodox hierarchs in North America votes to do away with the notion of Orthodox Christians in America being a "diaspora"; death of Elder Paisios of Mount Athos; the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union was established by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Brussels.
- 1995 Patr. Bartholomew I visits Vatican; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "Understanding of Salvation in the Light of the Ecumenical Councils"; Pope John Paul II issues encyclical Orientale Lumen, encouraging reunion between East and West; glorification of Kuksha of Odessa by the Church of Ukraine; Church of Georgia canonizes Ambrose (Khelaia) the Confessor (+1927).
- 1996 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America reorganized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dividing the administration of the two continents into four parts; Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (Ecumenical Patriarchate) founded.
- 1997 Visit by Patr. Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople to US; establishment of dioceses of Bukoba, Madagascar, Ghana and Nigeria, by Synodical decree of the Patriarchate of Alexandria; Russian Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations declares Orthodox Christianity as Russia's predominant religion; Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona founded; first pan-African Inter-Orthodox Consultation is held in Kampala, Uganda in December, with representatives from the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches present.
- 1998 Church of Constantinople, not recognizing Russia's right to issue a tomos of autocephaly in 1951, issues its own tomos for the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia; Thessaloniki Summit held to discuss Orthodox participation in WCC; uncovering of the relics of Ambrose of Optina; death of missionary Fr. Chariton Pneumatikakis, in Kananga, having served the Orthodox mission there for 25 years; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "Salvation: Grace, Justification and Synergy"; the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of Utrecht established the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council in order to stimulate contact and cooperation in the spirit of the Bonn Agreement of 1931; International Religious Freedom Act is passed in the US to promote religious freedom as a foreign policy of the United States, and to advocate on the behalf of the individuals viewed as persecuted in foreign countries on the account of religion.
- 1999 Numerous Serbian Orthodox sites in Kosovo and Metohia destroyed and desecrated during NATO peacekeeping presence; Lutheran World Federation and Roman Catholic Church sign Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, one of the most significant agreements since the Reformation, also adopted unanimously later in 2006 by members of the World Methodist Council.
- 2000 Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Theological Commission meets in Baltimore, discusses text on "The Ecclesiological and Canonical Implications of Uniatism," but is suspended; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "Word and Sacraments (Mysteria) in the Life of the Church"; Russian Orthodox Church announces the canonization of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family; government of Greece orders removal of religious affiliation from state identity cards; the restored Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow was consecrated on August 19; Church of Russia glorified Hieromartyr Andronik, Archbishop of Perm, one of Russia's New Martyrs and Confessors (+1918). Church of Russia canonizes Hieromartyr Bp. Seraphim (Zvezdinsky) of Dimitrov (+1937).
- 2001 Pope John Paul II of Rome apologizes to Orthodox Church for Fourth Crusade; Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian Patriarchates of Alexandria agree to mutually recognize baptisms and marriages performed in each other's churches; according to the respected and reliable OUP World Christian Encyclopedia (2001), there were many more Christian martyrs in the 20th century--over 45 million--than in all of the preceding 19 centuries of Christianity, and of that number some 32 million were killed by "atheists" and over 9 million by Muslims.
- 2002 Patr. Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople and Pope John Paul II co-sign Venice Declaration of Environmental Ethics; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "Mysteria/Sacraments as Means of Salvation;" Church of Georgia glorifies Melchizedek I of Georgia (+1033).
- 2003 Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America granted "self-rule" (similar but not identical to autonomy) by Church of Antioch; Coptic priest Fr. Zakaria Botros begins his television and internet mission to Muslims in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and western countries, resulting in thousands of conversions; death of Elder Thaddeus (Strabulovich) of Serbia, one of the most renowned spiritual guides of twentieth century Serbia; Inter-Orthodox conference on the draft Constitutional Treaty of the European Union on March 18-19 in Crete, stated that the Treaty should include a clear reference to Europe's Christian heritage; the 5th Academic Meeting between Judaism And Orthodox Christianity was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, on May 27-29.
- 2004 Pope John Paul II returns relics of John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian to Church of Constantinople; Patr. Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople consecrates church in Havana, Cuba; consecration of first Orthodox church in Antarctica by Church of Russia; Tikhvin Icon returned to Tikhvin Dormition Monastery after six decades in the United States; Ecumenical Patriarchate canonizes Fr. Alexis Medvedkov, Fr. Dimitri Klepinine, Mother Maria Skobtsova, George Skobtsov and Elie Fondaminskii of the Russian emigration in France; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission statement "Baptism and Chrismation as Sacraments of Initiation into the Church."
- 2005 Major controversy in Ukraine involving the almost exclusively western Ukraine-based Uniate Greek Catholic Church moving its administrative centre on from Lviv to Kiev, constructing a large cathedral there, and its plans to establish a patriarchate, criticized by the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and other Orthodox; Metr. Nicholas (Smisko) of Amissos proclaimed that starting in 2006 the Second Sunday after Pentecost will be commemorated as the Synaxis of the Carpatho-Rusyn Saints.
- 2006 Publication of first Orthodox prayer book in both Chinese and Russian, following the editions of 1948 (St. John (Maximovitch) and of 1910 (Bp. Innocent (Figurovsky)); Pope Benedict XVI drops Patriarch of the West title; Russian Orthodox parish opened in Pyongyang, North Korea; Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Theological Commission meets in Belgrade, Serbia; Pope Benedict XVI visits Ecumenical Patriarchate, drawing criticism from Mount Athos; Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens visits Vatican; Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission issues statement "The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church;" death of Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios, having authored thousands of recorded lectures in the spirit of patristic traditional Orthodoxy.
- 2007 Restoration of full communion between Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR; 1600th anniversary celebration of the repose of John Chrysostom; the Vatican formally abolishes doctrine of Limbo; number of Orthodox believers in Italy reaches almost one million as a result of immigration from Romania and Ukraine; synod of over 50 bishops of the Church of Ukraine announce that the UOC-MP is "an autonomous, historical part of the Russian Orthodox Church"; Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Commission meets in Ravenna, Italy, 10th plenary, led by co-presidents Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metr. John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, agreeing upon a joint document consisting of 46 articles providing an ecclesiastical road map in discussing union; Russian delegation walks out of Ravenna talks in protest of presence of Estonian delegation (EP); letter "A Common Word Between Us and You" is sent by 138 Muslim leaders from 40 nations to the leaders of the world's Christian churches, calling for understanding and commonality; the Abp. of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams welcomed Patriarch Bartholomew I to Westminster Abbey to celebrate the publication of The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement, taking over 16 years to produce, concluding the third phase of the Anglican-Orthodox international theological dialogue; world's first Russian-Chinese dictionary of Orthodox vocabulary is printed in Moscow; Romania and Bulgaria enter the European Union; the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed the IAGS Resolution on Genocides Against Assyrians, Greeks, Armenians, and Other Christians by the Ottoman Empire 13 July 2007, affirming that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities between 1914-1923 was genocide; the 6th Academic Meeting between Judaism and Orthodox Christianity took place in Jerusalem, March 14-15.
- 2008 First Orthodox Liturgy celebrated at the North Pole; Orthodox Study Bible (with Septuagint) published; UOC-MP canonizes new martyrs of Vasyliivskyi, Fr. Serhii Shtenko and laymen Prokhor Bunchuk and Kyryl Pryima, martyred during the communist persecution of the church in the 20th century; 14th Session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission was held in Paphos, Cyprus; Metropolis of Singapore (Ecumenical Patriarchate) founded; Pan-Orthodox meeting in Constantinople in October of the Primates of the fourteen Orthodox Churches, signing a document calling for inter-orthodox unity and collaboration and "the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council"; Patr. Bartholomew I authors Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today; Hieromartyr Archimandrite Philoumenos (Hasapis) of Jacob's Well (+1979) is glorified by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem; 42 members of the Zulu, Tsvan and Sutu tribes were baptised into the Orthodox Church in South Africa, received into the church by the Metr. Seraphim of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
- 2009 Metr. Valentin of Orenburg and Buzuluk consecrated the first-ever Russian Orthodox temple in Rome on May 24, the day of St. Cyril and Methodius, being the Church of the Great Martyr St. Catherine, with the blessing of Patr. Kirill; the 4th Pan-Orthodox pre-conciliar consultation was held in Chambésy on June 6-13, mandating "Episcopal Assemblies" for various regions of the world, including North America; On April 30 the House of Assembly of the Parliament of South Australia passed a motion recognising "the genocide by the Ottoman state between 1915-1923 of Armenians, Hellenes, Syrian and other minorities in Asia Minor"; Metr. Jonah (Paffhausen) addresses inaugural assembly of Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); agreement was announced between St. Vladimir's Seminary and Nashotah House; the Vatican announced a newly created "Apostolic Constitution", calling for the creation of new church structures, called Personal Ordinariates, to operate under local Roman Catholic dioceses and be administered by former Anglican clergy, clearing the way for entire congregations of Anglican faithful to join the Roman Catholic Church, while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony;” Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Commission meets in Paphos, Cyprus, 11th plenary, studying the theme "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium;" pilgrimmage to Mount Athos of the former Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, current leader of the opposition in parliament; Bulgaria’s Parliament approved changes to the Family Code opening the way for fast-track divorces; in February, the Israeli government transferred to Russia Sergei's Courtyard, which had originally been a part of the Russian compound.
- 2010 Resolutions in the United States and Sweden were passed narrowly, recognising the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as "genocide", Turkey reacting angrily in both cases; official visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople to the Church of Russia; formation of Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America; inaugural meeting of the Episcopal Assembly of the British Isles is held on June 21st at Thyateira House; formation of Episcopal Assembly of Oceania; Pope Benedict XVI proclaims the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation; on Sunday, August 15, 2010 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I conducted the first Divine Liturgy in 88 years at the historic monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trapezounta, northeastern Turkey, marking the first official religious service carried out at the ancient monastery since the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic.
- Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
- The division of Church History into separate eras as done here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though it was attempted to group periods according to major watershed events.
- This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox or purely political events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy or for reference.
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in America
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Australia
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in China
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Greece
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in New Zealand
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Japan
- Timeline of Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic relations
The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:
From an Orthodox perspective
- Bartholomew I (Ecumenical Patriarch). Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today. Random House of Canada, 2008. ISBN 9780385518130
- Bulgakov, Sergeĭ Nikolaevich. The Orthodox Church. Revised Ed. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0881410518
- Clark, Katherine. The Orthodox Church. Simple Guides: Religion (series). Random House Inc, 2009. ISBN 9781857334876 (Concise, accessible introduction)
- Clément, Olivier. Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. ISBN 9780881411782
- Keleher, Serge. Orthodox rivalry in the twentieth century: Moscow versus Constantinople. Religion, State and Society. Volume 25, Issue 2 June 1997. pp.125-137.
- Papanikolaou, Aristotle. Byzantium, Orthodoxy, and Democracy. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Vol. 71, No. 1 (Mar., 2003), pp. 75-98.
- Addresses the question of the compatibility between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and modern understandings of democracy. Cites a recent debate between two contemporary Orthodox ethicists, Stanley Harakas and Vigen Guroian, over the proper role of the Orthodox Church in relation to the American democratic state. Argues that there does not exist a "clash of civilizations" between Orthodoxy and democracy.
- Payton, James R. (Prof. Dr.). Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition. InterVarsity Press, 2007. ISBN 9780830825943
- Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church: New Edition. (ISBN 0140146563)
- Webber, Meletios (Archimandrite). Bread & Water, Wine & Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God. Conciliar Press. 2007.
From a Heterodox perspective
- Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
- Collins, Michael, ed.; Price, Matthew Arlen. Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith. (ISBN 0789446057)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century. (ISBN 0687171849)
- Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
- Jones, Timothy P. Christian History Made Easy. (ISBN 1890947105)
- Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. (ISBN 080106211X)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700). (ISBN 0226653803)
- Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
- Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. (ISBN 0310362814)
- History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
- Timeline of Patriarchal History. Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Pop-up Video Presentation, in Sections)
- Dr. Srdja Trifkovic. New Martyrs of the East and Coming Trials in the West. OrthodoxyToday.org. May 13, 2006.
- Three Pan-Orthodox pre-conciliar consultations (Chambésy 1976, 1982, 1986) and five inter-Orthodox preparatory commissions (Geneva, 1971, Chambésy 1986, 1990, 1993 and 1999) were held in the past.
- GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS, PONTIAN GREEKS, SYRIAN ORTHODOX, ASSYRIAN ORTHODOX AND OTHER CHRISTIAN MINORITIES.