Timeline of Orthodoxy in America
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Orthodoxy in America
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The History of Orthodoxy in America is complex and resists any easy categorizations or explanations.
Early Visits and Missions (530-1900)
- 530 St. Brendan the Navigator lands in Newfoundland, Canada, establishing a short-lived community of Irish monks.
- 1741 Divine Liturgy celebrated on a Russian ship off the coast of Alaska.
- 1767 A community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna, Florida.
- 1794 Missionaries, including St. Herman of Alaska, arrive at Kodiak Island, bringing Orthodoxy to Russian Alaska.
- 1796 Martyrdom of Juvenaly of Alaska.
- 1799 Ioasaph (Bolotov) consecrated in Irkutsk as first bishop for Alaska, but dies in a shipwreck during his return.
- 1816 Martyrdom of Peter the Aleut near San Francisco.
- 1817 Russian colony of Fort Ross established 60 miles from San Francisco.
- 1824 Fr. John Veniaminov comes to Unalaska, Alaska.
- 1825 First native priest, Jacob Netsvetov.
- 1834 Fr. John Veniaminov moves to Sitka, Alaska; liturgy and catechism translated into Aleut.
- 1836 Imperial ukaz regarding Alaskan education issued from Czar Nicholas I that students were to become faithful members of the Orthodox Church, loyal subjects of the Czar, and loyal citizens; Fr. John Veniaminov returns to Russia.
- 1837 Death of St. Herman of Alaska on Spruce Island.
- 1840 Consecration of Fr. John Veniaminov as bishop with the name Innocent.
- 1841 Return of St. Innocent of Alaska to Sitka; sale of Fort Ross property to an American citizen; pastoral school established in Sitka.
- 1844 Formation of seminary in Sitka.
- 1848 Consecration of St. Michael Cathedral in Sitka.
- 1850 Alaskan episcopal see and seminary moved to Yakutsk, Russia.
- 1858 Peter (Sysakoff) consecrated as auxiliary bishop for Alaska with Innocent's primary see moved to Yakutsk.
- 1864 Holy Trinity Church, first Orthodox parish established on United States soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Greeks.
- 1867 Alaska purchased by the United States from Russia; Bp. Paul (Popov) succeeds Bp. Peter.
- 1868 First Russian parish established in US territory in San Francisco, California; St. Innocent of Alaska becomes Metropolitan of Moscow.
- 1870 Diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska formed by the Church of Russia with Bp. John (Metropolsky) as ruling hierarch.
- 1872 See of the Aleutians diocese moved to San Francisco, placing it outside the defined boundaries of the diocese (i.e., Alaska).
- 1876 Bp. John (Metropolsky) recalled to Russia.
- 1879 Bp. Nestor (Zakkis) succeeds John (Metropolsky).
- 1882 Bp. Nestor (Zakkis) drowns in the Bering Sea.
- 1888 Bp. Vladimir (Sokolovsky) becomes Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska; ordination of first American-born Orthodox priest, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich.
- 1891 Fr. Alexis Toth, a Uniate priest, petitions to be received along with his parish in Minneapolis into the Russian Church; Bp. Nicholas (Adoratsky) assigned as Bishop of Alaska but is transferred before taking up his post; Nicholas (Ziorov) becomes ruling bishop of the Alaskan diocese.
- 1892 Fr. Alexis Toth and his parish in Minneapolis received into the Russian Church; Carpatho-Russian Uniate parishes in Illinois, Connecticut, and several Pennsylvania soon follow suit; first Serbian parish established in Jackson, California; Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox parish founded in New York; first American-born person ordained, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich; Archim. Raphael (Hawaweeny) arrives in America.
- 1895 First Syrian parish in Brooklyn, New York, founded by St. Raphael of Brooklyn; first clergy conference, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
- 1896 Bp. Nicholas (Ziorov) reports to the Holy Synod of Russia that "the commemoration of the Emperor and the Reigning House during the divine services brings forth dismay and apprehension among Orthodox in America of non-Russian backgound"; St. Alexander Hotovitsky appointed as rector in New York.
- 1898 Bp. Nicholas (Ziorov) returns to Russia; Tikhon (Belavin) becomes Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska.
Beyond Alaska (1900-1918)
- 1900 Name of Russian mission diocese changed from the Aleutian Islands and Alaska to the Aleutian Islands and North America, thus expanding its territorial boundaries.
- 1901 First Orthodox church in Canada, in Vostok, Alberta.
- 1902 Building of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York.
- 1904 Raphael (Hawaweeny) consecrated as Bishop of Brooklyn, becoming the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in America; Innocent (Pustinsky) consecrated as Bishop of Alaska; first Romanian parish founded in Cleveland, Ohio.
- 1905 St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery (South Canaan, Pennsylvania) founded; Bp. Tikhon (Belavin) raised to the rank of archbishop; seminary opened in Minneapolis; Russian Orthodox see transferred to New York; Fr. Sebastian Dabovich elevated to archimandrite and given charge over Serbian parishes by Tikhon.
- 1906 In an ukaze dated January 27, addressed to Archbishop Tikhon, the Holy Synod of Russia confirmed the practice of commemorating the American president by name, and not the Russan Tsar, during divine services; blessing of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery by hierarchs Tikhon, Raphael and Innocent; 1st All-American Sobor held in Mayfield, PA, at which the name of the Russian mission was declared to be The Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church in North America under the Hierarchy of the Russian Church; translation of Service Book by Isabel Hapgood.
- 1907 Abp. Tikhon (Belavin) returns to Russia and is succeeded in his see by Platon (Rozhdestvensky) as Archbishop of the Aleutians and North America; Uniate Bp. Stephen Ortinsky sent to the US by Rome to stem the tide of Uniate returns to Orthodoxy; Papal decree Ea Semper issued, mandating all Uniate priests in American be celibate; first Sunday of Orthodoxy service in New York; first Bulgarian parish in Madison, Illinois.
- 1908 Church of Constantinople gives care for Greek Orthodox parishes in the US to the Church of Greece; first Albanian parish in Boston.
- 1909 Bp. Innocent (Pustinsky) transferred to Russia, succeeded by Alexander (Nemolovsky) as Bishop of Alaska; death of Fr. Alexis Toth.
- 1911 Minneapolis seminary transferred to Tenafly, New Jersey.
- 1913 Serbian clergy come under Church of Serbia.
- 1914 Abp. Platon (Rozhdestvensky) recalled to Russia and made bishop of Kishinev, after having received 72 communities (mainly ex-Uniate Carpatho-Russians) into Orthodoxy during his rule; Antiochian Metr. Germanos (Shehadi) of Zahle comes to US to organize parishes without the approval of his synod.
- 1915 Death of St. Raphael of Brooklyn; Abp. Evdokim (Meschersky) succeeds Platon; first monastery for women in Springfield, Vermont.
- 1916 Consecration of Philip (Stavitsky) of Sitka; Alexander (Nemolovsky) appointed Bishop of Canada with his see in Winnipeg; organization of Syrian Holy Orthodox Greek Catholic Mission in North America by Germanos (Shehadi) with founding of St. Mary's Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.
- 1917 Ex-Uniate priest Alexander Dzubay consecrated with the name Stephen as Bishop of Pittsburgh; Archim. Aftimios (Ofiesh) consecrated as Bishop of Brooklyn; St. Tikhon (Belavin) elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Revolution and Rivalry (1918-1943)
- 1918 The Bolshevik Revolution throws the Church of Russia into chaos, effectively stranding the fledgling Russian mission in America.
- 1919 Southern Church Council meets in Stavropol at which Higher Church Administration was formed in Southern Russia; Second All-American Sobor meets in Cleveland, electing bishops for the Romanians and Albanians, pending approval from Moscow (which never comes); Germanos (Shehadi) receives Ukrainians in Canada.
- 1920 St. Tikhon of Moscow issues Ukaz No. 362; first session of the Higher Church Administration outside borders of Russia.
- 1921 34 ROCOR bishops meet in synod in Karlovtsy, Serbia, including Metr. Platon (Rozhdestvensky, primate of the Russian Metropolia.
- 1922 Church of Greece transfers control of its parishes to the Church of Constantinople; founding of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- 1924 Fourth All-American Sobor of the Metropolia votes to establish "temporary self-government," breaking administrative ties with Moscow; Victor (Abo-Assaley) consecrated as the first Antiochian Archbishop of New York and All North America; Stephen (Dzubay) returns to the Unia; Ukrainians in Canada join Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
- 1926 Metr. Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of the Metropolia breaks ties with the ROCOR synod.
- 1927 ROCOR synod sends epistle to American parishes suspending Platon and his clergy; founding of the American Orthodox Catholic Church by the Russian Metropolia; founding of Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs (FROC) in Pittsburgh; consecration of Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab).
- 1928 Ukrainian diocese established; consecration of Sophronios (Beshara).
- 1929 Romanian Orthodox Episcopate established.
- 1930 Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab) leaves AOCC and returns to Metropolia, re-establishing Brooklyn diocese.
- 1931 Athenagoras (Spyrou) becomes primate of Greek Archdiocese.
- 1932 Consecration of Joseph (Zuk) and Ignatius (Nichols) (first convert bishop).
- 1933 Platon (Rozhdestvensky) refuses to pledge loyalty to Moscow, which declares the Metropolia to be in schism and establishes the Exarchate of Moscow on American soil; marriage of Aftimios Ofiesh; death of Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab); Platon grants canonical release to Syrian parishes remaining under the Metropolia to come under the Church of Antioch; Germanos (Shehadi) returns to Lebanon; consecration of Leonty (Turkevich); marriage and apostasy of Ignatius (Nichols) (first with Living Church and then independently).
- 1934 Death of Platon; Theophilus (Pashkovsky) of San Francisco becomes primate of Metropolia; death of Sophronios (Beshara); death of Germanos (Shehadi) in Lebanon.
- 1935 "Temporary Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad" signed by ROCOR synod in Karlovtsy, Serbia, including Theophilus (Pashkovsky) of the Metropolia, thus renewing relations; ROCOR is divided into four regions, including North America with Theophilus as the regional primate.
- 1936 Antony (Bashir) consecrated for the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York; on the same day (April 19), three Metropolia bishops consecrate rival Samuel (David) for the Syrians, thus solidifying the developing schism in the Antiochian faithful in the US (the "Russi-Antaaki" split).
- 1937 Sixth All-American Sobor of the Metropolia declares itself to report to ROCOR in matters of faith; Holy Cross Theological School founded in Pomfret, Connecticut; Ukrainian diocese established by Church of Constantinople.
- 1938 St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, New York) and St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania) founded; Abp. Samuel (David) of Toledo excommunicated by the Church of Antioch for disobedience to canonical order; Bulgarian diocese established; Carpatho-Russian diocese established by Constantinople with second wave of Uniat returns to Orthodoxy.
- 1939 Consecration of Alexander Turner.
- 1941 Church of Antioch restores Samuel (David) of Toledo to communion and declares his diocese to be the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Toledo and Dependencies.
Emergence of American Orthodoxy (1943-1970)
- 1943 Founding of Federated Orthodox Greek Catholic Primary Jurisdictions in America, a proto-SCOBA body.
- 1946 Seventh All-American Sobor of the Russian Metropolia breaks all ties with the ROCOR; Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.
- 1947 Death of Ignatius (Nichols).
- 1950 ROCOR moves headquarters to New York; Leonty (Turkevitch) becomes primate of Metropolia.
- 1951 Michael (Konstantinides) heads GOA; independent Romanian diocese established; arrival of Fr. Alexander Schmemann in the United States from Paris, taking up teaching duties at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, New York).
- 1954 Recognition of Toledo Archdiocese by Church of Antioch.
- 1955 Founding of the Council of Eastern Orthodox Churches of Central Massachusetts.
- 1958 Death of Samuel (David) of Toledo; reception of Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil into Antiochian New York Archdiocese, forming Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate.
- 1960 Founding of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA); Romanian Orthodox Episcopate received into the Metropolia.
- 1961 Consecration of Antiochian Michael (Shaheen) of Toledo.
- 1962 Antiochian Toledo archdiocese recognized by the Church of Antioch as equal to the New York archdiocese.
- 1963 Autonomous Serbian diocese created; beginning of rapprochement between Metropolia and Moscow Patiarchate; arguing that the Metropolia's 1924 declaration of "temporary self-government" amounted to a canonical declaration of autocephaly, Toward an American Orthodox Church is published by St. Vladimir's professor Alexander Bogolepov, galvanizing the Metropolia to seek autocephaly.
- 1964 Bulgarian Diocese in Exile established under the ROCOR.
- 1965 SCOBA appeals to mother churches to allow concrete steps to be taken toward American Orthodox unity; Ireney (Bekish) succeeds Metr. Leonty (Turkevich) as primate of the Metropolia upon his death.
- 1966 Death of Metr. Anthony (Bashir); election and consecration of Philip (Saliba) as Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of New York; founding of Hellenic College (Brookline, Massachusetts); death of St. John Maximovitch; death of Aftimios Ofiesh; Fr. Alexander Schmemann travels to Constantinople to intercede for Metropolia but is rebuffed; first founding of OISM.
- 1967 Consecration of Theodosius (Lazor) of Sitka; Church of Constantinople orders Greek Archdiocese to suspend communion with the Metropolia.
- 1968 Meeting between Metropolia representatives and Moscow Patriarchate in Upsala, Sweden, discussing autocephaly for the Metropolia; Synod of Bishops of the Metropolia decides to start official exploratory negotiations with MP.
- 1969 Consecration of Dmitri (Royster) (seen by many to be first convert bishop); official autocephaly meetings of Metropolia with Moscow Patriarchate take place on New York City, Tokyo and Geneva.
Union and Division (1970-1994)
- 1970 Russian Metropolia reconciles with the Church of Russia and is granted autocephaly, changing its name to the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), an act accepted by some Orthodox autocephalous churches worldwide, but condemned as uncanonical by the majority, including all four ancient patriarchates and the Church of Greece; Constantinople ceases all official contact with the OCA and declares it uncanonical; the Russian Exarchate of North America is dissolved, but the majority of its parishes remain under the Church of Russia; glorification of St. Herman of Alaska in separate services by the ROCOR and the OCA.
- 1971 ROCOR denounces Moscow's grant of autocephaly to the Metropolia; OCA receives rebel ROCOR parish in Australia; Albanian Archdiocese received into the OCA.
- 1972 OCA receives the Mexican National Catholic Church, creating its Exarchate of Mexico.
- 1974 OCA Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) of New York goes into semi-retirement, while his duties are taken up by Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) of Montreal.
- 1975 "Russi-Antaaki" division in the Antiochian church in North America overcome by Metr. Philip (Saliba) of New York and Metr. Michael (Shaheen) of Toledo by the uniting of the two Syrian archdioceses into one Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, led by Metr. Philip.
- 1976 Reception into the OCA of the ROCOR's Bulgarian Diocese in Exile and its hierarch, Bishop Kyrill (Yonchev).
- 1977 OCA holds its Fifth All-American Council in Montreal, electing Theodosius (Lazor) as its metropolitan, replacing the retiring Ireney (Bekish); glorification in Russia of St. Innocent of Alaska.
- 1981 OCA primatial see transferred from New York to Washington.
- 1982 Calendar schism in OCA Diocese of E. Pennsylvania, ROCOR receiving multiple parishes in the area.
- 1985 Founding of Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) as Greek Archdiocesan Mission Center.
- 1987 Majority of the parishes of the Evangelical Orthodox Church are received into the Antiochian Archdiocese by Metr. Philip (Saliba), becoming the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission (AEOM).
- 1988 Healing of schism between two Serbian dioceses.
- 1989 Glorification in Russia of St. Tikhon of Moscow.
- 1990 Contact between Constantinople and the OCA resumes.
- 1992 Founding of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Ligonier and Beyond (1994-present)
- 1994 Ligonier Meeting in Western Pennsylvania at the 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" and pledges to work together in missions; glorification of St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre; Orthodox Christian Mission Center becomes a SCOBA agency and changes to its current name; glorification in Russia of Ss. John Kochurov and Alexander Hotovitsky; glorification by ROCOR of St. John Maximovitch.
- 1995 Death of Bp. Gerasimos (Papadopoulos) of Abydos.
- 1996 Allegedly forced retirement of Greek Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America, being replaced by Spyridon (Papageorge); Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America joins Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, coming under Constantinople.
- 1997 Visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople to US.
- 1998 Ben Lomond Crisis in the (formerly EOC) Antiochian parish of Ss. Peter and Paul (Ben Lomond, California) gains national attention; multiple clergy are laicized and/or excommunicated.
- 1999 Retirement of Spyridon (Papageorge), Greek Archbishop of America, being replaced by Demetrios (Trakatellis); reception of dissident group from the Ben Lomond Crisis by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, including re-ordination of some of the excommunicated and/or deposed clergy.
- 2000 Glorification of St. Raphael of Brooklyn at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery (South Canaan, Pennsylvania) by the OCA.
- 2001 Second meeting of most bishops associated with SCOBA.
- 2002 Retirement of Theodosius (Lazor) and election of Herman (Swaiko) as Metropolitan of the OCA.
- 2003 The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is granted "self-rule" (similar but not identical to autonomy) by the Church of Antioch, establishing 9 new dioceses in North America and promoting its auxiliary bishops to diocesan ones; after years of inactivity, refounding of OISM.
- 2004 Consecration in Damascus of 3 new diocesan bishops for the Antiochian Archdiocese, Thomas (Joseph) of Oakland, Mark (Maymon) of Toledo, and Alexander (Mufarrij) of Ottawa.
- 2005 Death of Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzis); consecration of Alejo (Pacheco Vera) of Mexico City, auxiliary bishop of the OCA Exarchate of Mexico; OCA's New York diocese subsumed into its Diocese of Washington, creating the Diocese of Washington and New York.
- 2006 Fourth All-Diaspora Council of the ROCOR votes to restore full communion with Moscow Patriarchate; four priests and one deacon who departed the Antiochian Archdiocese during the Ben Lomond Crisis return to Antioch; major financial scandal in the OCA; third meeting of most SCOBA bishops agrees to work together on canonical and pastoral questions.
- 2007 OISM holds first meeting at a ROCOR seminary, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary.