Orthodoxy and Antiochian Archdiocese in America

The History of Orthodoxy in America

This article will cover common American Orthodox history and the history of The Self-Ruling Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


Dezhnyov's 1648 expedition

Dezhnyov's 1648 expedition

Dezhnyov's 1648 expedition's believed to had reached the American shore and that their men had founded a Russian settlement there. Such a colony was searched for by many Russian expeditions launched by the Russian-American Company from 1818 on and during the early 1820s.

Dezhnyov later founded the Anadyr Ostrog. Thus the Russian (and Orthodox) quest for new lands on the East and Alaska has begun.


In 1732 the first well-documented Russian expedition headed by Mikhail Gvozdev (Михаил Гвоздев) on a ship St Gabriel (Святой Гавриил) built on the orders of Vitus Bering sailed towards Alaska. Afterwards, new settlers and traders streamed to Alaska. Settlers shared the Holy Gospel with locals and baptized them according to laymen rule in absence of clergy. There were no permanent missions at the time. Sometimes priest accompanying ship crews would come and minister. The first Native Americans to become Orthodox Christian were the Aleuts.


On 24 September 1794 Archmandrite Joasaph Bolotov and a group of missionaries came to America from the Valaam Monastery. Under very primitive conditions he and his monastic companions established the foundations of an Orthodox presence in North America. Fr. Joasaph and his party of monks were very successful in evangelizing the natives and expanded their preaching and efforts to the mainland. Yet, reaching out to the natives involved dangers. Witness the martyrdom of Fr. Juvenaly in 1796.


In 1868, the first Orthodox church in the continental United States was established in San Francisco, California. Numerous parishes were established across the country throughout the rest of the 19th century. Although these parishes were typically multi-ethnic, most received support from the missionary diocese. In 1872 the diocesan see was relocated from Alaska to the city of San Francisco, California in the United States. The mission itself was instituted as a separate Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands on June 10, 1870, subsequent to the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867. In November 1870, the first Orthodox church in New York City was consecrated.


During this period education and charity was the focus of the diocese. In 1905 Archbishop Tikhon oversaw the creation of an Orthodox seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. St. Platon Seminary moved from Minneapolis to Tenafly, New Jersey in 1912 and enrolled 78 students til 1923. In 1916, an unaccredited Russian Women's College was established in Brooklyn. An immigrant society and an orphanage also were established, as well as the first Orthodox monasteries in the United States - Saint Tikhon Monastery for men in 1905 and Holy Virgin Protection for women in 1915).


Prior to the 13th All-American Sobor in November 1967, a proposal was prepared to change the name of the Church from the "Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America" to the "Orthodox Church in America." The name change, as well as the granting of autocephaly, was officially accepted at the 14th All-American Sobor (also known as the 1st All-American Council in recognition of the Church's new-found independence) in October 1970.

The Church of Antioch
AKA The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Sts. Peter and Paul, Icon of Antioch

Official website 


Apostolic discipleship and succession 


Biblical texts

Major Apostolic ministry moved to the City of Antioch Acts 11:19-27

Deacon Nicholas of Antioch was mentioned in Acts 6:5 and probably served there

The Church of Antioch was planted by Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. St. Peter served as Bishop (Patriarch) of Antioch for some time. 

The Patriarchal office is still situated in the building on the Straight St. (Acts 9:11)

During the First Ecumenical Council Antioch was assigned distinct ecclesiastical territory to become Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East


The Self-Ruling Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


The 19th Century

St. Tikhon, then Archbishop of north America, with his two vicar bishops, Innocent (Pustynskii) of Alaska and Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn

Dr. Ibrahim Arbeely, a prominent Damascene physician, wrote to Raphael Hawaweeny a young Damascene clergyman serving as Professor of the Arabic Language at the Orthodox Theological Academy in Kazan, Russia, inviting him to come to New York to organize and pastor the first Arabic-speaking parish on the continent.


Read the article in The New York Times


In 1895 Father Raphael Hawaweeny, was sent by the Moscow Patriarchate and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to administer the local Orthodox Christian community and to serve Arabic- and Russian-speaking Orthodox Christians.


In 1904 he became the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in North America; the consecration was performed by Archbishop (Saint) Tikhon of Moscow and Bishop Innocent in New York City. He served as Bishop of Brooklyn until his repose. The Church recognizes him as St. Raphael of Brooklin.

Read The Word Magazine article.


Late 20th Century

On June 24, 1975, Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York and Metropolitan Michael (Shaheen) of the Antiochian Archdiocese of Toledo, Ohio, and Dependencies signed the Articles of Reunification among all Antiochian Orthodox Christians in the United States and Canada.


21st Century

In October 2003, the Holy Synod of Antioch unanimously approved a resolution which granted this Archdiocese the status of a self-ruling Archdiocese. 


American Orthodoxy composed of Dioceses and Archdioceses of Local Orthodox Churches from around the world. This is due to historical circumstances. All canonical Orthodox bishops participate in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America (former SCOBA)


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Dev St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church,
Mar 3, 2017, 7:20 PM
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Dev St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church,
Nov 1, 2015, 4:38 PM
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