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The Orthodox Church in America

Orthodox church of America

From its humble beginnings in 1794, when a small group of missionaries landed on Kodiak Island, Alaska, Orthodoxy in America has expanded to comprise a church of over two million faithful.

Yet numerous Americans from all cultural and religious backgrounds have, particularly in recent decades, joined Orthodoxy as well.

Orthodoxy does have something to say to American society. Thus, the story is told on these webpages.

The Orthodox Church in America traces its origins to the arrival in Kodiak, Alaska of eight Orthodox missionaries from the Valaamo Monastery in the northern Karelia region of Russia in 1794. The missionaries made a great impact on the native Alaskan population and were responsible for bringing many to the Orthodox Christian faith.

Today, the Orthodox Church in America numbers some 700 parishes, missions, communities, monasteries, and institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

While the Church continued to grow in Alaska, immigrants began arriving in what we today call the lower 48. In the 1860s a parish was established in San Francisco by Serbians, Russians and Greeks. Gradually other similar parishes were established across the territory of the United States and, with the great waves of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southern Europe at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the headquarters of the North American Orthodox Diocese was moved to San Francisco and later to New York.

In a nation whose religious culture has accomodated Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, Orthodox Christian in North America have been largely overlooked and ignored. With few exceptions, their historical experiences remain unrecorded, their documents untranslated, their personalities, institutions, and activities unknown.

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