Thomas E. FitzGerald
3. EARLY PARISH DEVELOPMENTS
The foundation of Orthodox Christianity in the continental United States was established during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century. During this time, the focus of Orthodoxy dramatically shifted from Alaska to the major cities of the continental United States. The principal cause of this was the massive influx of immigrants from Greece, Asia Minor, Carpatho-Russia, and other parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Exclusive of the Alaskan territory, there were only 3 Orthodox parishes in the United States in the year 1870. However, fifty years later there were over 250 Orthodox parishes located in major cities throughout the country. These parishes were established chiefly by immigrants who were determined to preserve their Orthodox Christian faith in the New World.
THE EARLY PARISHES
Even before the great flux of immigrants from Eastern and Southeastern Europe, a small number of Orthodox Christians lived in the continental United States. The first Orthodox parish to be established in the United States was founded in the year 1864 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This parish was organized by Greek merchants under the direction of Nicholas Benakis, the consul of the kingdom of Greece in New Orleans. Because of this, the parish is viewed not only as the first organized parish in the United States but also as the first Greek Orthodox parish. Nonetheless, members of this parish included not only Greeks but also Russians and Serbians who were living or working temporarily in the city.
While much of the history of the early years of this parish is lost, a few facts are known. The liturgical services were conducted in English, Church Slavonic, and Greek. The official records of the parish were in English until 1904. The first priest, Father Agapius Honcharenko, was of Slavic background and had been ordained at the great monastic center of Mount Athos in 1865. Although the parish had accepted gifts of vestments from Czar Alexander II, there is no indication that the parish was ever under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese. It subsequently became part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in 1921.65
At about the same time that the parish in New Orleans was established, a number of Orthodox Christians in San Francisco gathered to organize the Greek Russian-Slavonic Church and Philanthropic Society. In 1867, the state of California granted a charter to the society, which intended to establish an Orthodox church. Among the members of the society were Martin Klinkovsterem, who was the Russian consul, and George Fisher, who was the Greek consul in San Francisco. On 13 June 1868, the society requested the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia to assign a priest. In September of the same year, Father Nicholas Kovrygin was transferred from Sitka to San Francisco, and regular liturgical services began to be held.
From 1868 to 1872, the building in which the liturgical services were held was known as the Prayer House of the Orthodox Oriental Church. The liturgical services were conducted in both Slavonic and Greek because the congregation was composed of persons from various backgrounds. In 1872, a new building was purchased, and it became the cathedral and diocesan center of the Russian Orthodox bishop.66
More than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from San Francisco, another parish was established in New York City in 1870. Unlike the other two parishes, this one was not organized by merchants or diplomats. Rather, the parish in New York was founded by Father Nicholas Bjerring with the authorization of the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia. A former Roman Catholic professor of theology, Father Bjerring was an American of Danish background. Following the promulgation of the dogma of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council, he left the Roman Church. Father Bjerring then traveled to St. Petersburg, where he joined the Orthodox Church and was subsequently ordained a priest on 9 May 1870.67
Upon the direction of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, Father Bjerring returned to the United States and established a parish in New York City in the same year. Although a permanent church building was never constructed, Father Bjerring celebrated the liturgical services in his home. The sign over the door read, «Greek-Russian Church.» The congregation was composed chiefly of members of the Greek and Russian consulates, as well as about one hundred other Orthodox Christians who lived in New York. Records indicate that Father Bjerring also received into the Orthodox Church a number of persons who were raised in other religious traditions. After slightly more than twelve years of existence, however, the Russian government withdrew all financial support, and Father Bjerring had to close the chapel in 1883. While the actual reasons for this decision are not known, it may be assumed that the Russian government at that time did not appreciate the missionary value of the chapel and the activity of Father Bjerring.68
Although his chapel was closed, Father Bjerring made an outstanding contribution to the development of Orthodoxy in America. He was responsible for translating and publishing a number of liturgical services. He also wrote a brief history of the Orthodox Church and a commentary on its customs and liturgical practices. One of the most outstanding contributions of Bjerring was the publication of the Oriental Church Magazine from November 1879 to October 1881. This journal was the first English-language Orthodox periodical to be published in the United States. Its purpose was to acquaint Americans with the beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Church. The articles that appeared in the journal clearly indicate that Father Bjerring was very deeply committed to the task of Orthodox Christian evangelization in America.69
THE GREEK IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR PARISHES
The United States has been called a nation of immigrants. From the time when the first settlements were established along the Atlantic coast in the early seventeenth century, America has been a haven for persons of all races and backgrounds who have sought freedom and opportunity. Until about the year 1880, the majority of the immigrants who came to the United States were from Western and Northern Europe. After 1880, however, the majority of the immigrants who came to the United States prior to 1921 were from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. It has been estimated that between 1800 and the period of World War I, about 15 million immigrants entered the United States. Because many of these immigrants were Orthodox Christians, they provided a powerful impetus to the growth of Orthodoxy in the United States.
A substantial migration of Greeks to the United States began during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and continued until 1921. Prior to this period, Greeks had come to America, but their numbers were not significant. About 200 Peloponnesians came to Florida in 1762, when it was still part of the Spanish Empire.70 Later, during the early nineteenth century, some American philanthropists helped a small number of Greeks to come to the United States to study. As we have already noted, throughout the middle of the nineteenth century, Greek merchants and government officials could be found in most of the port cities of the United States.71
Migration of Greeks from the kingdom of Greece and from the Ottoman Empire began to increase noticeably after 1891. Between then and 1920, statistics show that more than 400,000 immigrants from Greece arrived in the United States. Moreover, this figure does not include Greeks who emigrated from the Ottoman Empire or other countries. Although no exact official figures exist, it has been estimated that the number of Greeks entering the United States from Asia Minor between 1891 and 1920 was about 200,000. However, of the total number of Greek immigrants, only about 75 percent remained. Many subsequently returned to Greece.72
The Greek immigrants who arrived before 1921 were not entirely homogeneous. There was a clear distinction between those from the kingdom of Greece and those from Asia Minor. Some of the latter could not even speak the Greek language. Furthermore, it was quite common for Greek immigrants from particular regions, islands, or villages to remain in close contact and even to settle together in certain cities in America. The early social organization and parishes of the immigrants frequently reflected these geographical differences. Most of the immigrants during this period were males who came to America with the hope for economic and social advancement. They preferred the larger cities to the countryside. They began to work in textile mills, steel mills, coal mines, and railroad construction. In the course of time, some established their own small businesses.73
Once a sizable number of immigrants settled in a city, they would join together to form a mutual aid society. Sometimes named after a saint, a revolutionary hero, or a place in a fatherland, the society assisted the new immigrants in becoming settled. Perhaps the most important and enduring task of these societies was to organize a parish. During the period between 1891 and 1921, the parish of the Holy Trinity in New York City was the first to be organized, in 1892. Within a matter of a few years, a second parish was established in New York City, as well as one in Chicago and in Lowell, Massachusetts.74
Between 1900 and 1921,138 parishes were organized by the Greek immigrants throughout the United States. Many metropolitan areas had more than one parish. Although the liturgical services were held in rented halls in some cities, the majority of these parishes by 1921 had either constructed their own church buildings or purchased abandoned church buildings. This fact is a powerful testimony to the role that religion played in the life of the immigrants. These church buildings, often constructed in traditional fashion, became the visible expression of the Orthodox faith of the immigrants.
However, the parishes of the immigrants were prone to many problems that they had not found in the homeland. Among these were the need to raise money, the shortage of qualified priests or the presence of uncanonical priests, and the proselytism undertaken by some Protestant sects. Yet, the most serious problem was the absence of a resident bishop who could bring unity and direction to the developing church in America and the establishment of an ecclesiastical organizational structure that would unite the parishes.
In the absence of both a bishop and a formal diocesan structure, each of the early parishes was not only established by the immigrants but also entirely controlled by the immigrants through an elected board of trustees. In accordance with the civil charter of incorporation granted by the state government, the board of trustees was responsible for every aspect of the life of the parish. Although some parishes appealed for a parish priest either to the synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople or to the synod of the Church of Greece, the board of trustees viewed itself as having ultimate authority within the parish. Contrary to Orthodox tradition, the parish priest was viewed as an employee by the board and dismissed by the board when he did not meet its expectations.75
In the absence of a resident bishop and inspired by the democratic ideals of America, most of the immigrants viewed their parish as free and independent of all external ecclesiastical authority. With little knowledge of canon law, the immigrants followed the example of Protestantism and adopted a polity of Congregationalism that emphasized the autonomy of the local parish and de-emphasized the need for hierarchical authority.76
The Patriarchate of Constantinople, the ranking episcopal see in the Orthodox Church, claimed to have ultimate jurisdiction over the developing Orthodox Church in North America in virtue of canons and precedents reaching back to the fourth century. However, the Patriarchate temporarily transferred its jurisdiction over the so-called diaspora in America to the autocephalous Church of Greece in 1908. While the difficulties in the parishes in America may have contributed to the decision, it appears that the Turkish government had become concerned with anti-Turkish activities of the Greek immigrants in the United States.77
However, from 1908 to 1918 the Church of Greece undertook no major action to unify and direct the parishes in the United States. While many believed that the synod of the Church of Greece would provide America with a resident bishop, none was sent. Some believed that the synod took no action because of the influence of Lambros Coromilas, who was the Greek ambassador to the United States. He was accused of viewing religion as a «medieval hindrance» and of wanting the church to remain «headless» so that he could become the unquestioned leader of his compatriots in the United States.78
Regardless of whether this accusation was entirely accurate, the fact remains that the status of the parishes in the United States did not improve during the ten years in which they were temporarily under the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece. As we shall see in the next chapter, not until 1918 did the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, under the presidency of Metropolitan Meletios (Metaxakis), pass a resolution to organize the parishes in America.
THE CARPATHO-RUSSIAN IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR PARISHES
Prior to the October revolution of 1917 and the Russian civil war, migration of Orthodox Christians from imperial Russia to the United States was not significant. By 1910, there were only about 90,000 Russian immigrants living in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of these immigrants were Russian Jews. Of the small minority of Russian immigrants who were Orthodox Christians, most lived either in San Francisco or in New York City. By the time of World War I, these two cities had communities of Russian Orthodox immigrants that numbered no more than l,000.79
As we have already noted, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Pastoral School was transferred from Sitka to San Francisco in 1872. About the year 1896, a Russian Orthodox mission parish was reestablished in New York City to serve the needs of the immigrants. While this mission might be seen as the continuation of the efforts of Father Bjerring, the fact is that the new parish served chiefly the immigrant Russian population.80
The most significant migration of Slavs to the United States prior to World War I did not come from imperial Russia but rather from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These immigrants came from the areas about the Carpathian Mountains that were known as Cherbonnaya Rus or Russian Rubra. Until 1918, this area was part of the northeastern kingdom of Hungary, which was part of the Hapsburg-ruled, Austro-Hungarian Empire. Those persons who migrated to the United States from this area were usually known as Carpatho-Russians (Rusyns). This name indicates both the geographic location of their homeland as well as their ethnoreligious affiliation.81
The exact number of Carpatho-Russians who entered the United States prior to 1914 is not known. The United States government listed immigrants only by country of origin until 1899. Only after that date were immigrants classified according to race and peoples. However, it has been estimated that about 150,000 Carpatho-Russians entered the United States between 1880 and 1914. The vast majority of these immigrants were peasants who left their homeland because of poor agricultural conditions. At the time of their arrival, industry in the United States was expanding, and there was a great need for cheap labor. As a consequence of this, most of the Carpatho-Russian immigrants settled in the northeastern part of the United States, especially in Pennsylvania and Ohio. There the immigrants found employment in mines and steel mills.82
Upon their arrival in the United States, the Carpatho-Russians were Eastern-Rite Roman Catholics. Although they generally referred to themselves as pravoslavni (Orthodox), the Carpatho-Russian immigrants were Eastern Catholics who were known as either Greek Catholics or Ruthenian Catholics. Prior to the sixteenth century, the people of Carpatho-Russia had been Orthodox Christians. However, they were integrated into the Roman Catholic Church during the sixteenth century chiefly as a result of political changes. The Carpatho-Russians were permitted to retain their Orthodox liturgical traditions and many of their Orthodox religious customs. Among these was the practice of a married priesthood. However, the bishops of these Eastern Catholic dioceses were under the ultimate authority of the Roman Catholic pope. Over the course of time, these Eastern Catholics were frequently referred to as «Uniates» to emphasize their union with the Roman Catholic Church.83
The Carpatho-Russians were deeply religious people, and the immigrants sought to preserve their religious customs in the United States. Almost as soon as a significant number of immigrants settled in a particular city, they would band together to establish a parish, seek out a priest, and construct a church building. However, their religious identity created a great problem for them. While they followed most Orthodox liturgical practices, they were not members of the Orthodox Church. Although they were known as Greek Catholics, they were generally not accepted by the Latin-Rite Catholics in the United States. At that time, the Roman Catholics in this country had little appreciation of the diversity in Roman Catholicism that had existed in Central and Eastern Europe for centuries.
When the Carpatho-Russians began to organize their parishes, they usually encountered opposition from Roman Catholic priests and bishops, who regarded the Slavic immigrants with suspicion. Moreover, while there were many Carpatho-Russian priests among the immigrants, there was no bishop. As a consequence of this, the Carpatho-Russian priests had been instructed by the bishops in their homeland to report to the local Roman Catholic bishops in America to receive permission to serve the immigrants. Generally, the Roman Catholic bishops either knew very little about the Eastern-Rite Catholics or had very little desire to encourage Greek Catholic parishes in their diocese.84
The difficulties between the Carpatho-Russians and the Roman Catholic Church in America became especially acute in the year 1890. Father Alexis Toth arrived in Minneapolis in that year to minister to the immigrants. Among his first tasks was to visit the local Roman Catholic bishop in order to receive canonical authority to undertake his ministry. The prelate, Archbishop John Ireland, was a hierarch who was deeply committed to the Americanization of all immigrants. At that time, he had little appreciation of the Eastern European immigrants, whose desire was to retain their religious traditions and not to be rapidly assimilated into the American society.85
The encounter between Father Alexis Toth and Archbishop John Ireland was of great importance. Difficulties began when Father Toth did not genuflect before the hierarch but only kissed his hand. When Archbishop Ireland learned that the priest was a Greek Catholic and that he was a widower, the bishop told Father Alexis that he had already written to Rome to protest the entrance of Greek Catholic priests into America. Furthermore, the archbishop refused to give Father Alexis permission to serve the Carpatho-Russians in Minneapolis.86
Father Alexis was a well-educated priest. Prior to his arrival in the United States, he had been the professor of canon law at the University of Presov. Believing that the decision of Archbishop Ireland was in opposition to the rights of Eastern-Rite Catholics and an insult to the Carpatho-Russians, Father Alexis began to organize a parish in Minneapolis without formal permission from the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States.87
When Archbishop Ireland instituted a lawsuit against Father Alexis and the Carpatho-Russian community, the devoted priest turned to the Orthodox Church. Father Alexis organized a committee and sent the members to San Francisco to speak with Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky) of the Russian Orthodox diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. Recognizing the desire of the Carpatho-Russians to return to the Orthodox Church of their ancestors, Bishop Vladimir traveled to Minneapolis and received Father Alexis Toth and the entire parish into the Russian Orthodox diocese on 25 March 1891. That day was not only the Festival of the Annunciation of Mary, the Mother of God, but also the First Sunday of Lent, which is known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
The action of Bishop Vladimir was formally recognized by the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia on 14 July 1892. A letter from Metropolitan Isidore of Novgorod and St. Petersburg stated: «The Ruling All Russian Holy Synod, becoming informed of the conversion re-uniting with the Holy Orthodox Church of the pastor and his faithful parishioners who emigrated from the Carpathian Mountains to America, namely 361 Russian Uniates and their pastor, Father Alexis Toth, joyfully raising their prayers in thanks to the Lord God upon the blessed occasion impart Orthodox pastoral benediction upon the Reverend Toth and his parishioners, henceforth, Orthodox faithful.»88
After his entrance into the Russian Orthodox diocese, Father Alexis Toth traveled throughout the northeastern United States to encourage the Carpatho-Russian clergy and laity to return to the Orthodox Church. Through the direct efforts of Father Alexis, about twenty Carpatho-Russian parishes, which contained about 29,000 faithful, entered the Orthodox Church. At the time of his death on 7 May 1909, Father Alexis Toth was eulogized as the «father» of Orthodoxy in America.89
This dramatic development caused the focus of the Russian Orthodox diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska to shift from the Alaskan territory and San Francisco to the northeastern region of the United States. Under the leadership of Bishop Tikhon (Bellavin), the administrative center of the diocese was moved to New York City in 1905, chiefly because of the immigration and the return of the Carpatho-Russians to Orthodox Christianity. It has been estimated that as many as 250,000 Eastern Catholics who migrated from various parts of Eastern Europe entered the Russian Orthodox diocese by 1914. The unwillingness of the Vatican to recognize the legitimate concerns of the Carpatho-Russians accelerated this process. Indeed, the publication of the papal bull Ea semper in 1907 and its demand that Eastern Catholic clergy in North America be celibate only aggravated the difficult situation.90
The official United States government census figures reflect the dramatic development that occurred in the Russian Orthodox diocese. In the census of 1890, the diocese claimed to have 22 churches in Alaska and one in San Francisco.91 In the census of 1906, the number of parishes had risen to 59.92 Ten years later, in 1916, the diocese claimed to have 164 churches.93 Perhaps as many as two-thirds of these parishes were located in the northeastern part of the United States and consisted of former Eastern Catholics.
One of the most influential bishops of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese during this period was Archbishop Tikhon (Bellavin), who assumed its leadership in September 1898. When he arrived in the country, Archbishop Tikhon was the only Orthodox bishop in the United States. In his capacity as head of the diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska, he was responsible not only for the Orthodox Christians of the Alaskan territory but also for those throughout the United States who were part of the Russian mission. This meant that his flock was multilingual and multinational. His jurisdiction stretched from the East Coast to the West Coast. It included both Native Americans in Alaska and many of the immigrants in the major cities of the East who had accepted the oversight of the Russian Orthodox diocese. This included many Serbian, Syrian, Albanian, Romanian, and Bulgarian immigrants, who also began to establish parishes during this period.94
Archbishop Tikhon was responsible for providing both structure and direction to the Russian Orthodox diocese at a very critical period in its development. In order to be closer to the new immigrants, he received permission to transfer the see of the diocese to New York in 1905. Upon his recommendation, the name of the see had been changed to the diocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America in 1900. It was raised to the status of an archdiocese in 1907. Under his leadership, St. Tikhon Monastery was established in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, and a seminary was established in Minneapolis for the training of priests, missionaries, and teachers. Archbishop Tikhon personally oversaw the construction of traditional, Russian-style church buildings in Chicago and New York. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas in New York, which is still standing today, was to be the center of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese for decades to come.
Archbishop Tikhon also authorized the publication in 1906 of a Service Book, containing an English translation of the liturgy, Sacraments, and selected other prayer services. With the translation provided by Isabel Hapgood, this classic text became a valuable tool for the use of English in the liturgical services for decades.95
Archbishop Tikhon also had a vision for the developing church in America. He appears to have recognized that the Orthodox Church in the United States had the potential of becoming a truly indigenous church and not simply an extension of the Church of Russia. In 1905, he made a bold proposal for the creation of a unified American Church, which would have a number of diocesan bishops. These diocesan bishops would have specific responsibility for particular ethnic groups. Writing to the synod of the Church of Russia, he said:
The diocese of North America must be reorganized into an Exarchate of the Church of Russia. The diocese is not only multinational; it is composed of several Orthodox Churches which keep the unity of faith, but preserve their particularities in canonical structure, in liturgical rules, in parish life. These particularities are dear to them and can perfectly be tolerated on the pan-Orthodox scene.... It should be remembered, however, that life in the New World is different from that of the old; our Church must take this into consideration; a greater autonomy (or possibly autocephaly) should, therefore, be granted to the Church of America as compared with other metropolitan sees of the Russian Church.96
Archbishop Tikhon naturally assumed that the Church of Russia had jurisdiction over all Orthodox in America, a position that not all would accept even at that time. However, his bold proposal cannot be underestimated. It sought to create a single, united Orthodox Church that would be manifested in a united episcopacy. This united church would recognize its diverse membership and allow for differences in customs and practices of the various ethnic groups.
It would seem that Archbishop Tikhon had started to move in this direction when, in 1903, he requested that Father Innocent Pustynsky be consecrated in Russia as vicar for Alaska. A year later, Archbishop Tikhon and Bishop Innocent consecrated Father Raphael Hawaweeny as the bishop of Brooklyn, with special responsibility for the Arab Orthodox immigrants. Plans were also made to elect diocesan bishops who would serve the specific needs of Serbians and Albanians.97
Just prior to his departure from the United States, Archbishop Tikhon presided at the first All-American Council (Sobor) of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese. Convened in Mayfield, Pennsylvania, in 1907, it brought together both clergy and lay representatives from the diocesan parishes, which then numbered about one hundred. The theme of the council was «How to Expand the Mission.» While the council concerned itself with many practical matters, its structure and methodology were very significant. Under the leadership of Archbishop Tikhon, the council and its preparatory gatherings sought to establish a tradition of conciliarity that recognized the legitimate responsibilities of both the clergy and the laity.
Prior to leaving the United States to return to Russia in 1907, Archbishop Tikhon preached a sermon that emphasized the importance of the Orthodox mission in America:
Orthodox people must care for the dissemination of the Orthodox faith among the heterodox. Christ the Savior said that men lighting a lamp do not put it under a bushel but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house (Mat 5:15). The light of Orthodoxy also is not lit for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox faith is catholic. It remembers the commandment of its founder: «Go into all the world ...» Mat: 28:19. It is our obligation to share our spiritual treasures, our truth, our light and our joy with those who do not have these gifts.98
Archbishop Tikhon left the United States because he had been elected the Archbishop of Iaroslav (1907–1914). After subsequently serving the see of Vilno (1914–1917), he was elected Metropolitan of Moscow. In the wake of World War I, he was elected to preside at the historic Church Council of 1917–1918. This council decided to restore the position of Patriarch of Moscow, which had been suppressed at the time of Peter the Great in 1700. With the Bolshevik revolution under way, at this council Tikhon was chosen by lot to become the new patriarch. Prior to his death in 1925, he steadfastly defended the church against the persecutions of the Bolsheviks. He was formally proclaimed a saint by the Church of Russia in 1990.99
OTHER ORTHODOX IMMIGRANTS
The rapid increase of immigrants from Greece, Carpatho-Russia, the Balkans, and the Middle East, which began toward the end of the nineteenth century, changed the character of the early parishes and all subsequent parishes established during the first half of the twentieth century. The Pan-Orthodox character of the early parishes was lost as various immigrant groups established parishes to serve their particular needs. As the Orthodox immigrants began to settle in the various cities of the United States, it became common for the parishes to be established along ethnic or linguistic lines. This phenomenon was commonplace not only among the Greeks and the Carpatho-Russians but also among the Serbians, Arabs, Bulgarians, Albanians, Romanians, and Ukrainians.
A parish serving Serbian immigrants was established in 1894 in Jackson, California.100 At about the same time, a parish serving Arab immigrants came into existence in Brooklyn, New York, in 1895.101 One for Bulgarians was established in 1907 in Madison, Wisconsin.102 Another for Albanians was established in 1908 in Boston.103 A parish for Romanian immigrants was established in 1904 in Cleveland, Ohio.104 As the numbers of immigrants of these groups increased, other parishes were rapidly established in many of the larger cities.
The establishment of these ethnic parishes reflected the fact that each existed not only as a worshiping community but also as a center serving the cultural and social needs of the immigrants. In the midst of a new country, the immigrants found emotional support, assistance, and a part of their homeland within their churches. While these ethnic parishes served the immediate needs of the immigrants and their children, they did little to promote cooperation and unity among all the Orthodox.
Throughout the period of immigration up until 1921, the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese was the only Orthodox ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the Russian Orthodox bishop was the only resident hierarch in the United States. As a consequence, many Orthodox immigrants who were not of Russian background accepted the authority of the Russian bishop in the United States. This was especially true of the Serbs, Arabs, Albanians, and Romanians. In order to serve better the needs of these immigrants, the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese established a mission diocese with a bishop for Syrian immigrants in 1904. As we have noted, the first Orthodox bishop consecrated in the United States was Father Raphael Hawaweeny, a native of Damascus, Syria, who supervised the Arabic-speaking Orthodox for about twenty years.105 Likewise, Father Stephen Dzubay was consecrated a bishop, in 1916, especially to serve the Carpatho-Russian immigrants.106 Plans were also made to consecrate a bishop to serve the Serbian parishes, but this never materialized.
In much the same way that the Church of Russia and the Russian Empire acted as the protector of Orthodox Christianity throughout parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East prior to the October revolution of 1917, so also the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese viewed itself as the protector of Orthodoxy in the United States. Given the cultural, ethnic, and historical associations of the Old World, it was somewhat natural that many Carpatho-Russian, Syrian, Serbian, Albanian, and Romanian immigrants would associate their parishes with the Russian Orthodox archdiocese.
The Greek immigrants did not follow the pattern that others did. Throughout the period of great immigration, there was very little contact between the Greek parishes and the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese. Although some authors have maintained that all Orthodox in America accepted the authority of the Russian bishop prior to 1921, there is not sufficient evidence to support this claim.107 The vast majority of the Greek parishes were organized without any contact with the Russian bishops in America. When a parish of Greek immigrants needed a priest, the parish leaders generally appealed to the ecclesiastical authorities, either Athens or Constantinople.108 Even the marriages of Greek immigrants in America often had to be approved by bishops in the homeland.109
Having said this, however, it must also be stated that there is evidence of limited cooperation between some Greek priests and the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese. In the years prior to World War I, at least three priests of Greek background appear to have served under the jurisdiction of the Russian bishop. These priests were Father Michael Andreades, Father Kallinikos Kanellos, and Father Theoklitos Triantafilidis. Each of these had studied in Russia and spoke Russian as well as Greek. In the early part of the twentieth century, these priests served parishes in the western part of the United States that were composed of both Greeks and Slavs.110
Some evidence also shows that a small number of Greek parishes turned to the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese for assistance prior to 1921. Specifically, the archives of the Russian Archdiocese contain letters from six Greek parishes that requested antimencia (altar cloths). Only one undated letter from this period was sent to the Russian Archdiocese from a Greek parish that was seeking a priest. These limited examples of Greek parishes that sought assistance from the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese are exceptions and not the norm.111
Indeed, evidence indicates that the Russian Orthodox diocese recognized that the Greek priests and Greek Orthodox parishes were not part of its jurisdiction. On the parish listings of the Russian Orthodox diocese for 1906, the Greek Orthodox parishes are not included. Furthermore, the document notes that in addition to the listed clergymen, «there are several Greek priests who are under the Metropolitan of Athens but who, so far as Episcopal Ministrations are concerned, call upon the Orthodox Archbishop of North America.»112 While this statement is ambiguous, it does indicate that the Russian Orthodox diocese recognized that the Greek priests in America were not fully under its jurisdiction. In this regard, it should also be noted that the Greek parishes were not listed among those belonging to the Russian Orthodox jurisdiction in lists published in 1911 and 1918.113
The Orthodox parishes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were, for the most part, ethnic communities. Most of the earliest Orthodox parishes in the continental United States served all Orthodox immigrants or merchants without regard for ethnic background. However, as immigration increased in the three decades before World War I, it became common for Orthodox parishes to be organized on an ethnic or linguistic basis. This practice reflected the fact that the parish was not only a worshiping community but also a center of social and cultural life. However, this practice did not contribute to a sense of Orthodox unity in America or Orthodox mission in America.
While the various immigrant groups professed the same Orthodox faith and generally followed the same liturgical practices, there was very little evidence of Orthodox unity or cooperation. In the absence of a bishop whose authority was recognized by all Orthodox groups and a single unifying ecclesiastical structure, isolation among the Orthodox groups became commonplace. When compounded by linguistic barriers and cultural suspicion, this isolation frequently led to a type of de facto division among the Orthodox. This division among the Orthodox groups would become more acute in the period following World War I.
* * *
Alexander Doumouris, «Greek Orthodox Communities in America Before World War I,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11:4 (1967): 177–178.
Constance Tarasar and John Erickson, eds., Orthodox America: 1794–1976 (Syosset, N.Y.: Orthodox Church in America, 1975), pp. 38–39.
Ibid., pp. 40–41.
Ibid., p. 39.
Dimitry Grigorieff, «The Historical Background of Orthodoxy in America,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 5:1–2 (1961): 7.
See E. P. Panagopoulos, New Smyrna: An Eighteenth Century Greek Odyssey (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1966).
Charles C. Moscos, Jr., Greek Americans: Struggle and Success (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1980), pp. 8–9.
United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, Annual Report, 1975 (Washington, B.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976), pp. 86–88.
For turn-of-the-century accounts, see Thomas Burgess, Greeks in America (Boston: Shermon, Trench, 1913) and Henry Pratt Fairchild, Greek Migration to the United States (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1911).
Theodore Saloutos, The Greeks in the United States (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964), pp. 71–78.
Moscos, Greek Americans, pp. 33–34; Saloutos, The Greeks in the United States, pp. 123–126.
Saloutos, The Greeks in the United States, p. 121.
«O Patriarchikos kai Synodikos Tomos,» Ekklesiastike Alletheia 3 (1908): 183. See Metropolitan Silas of New Jersey, «Greek-Americans in Crisis,» in History of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, ed. Miltiades Efthimiou and George Christopoulos (New York: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, 1984), pp. 37–66.
Saloutos, The Greeks in the United States, p. 138.
Paul Robert Magocsi, «Carpatho-Rusyns,» in Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephen Therstrom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), p. 200.
Tarasar and Erickson, Orthodox America 1794–1976, p. 12.
Paul Robert Magocsi, Our People: Carpatho-Rusyns and Their Descendents in North America (Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1984), pp. 5–15.
Ibid, pp. 17–21.
Lawrence Barriger, Good Victory: Metropolitan Orestes Chornock and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese (Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1985), pp. 18–23.
Ibid., p. 24.
Keith S. Russin, «Fr. Alexis G. Toth and the Wilkes-Barre Litigations,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 16:3 (1972): 140–149. See also George Soldatow, ed., Archpriest Alexis Toth, Volume One, Letters, Articles, Papers, and Sermons (Toronto: Synaxis Press, 1978).
Barriger, Good Victory, pp. 25–26; Russin, «Father Alexis G. Toth» pp. 129–134.
Barriger, Good Victory, p. 27.
Tarasar and Erickson, Orthodox America 1794–1976, p. 51.
Russin, «Father Alexis G. Toth,» p. 148; Barriger, Good Victory, pp. 26–30.
Barriger, Good Victory, pp. 30–36.
Department of the Interior, Report on Statistics of Churches at the Eleventh Census: 1890 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894), p. 265.
Department of Commerce, Religious Bodies: 1906, Part III (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), p. 259.
Department of Commerce, Religious Bodies: 1916, Part III (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919), p. 225.
Leonid Kishkovsky, «Archbishop Tikhon in America,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 19:1 (1975): 9–31; Serafim Surrency, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America (New York: Saints Boris and Gleb Press, 1973), pp. 24–25.
Basil Benson, Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church of North America (New York: Colonial, 1941), pp. 13–15.
«Documents,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 19:1 (1975): 49–56.
Alexander Schmemann, «Patriarch Tikhon, 1925–1975,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 19:1 (1975): 9–31.
A portion of the text is found in Tarasar and Erickson, Orthodox America, 1794–1976, pp. 100–101.
John Meyendorff, «The Russian Church After Patriarch Tikhon,» St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 19:1 (1975), pp. 32–48.
Surrency, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America, pp. 107–110.
Ibid., pp. 110–112.
Ibid., pp. 94–95.
See Fan Noli, Fiftieth Anniversary Book of the Albanian Orthodox Church in America (Boston: Albanian Orthodox Church, 1960).
See Vasile Hategan, Fifty Years of the Romanian Orthodox Church in America (Jackson, Mich.: Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America, 1959).
William Essey, «Raphael: Bishop of Brooklyn,» The Word 5 (1976): 14.
Surrency, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America, pp. 29–32.
This claim appears early in Boris Burden, «The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America,» The Orthodox Catholic Review 1:1 (1927): 9.
Saloutos, The Greeks in the United States, pp. 123–124.
Based upon very limited evidence, it appears that the Greek Orthodox priests commemorated in liturgical services either the patriarch of Constantinople or the bishop of their home diocese. See M. Gedeon, «Ekklesiai en te Diaspora,» in E Synchronos Ellenike Ekklesia, ed. Evgenios Kostaridou (Athens, 1921).
Doumouras, «Greek Orthodox Communities in America Before World War I,» pp. 178–182.
Ibid., p. 47.
Department of Commerce, Religious Bodies: 1906, p. 61.
Tarasar and Erickson, Orthodox America 1794–1976, pp. 340–350.