Timeline of Eastern Orthodoxy in North America

Early visits and missions (1700–1900)

  • 1741 Divine Liturgy celebrated on a Russian ship off the coast of Alaska.
  • 1767 A community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
  • 1787 The US Constitution is drafted in Philadelphia, embodying the ideal of secular government with deliberate separation of "church and state" (First Amendment).
  • 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.
  • 1803 Louisiana Purchase expands American territory beyond Mississippi River.
  • 1804 The double-headed eagle became a motif widely used in Tlingit art, after the Russian-Tlingit Battle of Sitka in 1804, when Aleksandr Baranov, the first governor of colonial Russian Alaska and manager of the Russian-America Company, presented the Kiks.adi Sitka Tlingit leaders with a large medallion on which was found the Russian imperial symbol.[1]
  • 1812 Russian colony of Fort Ross established on the coast 60 miles north of San Francisco.
  • 1816 Martyrdom of Peter the Aleut near San Francisco.
  • 1819 Various Spanish territories ceded to United States, including Florida.
  • 1824 Fr. John Veniaminov comes to Unalaska, Alaska.
  • 1825 First native priest, Jacob Netsvetov.
  • 1830 Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church is founded on Saint Paul Island (Alaska), in the Bering Sea.[2]
  • 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.
  • 1843 First mission school for the Eskimos was established at Nushagak by Russian-Greek Orthodox Church.[3]
  • 1844 Formation of seminary in Sitka.[note 1]
  • 1848 Consecration of St. Michael's Cathedral (Sitka, Alaska); Pacific Southwest won from Mexico by United States.
  • 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.
  • 1865 First Divine Liturgy celebrated in New York City, by Fr. Agapius Honcharenko.
  • 1867 Alaska purchased by the United States from Russia;[note 2] 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.
  • 1878 Bp. Nestor (Zakkis) succeeds John (Metropolsky).
  • 1880-1920 Emigration of approximately 400,000 Greeks to the United States, one-fifth of the total population, many as hired labor for the railroads and mines of the American West.[5][6]
  • 1882 Bp. Nestor (Zakkis) drowns in the Bering Sea.
  • 1886-1895 In the face of their shamans' inability to treat Old World diseases including smallpox, many Tlingit people (an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America), converted to Orthodox Christianity.[7][note 3]
  • 1888 Bp. Vladimir (Sokolovsky) becomes Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska.
  • 1890 The first Orthodox arrived in Saskatchewan.[9]
  • 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; Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox parish-community is founded in New York.[note 4]
  • 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; first American-born person ordained, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich.
  • 1895 Archim. Raphael (Hawaweeny) arrives in America; first Syrian parish in Brooklyn, New York, founded by St. Raphael of Brooklyn; Fr. John Kochurov arrives in America and becomes priest of the Russian parish in Chicago; Fr. Anatolii Kamenskii arrives in Alaska; 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 background"; St. Alexander Hotovitsky appointed as rector in New York; Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is chartered by a special act of the New York State Legislature, being the first Greek Church founded in New York, and the second Greek Church founded in the Americas.[note 5]
  • 1898 Bp. Nicholas (Ziorov) returns to Russia; Tikhon (Belavin) becomes Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska; American annexation of Hawaii.

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; first Romanian parish in North America founded in Regina, Saskatchewan.
  • 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; Episcopal priest of nearly 30 years Dr. Ingram Irvine converted to Orthodoxy, assigned to "English work."
  • 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 Russian Tsar, during divine services; blessing of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery by hierarchs Tikhon, Raphael and Innocent; translation of Service Book by Isabel Hapgood.
  • 1907 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; 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; ordination in Constantinople of first African-American Orthodox priest, the Very Rev. Fr. Raphael Morgan, Priest-Apostolic to America and the West Indies.
  • 1908 Church of Constantinople gives care for Greek Orthodox parishes in the US to the Church of Greece; Fr. Theophan Noli celebrates first Divine Liturgy in the Albanian language; 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 vote to come under Serbian Orthodox Church but meet with no official response.
  • 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; death of Rev. Agapius Honcharenko.
  • 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 at the All Russian Sobor of 1917-1918.
  • 1918-24 Emigration of 70,000 Greeks to the United States.

Revolution and rivalry (1918–1943)

  • 1918 The Bolshevik Revolution throws the Church of Russia into chaos, effectively stranding the fledgling Russian mission in America; Metr. Meletios (Metaxakis) of Athens arrives in America to organize Greek parishes; Constantinople rescinds temporary transfer of Greek parishes in US to Greece.
  • 1919 Southern Church Council meets in Stavropol at which Higher Church Administration was formed in Southern Russia; 2nd All-American Sobor meets in Cleveland, electing Alexander (Nemolovsky) as its new diocesan bishop, and also electing bishops for the Albanian and Serbian communities, 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 bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) meet in synod in Karlovtsy, Serbia, including Metr. Platon (Rozhdestvensky), primate of the Russian Metropolia; death of Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine; in New York City, George Alexander McGuire founded the non-canonical "African Orthodox Church" (AOC), envisaged as a home for Blacks of the Protestant Episcopal persuasion who wanted ecclesiastical independence, based on Apostolic tradition.
  • 1922 Church of Greece transfers control of its parishes to the Church of Constantinople; founding of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Russian Metropolia convenes 3rd All-American Sobor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • 1924 4th 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; Bp. Stephen (Dzubay) returns to the Unia; Ukrainians in Canada join Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) (non-canonical).
  • 1926 Metr. Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of the Metropolia breaks ties with the ROCOR synod; founding of Serbian diocese.
  • 1927 ROCOR synod sends epistle to American parishes suspending Platon and his clergy; founding of the American Orthodox Catholic Church by the Russian Metropolia under Aftimios Ofiesh; 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, under the Romanian Orthodox Church.
  • 1930 Abp. Joasaph (Skorodumov) ("The Enlightener of Canada") becomes the founding bishop of the Canadian Diocese of ROCOR; Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab) leaves the American Orthodox Catholic Church (AOCC) and returns to Metropolia, re-establishing Brooklyn diocese.
  • 1931 Abp. Athenagoras (Spyrou) becomes primate of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (1931–1948).
  • 1933 Metr. Platon (Rozhdestvensky) refuses to pledge loyalty to Moscow, which declares the Metropolia to be in schism and establishes the Russian Exarchate of North America (1933–1970); 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 Leontius (Turkevich); marriage and apostasy of Ignatius (Nichols) (first with Living Church and then independently).
  • 1934 Death of Platon; Theophilus (Pashkovsky) of San Francisco elected primate of Metropolia at 5th All-American Sobor in Cleveland, Ohio; death of Germanos (Shehadi) in Lebanon; Abp. Athenagoras (Spyrou) established the "Orthodox Observer", providing a wide range of news and information about the Church, its ministries, and the activities of its many communities to a readership that now exceeds 500,000.
  • 1935 "Temporary Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad" signed by ROCOR synod in Karlovtsy, Serbia, including Metr. Theophilus (Pashkovsky) of the Metropolia, thus renewing relations; ROCOR is divided into four regions, including North America with Theophilus as the regional primate.
  • 1936 Metr. Anthony (Bashir) consecrated for the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York; on the same day (April 19), three Metropolia bishops consecrate rival Abp. Samuel (David) for the Syrians, thus solidifying the developing schism in the Antiochian faithful in the US (the "Russi-Antaaki" split).
  • 1937 6th 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 Orthodox Church founded the Bulgarian Church Mission Diocese in North America, appointing Bp. Andrey Velicki administrator; Carpatho-Russian diocese established by Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople with second wave of Uniate returns to Orthodoxy.
  • 1941 Church of Antioch restores Abp. 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)

Union and division (1970–1994)

Ligonier and beyond (1994–present)


  1. In 1844, St. Innocent (Veniaminov) organized the first Orthodox theological school in North America at Sitka, inaugurating a golden age of Orthodox educational ministry and mission in Alaska. This lasted until the catastrophe of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, when the last Russian-sponsored parochial school in Alaska closed.[4]
  2. October 18 is now celebrated as "Alaska Day."[3]
  3. Russian Orthodox missionaries had translated their liturgy into the Tlingit language. It has been argued that they saw Eastern Orthodox Christianity as a way of resisting assimilation to the "American way of life," which was associated with Presbyterianism.[8]
  4. "In the fall of 1891 there were about 500 male Greeks and perhaps 20 Greek women in New York. The establishment of the Athena Brotherhood intertwined Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy; from these few sprung forth the first Greek association in this hemisphere and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox parish. A small part of an Evangelical church on West 53rd Street near Ninth Avenue was rented at $50.00 per month. Holy Trinity - the second Greek Orthodox church in the Americas and the first in New York City - had found its first home."[10]
  5. "Chartered by a special act of the New York State Legislature in 1896, it occupied several locations. In 1904 a permanent church building, an Episcopal church of Gothic architecture at 153 East 72nd Street, was purchased. The first service was held on April 3, 1904. Later that same year, the dynamic Father Methodeos Kourkoules assumed the pastorate and remained its benevolent and resolute spiritual leader until 1940."[10]
  6. Saint Paul University in Ottawa is the home of the "Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies", named after the primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Andrey Sheptytsky (1865–1944). It specializes in Eastern Christian Studies, with special but not exclusive emphasis on the tradition of the Church of Kyiv.


  1. Two Views of Double-Headed Eagles. Northwest Coast Archaeology. Posted on March 1, 2010. Retrieved: 2013-10-05.
  2. SS. Peter and Paul Church. Orthodox Church in America (OCA) - Parishes. Retrieved: 2013-10-06.
  3. Alaska Native History - Timeline - Alaskool. Alaskool (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage). Retrieved: 2013-10-06.
  4. St. Herman's Seminary, Kodiak, Alaska. Orthodox Church in America (OCA) - Parishes. Retrieved: 2013-10-06.
  5. Alexander Kitroeff. The Story of Greek Migration to America. The Journey: The Greek American Dream (Documentary Film).
  6. C. Moskos. "The Greeks in the United States." In: R. Clogg (cd.). The Greek Diaspora in the Twentieth Century. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1999. p.105.
  7. Boyd, Robert Thomas. The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774-1874. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. p. 241.
  8. Kan, Sergei. Memory Eternal: Tlingit Culture and Russian Orthodox Christianity Through Two Centuries. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999. pp.xix-xxii.
  9. Yaroslaw Lozowchuk and Gerald Luciuk. Orthodox Churches. The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved: 11 July 2014.
  10. Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Cathedral History: The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Archived 2012-12-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  11. Subdeacon Kevin Wigglesworth. Statistics of Orthodox Christianity in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity. Volume V, No 1, Winter 2010. p.33. (.PDF)
  12. Pravoslavie.ru. Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy & Saint Paul University sign cooperation agreement. 16/12/2010.


  • Vuković, Sava (1998). History of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America and Canada 1891–1941. Kragujevac: Kalenić.
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