Three bishops for America in 1870?

Yesterday, in my article on James Chrystal, I mentioned, “In 1870, there were various reports that the Russian government planned to assign a bishop to New York and offered the job to Chrystal. He declined, citing his opposition to icons.” In the comments, Isa Almisry asked, quite reasonably, if I had documentation for this. Here…

James Chrystal: the first convert priest

A month ago, I did a podcast and wrote an article about the first two American Orthodox convert priests, James Chrystal and Nicholas Bjerring. Today, I’m publishing a brief biography I wrote on Chrystal (and which I adapted for use in the podcast). James Chrystal was born in 1831, ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1859…

Fr. Ambrose Vretta: the rest of the story

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Fr. Ambrose Vretta, the first parish priest of the Russian churches in both Chicago and Seattle. Toward the end of the article, I said, In December of 1896, Vretta was transferred from Seattle… And I’m not sure where he went. He was only 37 years old, so he…

Jerusalem’s Abp Panteleimon in America, 1924-1931

On October 19, I wrote about Archbishop Panteleimon of Neapolis (today’s Nablus), a bishop of the Jerusalem Patriarchate who was active in America in the 1920s. Since then, thanks to help from some readers, I’ve learned more about Abp Panteleimon’s later years in America. Here’s an update. Abp Panteleimon seems to roughly parallel the Antiochian…

Fr. Arsenios Davis & communion with Episcopalians

Officially, of course, the Orthodox Church has never been in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church. Yes, there’s been some close dialogue over the years, and once upon a time even St. Raphael blessed his people to seek out Episcopal priests in extreme situations (though he soon rescinded that permission). Still, Orthodoxy has never entered…

Orthodoxy in Chicago, 1888-1892

Back in June, I did one of my first podcasts on an attempt, in 1888, to form a multiethnic parish in Chicago. Here are the basics: By 1888, there were about a thousand Orthodox Christians living in Chicago, most of them Greeks and Serbs / Montenegrins. A few years earlier, they had organized themselves into an Orthodox society…

St. Tikhon’s Vision, 1905

In 1905, the Holy Synod of Russia was preparing for an All-Russian Council. In advance of this, the Synod asked all the diocesan hierarchs of the Russian Church to send in their opinions on various church reform issues. St. Tikhon was among the respondents, and a portion of his reply has become rather famous among…