2010 Census of Orthodox Christian Churches in the USA

Krindatch

Over the past decade, my friend, the incomparable sociologist Alexei Krindatch, has developed a reputation for his remarkable studies of Orthodox Christianity in America. The full collection of his work is housed at www.orthodoxreality.org. Today, Alexei has released the results of his latest and most ambitious project yet — a census of all Orthodox congregations in the United States. The most notable aspect of this census is the fact that Alexei didn’t just go to the administrations of each jurisdiction and ask for their reported numbers. He contacted every single parish in America, asking two key questions:

  • Approximately how many individual persons in total are associated in any way with the life of your parish: counting adults and children, regular and occasional attendees, paid stewards and persons who do not contribute financially?
  • Approximately how many persons — including adults and children — attend Liturgy in your parish on a typical Sunday?

Counting all “Orthodox” churches — that is, including the non-Chalcedonians as well as HOCNA (which isn’t in communion with mainstream Orthodoxy) — Alexei found that 1,043,600 people were associated with American Orthodox parishes. Of those, about 280,300 (27%) attend Liturgy on a typical Sunday.

I’m tempted to pick out some of my favorite bits of data from the census, but I really do want you to visit Alexei’s website and read what he’s presented. In the future, I’ll probably unpack the census a bit, comparing it to the old Censuses of Religious Bodies. Once again, here’s a link to the 2010 Census, and here’s a link to Alexei Krindatch’s website.

[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]

4 thoughts on “2010 Census of Orthodox Christian Churches in the USA

  1. What a marvelous bit of research! Thank you for announcing this.

    I think two things should be especially highlighted:

    1) If 46% of the Orthodox faithful in the US are in the Greek Archdiocese, when one adds to this number the faithful of the Ukrainian Church of the USA (the sixth largest jurisdiction listed), the Carpatho-Russian Diocese, the Palestinian Vicariate, and the Albanian Diocese, the end result is that the absolute majority of the Orthodox faithful in this country belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This fact gets buried amidst the usual visceral cries against “foreign bishops” and the like.

    2) The Orthodox presence in this country is so diminutive as to be statistically negligible. With the Non-Chalcedonians taken out, we’re at roughly 0.26% of the US population. This must be a rude awakening to certain people (usually militant autocephalists) who operate on the conviction that we are the center of the Orthodox universe. Other than the long overdue debunking of the myth of primeval Russian hegemony, this whole matter of the actual number of Orthodox in the US might be the most important false belief to be addressed in our current situation.

  2. Definitely an eye-opening census, although I’m not sure it gives an accurate view of the reality of things as I have the feeling the GOAA is more organized about putting every Greek in the neighborhood on the parish rolls than the OCA and the ROCOR are about doing the same with their own ‘cradles’ or whatnot.

    I was a little disappointed that Krindatch failed to survey the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the USA and also the parishes of the Ethiopian Orthodox Synod in Exile, the Synod in Resistance of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. If the HOCNA made this census, then these groups should have as well I would think.

  3. “1) If 46% of the Orthodox faithful in the US are in the Greek Archdiocese, when one adds to this number the faithful of the Ukrainian Church of the USA (the sixth largest jurisdiction listed), the Carpatho-Russian Diocese, the Palestinian Vicariate, and the Albanian Diocese, the end result is that the absolute majority of the Orthodox faithful in this country belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This fact gets buried amidst the usual visceral cries against “foreign bishops” and the like.”
    Hardly, if for nothing else than their oppoents constantly bring it up.
    A fact not usually mentioned: about half of the bishops of the jurisdictions you mention were born in the US. Not that that matters, as the Abp. Spyridon interlude taught us. Or should have.
    What is interesting on this score is the increase of the Romanians and Bulgarians, presumably by immigration, and the question of where the growth is coming in the OCA and Antioch, the next highest groups in increase of parishes. Why are the Ukrainians decreasing while ACROD increasing?

    “we’re at roughly 0.26% of the US population. This must be a rude awakening to certain people (usually militant autocephalists) who operate on the conviction that we are the center of the Orthodox universe.”

    The collapse of Greece pushes the US further to center stage., even for the Phanar. What happens here is going to chart the future course of the rest of the “diaspora”: what is happening in the Antiochian Archdiocese is already rumbling back home. The main question posed is only how effectively the Orthodox here are going to use the resources of this country in the service of Orthodoxy, here and abroad.

    “Other than the long overdue debunking of the myth of primeval Russian hegemony, this whole matter of the actual number of Orthodox in the US might be the most important false belief to be addressed in our current situation.”

    Since in 1904 St. Petersburg not only had a fully functioning archdiocese over all of North America, she had the only functioning diocese/episcopal oversight in all of North America-and that fact only increases the further back you go-I’m not sure what there is to debunk. How relevant that is can be debated. As for the percentage of the US population, I don’t think anyone thought we were in any great numbers, but I’m not sure how or why that would matter. To me it just says we have a lot of mission work ahead of us.

  4. I find the census encouraging. People who are attracted to the small and humble things can’t fail to spot us now unless we choose to play coy by pretending to be something we’re not. The knowledge of our smallness is a blessing.

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