Last week, we introduced the first issue of the Journal of American Orthodox Church History (JAOCH), which is available from Prairie Parish Press (PPP). In addition to publishing JAOCH, PPP has begun producing a “Collected Works Series,” featuring the writings of important Eastern Christian figures, with a special emphasis on American authors. The first book in the series is a collection of Nicholas Bjerring’s writings (appropriately titled Nicholas Bjerring: The Collected Works). The e-book is edited by Fr. Oliver Herbel, who has spent years researching Bjerring.
Regular OrthodoxHistory.org readers are probably familiar with Bjerring, a Roman Catholic who converted to Orthodoxy in 1870, was ordained a priest in Russia, and established the first Orthodox chapel in New York City. Bjerring published an English-language Orthodox journal and acted as a sort of embassy priest until 1883, when the Russian government closed the chapel. Rather than accept a teaching position in St. Petersburg, the discouraged Bjerring converted to Presbyterianism before ultimately returning to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death.
Nicholas Bjerring: The Collected Works opens with an introduction by Fr. Oliver, who provides an 11-page biographical sketch of the man. This is followed by two letters by Bjerring in 1870 — one to Pope Pius IX in which Bjerring denounces the dogma of papal infallibility and informs the Pope that he will become Orthodox, and the other to the Russian Holy Synod in which he requests reception into the Orthodox Church. Next come four of Bjerring’s best sermons, all from his days as an Orthodox priest. My favorite, I think, is his 1873 Sermon on Unbelief and Indifference. The last two pieces were written at the end of Bjerring’s life, when he was a Roman Catholic layman, and they are essential in understanding how the once anti-papal Bjerring came to be convinced that Rome was, in fact, his true home.
All told, if you have any interest in Bjerring, 19th century Orthodoxy, or early American Orthodox converts, this book is a must-have. The introductory price is a mere $1.00, and is available until September 1. After that, the price will go up a bit, although it will remain very affordable. I hope you’ll consider buying a copy.
And in case you missed it, here’s a link.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.