1911 membership certificate from Ss Peter & Paul Russian Church in Lorain, OH
First of all, let me apologize for being away from this site — and from the podcast — for so long. My wife gave birth to our third child a few weeks ago, and I’ve been buried in gainful employment, so my historical work has been forced onto the back burner for a little while. (For those who aren’t aware, I’ve got one semester of law school left, and I’m already doing a lot of work for the firm that’s hired me. My focus is on employee benefits, which means that the recent Supreme Court decision on “Obamacare” directly affects my day-to-day activities. So I’ve been obscenely busy, even apart from the new baby and my two other kids.)
Anyway, the other day I took a few minutes off to clear my head, and for some reason I visited eBay (which isn’t a habit of mine or anything). As it turns out, eBay has some very interesting items related to Orthodox history in America, and I thought I’d share a few of them here. This might turn into an occasional feature on the site; we’ll see.
The coolest, and oldest, item I found is a framed membership certificate from Ss. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Lorain, Ohio, dating to 1911 (and pictured above).
L-R: Met. Benjamin, Abp Athenagoras, Maj. Gen. Watson, Met. Antony, and Bp Dionisije (1943)
A 1943 press photo of four Orthodox bishops and a US general. The bishops — Benjamin (Moscow Patriarchate), Athenagoras (Greek Archdiocese), Antony (Antiochian Archdiocese), and Dionisije (Serbian Diocese) were the core members of the Federation, the original pan-Orthodox hierarchical body in America. They were on a visit to the White House to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt.
The 1956 Yearbook and Church Directory for the Russian Metropolia (today’s OCA). The 100+ page book is full of articles and lists, including a directory of every parish in the Metropolia, a list of ordinations for 1955, an account of the Ninth All-American Sobor, and an obituary for Bishop Jonah of Washington (no, not that one).
The book Father Agapius Honcharenko: First Ukrainian Priest in the United States, by Theodore Luciw and published in 1970. This is an admiring biography of one of the strangest figures in American Orthodox history. I borrowed a copy from the library several years ago, and while it’s an invaluable resource, it’s also written by someone who views Honcharenko as rather heroic, so that affects the way he’s presented. Anyway, the book is almost worth buying for the cover art alone (and you probably won’t see that cover art on a library copy).
This is one of my favorite finds: a coin from 1977 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the re-established Moscow Patriarchate. The coin features the images of all four Patriarchs up to that point — Tikhon, Sergius, Alexei, and Pimen. As you might expect, the coin is from Russia, but of course Tikhon was previously Archbishop of North America and the other Patriarchs had a major impact on Orthodoxy in America. The coin was given to people who attended the official anniversary ceremony, and it’s still in its original wooden case.
A key chain from 1982, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon. These sorts of trinkets are really common today, but I’d wager there aren’t too many that still survive from 30 years ago. Holy Trinity is one of the oldest Orthodox parishes in the Pacific Northwest, and was the successor to the earlier Holy Trinity chapel, which operated under the Russian Diocese.
If any of our readers buys one of these items, please let us know!