January 16, 1924: Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow — former Archbishop of North America, and future canonized saint — issued an ukaz removing Metropolitan Platon Rozhdestvensky from his post as primate in America for “public acts of counter-revolution.” Of course, Tikhon was under pressure from the Soviet government. Really, “pressure” is an understatement; I have no doubt that he was compelled to issue that ukaz. Because this ukaz and stuff like it, later in the same year, the Russian Archdiocese declared itself independent from the Moscow Patriarchate.
January 17, 1869: Former Episcopal priest James Chrystal was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood in Syra (Greece). This would have been the eve of Theophany on the Old Calendar. Chrystal had only recently been baptized into the Orthodox Church, and very soon after returning to America, he left Orthodoxy, saying that he couldn’t tolerate the veneration of icons.
January 21, 1957: Greek Archbishop Michael Konstantinides delivered the invocation at President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration. This was the first time that an Orthodox bishop was invited to participate in a presidential inauguration. In the years surrounding this event, Orthodoxy came to be recognized by dozens of states as the “fourth major faith,” along with Roman Catholicism, Protestantism (treated as a generic whole, in spite of its myriad divisions), and Judaism.
If you know of another major American Orthodox historical event that occurred between the 16th and 22nd of January, let us know in the comments!
I’ve written more words about Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine than about any other historical figure. Irvine was an Episcopal priest who converted to Orthodoxy in 1905, was ordained by St. Tikhon, and played a major role in American Orthodoxy until his death in January 1921. He was a trusted assistant to St. Raphael Hawaweeny, and he was the chief advocate of the use of English in Orthodox worship. Irvine’s significance to American Orthodox history is difficult to overstate.
I’m now working on a book about Irvine. No specifics yet, but I plan to finish it by the time I graduate from law school in a year. I’ve slowly begun to review my sources on Irvine, and I stumbled onto a really, really strange bit of information.
Irvine died in Brooklyn on January 23, 1921. The first obituary was published the next day, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. This obituary seems to have been the main source for the obituaries that appeared in numerous other papers in the following days. Here’s the weird part:
The Rev. Dr. Ingram N.W. Irvine, 71 years old, in charge of the English division of the Eastern Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of America, died on Sunday, of heart trouble, at his residence, 677 Sterling pl. The funeral services will be held tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock, at Dr. Irvine’s late home, the Rev. A.L. Charles, rector of St. Mark’s P.E. Church, officiating, and the internment will follow in Greenwood Cemetery. Dr. Irvine is survived by his wife, Mrs. Emmalena Wilson Irvine, and a daughter, Mrs. Annie Chapin.
There’s not really any question that Irvine remained Orthodox to the end of his life. Even this obituary speaks of him as being the head of the “English division” up to his death. And if you know anything about Irvine, you know that he was a stubborn mule who wouldn’t just cut and run from a church at the first hint of discomfort. I’m 99.9% certain that Irvine did not revert to Episcopalianism in the month before he died.
So why was Irvine’s funeral in his home and not in a church — and why did an Episcopal priest officiate? Apart from the almost impossible prospect of a deathbed apostasy, here are the most likely scenarios I can come up with (with help from Aram Sarkisian and Fr. Oliver Herbel):
1. Irvine’s widow and/or daughter arranged for an Episcopalian funeral. This, in my view, is the most likely scenario. We don’t know much of anything about Emmalena, Irvine’s wife. Yes, she helped Irvine with his teaching ministry, but we don’t even know if she formally converted to Orthodoxy. For all we know, she remained Episcopalian even after her husband’s conversion. As for daughter Annie, she was a very dysfunctional person. It’s a story for another day, but suffice it to say that Annie stole from a lot of people, probably was a con artist, and left her children to be primarily raised by their grandparents (the Irvines). I doubt she’d demand an Episcopalian funeral, but her motives are difficult to follow. In any case, Emmalena and/or Annie may have asked Rev. A.L. Charles of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to officiate.
2. Irvine himself asked for an Episcopalian funeral, but remained Orthodox. This is less crazy than it sounds. According to Aram Sarkisian’s research, Irvine’s bishop, Abp Alexander Nemolovsky, was in Canada when Irvine died. And Irvine had just been through a bad experience with a failed convert parish led by the erratic Archimandrite Patrick Mythen (who, incidentally, was probably in Canada with Abp Alexander when Irvine died). The nearest Orthodox bishop was the Syrian Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh of Brooklyn — a man Irvine hated. Irvine may have been so upset with the nearby Orthodox authorities that he preferred to be buried in a quiet ceremony officiated (perhaps) by an Episcopal priest that Irvine respected.
3. Irvine had an Orthodox funeral and an Episcopalian memorial service. This theory, suggested by Fr. Oliver, assumes that the newspapers just didn’t know about the Orthodox service. Along similar lines, Fr. Oliver points out that the Orthodox and Episcopalians may have officiated at the same funeral service. After all, in that era, it wasn’t unheard of for Orthodox and Episcopalian priests to officiate at the same marriage ceremony. I find this suggestion somewhat less likely than the possibility of dual funerals, simply because the Episcopalian funeral reported in the Eagle took place at Irvine’s home, rather than a church. Which suggests that it was something less than an “official” event. If Orthodox clergy were involved, why not do it at a church?
Anyway, at this point, we don’t know what was going on with Irvine’s funeral. But the three of us — Fr. Oliver, Aram, and I — are trying to track down what happened.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
Matthew has mentioned the first English speaking Transfiguration parish here:
One of the converts he mentioned was a gentleman named Reginald Wright Kauffman. Kauffman lived from 1877-1957 and was a noted author. He also served as a newspaper editor for a time. He was raised Episcopalian and apparently considered Mormonism for a time. He and his wife Ruth authored a book on it in 1912. You may still purchase a reprint from the University of Illinois Press. Despite this, he became Orthodox at the Transfiguration parish in New York in 1920. Here is a newspaper description of that event:
To the best of my knowledge, he remained Orthodox, but I am not sure of that. Fr. Daniel H.B. Montgomery mentioned Kauffman as a “pioneering convert” in “Your Orthodox Mission to America” Word Magazine (1957): 207-8, 212. This need not mean Kauffman remained Orthodox and if anyone has any information on Kauffman that relates to his Orthodoxy, we welcome feedback.
Editor’s note: We’re extremely pleased to present another article by Nicholas Chapman, who continues to excavate the very earliest origins of Orthodoxy in America. To read more about Nicholas and his exciting research, check out the upcoming edition of the journal Road to Emmaus, which features a lengthy interview with Nicholas. Also, if you’re coming to our SOCHA symposium at Princeton later this month, you’ll have an opportunity to hear Nicholas present a 20-minute lecture on his work.
In my first article on Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia published on this web site nearly two years ago, I mentioned in passing that the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Russia had retrospectively approved of Colonel Philip Ludwell III’s translation of the Orthodox Confession of Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev. At that time I was not aware that this translation was in fact published and distributed.
I cannot presently be certain at what exact time Ludwell made this translation, but it must have been some time between his conversion to Orthodoxy at the end of 1738 and his move to London in the summer of 1760. In any event the first edition was published in London, England in 1762 and during a visit to the British Library this past spring I was able to handle and read a copy of the original edition. Aside from the translation of the catechism itself it contains a preface by the translator (Ludwell) as well as a few other inserted details, all of which have much to tell us about the mind and intention of the man who may be America’s first convert to the Orthodox Faith.
The book is slim brown leather bound volume of some 209 pages, printed in black ink. It has on the spine Greek Church Orthodox Confession and London 1762. The front cover is marked only with a beautiful gold embossed crown. The title page contains the following (I was unable to make a digital copy so what follows is my copy typing of the original, leaving the mid eighteenth century English unchanged. If you remember to change that the letter f can be read, as s the meaning should be clear.) :
The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church; Faithfully Translated from the Originals
Meditate upon thefe Things, give thyself wholly to them; ———-
Take heed unto thyfelf, and unto thy Doctrine; continue in them: For in fo doing thou fhalt fave thyfelf.——
1 Tim. Iv. 15. & 16.
Printed in A.D. MDCC LXII
As Moghila’s work seems to have originally been published in both Latin and Greek, the title page information seems to suggest that Ludwell had access to both texts in making his translation. The biblical quotations chosen by Ludwell seem to indicate that the purpose of the catechism is the salvation of the individual reader. The translator’s preface that follows on the next page reveals more fully Ludwell’s purpose and mission:
Devout Chriftian Reader.
Be pleafed to accept this Labour of Love, of thine unworthy Fellow-Servant; who mindful of the Command, “When thou art converted, ftrenghten “thy Brethren,” prefenteth, with all Humility, thefe his Endeavours, for thine Attainment of the Truth, and everlafting Salvation: And, in return, affift him with thy Prayers, to the Throne of Grace and Mercy; that, whilft he offereth Inftruction to others, he may fo take Heed unto himfelf, that he become not a Caft-away.
Thus faith the Lord, Stand ye in the Ways, and fee, and afk for the old Paths, where is the good Way, and walk therein, and ye fhall find Reft for your Souls.
Jerem. Vi. 16.
Unto you that fear my Name, fhall the Sun of Righteoufnefs arife with healing in his Wings. Mal. Iv. 2.
These words and quotations, although brief, clearly indicate an apostolic intention on the part of Ludwell, to reveal the fullness of the Orthodox Faith to his fellow British and British American countryman. At the same time he does not see them as being radically “other” but as fellow believers whose present understanding of the Faith needs to be strengthen by a return to the “old paths” which he understood to be found in the Orthodox Faith. As such he stands within the best tradition of Orthodox mission that seeks to recognize all that is good and of God in a culture and then to show how it may be completed within the Orthodox tradition.
I have not been able to ascertain how many copies of this original edition were published and how widely they were circulated. Clearly it did circulate. There is a fascinating article in the Scottish Review published in Paisley, Scotland in January 1892. The article is entitled Translated Greek Office Books. The author of this extensive article turns out to be no less than the Rev. Fr. Stephen Hatherly the late nineteenth century English convert to Orthodoxy who briefly attempted to start an Orthodox mission in New York in the 1880’s. (Click here for more information.) Hatherly writes as follows of Ludwell’s (aka Lodvel’s) work:
Another English writer on the subject of the Greek Church who preceded Dr. King is Col. Lodvel. The work attributed to him is one of the most important in the ample oriental ecclesiastical library. Dr. King alludes to the original of the work, and to three translation, though it publication had a ten years’ start of his book.
Here Hatherly is saying that Dr. King did not know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation. Dr. King was Dr. John Glen King D.D. who in 1764 had been appointed Chaplain of the English Factory in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1772, he published in London his opus magnum The Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church in Russia; containing an account of its Doctrine,Worship and Discipline. Hatherly says of this work that it is now a scarce book and is likely to become scarcer, being bought up on every opportunity at American account. (Emphasis mine.)
Having pointed out that King did not seem to know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation, Hatherly then reveals that he has in front of him a personally inscribed copy. He writes:
After the word ‘originals’ in the title page, there is, in a clear old fashioned handwriting, the addition, ‘of Nectarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem; Parthenius, Patriarch of Constantinople; and the catechism of Petr Mogilaw, Archbishop of Kiow. And afterwards, with a coarser pen, and inferior ink, ‘By Col. Lodvel, father to Mrs. Paradise.’
Did Hatherly make use of Ludwell’s work during his abortive Orthodox mission in the USA and how many copies had already crossed the Atlantic in the 120+ years preceding it? A quick search suggests that no original physical copies are held in any US library, but given the sturdy, handsomely bound volume I held in my hands this past April, I find it difficult to believe that more copies have not survived.
Copyright – Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, NY, September 11, 2011
We’ve devoted a fair amount of attention here at OrthodoxHistory.org to Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America. Very briefly: Morgan was born in Jamaica, traveled widely, and eventually became an Episcopalian deacon in the United States. In 1907, after many years of study, he traveled to Constantinople and was received into the Orthodox Church and ordained a priest. He was commissioned to establish an Orthodox mission for black Americans in Philadelphia. We know that he remained Orthodox through at least 1916, but we’ve found no traces of him after that.
In 1909, Morgan and his wife Charlotte divorced. Fr. Raphael retained custody of their 13-year-old daughter, Roberta Viola Morgan, while their 9-year-old son Cyril Ignatius lived with his mother. Charlotte later remarried, and I think Cyril went on to become some sort of Protestant minister in New York. The April 6, 1933 issue of the Philadelphia Tribune reported that “Rev. Cyril Morgan of New York was the weekend guest of his mother, Mrs. Charlotte Baylis[s]” in Wayne, PA. This is as far as I’ve been able to trace Cyril’s whereabouts, although I have found references to a Rev. Cyril T. Morgan of New York — who may or may not be our man – into the late 1940s.
Roberta Viola Morgan has proven more difficult to find — until now. The website Ancestry.com recently opened their travel and immigration records to the public, for an extremely short period of time. I took advantage of the opportunity to search for Morgan, and I quickly struck gold. I found an Emergency Passport Application for Roberta dated April 5, 1924. It turns out that she had been living in Greece from 1912 to 1924 (so, roughly ages 15-27). Here are some highlights:
- Roberta said that her father was “Rafael Morgan,” and that he was deceased.
- There are a bunch of question marks in the fields for Fr. Raphael’s US citizenship information, suggesting that Roberta didn’t know whether her father was a US citizen.
- She said that her permanent residence was “Waine” (Wayne), PA (where her mother lived).
- Roberta left the US in 1910, lived in England for two years, and then moved to Athens for the purpose of “education.”
- The application said that Roberta “knows no American citizen in Athens.”
There’s other good stuff, too — a photo of Roberta, a rather detailed description of her physical characteristics, etc. And it looks like Roberta’s passport application was approved: I also found a passenger manifest showing that Roberta arrived in New York on May 3, 1924. She listed her US address as 241 Island Ave. in Wayne, PA, which I assume was her mother’s home.
We can glean a lot from all this information. For one, we now know that Fr. Raphael Morgan died sometime between 1916 and 1924. We know that, almost immediately after his 1909 divorce, Morgan sent his daughter to live in Europe. And it’s not like it was a brief stay — the woman spent most of her teenage and young adult life in Greece. She probably didn’t see her mother in all that time, either.
We already have a passenger manifest for Fr. Raphael from 1911: he arrived back in the US from Greece in October of that year. Now that we have Roberta’s passport application, we can say rather confidently that Fr. Raphael was returning after leaving his daughter overseas. Also, this helps clear up an ambiguity: in his 1981 article on Morgan, the Greek Orthodox historian Paul Manolis wrote that an elderly Philadelphia Greek parishioner said that Morgan’s daughter was “a graduate of Oxford.” That seems highly unlikely — she was only in her mid-teens during her stay in England — but the parishioner correctly remembered that she was educated in the UK.
What could have motivated Fr. Raphael Morgan to send his teenage daughter across an ocean, and leave her there for the rest of his life? Why not just let her live with her mother, brother, and stepfather in Pennsylvania? My guess is that it’s because Morgan’s divorce was so hostile that he simply did not want his daughter anywhere near her mother.
And what was she doing all those years in Greece? Can you imagine a black American girl living in Greece for a decade? She may very well have remained Orthodox, given where she was. This new document answers some important questions, but it raises even more.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.