Editor’s note: We’ve received the following announcement from Alexei Krindatch, the Orthodox researcher and sociologist. Very soon, the first-ever Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches, edited by Krindatch, will be published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press. I have made several contributions to the Atlas, including the historical census data, a timeline of American Orthodox history, an chapter on ten little-known firsts in American Orthodox history, and an article on the Antiochian Archdiocese. SOCHA advisory board member Fr. John Erickson also contributed a brief history of Orthodoxy in America. For more, see Krindatch’s announcement below:
The Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches is to be published by the end of May by the Holy Cross Orthodox Press.
Order your copy at www.holycrossbookstore.com, toll-free 800-245-0599.
What is this Book about?
The Atlas provides an accurate “snapshot” of the various Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States. It is addressed for the wide – Orthodox and non-Orthodox, academic and non-academic – audience of readers. Simultaneously, this book is intended to be an atlas, a reference book and a thematic monograph. It is an atlas because it contains numerous maps to show the historical development and present territorial patterns of Orthodox Church life in America. It is a reference book because it furnishes comprehensive information on the American Orthodox Churches including up-to-date statistical data on their membership and geographic distribution. It is a thematic monograph because the essays in this book tell the story of the Orthodox Christian past and present in the United States.
Thematically, the Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches unfolds in four parts (for details, see also table of contents below). Chapter one looks at a timeline of Orthodox Christianity in America. It provides a general overview of the historical development of the American Orthodox Churches and presents many interesting facts about particular churches, local communities, and personalities associated with Orthodoxy in America. Chapter two offers an overview of twenty-one national Orthodox Church bodies (including Oriental Orthodox Churches). There are short articles with basic historic and other information about each Church. For each Church, we also provide two maps: a state-by-state map of parishes and a county-by-county map of membership. The third chapter is devoted to Orthodox monasteries in the United States. Today, there are more than eighty Orthodox monastic communities in America that are very different in terms of their size, geographic settings, patterns of everyday life, openness for outside visitors, etc. The chapter gives a general introduction into Orthodox monasticism in America and offers a systematic database for the eighty-one Orthodox monasteries in this country. The accompanying map shows their distribution across the country. Chapter four furnishes data from the 2010 US National Orthodox Census. Tables and maps in this chapter contain statistics of parishes, membership, and church attendance for twenty-one different national Orthodox Church bodies. This information is available church-by-church and state-by-state and county-by-county
An internally diverse and complex family of Churches is covered in this book. Their individual histories on American soil, their current “niche” in the context of the wider American society and their mutual relations are subjects which are at times very sensitive. Compiling this Atlas, I have done my best to be objective and accurate in presenting data and information about each Church. Our hope is that this work will help readers to better recognize the distinct Orthodox “colors” and “flavors” within the diverse and colorful American religious landscape. Any constructive comments that readers may wish to make, as well as updates, on any subject included in this book are welcomed.
Alexei D. Krindatch
Principal Researcher, Data Compiler and Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What Are People Saying about this Book?
“Assembling a mass of recently generated data, The Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches provides an authoritative overview of a most important but often neglected segment of the American Christian community. Protestant and Catholic Christians especially will value editor Alexei Krindatch’s survey of both Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole and its multiple denominational expressions.”
J. Gordon Melton
Distinguished Professor of American Religious History
Baylor University, Waco, Texas
“Why are pictures worth a thousand words? Because they engage multiple senses and ways of knowing that stretch and deepen our understanding. Good pictures also tell compelling stories. Good maps are good pictures, and this makes the Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches, with its alternation and synthesis of picture and story, a persuasive way of presenting a rich historical journey of Orthodox Christianity on American soil. The telling is persuasive for both scholars and adherents. It is also provocative and suggestive for the American public as we continue to struggle with two issues, in particular, that have been at the center of the Orthodox experience in the United States: how to create and maintain unity cross vast terrains of cultural and ethnic difference; and how to negotiate American culture as a religious other without losing one’s soul.
David Roozen, Director
Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary
Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches: Table of Contents
Preface: Goal and Scope of this Atlas
Acknowledgements and Contributing Authors
Data Presentation: Inclusiveness of the Atlas, Methodology, Terminology and Problems
Chapter 1. Orthodox Christianity in the United States: Past and Present
Timeline of Orthodox Christianity in America
Orthodox Christianity in America: One Faith but Many Stories
Ten Interesting Facts about the History of Orthodox Christianity in the USA
- Membership of Orthodox Christian Churches by State: 1906, 1936, 2010
- Parishes of Orthodox Christian Churches by State: 1911, 1936, 2010
- Membership of Orthodox Christian Churches by County: 2010
- Members of Orthodox Churches as a Percentage of Total Population by County: 2010
Chapter 2. Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States: General Information, Essays and Maps.
The Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox Churches:
- Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
- American Carpatho Russian Orthodox Diocese
- Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
- Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia
- Georgian Orthodox Parishes in the USA
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
- Holy Orthodox Church in North America
- Macedonian Orthodox Church: American-Canadian Diocese
- Orthodox Church in America
- Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church
- Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in Americas
- Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
- Serbian Orthodox Church in North America
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
- Vicariate for the Palestinian / Jordanian Orthodox Christian Communities
The Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches:
- Armenian Apostolic Church of America: Catholicosate of Cilicia
- Armenian Church of America: Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin
- Coptic Orthodox Church in the United States
- Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church
- Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America
- Syrian (Syriac) Orthodox Church of Antioch
Chapter 3. Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States
Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States: Introduction
Map: Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States
Orthodox Monastic Communities by State
Directory of Orthodox Monastic Communities by State
Chapter 4. The 2010 US National Orthodox Census
Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States: 2010
Orthodox Christian Churches by State: 2010
Orthodox Christian Churches by County: 2010
Appendix. Further Sources of Information on Orthodox Christianity in the United States
Before I get started, I wanted to let you all know that I do plan to finish my series on St. Raphael and the Syrian controversies of 1905. However, I’ve got several other irons in the fire, so I’m going to take a little time off of that project to present some other research. But don’t worry; we’ll get back to it.
Anyway, recently, I took another look at the 1916 Census of Religious Bodies, conducted by the US Census Bureau. The census includes data on numerous aspects of American Orthodox church life in the mid-teens, including clergy salaries. Of the seven Orthodox groups reported in the census, six — all but the Syrians — provided data on clergy pay. Of those six bodies, three — the Albanians, Bulgarians, and Romanians — provided salary information on just two priests apiece:
- Albanian priests averaged $780/year, or $15,187 in 2009 currency.
- Bulgarian priests averaged $850/$16,549.
- Romanian priests averaged $570/$11,098.
Obviously, the sample sizes are small, but it’s clear that none of these priests were making much money. Here is the data for the larger groups:
- 93 Greek priests reported an average of $913/year, or $17,776 in 2009 currency.
- 149 Russian priests reported $762/$14,836.
- 11 Serbian priests reported $1050/$20,443.
The average salary for all American Orthodox priests in 1916 was $828, equivalent to just $16,117 in modern terms. (Inflation data courtesy of www.westegg.com/inflation.) I should emphasize that these numbers are based only on the clergy who reported their salaries to the Census Bureau; other priests did not report, including, as I said, all of the Syrian clergy.
Obviously, the 1916 salaries are startlingly low. Even the Serbs — the highest-paid group — were scraping by by modern standards. However, things were quite a bit different in 1916 than they are today. Many parishes had rectories or parsonages, so a lot of these priests didn’t have to pay for their housing. Some of our biggest expenses — health care, transportation, various forms of insurance — would have been minimal 94 years ago. And while I don’t have any hard data to support this, it’s my impression that a higher proportion of clergy were unmarried in 1916 than in 2010.
In addition to all those facts, there is a high probability that the reported salaries don’t include honoraria for weddings, baptisms, funerals, house blessings, and the like. In other words, simply taking the 1916 base salaries, plugging them into a calculator, and figuring out their modern equivalent, is not really an accurate way to determine how well American Orthodox clergy were actually compensated in 1916.
Beyond the seemingly low numbers overall, I was struck by the fact that the Russian clergy reported significantly lower salaries than their Greek and Serbian counterparts. The Russian Church in America was substantially subsidized by the Russian government in 1916, whereas the Greek and Serbian parishes primarily relied on local funding. Nevertheless, the Russian clergy were among the lowest-paid in America.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
On November 4, 1905, a religious and literary journal entitled The Friend published a letter by St. Alexander Hotovitzky, dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. Hotovitzky wrote in response to an article in The Friend which claimed, “In this Russian service, of course, no one understood what was said, not even the Russians themselves, as the whole of it was in the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue. As the Romish Church addresses the Lord in Latin, so do the Greeks use this Slavonic language.” Here is Hotovitzky’s reply:
This is not true.
1. Our ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue is the original of modern Russian, Servian, Slavonian, and of other branches of the Slavic world.
2. Every Russian, even children (of school age) understands well the real text and meaning of all prayers in Slavonic, excluding, perhaps, not many expressions which are lost for living use and are not fitting for ordinary practice.
3. Easy to be understood, this Slavonic language has, besides, immense dignity of words, and is sanctified as proper church language by long ecclesiastical usage.
4. To compare the use of the Latin tongue in the Roman Church and of Slavonic in the Russian is, then, far from consistency and knowledge of true conditions of things, because the chief rule of the Eastern Church (which combines Russia, Greece, Jerusalem, Antiochia, etc.) is to say the divine services in the language of the people for whom the services are intended; in Japan we celebrate and preach in Japanese, in China in Chinese, in Alaska in the native tongue of the Aleutians, and in some churches of America in English, always according to the needs and understanding of the congregation.
5. Russians do not understand Greek, and Greeks do not understand the Russian; so in a Greek church you never hear one word of the Slavonic tongue, and vice versa; yet both are of the same Eastern Catholic confession.
A. Hotovitzky, Dean of the Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral.
New York, Ninth Month 24, 1905.
I’m particularly interested in St. Alexander’s point about the use of English in some American Orthodox parishes. This was 1905; the very next year, Isabel Hapgood published her landmark English translation of the Service Book, facilitating the wider use of English. But Slavonic would remain the dominant language of the Russian Archdiocese for years to come. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports that 166 of the 169 Russian Orthodox congregations in America worshipped exclusively in Slavonic.
In fact, among American Orthodox groups, only St. Raphael’s Syrians (Antiochians) really embraced English in the early years of the 20th century. Although they liturgized exclusively in Arabic in 1906, by 1916, over half of the Syrian parishes had completely switched to English, and numerous others had incorporated English to one degree or another. In fact, in 1916, no more than four of the 25 Syrian congregations continued to worship in Arabic alone. It was a remarkable, dramatic shift that probably had several contributing causes, including the vision of St. Raphael, the influence of Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, and the translation work of Isabel Hapgood. For more, check out my article from August 21 of last year.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Editor’s note: The following article appeared in the New York Times on August 4, 1873. That’s nearly two decades before Greek immigrants began to flood into America. According to the book Race, Ethnicity, and Place in a Changing America, only 217 immigrants came from Greece to the US in the entire period from 1824 to 1872. Another source (Ethnic Chicago: A Multicultural Portrait) has similar numbers, reporting 188 immigrants in the 1821-1870 period. Yet another book, Greeks in America (1913), reports just 77 Greek immigrants via New York from 1847-1864, and 77 more from 1869-1873.
To be honest, I’m a tad skeptical of these statistics. The article below talks about 20 Greek custom houses in the US in 1873 (including 12 in New York alone), plus two Orthodox communities with large Greek contingents in New Orleans and San Francisco. From the article, it sounds like Greeks sailed to America pretty regularly, looking for temporary work before returning home. Add it all up, and I would guess that there were maybe a couple thousand Greeks in America in 1873, rather than only a few hundred. Either way, though, the numbers were quite small, and this article presents a rare snapshot of Greek life in America long before the Ellis Island era.
Comparatively little is known about the Greeks in America. Reference is made occasionally in the daily Press to the Greek merchants of this City, whose enormous transactions in cotton and grain form an important item in the exports of the country; but beyond that we seldom see a Greek name coming before the public in the daily incidents of this cosmopolitan City.
Greece is so thinly populated that she can hardly spare any hands to emigrate to foreign countries, and we seldom see any Greeks among the nationalities mentioned in the regular reports of our Commissioners of Emigration. Yet a great many Greeks arive daily on our shores, but they come under the quality of sailors, working their passage on board sailing ships of various nationalities. As soon as they land here they apply to their Consul in this City, Mr. D.N. Botassi, for work, when with few variations, the following dialogue takes place:
“When did you arrive”
“Any particular profession?”
“What do you expect to do?”
“Anything, your Excellency.”
“Have you got any money?”
“Not a cent, your Excellency.”
“Where are your lodgings?”
“Our traps are at the door; we shall go anywhere your Excellency will send us.”
“Can you speak English?”
“Nothing but Greek, your Excellency.”
There are two sailors’ boarding-houses in this City doing a thriving business. The Consul invariably sends them there, and it seldom occurs that they do not find work in a short time. They begin by doing rough work in loading and unloading merchandise at our piers, and, being generally very temperate, they soon accumulate some savings.
Their first care is to send the little which they can spare to their families in Greece. The family ties are so strong among all her classes, particularly the lower ones, that even years of absence in foreign lands cannot diminish their love for their native land and the dear ones they have left behind. The love of their country is one of the strong characteristics of the Greeks; they emigrate under compulsion to better their condition, but the hope to return one day to their country under more comfortable circumstances is always strong and paramount.
Few of the Greeks who arrive at this port go West to become agriculturalists. This means to become in time owners of land whereon to build their new home. But, as we said before, the Greek has always the hope to return one day to his country. They mostly go to Chicago, where they easily find work in loading vessels and navigating the lakes. On the water they find themselves happy, being in their element. As soon as the lakes are frozen in the Winter time they go down the Mississippi River, and many of them are working on the steam-boats plying between St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Cairo, and New-Orleans. Over 200 of them are to be found in the Crescent City, where they seem to be thriving under the more genial climate, not dissimilar to that of their own country. They have all sorts of professions; many are fruit dealers, keep little restaurants and coffee houses, where the American bar is combined with little tables a l’orientale, round which are seated Greeks talking all at the same time generally, all the idioms of the Grecian Archipelago, drinking coffee, and smoking paper cigarettes. Many of them are oyster dealers and oyster fishers, owning generally their little craft, which they navigate themselves, and trade all along the coast from New-Orleans to Indianola and Matamoras, or on the other side through the lakes to Mobile and Pensacola. The writer tasted, some years ago, an excellent glass of sherry cobbler made by a Greek barkeeper on one of the steam-boats on the Alabama River. In New-Orleans the Greek colony is important enough to maintain a church of their own religion, built some five years ago by subscription, and divine service is celebrated every Sunday in the Greek language by a priest educated in the National University of Athens.
The Greek colony in San Francisco numbers about 300 members, and is the best organized of all the Greek colonies in the States of the Union. They maintain a little chapel of their own, and have established a benevolent society. This latter was rendered necessary from the quantity of new-comers of their countrymen to the Golden State, with the hope of finding gold in abundance. It is strange with what great expectations these children of Hellas go to California, and their disappointment in not finding gold in the streets of San Francisco can be better imagined than described. They seem utterly astonished when they are told that they must work in San Francisco, as everywhere else, to gain their living, and the idea of gold is so deeply rooted in them, that many go to the mines of California and Oregon with the hope of enriching themselves one day by some sudden smile of fortune.
Even in those distant localities they do not forget their native land. They write to their families in Greece from time to time, and are subscribers to a Greek newspaper, to learn the news. To the positive knowledge of the writer eight copies of a Greek newspaper are sent to Greek miners in Placer County, California, and a Greek roaster of pea-nuts in Galveston, Texas, is a subscriber to one of the best Greek newspapers. The only subscribers in America to an Ecclesiastical Review, published in Athens, are an American Episcopalian clergyman in New-York and a Greek boarding-house keeper in Chicago, Ill.
There are no students from Greece in this country, with the exception of one, who is studying agriculture at the expense of the Greek Government, in the Illinois Industrial University, in Champaign, Ill., on the scanty allowance of $40 per month.
The average salary of sailors, on board Greek vessels, is about $10 per month; it is no wonder, therefore, that those who come to this country are reluctant to go back, getting, as they do, from $30 to $40 per month. But they get even more on land. Last year a Greek vessel arrived at this port from Sicily with a cargo of brimstone. The crew, consisting of twelve men, refused to go to Havana, where the vessel was bound, and remained in New-York. They soon found their way to Athens, below Albany, where they engaged to work at the railroad depot. They ahve worked there for one year, saved $300 each, which they sent to Greece through their Consul, and worked their passage home recently on board an American vessel. Their abstinence from drinking and their hard work were much remarked by the employees of the railroad.
But the most remarkable incident of the strength of family ties among the Greeks which came to our knowledge is that of a Greek boy who came to this country thirty years ago. He was educated for the ministry and pursued his avocation. A year ago he made inquiries about his relatives in Greece, and finding that a sister of his, a widow, was still living, but very poor, he opened a correspondence with her. They have never seen each other, but the expatriated Greek felt an inherent duty to assist her. He sends her now very regularly a yearly pension, with which she lives at present comfortably in Athens.
We mentioned above a Greek vessel which arrived at this port last year. The father of her Captain has a rather curious history. He was the owner of a small vessel employed in the grain trade during the Crimean war. A tthe time he was in the City of Kertch, in the Crimea. The Russian ports were blockaded by the allies. A Russian regiment was ready in Arrapa, on the Black Sea, to come to the Crimea. But how? The Greek Captain made an arrangement with the Russian General to run the blockade, and bring the regiment where it was needed. He ran the blockade successfully, took the regiment on board, and was nearing the coast of the Crimea, when he was discovered by the English cruisers, who began to fire on him. He succeeded in landing the Russians safely, but his vessel was captured. The Russian General was delighted. Acting on superior orders, he paid to the Greek 5,000 silver roubles, and added a Russian schooner in the bargain. But the port was shortly bombarded by the allies, and his schooner was destroyed. Nothing daunted by this reverse, the Greek started for St. Petersburg, and, laying his case before the Emperor Nicholas, he had the satisfaction to receive 10,000 silver roubles as an additional compensation for his services to the Russian cause, besides a medal of honor.
There are twelve commercial Greek houses in this city, dealing largely in cotton, grain, and East India produce; four more are in New-Orleans, similarly engaged; one in Mobile, one in Memphis, Tenn., and two in Boston, Mass. These latter deal principally in Mediterranean produce, mostly dried fruit from Constantinople and Smyrna, exporting thither New England rum, machinery, and Yankee notions.