This week in American Orthodox history (May 14-20)

May 17, 1870: The newly ordained convert priest Fr. Nicholas Bjerring celebrated his first Divine Liturgy in St. Petersburg, Russia. He didn’t know Church Slavonic, so he served in German. May 19, 1884: Archimandrite Stephen Hatherly, a convert priest from England, arrived in Philadelphia. I wrote about Hatherly’s visit almost three years ago. The basic…

Fr. Kyrill Johnson, 1897-1947

A lot of us at SOCHA happen to be really busy right now (personally, I’m in the middle of law school exams), so rather than leave you without much to read this week, here’s an article we originally published back in August 2010. Fr. Kyrill Johnson was one of many fascinating early American converts to…

This week in American Orthodox history (May 7-13)

This week’s installment of our “This week” series is unusually brief, because I’m in the middle of final exams for law school. I hope you’ll understand, and I should be back next week with a full-length piece. May 9, 1870: The newly chrismated convert Nicholas Bjerring was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood in St. Petersburg,…

Churches on wheels: then and now

On April 27, MSNBC published photos of a medical train in Russia that includes a full-blown Orthodox chapel (thanks to the excellent Byzantine, TX blog for the link). The train/clinic, named after the great surgeon-bishop St. Luke of Simferopol, travels to the far reaches of Siberia and has “a carriage that operates as a mobile…

This week in American Orthodox history (April 30-May 6)

May 4, 1793: Empress Catherine the Great of Russia granted the Holy Synod permission to establish an Orthodox mission in “Russian America” (Alaska). The following year, the first eight missionaries, including St. Herman, arrived on Kodiak Island. May 3, 1870: Nicholas Bjerring, a convert from Roman Catholicism, was received into Orthodoxy by chrismation in St.…

Photo of the week: a newlywed archbishop

In the half-dozen years before his wedding on April 29, 1933, Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh had moved further and further away from mainstream Orthodoxy, setting himself up as the head of an “autocephalous” jurisdiction called the American Orthodox Catholic Church—which at its inception in 1927 had the official blessing of the Russian Metropolia in America (which…