Protestant hymns in Orthodox churches

I’ve been looking through a borrowed copy of Fr. Michael Gelsinger’s Orthodox Hymns in English, published by the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1939. This is a significant work, and Gelsinger’s hymns are still used to this day. I’ll write more about this book in the future, but I found the following paragraph, from the Introduction, to…

To shave or not to shave?

For three tumultuous decades — 1907 to 1938 — Fr. Basil Kerbawy was the dean of St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn. Apparently, in 1911, he was having some issues related to his beard, and things got so bad that he wrote to William Gaynor, the mayor of New York. I can’t resist reprinting their…

Cassocks or Collars?

It’s a common debate within American Orthodoxy: should our priests wear cassocks, or should they wear suits and collars like their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts? One side rightly argues that cassocks are the traditional and virtually universal style of dress for Orthodox clergy. The other side just as correctly points out that even some American saints wore…

Bashir, the Federation, and SCOBA

On today’s episode of the American Orthodox History podcast, I interviewed SOCHA executive director Fr. Oliver Herbel on the subject of the “Federated Orthodox Greek Catholic Primary Jurisdictions,” a 1943 attempt to create a national, pan-Orthodox organization. The Federation is to SCOBA what the League of Nations was to the United Nations. Both the Federation…

The first Syrians in America

In 1878, the Arbeelys immigrated to the United States. They were the first Syro-Arab family to come to America; or, at the very least, they were the first prominent Syrians in America. Najeeb Arbeely founded the first Arab-American newspaper, Kawkab America, and he also held the post of immigration inspector at Ellis Island. His brother Abraham was…

Fr. Christopher Jabara, the ultra-ecumenist

I always laugh a little bit when I hear people complain about Orthodox involvement in things like the World Council of Churches. It’s not that I support such involvement — my position on modern ecumenical relations really isn’t relevant here — but I laugh because I can’t imagine what the present-day anti-ecumenists among us would…

The Feast Day of St. Raphael

Tomorrow, the first Saturday in November, is one of St. Raphael’s two feast days. The other, February 27, is the OCA’s feast day for him, and takes place on the day of his death. This November feast is celebrated in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and takes place on roughly the day of his birth (November 8).…

Jerusalem’s Abp Panteleimon in America, 1924-1931

On October 19, I wrote about Archbishop Panteleimon of Neapolis (today’s Nablus), a bishop of the Jerusalem Patriarchate who was active in America in the 1920s. Since then, thanks to help from some readers, I’ve learned more about Abp Panteleimon’s later years in America. Here’s an update. Abp Panteleimon seems to roughly parallel the Antiochian…