When to sit and when to stand

Last week, I spent about 2,000 words discussing the question of pews in early Greek churches in America. Based on my findings to date, it seems that pews became popular in Greek churches sometime in the 1920s, for reasons that aren’t yet clear. In Paul Manolis’ indispensible History of the Greek Church of America in…

Pews (or lack thereof) in early Orthodox churches

Yesterday, I introduced one of my ongoing research projects, a study of the origins of pews in American Orthodox churches. Oh, I’m famililar with the old story — that early Orthodox parishes bought old Protestant churches and retained the inherited pews — but whenever I hear that story, it seems to be just a bald…

Built or Bought? Greek church buildings in the 1910s

Pews are a common sight in American Orthodox churches, especially those in the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses. I remember, as an adolescent in an Antiochian parish, learning that my fellow Orthodox in Greece or Russia or Lebanon don’t have pews in their churches. When I asked why we had pews and the rest of Orthodoxy…

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…

The tombstone of Fr. Kallinikos Kanellas

After I published a piece on Fr. Kallinikos Kanellas earlier this week, I spoke with Fr. Nicholas Verdaris, the pastor of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. As it turns out, the Annunciation community continues to maintain Kanellas’ gravesite, and Fr. Nicholas was kind enough to send me the above photo of Kanellas’…

Calendar issues in early American Orthodoxy

One of the most obvious practical issues facing early Orthodox Christians in America was the difference between the Church calendar — the “Julian” calendar — and the civil (“Gregorian”) calendar. In the 19th century, twelve days separated the two calendars; after the turn of the century, the difference was thirteen days. And since the “New…

Early Orthodoxy in Portland, Oregon

Orthodoxy has been in Portland, Oregon for well over a century, and its history is of particular interest to me, as my in-laws live in the city, and I have visited there many times. Today, we’re going to look at the beginnings of organized parish life in Portland. According to Brigit Farley, there are records of…