“Thank you; we have the original.”

Most of the time, on this website, we talk about the history of Orthodoxy in the Americas. But it’s important to remember that, especially in the 19th century, American Protestant missionaries were traveling in the other direction, going to places like Greece and Syria in an effort to convert Orthodox Christians to Protestantism. I recently…

The Origins of the “Myth of Unity”

Back in June, I gave a paper at St. Vladimir’s Seminary entitled, “The Myth of Past Unity and the Origins of Jurisdictional Pluralism in American Orthodoxy.” The unwieldy title notwithstanding, the premise of my paper was simple: that the commonly-held story of a unified American Orthodoxy which fragmented after the Russian Revolution is, quite simply,…

James Chrystal: the first convert priest

A month ago, I did a podcast and wrote an article about the first two American Orthodox convert priests, James Chrystal and Nicholas Bjerring. Today, I’m publishing a brief biography I wrote on Chrystal (and which I adapted for use in the podcast). James Chrystal was born in 1831, ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1859…

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…

Fr. Arsenios Davis & communion with Episcopalians

Officially, of course, the Orthodox Church has never been in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church. Yes, there’s been some close dialogue over the years, and once upon a time even St. Raphael blessed his people to seek out Episcopal priests in extreme situations (though he soon rescinded that permission). Still, Orthodoxy has never entered…

Orthodoxy in Chicago, 1888-1892

Back in June, I did one of my first podcasts on an attempt, in 1888, to form a multiethnic parish in Chicago. Here are the basics: By 1888, there were about a thousand Orthodox Christians living in Chicago, most of them Greeks and Serbs / Montenegrins. A few years earlier, they had organized themselves into an Orthodox society…

The Lost Church of Baltimore

The 1890s witnessed the initial proliferation of Orthodox churches in the contiguous United States, and most of those early parishes are still with us today — both Greek churches in New York City, the Greek and Russian churches in Chicago, St. Alexis Toth’s parishes in Minneapolis and Wilkes-Barre. But one early effort didn’t make it…

One city, two churches: New York, 1894

The first Greek Orthodox church in New York City – named for the Holy Trinity — was formed in January of 1892. It was organized by a group called the Society of Athena, which, as the name suggests, was composed mainly of Greek immigrants from Athens. The community’s first priest, Fr. Paisios Ferentinos, was sent by the…

The First Greek Church in New York

From 1870 to 1883, Fr. Nicholas Bjerring operated a Russian chapel in New York City. At the time, there were very few Orthodox Christians in New York, and Bjerring’s parish was always small. As we’ve discussed before, in 1883, the Russian government decided to pull its funding and close the chapel. Bjerring responded by leaving…