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…

The many names of Chicago’s Russian church

Sometimes, we historians deal with big, important issues. Other times, we obsess over minutae. Today is one of the latter occasions. Chicago’s OCA cathedral, known for the past century as Holy Trinity, had a lot of names in its early years. It’s a pretty convoluted history, and I am attempting to unravel it. Here’s what…

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upon a time even St. Raphael blessed his people to seek out Episcopal priests in extreme situations (though he soon rescinded that permission).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…

A Russian Church in New York, 1895

Since the closing of Fr. Nicholas Bjerring’s chapel in 1883, New York City had been without a Russian Orthodox place of worship. Greek churches were founded in the city in 1892 and ’94, and by 1895, there were Russian parishes in Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Finally, in April of 1895, the Russian Mission returned to…

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…

The tragic story of Fr. Vladimir Alexandrov

Fr. Vladimir Alexandrov was a priest in the Russian Mission in the late 19th and early 20th century. He began his career in 1896, as the choir director of the multiethnic St. Spiridon Church in Seattle, Washington. After his ordination in 1898 (or ’99), he remained in Seattle as the pastor of the church. It…

The First Churches, State by State

There is an argument, made by many, that the first autocephalous Church to expand into a new territory “gets” that territory. I call it the flag-planting theory, because it reminds me of 15th century European explorers who reached the shores of undiscovered (for them) lands, stuck a flag in the sand, and claimed that piece…