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…

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…

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upon a time even St. Raphael blessed his people to seek out Episcopal priests in extreme situations (though he soon rescinded that permission).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