When did the Roman Empire end: 1917 or 1922?


The era of World War I transformed global Orthodoxy as we know it and produced the context that we live in today. The Russian Empire fell, and with it the Tsar and the Byzantine double-headed eagle, and the Bolsheviks desecrated Orthodox churches and persecuted the clergy and faithful. So too...

How Many Orthodox Christians Are in the World?


In 1991, when Bartholomew I was enthroned as Ecumenical Patriarch, the Los Angeles Times ran the following headline: "Bartholomeos I Installed as Leader of 200 Million Orthodox Christians." Six years later, in 1997, the same newspaper wrote of Patriarch Bartholomew's visit to Southern California, describing him as "spiritual leader of the...

Patriarch Nikon’s Reforms and the Spoon Controversy


On June 8, the OCA website published "A Letter of a Parish Priest to His Flock." This letter has been shared widely on social media, by people of many different Orthodox jurisdictions. It was written by an unnamed OCA priest in the Diocese of the South and was made public...

How US Slavery Undermined Protestant Missionaries in 1860 Beirut


In the 19th century, American and English Protestant denominations sent loads of missionaries to the Ottoman Empire in an effort to convert the native Christian population -- most of whom were Orthodox -- to Protestantism. These missionaries would write letters to be published back home, usually condemning the "ignorant" Orthodox...

Greek Orthodox Opposition to Slavery in 1862


At the close of every year, the Greek newspaper Anatolikos Aster (Eastern Star), published in Constantinople for the local Greek Orthodox community, would write an annual retrospective on events around the globe in the year that had just ended. What follows appeared in the edition of December 31, 1862, which the...

Back to the Future: A New Old Model for Clergy Training


Today, the main way a man becomes an Orthodox priest in America is by completing an M.Div. program at an Orthodox seminary, the biggest being Holy Cross, St. Vladimir's, and St. Tikhon's. All of these seminaries opened at the same time -- 1938-39 -- and initially, they didn't offer master's...

St. Dionysius on the Epidemic of Alexandria


St. Dionysius the Great was Pope of Alexandria from 248 to 264. During that time, the Church of Alexandria suffered horrible persecution. Just as that was dying down, an epidemic broke out in the city, just as Pascha was approaching. St. Dionysius described the epidemic, and the Church's response, in...

Athenagoras Didn’t Want the Hagia Sophia Returned to the Church


The Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was the greatest cathedral in the Orthodox world -- an architectural wonder built during the reign of St. Justinian, which, according to legend, inspired the emperor to declare, "Solomon, I have outdone thee." Centuries later, Prince Vladimir of Kiev sent envoys to study Orthodoxy in...

The Cold War Origins of the EP’s Albanian Diocese


There are 13 Albanian Orthodox parishes in America, and 11 of them are part of the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA. The other two belong to the Albanian Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- the smallest jurisdiction in America. It's possible that this two-parish diocese is the tiniest diocese in...

The “Bulgarian Schism” Began 150 Years Ago


On February 28, 2020, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the creation of an independent Bulgarian Church (known as the "Bulgarian Exarchate") by decree of the Ottoman sultan. For centuries up to that point, the Bulgarian Orthodox living in the Ottoman Empire had been under the...