The founding members of SCOBA

Recently, I happened to look at Fr. Serafim Surrency’s 1973 book The Quest for Orthodox Unity in America, an invaluable study of American Orthodoxy from 1794 to 1973. This book is one of the best sources for information on, among other things, Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh’s “American Orthodox Catholic Church,” as well as the proto-SCOBA 1940s Federation. It’s also a great source for information on the very early years of SCOBA. Fr. Serafim himself was closely involved with SCOBA, and he provides all sorts of details not available elsewhere.

I thought our readers might be interested in Fr. Serafim’s list of the original member jurisdictions of SCOBA when it was founded in 1960. Here is the list, with Fr. Serafim’s notes:

  • Albanian Diocese (under Constantinople)
  • Carpatho-Russian Diocese (under Constantinople)
  • Bulgarian Diocese (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church of Sofia)
  • Greek Archdiocese (under Constantinople)
  • Romanian Archdiocese (under Bucharest)
  • Russian Metropolia (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church of Moscow)
  • Russian Exarchate (under Moscow)
  • Ukrainian Diocese (under Constantinople)
  • Ukrainian Autocephalic Diocese (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church)
  • Syrian Archdiocese of N.Y. (under Antioch)

Of the eleven founding member jurisdictions, ten are what we would today consider “mainstream.” The odd one out is the Ukrainian Autocephalic Diocese, also sometimes known as the Ukrainian Church in Exile. In addition to those eleven jurisdictions, Surrency listed several more jurisdictions which, for one reason or another, didn’t participate in the founding of SCOBA:

  • Albanian Archdiocese (in communion with the Church in Albania)
  • Syrian Archdiocese of Toledo (under Antioch)
  • Independent Romanian Diocese (not in canonical relationship with Bucharest)
  • Russian Church in Exile (not in canonical relationship with the Church of Moscow)
  • Ukrainian Metropolia (not in canonical relationship with the Mother Church)

Oddly, the Serbs are not mentioned at all.

Fifty years later, at the end of its existence, SCOBA also included eleven jurisdictions:

  • Greek Archdiocese of America
  • Antiochian Archdiocese of North America
  • Serbian Church in North and South America
  • Carpatho-Russian Diocese in the USA (under Constantinople)
  • Romanian Archdiocese in the Americas (under Bucharest)
  • Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church (under Sofia)
  • Orthodox Church in America
  • Ukrainian Church of the USA (under Constantinople)
  • Moscow Patriarchal Parishes (under Moscow)
  • Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (under Moscow)
  • Albanian Diocese of America (under Constantinople)

There have been various mergers, name changes, and so forth, but the biggest difference between the 1960 list and the 2010 list is the absence of the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church. This body was led by Archbishop Palladios Rudenko. Here is what Surrency had to say about them (p. 114):

In the United States there are two other Ukrainian jurisdictions with less than a dozen parishes between them: one is called the “Holy Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile” headed by Archbishop Palladios who has been hospitalized and unable to function for the last four or five years-his jurisdiction seems to enjoy a quasi-canonical relationship with the Greek Archdiocese-and the second group is known as the “Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile” (Sobornopravna) which is headed by Archbishop Gregory.

They were, in 1973, one of the smallest jurisdictions in America, with just one bishop and five parishes. I’m still trying to get a handle on their history, but eventually, I’ll try to get an article done. Surely there’s a story to be uncovered.

[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]

5 Replies to “The founding members of SCOBA”

  1. There is! It’s been a while since I looked at the rather convulated details of the history of Ukrainian Orthodoxy outside the Moscow Patriarchate, but if I’m not mistaken the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the USA and Canada were the North America dioceses of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) until their union with Constantinople. The UAOC and at least one of the schisms off of it still maintain dioceses in North America, whilst the Kiev Patriarchate that formed out of the UAOC and the Moscow Patriarchate also has a North American exarchate. I look forward to your article! It’d be nice to see a clear overview of the various schisms and mergers and new schisms…

    1. Well, I can’t promise “a clear overview of the various schisms and mergers and new schisms.” The whole realm of intra-Ukrainian relations is uncharted territory for me. But I will try to nail down the details on Archbishop Palladios and his jurisdiction.

      Of course, if YOU want to do some research and submit an article, we’d love to consider it!

  2. Sorry, I meant to write “convoluted” – not sure what convulated is supposed to mean :-).

  3. I would love to, but it is extraordinarily confusing and I’m having trouble finding sources on Archbishop Palladius and his segment of Ukrainian Orthodoxy :-/. Plus I’m working on a survey of the history and theology of the Church of the East, its past ecumenical contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church, and the potential for future dialogue…

  4. The only information I have about Archbishop Palladios is written in Ukrainian.It’s in the autobiography of the late Archpriest Vitaly Sahaydakivsky.The book is entitled,”Pravdy ne Vtopyty”,(Truth
    Archbishop Palladios was one Ukrainian bishop who stood apart from the majority,which accepted the uncanonical consecration of Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivsky in 1921.
    Archbishop Palladios was advised by the Greek Archdiocese Archbishop Michael to cooperate with Bishop Bohdan(Schpylka) who at that time was the one Ukrainian bishop belonging to Constantieople and hence canonical.
    Unfortunatly,according to Fr.Vitaly,Bishop Bohdan’s activities,namely concelebrating with uncanonical Ukrainian bishops,led to Archbishop Palladios forming a seperate Ukrainian jurisdiction,still under Constantineople.Later,another hierarch,Archbishop Ihor,joined Archbishop Palladios.
    Both bishops reposed in the 1960s,after that the number of parishes of the “Ukrainian Church in Exile” declined.
    I myself would welcome more information about those two bishops and the church they headed,There is a pseudo jurisdiction out there using the name,”Holy Ukrainian Autocephalic Church in Exile”,not to be confused with the original jurisdiction which DID have the blessing of Constantinople.
    Archpriest Andrei Alexiev

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