July 31, 2014

The Perplexing Problem of Obtaining an Accurate Census of Orthodox Faithful Living in America

Hartford Institute for Religion Research HT: Orthodox Christian Laity A Quick Question How many Eastern Orthodox are there in the USA? The quick answer: Far less than usually reported. The longer answer: According to a recent study of Orthodoxy in the United States, the real membership (number of adult adherents and their children) in all Eastern Christian Churches in the USA can be estimated at about 1,200,000 persons. This figure is considerably less than the commonly accepted estimations, which range as high as over four million. The greatest disproportions between "claimed" and actual memberships were found in the two largest Orthodox jurisdictions: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (typically claimed 1,954,500* members versus 440,000 actual adherents) Orthodox Church in America (1,000,000* versus 115,000 actual adherents)* membership figures are from the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, National Council of Churches, 2000. The most likely reason for … [Read more...]

Our Freedom Never Fully Realized

Fr. Contos

In 1981, the Very Rev. Leonidas C. Contos delivered a lecture titled "2001: The Church in Crisis." Fr. Contos said the title was chosen because the American Orthodox Church had been in a crisis "for a very long time" and he wanted to fix a reference point for speculations on what the Church's situation might look like at some future date. That date has come and gone, but Fr. Contos' reflections are now, just as they were nearly three decades ago, worthy of our consideration. Few have written so honestly and so intelligently about the problems of American Orthodoxy. Fr. Contos questioned the use of the term "diaspora" and said this: For so long as we are conditioned, in our polity and in our cultural life, by the diaspora complex, however subconsciously, we will be inhibited in the fullest realization of our ‘church-hood.’ More importantly, so long as we are perceived from without as a diaspora—a branch, an offshoot, a transplant, an emigration—by the Mother Church (and, if the … [Read more...]

New study: The Orthodox Church Today

The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, based in Berkeley, Calif., has released what it is calling "the first national survey based study of the laity, ordinary church members, in the two largest Orthodox Churches in the United States: the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)." To a significant degree, PAOI said, the study reflects the profile of an entire Orthodox community in the United States. "The Orthodox Church Today" study addressed four broad questions: -- What is the "image" of the Orthodox clergy in the eyes of the "people in the pews?" -- To what extent do the social and religious attitudes of the ordinary parishioners reflect those of their parish priests? -- What do church members think about patterns of Church life in their local parishes? -- What do laity think about various issues dealing with "Democracy and Pluralism in the chirch," "Changes and Innovations in the Church," and "religious "Particularism' … [Read more...]