The Main Milestones Development of the Orthodox Church in America

Keywords: Orthodox Church in America, orthodoxy, orthodox mission, autocephaly, North America, Temporary Metropolitan District, Russian Orthodox Church


The founding of the first Russian colony on Kodiak Island, by traders from the Russian-American Trade Company in 1748, allowed to spread Orthodoxy gradually across the territory of North America. In order to establish peaceful ties with the local tribes, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1793 sent on the island the first Orthodox mission, which during its activity was not very successful and gradually collapsed. The resumption of the mission’s activity was connected with the arrival in 1824, of the priest Innocent, the first official bishop of North America. Since his governing, the territory of the eparchy increased, and the number of parishioners gradually grew. Under the rule of bishop Innocent and his successors, the diocese developed: the mission preached and baptized the inhabitants of many tribes of the isles, built Sunday schools, seminaries, chapels and temples; the service was conducted in English. As a result of the emigration processes, the North American diocese on a voluntary basis included a large number of international parishes, which gained the assistance and support of the diocese.

Since 1917, as a result of revolutionary events in Tsarist Russia, the North American diocese lost the patronage and had to act independently. Since the links with the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church broke up, in 1924, at the Third All-American Sobor, the diocese decided to call itself the Temporary Metropolitan District, guided by the decree of Patriarch Tikhon. The views of the ruling Archbishop of the diocese and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church diverged since the latter considered such activity non-canonical. In 1924 Patriarch Tikhon founded the Moscow Exarchate in North America. In 1925, married bishop John Kedrovsky, a representative of the «Living Church», arrived in the United States. Cooperating with the communist authorities of Russia, he managed to take away Metropolitan Platon’s Cathedral in New York. In order to keep the diocese from schism, the Temporary Metropolitan District concluded an agreement with the Orthodox Church abroad.

Starting from 1946, the Temporary Metropolitan District and the Russian Orthodox Church gradually worked on restoring relations. On March 31, 1970, talks between representatives of both churches were successfully held. On April 9, 1970, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church ended a ban on the hierarchy of the Temporary Metropolitan District, and on April 10, it approved the granting of autocephaly to the Temporary Metropolitan District. On the same day, patriarchal Tomos was signed, granting the autocephaly to the Temporary Metropolitan District, but its official handing took place only on May 18, 1970. In October 1971, the Temporary Metropolitan District officially began to call itself the Orthodox Church in America. The decision of the Moscow Patriarchate differed from Patriarch of Constantinople view of the future of Orthodoxy in North America, but that did not prevent the Orthodox Church in America from becoming a full-fledged Orthodox Church and taking a corresponding place among the diptych of autocephalous churches.


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How to Cite
HoncharukV. (2018). The Main Milestones Development of the Orthodox Church in America. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, 2(4 (24), 105-111. Retrieved from
World History and International Relations