Unity of faith and jurisdictional barriers. The Case of the American Orthodoxy
On September 24, 1794, monks from Valaam Monastery landed
on Kodiak Island; since then, the Orthodox Divine Liturgy has
never ceased to be celebrated in North America. The Orthodox missionaries
came to Alaska with an authentic missionary commitment.
They came to preach the Good News of Christ.
The immigration of the Orthodox peoples in North America
opened another dimension for Orthodoxy in America. As immigrants,
they came to the New World searching for opportunity and
freedom, for a better life. They established parishes across the
continent. Many Orthodox Churches, which have worshippers in
America have organized here their own jurisdictions (first, the
individual separate parishes that were later united into dioceses)
with the purpose to minister to the religious needs of the corresponding
ethnic communities of immigrants from the Old World.
Although Orthodoxy came to America from many different nations
and areas and in spite of lack of jurisdictional unity, the
Orthodox faithful are united through the same Creed. This unity of
Faith crosses all jurisdictional, political, ethnical and any other
barriers which can divide peoples, because its power does not come
from men or the world, but from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God Father, and communion of the Holy Spirit. In this
grace and communion of love, every Orthodox Church needs all the
other Orthodox Churches, each one with its own gift, to fulfill the
togetherness of the unique Body of Christ.
Our paper is an attempt to express the historical development
of Orthodoxy in America, its problems and, at the same time, the
strength and unity of Orthodoxy in North America in its diversity
and varied expressions.