Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Infobox Christian denomination
name = Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

imagewidth = 150px
caption =
main_classification = Eastern Orthodox
orientation = Greek Orthodox
polity = Episcopal: under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
founder =
founded_date =
founded_place =
separated_from =
parent =
merger =
separations =
area =
congregations = 540
members = 1.5 million
footnotes =

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquarted in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is Archbishop Demetrios of America.


Before the establishment of a Greek Archdiocese in the Western Hemisphere there were numerous communities of Greek Orthodox Christians [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 180] . The first Greek Orthodox community in the Americas was founded in 1864, in New Orleans, Louisiana by a small colony of Greek merchants [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 179] . History also records that on June 26, 1768, the first Greek colonists landed at St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 178] . The first permanent community was founded in New York City in 1892 [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 180] , today’s Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the See of the Archbishop of America. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America was incorporated in 1921 [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 182] and officially recognized by the State of New York in 1922.

In 1908, the Church of Greece received authority over the Greek Orthodox congregation of America [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 180] but in 1922, Patriarch Meletios IV transferred the archdiocese back to the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople [Pappaioannou 1984, p. 182] . In 1996, the one Archdiocese was split by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dividing the administration of the two continents into four parts (America, Canada, Central America, and South America) and leaving only the territory of the United States for the Archdiocese of America.

Recent history

In recent years, there has been much tension between the Archdiocese and the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, especially regarding the level of autonomy the former has with regard to the latter. One of the important incidents in this ongoing tension was the (allegedly forced) retirement in 1996 of Archbishop Iakovos after his leadership during the Ligonier Meeting in 1994, where many of the Orthodox hierarchs in America came together to begin the formation of a unified Orthodox Church of America. Iakovos was replaced with Archbishop Spyridon, whose 'tempestuous' tenure as archbishop lasted only 3 years, seeing his retirement in 1999 and replacement by the current Archbishop, Demetrios.

A strong movement of laity in the Archdiocese has been engaged in the tensions with Constantinople, as well, especially a particular group known as Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), which includes some of the wealthiest members of the Archdiocese. In 2004, 35 plaintiffs unsuccessfully sued Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek Archdiocese in an attempt to force it to invalidate the 2003 charter [ [ The Official Text of the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America] ] granted by Constantinople; their lawsuit stated that the Greek hierarchy had imposed the rewritten charter without approval from delegates at the national Clergy-Laity Congress, violating the terms of the 1978 charter [ [ CHARTER OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA] ] , the suitors having interpreted Article XXIV thereof to mean that the Clergy-Laity Congress alone could give rise to revisions to the charter, even though the 2003 charter was an entirely new grant, not a revision. The main aim of the suit was to attempt to gain more autonomy from the Church of Constantinople, especially regarding the choice of the American Archdiocese's primate.

The suit met with condemnation by the Greek hierarchy in America, which stated that the plaintiffs had "sued Christ Himself" (a quote from Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago). It was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, on grounds that the Greek Archdiocese was hierarchical and therefore acting within its proper bounds, that the courts did not have the authority to intervene in such matters.

OCL continues to organize resistance to what it regards as papal pretensions on the part of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Many Greek Orthodox Christians [ believe] OCL expresses a deeply unorthodox view of the Church and the role of the laity in church governance.


The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is composed of an Archdiocesan District (New York City) and eight metropolises (or dioceses): New Jersey, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Boston and Denver. [citeweb|url=|title=Metropolises|publisher=GOARCH Retrieved on February 9, 2008] It is governed by the Archbishop and the Eparchial Synod of Metropolitans. The Synod is headed by the Archbishop (as the first among equals) and comprises the Metropolitans who oversee the ministry and operations of their respective metropolises. It has all the authority and responsibility which the Church canons provide for a provincial synod. [citeweb|url=|title=The Official Text of the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America|publisher=GOARCH Retrieved on February 9, 2008]

There are more than 500 parishes, 800 priests and approximately 440,000 to 2 million faithful in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, depending on the source of reports and the counting method being used. [citeweb|url=|title=How many Eastern Orthodox are there in the USA? |publisher=Hartford Seminary Retrieved on February 9, 2008] The number of parishes in the Greek Archdiocese rose by about 9% in the decade from 1990 to 2000, and membership growth has largely been in terms of existing members having children. [citeweb|url=|title=Orthodox Churches in USA: Origins, Growth, Current Trends of Development|publisher=Hartford Seminary Retrieved on February 9, 2008]

The Archdiocese receives within its ranks and under its spiritual aegis and pastoral care Orthodox Christians, who either as individuals or as organized groups in the Metropolises and Parishes have voluntarily come to it and which acknowledge the ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Archdiocese also includes 21 monastic communities, 17 of which were founded by Elder Ephraim (former abbot of Philotheou Monastery (Athos)). The largest of these is St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery (Florence, Arizona).

Additionally, one seminary is operated by the Greek Archdiocese, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, which educates not only Greek Archdiocese seminarians but also those from other jurisdictions, as well.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is also a member of SCOBA.

The Episcopacy

Diocesan bishops

* Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of America
* Metropolitan Iakovos (Garmatis) of Chicago
* Metropolitan Maximos (Aghiorgoussis) of Pittsburgh
* Metropolitan Methodios (Tournas) of Boston
* Metropolitan Isaiah (Chronopoulos) of Denver
* Metropolitan Alexios (Panagiotopoulos) of Atlanta
* Metropolitan Nicholas (Pissare) of Detroit
* Metropolitan Gerasimos (Michaleas) of San Francisco
* Metropolitan Evangelos (Kourounis) of New Jersey

(this is the actual hierarchical seniority order and formal listing of the bishops)

Auxiliary bishops

* Bishop Dimitrios (Couchell) of Xanthos - assigned to the Archdiocese
* Bishop Savas (Zembillas) of Troas - Chancellor of the Archdiocesan District
* Bishop Andonios (Paropoulos) of Phasiane - assigned to the Archdiocese
* Bishop Demetrios (Kantzavelos) of Mokissos - assigned to the Metropolis of Chicago

Archbishops of America

* Alexander (Demoglou), 1922-1930
* Athenagoras (Spyrou), 1931-1948
* Michael (Konstantinides), 1948-1958
* Iakovos (Coucouzis), 1959-1996
* Spyridon (Papageorge), 1996-1999
* Demetrios (Trakatellis), 1999-present

Former diocesan hierarchs

* Metropolitan Anthony (Gergiannakis) of San Francisco, deceased

* Bishop Philip of Atlanta, deceased
* Bishop Timothy of Detroit, deceased
* Bishop Anthimos of Denver, removed from position

ee also

*Archbishop of America



*wikicite|id=idPappa1984|reference=Pappaioannou, Rev. George (1984). The Historical Development of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. In F.K. Litsas (Ed.), "A Companion to the Greek Orthodox Church" (pp. 178-206). New York, N.Y.: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

External links

* [ Official Website of the Archdiocese]
* [ Official Website of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople]
* [ Commentary on the charter dispute] by the 2004 Vice-President of the Archdiocesan Council

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