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Report Finds Strong Growth In U.S. Orthodox Churches

First Posted: 10- 6-10 09:57 PM   |   Updated: 10- 6-10 09:57 PM

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Orthodox Churches

By Whitney Jones
Religion News Service

(RNS) America's Eastern Orthodox parishes have grown 16 percent in the past decade, in part because of a settled immigrant community, according to new research.

Alexei Krindatch, research consultant for the Standing Conferences of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, said the 16 percent growth in the number of Orthodox parishes is "a fairly high ratio for religious groups in the United States."

The number of Orthodox parishes has reached 2,370, and the Orthodox community in America consists of more than 1 million adherents across 20 different church bodies, according to the 2010 U.S. Orthodox Census.

The top five largest Orthodox churches in the U.S. are Greek Orthodox (476,900), Orthodox Church in America (84,900), Antiochian Orthodox (74,600), Serbian Orthodox (68,800) and Russian Orthodox (27,700).

Two of these church bodies--the Bulgarian Orthodox Eastern Diocese and the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese--experienced a growth rate of over 100 percent. Both churches began with a small number of parishes in 2000 and are supported by a community of established Eastern European immigrants.

"It takes immigrant communities a little while to establish a religious community," Krindatch said. "They settle, then begin to think about their religious lives."

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Even though the majority of Orthodox church bodies grew, some lost parishes. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolic Church of America all experienced a slight decrease in the number of parishes.

The study, which was part of the national Religious Congregations and Membership Study 2010, also shows that just 27 percent of members attend Orthodox churches regularly.

Krindatch said the definition of each of the groups affected this statistic. Church "adherents" was the most inclusive category, consisting of anyone who occasionally participated in church life, while "regular attendees" are those who attend church on an almost weekly basis.

More information on the survey can be found at http://www.orthodoxreality.org.

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By Whitney Jones Religion News Service (RNS) America's Eastern Orthodox parishes have grown 16 percent in the past decade, in part because of a settled immigrant community, according to new research.
By Whitney Jones Religion News Service (RNS) America's Eastern Orthodox parishes have grown 16 percent in the past decade, in part because of a settled immigrant community, according to new research.
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Vern58   1 minute ago (1:53 AM)
Orthodox worship is mystery incarnate.
I went to the Russian Church in Brevard Co. Florida and was ready to convert. Chose against it.
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Christian Troy   3 hours ago (11:10 PM)
I am a convert to the orthodox church. I love the mystery, love and sense of community it gives, as well as a connection to ancient Christians. It's much different than contemporary (commercialized) Christianity.
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Slowtrain9   10:43 PM on 10/08/2010
As a fairly recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, I find this heartening. As a regular follower of HuffPo, I'm not surprised by only 13 comments. We're still a pretty tiny minority, especially here!
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syntax facit saltum   22 hours ago (3:48 AM)
There are many more Eastern Orthodox on HuffPo than there used to be :-)
(and good to see you again. )
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Mary Hanna   03:35 PM on 10/08/2010
I don't think there should be congregations. I believe everyone who is saved by grace through faith is a member of THE church. There are no many churches like protestant, orthodox or catholic. We all believe in the same Lord our Savior, who died on the cross for our sins. Moreover, there is no such thing whether if you believe in this church you will go to heaven, by NO means!, the bible says whoever repents and confesses that the God sent His only Son to save the earth from Sin and accepts Jesus as Lord Savior is getting into heaven (ofc to continue a faithful life afterwards).
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JRShire   09:12 PM on 10/07/2010
I find it very encouraging seeing the growth of the Orthodox Tradition, particularly in America. Protestantism and indeed Western (Western European/American) theology is often times lacking answers for things like the problem of hell, sin, and so many others. Protestants have much they can learn from the Orthodox and vice-virsa.
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Aikaterina   10:07 AM on 10/07/2010
An influx from East European nations (traditionally Orthodox) is in part what has helped many Orthodox parishes, dioceses grow. Newly arrived immigrants tend to flock to traditional culture, religion, ethnic and linguistic centers where they congregate with others from their region or nation. They celebrate religious and ethnic holidays and also important family milestones (baptisms, marriages, feast days, funerals, etc.) together as a community, much like what they were accustomed to in their "old" countries.

The report does not state the increasing number of converts flocking to Eastern Orthodox parishes, some via marriage, and others by choice (solely) in recent years. In our own parish, we've got 5 families (formerly Roman Catholic), who relish the traditional rites, closely-aligned doctrines (except Papal infallability), to which they relate and with which they're accustomed. They left Catholism due to their disillusionment with the hierarchy over the abuses of children.
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Diogenis   01:30 PM on 10/07/2010
You state, They left Catholism due to their disillusionment with the hierarchy over the abuses of children. This is not the main reason why many are leaving the Roman Catholic Church. The majority are leaving for the Orthodox Faith itself. And yes,for many ethnic Orthodox Christians, maintaining culture is important.
Carroll27   08:33 PM on 10/07/2010
Keepin' it real like it's 1099.
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Salty two   07:50 AM on 10/07/2010
The majority of hispanics are Catholic. The vast majority of illegals are hispanic. The Catholic church protects illegals. It's not hard to figure out.
rightorwrong   08:02 AM on 10/07/2010
Wow, two feet or four?
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whiteshoesATL   10:56 PM on 10/06/2010
Most of these traditional and old sects of Christianity are simply growing within the immigrant communities. A truly different form of Christianity is taking root in Urban America... the Black Hebrews and as well the white Messianic Jews.
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syntax facit saltum   11:09 PM on 10/06/2010
Our Orthodox church is well over 50% converts, from outside the immigrant community, and that is true for many Orthodox churches I know, although I am not familiar with actual statistics here.

I am not sure what you mean by "Urban America" as Orthodox are also concentrated in highly urbanized areas.
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Mary Hanna   03:38 PM on 10/08/2010
Wow there are converts to Orthodox-ism? I've seen only one whom God lead from Muslim to Protestantism and then to Orthodox-ism.
I mean most converts usually start out with protestantism cause its much simple and then get into the Orthodox church where there are deeper things
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Diogenis   01:25 PM on 10/07/2010
Your use of the word "sect" is erroneous! Do you have any understanding of the Orthodox Faith. Google it. This article is about the Orthodox Faith, not about "new forms of alleged Christianity" taking roots.
Carroll27   10:45 PM on 10/06/2010
Chuckle. This should be fun.

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