Alexei Krindatch, SCOBA (Akrindatch@aol.com) Orthodox Reality in America St.Tikhon Monastery (est. 1903), South Canaan, PA St.Nicholas Cathedral, Tarpon Springs. FL St.Gregory Theologian Church, Tampa, FL Panagia Vlahernon Monastery, Ocala, FL
Some important facts about American Orthodox Christianity and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America <ul><ul><li>Major sources of information: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>First National Census of US Orthodox Christian Churches (2010, preliminary data) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Orthodox Church Today” study (2008, national survey of laity in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Orthodox Church in America) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Evolving Visions of the Orthodox Priesthood in America” study (2006-2007, national survey of parish clergy in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Orthodox Church in America) </li></ul><ul><li>US Religious Landscape Survey (2009, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) </li></ul>
Since 1980s, several new developments in American Orthodox Christian Churches: <ul><li>Geographic redistribution: dynamic growth in South (esp. Florida) and in West (esp. California) </li></ul><ul><li>Fast growth of Oriental Orthodox Churches (1970 - 2 Coptic parishes, 2010 - 170) </li></ul><ul><li>Fast growing presence of converts (former Roman Catholics and Protestants) among both Orthodox clergy and laity </li></ul>
Some Orthodox Churches in US become “All American” and some remain “ethnically based”
<ul><li>How strong are today Hellenic culture and Greek identity in GOA parishes? </li></ul><ul><li>Only 14% parishioners and 28% clergy were born outside USA </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time, Greek is still first “mother” language for 45% clergy and 42% parishioners </li></ul><ul><li>52% of parishioners agree with the statement “Our parish has strong ethnic heritage that we are trying to preserve” </li></ul>
Average proportion of Greek and English used in GOA parishes as the language of sermon, liturgy and church choir:
A significant number of converts (29%) among GOA lay members but much less among GOA parish clergy (12%)
The good message: GOA members have a very strong religious identity and clear Church preference % who agreed with following statements
The bad message: strong Orthodox identity does NOT mean that “people in the pews” view their religious obligations the way they are expected by the Church <ul><li>The survey data tell us that regular Church attendance, obeying the priest and observing Great Lent are seen by majority of parishioners as non-significant for being a “good Orthodox” </li></ul>
Please, indicate if you think a person can be a good Orthodox Christian without performing these actions: % GOA members saying that one still can be a good Orthodox Christian without doing the following 4% Without believing that in Eucharist, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus 30% Without donating time and money to help parish 35% Without having marriage being approved by Church 56% Without observing Lent and fasting on certain days 31% Without donating time and money to help the poor 3% Without believing that Jesus rose from the dead 56% Without obeying the priest 67% Without going to church every Sunday
Not all GOA clergy and laity are equally “Orthodox” in their personal “micro-theologies” When you think about your theological position and approach to church life, which word best describes you?
Generally, GOA clergy and laity DO NOT support the idea of ordination of women % of those who would support women in following roles
GOA men and women have similar opinions on ordination of women % of male and female GOA members who would support women in following roles
GOA members are divided among themselves on teaching of evolution versus creationism in the schools.
An overwhelming majority of GOA laity and especially clergy DO NOT support secularity of education in the public schools.
The subject of “Orthodox unity” in America has been discussed for a long time. What do you think about current situation and possible future developments?
In GOA, more clergy than laity support faster movement towards united Orthodox Church
<ul><li>So, what is bottom line? </li></ul><ul><li>Both in GOA and OCA, both among clergy and laity, neither supporters of faster movement towards united American Orthodoxy nor those who are comfortable with current arrangements can claim absolute majority </li></ul>
What are most urgent issues in the Church life from the perspective of GOA clergy and laity?
57% 23% Family problems of Orthodox priests 47% 25% Process of selecting bishops 38% 32% Sharing ministry with laity 33% 28% Lack of clear professional standards for priests 10% 13% Ordination of women 29% 32% Recruiting priests from converts to Orthodoxy 43% 45% Issue of “ethnic” versus “American” parishes 45% 46% Representation of the local parish at decision making on the diocesan and national level No data 52% Issue of interfaith and inter-Christian marriages 43% 63% Relationship between mainstream American culture and traditions and requirements of the Orthodox Church 80% 84% Issue of youth and young adults leaving Orthodox Church GOA clergy GOA laity % of laity and clergy saying that the following subjects are “VERY IMPORTANT” to be discussed in Church
GOA clergy and GOA laity have somewhat different opinions on how parish life should be organized % of laity and clergy who agreed with following statements
Priestly vocation is viewed quite positively by both GOA laity and clergy
What is total membership in GOA and in other American Orthodox Churches? <ul><li>2010 National Census of American Orthodox Churches asked each local parish to answer two questions: </li></ul><ul><li>How many individual persons in total are associated with the life of your parish: including adults and children, regular and occasional attendees, paid stewards and persons who do not contribute financially? </li></ul><ul><li>Approximately, how many persons – including adults and children – attend Liturgy in your parish on a typical Sunday? </li></ul>
Combined, for all GOA parishes in the US : <ul><li>The answer to the first question is 535,000 That is, 535,000 persons nationwide participate in GOA church life or are at least known to the local parishes </li></ul><ul><li>The answer to the second question is 121,000 That is, 121,000 persons are praying in all GOA churches on a typical Sunday </li></ul><ul><li>The ratio between second (121,000) and first (535,000) figures is 23% That is, 23% of the total GOA membership participate in church life on a regular weekly basis </li></ul>
In terms of total membership, GOA is larger than all other US Orthodox Churches combined
The average size of GOA parishes is also larger than in all other US Orthodox Churches
However, compared to some other Orthodox Churches, smaller proportion of GOA members attend church regularly
The largest GOA parishes by the total number of persons (including children) associated with the parish’s life: <ul><li>St. Demetrios/St. Catherine-St. George, Astoria, NY – 10,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Nicholas Shrine Church, Flushing, NY – 8,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Nicholas Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, FL – 8,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. George, Piscataway, NJ – 6,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Sophia Cathedral, Washington DC – 5,500 </li></ul><ul><li>Holy Trinity Cathedral, Charlotte, NC – 5,500 </li></ul><ul><li>Three Hierarchs Church, Brooklyn, NY – 5,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Paraskevi Shrine Church, Greenlawn, NY – 5,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Sts. Constantine & Helen Cathedral, Merrillville, IN – 5,000 </li></ul><ul><li>St. John the Baptist Church, Las Vegas, NV – 5,000 </li></ul>
The largest GOA parishes by the number of persons (including children) who attend church on a typical Sunday <ul><li>St. Nicholas Shrine Church, Flushing, NY – 1.600 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Demetrios/St.Catherine – St. George, Astoria, NY – 1.200 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Sophia Cathedral, Washington DC – 1.000 </li></ul><ul><li>Three Hierarchs Church, Brooklyn, NY – 900 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Nicholas Church, San Jose, CA - 850 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Vasilios Church, Peabody, MA – 800 </li></ul><ul><li>Annunciation Cathedral, Baltimore, MD – 800 </li></ul><ul><li>Holy Apostles Church, Westchester, IL – 800 </li></ul><ul><li>Annunciation Cathedral, Columbus, OH – 800 </li></ul><ul><li>Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church, Brooklyn, NY – 800 </li></ul><ul><li>Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church, Holmdel, NJ - 800 </li></ul>
And How “Different” Are We? Some Interesting Facts about American Orthodox Christians Versus US Roman Catholics and Protestants <ul><li>Source: 2009 US Religious Landscape Survey </li></ul><ul><li>by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life </li></ul>
American Orthodox Christians have higher income level than Roman Catholics and Protestants
Which is not surprising, because American Orthodox Christians also have higher education level than Roman Catholics and Protestants
American Orthodox Christians are more “liberal” in their political preferences than Roman Catholics or Protestants
In their attitudes towards abortion, 62% of American Orthodox Christians are “pro choice” and only 30% “pro life”
Vast majority of American Orthodox Christians are quite flexible in interpreting official Church teachings
Compared to Roman Catholics and Protestants, Orthodox Christians in the US are LESS likely to see God as a person and MORE likely as an impersonal force
Orthodox Christians DO NOT practice their faith in a particularly strong manner: they attend Church less frequently than Roman Catholics or Evangelical Christians
<ul><li>When you’re back home, look for more information on realities of Orthodox Church life in the US at: </li></ul><ul><li>http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/orthodoxindex.html </li></ul><ul><li>or write to Akrindatch@aol.com </li></ul><ul><li>Now is time for difficult questions: please, ask! </li></ul>