«God has a sense of humor»: why Americans choose Orthodoxy

© Photo : from personal archive of Archpriest Kirill Sokolovskaja Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco«God has a sense of humor»: why Americans choose Orthodoxy© Photo : from personal archive of Archpriest Kiril Sokolov

The oldest Russian Church in North America this year marks 150 years, but in General Orthodoxy on the American continent — more than two centuries. What is its identity, what are traditions and how do they attract US citizens — in the material RIA Novosti.

The land of the Aleuts and Indians

«Today the Orthodox Church in America unites all ethnic groups and widely distributed in USA, Canada and Mexico,» said the Bishop of Santa Rossky Daniel (Brum).

The first Orthodox missionary to America, was a Russian monk St. Herman of Alaska, sailed with a few monks of the Valaam monastery to Alaska in 1794 to preach the gospel among the locals. The missionaries settled on the Islands of Kodiak and Spruce (Spruce). Aleutian and the first Bishop was Saint innocent (Veniaminov), who founded in 1826 by Aleut alphabet. Over time, the Episcopal chair was moved to San Francisco, and in 1905 — in new York.

By the beginning of XX century the Aleutian and North American diocese was as Russian settlers and local residents. «At first in the Western United States it was the Indians, the Eskimos, but gradually appeared and Orthodox Americans,» — says doctor of historical Sciences Andrey Kostryukov, associate Professor of St. Tikhon Orthodox humanitarian University.

The Orthodox Church in America headed by Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of all America and Canada Tikhon. Now the OCA about a thousand parishes.

In addition to the Orthodox Church in America in the USA there are parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church and ROCOR, as well as other local churches. All of them are independent from each other and are part of the type SCOBA (Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the America) Conference of canonical bishops of America and jointly decide on the questions of missionary work, preaching and internal problems.

The most ancient temple in North America
«I’m a Californian, born in California, Santa Cruz. The father came to America from the USSR in 1975, my mother is a native — born Californian. They met in Moscow in the 1970s. I serve at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. Our parish is very small, but the oldest in North America outside of Alaska,» says Archpriest Kirill Sokolov.

He never thought of becoming a priest while growing up in a Christian family. «When I was five or seven years, my father joined the Seminary. And our life has changed a lot. We prayed, fasted. I also fasted — not eating meat,» recalls father Cyril.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco is celebrating this year the 150th anniversary. In 1868 the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church sent the first permanent priest. The Foundation of the parish at that time consisted of Serbs, Slavs, Greeks — all went to the same small wooden Church.

«For half a century, our parish has changed a lot, influenced him and the tragedy of the twentieth century, and migration flows. If you look at my flock, the Americans in the second generation, 70 percent of them come from non-Orthodox families,» said father Cyril.

In the Holy Trinity Cathedral of worship almost always occur in English. «Come to us and people with Russian roots, and those who do not speak Russian, and those whose children consider themselves to be native Americans, but proud of Russian heritage. However, the majority of our members — those who by the Providence of God turned to Orthodoxy, made an effort to learn more about Christianity, about Church history, those who sought to find spiritual resting place», — said the source RIA Novosti.

Thanksgiving day (the fourth Thursday of November) Holy Trinity parish in San Francisco celebrates as the feast day. Are committed in the Church all-night vigil and divine Liturgy, headed by the Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, Benjamin. «And after the Liturgy there comes a time traditional American holiday. We all get together in the refectory, thank God in prayer and then we break bread and pay tribute to traditional day treat. It is a great holiday. He recalls that did Cyril and Methodius, St. Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus, and all the generations of the saints of the enlightenment, who chose the good that can give one or the other culture, and sanctifying, bringing it to God» — says an American priest.

«We still have much to do to understand how we want to use technology. We Christians were in a strange position. After all, we know what our brain needs to be busy constantly, is prayer, service to the neighbor. In any case, something more than just looking at pictures on the screen of the phone,» said father Cyril.

Modern man must finally decide what he wants to be and how he wants to live — real or virtual, whether he wants to communicate, to look in the eye, showing concern, listening, communicating with ordinary people in cafes, at school, at work. «We face a choice — to try to be what God made us, or just mindlessly allow the neurons flash in the brain», warns the rector of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco.

© Photo : from personal archive of Bishop Daniel (Broome)Bishop of Santa Rossky, vicar of the diocese of San Francisco and the West Daniel (Brum)«God has a sense of humor»: why Americans choose Orthodoxy© Photo : from personal archive of Bishop Daniel (Broome)Bishop of Santa Rossky, vicar of the diocese of San Francisco and the West Daniel (Brum)