The Orthodox Church in America

From Academic Kids

The Orthodox Church in America (OCA/TOCA) is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church, currently led by Metropolitan Herman (Swaiko). It began with the missionary work of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands with the arrival of eight monks, led by Archmandrite Ioasef, at Kodiak Island on September 24, 1794. This mission was created as a separate Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands on June 10, 1870 after sale of Alaska to the United States. Later in the century, the center of church activity moved to the northeastern United States as Slavic immigrants returned to the Orthodox Church from the Unia. As the Diocesean bishop from 1897 to 1907, Bishop Tikhon (Belavin) led the expanding growth of the church in the United States; in recognition of the expansion of the diocese beyond Alaska, he petitioned the Holy Synod in Moscow to change the diocese's title to the Diocese of the Aleutians and North America. This was approved in February 1900.

In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution brought communication between the churches in North America and Russia to an almost complete halt. In the early 1920s, Tikhon (then Patriarch of Moscow) directed all Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia to govern themselves autonomously until regular communication and travel could be resumed. (He died in 1925, and was glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1989). At that time, parishes that had been part of a single North American Diocese organized separate dioceses and placed themselves under various other mother churches, giving rise to the current situation of multiple overlapping jurisdictions in North America.

In the early 1960s, the Orthodox Church in America (then using the name Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America) resumed communication with the Patriarch of Moscow, and in 1970 full communion was restored. At that time, the Patriarch of Moscow officially granted the OCA autocephaly, or self-governing administrative status. The OCA's autocephaly is not currently recognized by all other autocephalous Orthodox Churches (e.g., the Church of Constantinople). This is essentially an administrative matter, however, and most (if not all) of these churches recognize the OCA as canonical and its sacraments as valid.

Within the past twenty years, the OCA has established over 220 new parishes. It is a member of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA), together with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and the other member jurisdictions.


According to Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald), Bishop of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the official name of this jurisdiction is The Orthodox Church in America, and its acronym should be TOCA. There has not yet been any official announcement from the central administration of the church, and the former uses (Orthodox Church in America and OCA) remain the most common both within and outside the jurisdiction.

According to the 1970 Tomos of Autocephaly granted by the Russian Orthodox Church, the official name of this church body is The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America[1] (


  • Constance J. Tarasar (Gen. Ed.) Orthodox America: The Orthodox Church in America Syosett, New York 1975

External links

de:Orthodoxe Kirche in Amerika


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