Assembly of Bishops Releases Report Regarding Orthodox Parish Life In USA

JOHNSTOWN, PA --  The Diocesan Chancery is in receipt of  the recently completed report by The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America's Research Coordinator Alexei Krindatch. This report was compiled from survey results submitted by all Orthodox parishes in the United States, including our Diocese.  The 40-page report titled, "Five Interesting Facts About Orthodox Church Geography and Demography in the United States." provides fascinating insight into the life and practice of Orthodox communities today  in general and our American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in particular.

 In "Fact 1: About Orthodox Church Membership in America" the report notes that "nationwide, and for all jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops combined, the total number of persons attending Orthodox parishes on a regular weekly basis is 209,000."

The report goes on to explain, however, that the total number of adherents (people who are at least loosely associated with a parish) is 797,600. Of those, 476,000 are associated with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The next two populous jurisdictions are the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese, respectively.  The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA ranks ninth out of 13 jurisdictions with a census of 10,500

"Fact 2: About Orthodox Church Geography in America," notes that Orthodox Christians are concentrated in a few states, with nearly half living in New York, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Examining life at the local parish level, "Fact 3: About Orthodox Church Attendance in America" asserts that the research reveals that only 26% of all Orthodox parishioners in America participate in church life regularly; additionally, as the total membership of a parish increases, the proportion of people attending frequently goes down. It is noted that the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA is tied with the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese for the highest percentage of parishioners participating regularly in church life: 47%.

In "Fact 4: About Ethnic Culture in American Orthodox Churches," Krindatch observes, "English is much more widely used in American Orthodox church life than the other 'ethnic' languages. Nationwide, the average proportion of English used as language of liturgy is 73%. In the case of the language of the sermon, the national average of the usage of English is even higher: 81%." The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA  is ranked the highest in percentage of the English language used in the sermon (100%)   and in the Liturgy (96%).

Yet, the survey results also indicated that the strength of ethnic identity (that is, the way how Orthodox parishes view themselves) shows that dominance of English language in most of US Orthodox jurisdictions does not mean that local Orthodox parishes abandon their ethnic 'roots' and heritage. The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese ranked second to last in the strength of the ethnic identity of its parishes with 31% of Diocesan parishes indicating that their parish had a strong ethnic identity they wished to preserve, 16% were neutral and 53% strongly disagreed

Finally, the section "Fact 5: About Orthodox Monastic Communities in America" provides information about the growth of monastic communities: "There are over 80 Orthodox monasteries in the United States (including several monasteries of the Oriental Orthodox Churches)."

A PDF of the report is available here.