Projected Unity and Independence for America

From the report of Archbishop Tikhon,
Diocese of the Aleutians and North America

From: The Responses of the Diocesan Bishops Concerning Church Reforms, submitted to the Preconciliar Commission of the Holy Synod, St. Petersburg, 1905, Part I, p. 531.

[Spring-Summer 2000]

   The diocese of North America must be reorganized into an Exarchate of the Russian Church in North America. The diocese is not only multi-national; it is composed of several orthodox Churches, which keep the unity of faith, but preserve their particularities in canonical structure, in liturgical rules, in parish life. These particularities are dear to them and can perfectly be tolerated on the pan-Orthodox scene. We do not consider that we have the right to suppress the national character of the churches here; on the contrary, we try to preserve this character and we confer them the latitude to be guided by leaders of their own nationality. Thus, the Syrian Church here received a bishop of its own (the Most Rev. Raphael of Brooklyn), who is the second auxiliary to the diocesan bishop of the Aleutian Islands, but is almost independent in his own sphere (the bishop of Alaska having the same position). The Serbian parishes are now organized under one immediate head, who for the time being is an archimandrite, but who can be elevated to the episcopacy in the nearest future. The Greeks also desire to have their own bishop and are trying to settle the matter with the Synod of Athens. In other words, in North America a whole Exarchate can easily be established, uniting all orthodox national Churches, which would have their own bishops under one Exarch, the Russian Archbishop. Each one of them is independent in its own sphere, but the common affairs of the American Church are decided in a Synod, presided by the Russian Archbishop. Through him a link is preserved between the American Church and the Church of Russia and a certain dependence of the former on the latter. It should be remembered however that life in the New World is different from that of the old; our Church must take this into consideration; a greater autonomy (and possibly autocephaly) should therefore be granted to the Church of America, as compared with the other Metropolitan sees of the Russian Church. The North American Exarchate would comprise: 1) the archdiocese of New York, with jurisdiction over all Russian Churches in the United States and Canada. 2) the diocese of Alaska, for the orthodox inhabitants of Alaska (Russians, Aleutians, Indians, Eskimos). 3) The diocese of Brooklyn (Syrian). 4) the diocese of Chicago (Serbian). 5) a Greek diocese.


[Note:  Archbishop Tikhon's Response to the request from the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was first circulated for discussion among many of the leaders of the American Orthodox Church.  In a handwritten note on the top of the questionnnaire the Archbishop wrote:

September 1, 1905.  For the discussion of the questions indicated here, the following are invited:  Bishop Raphael, Archpriests Toth, Hotovitsky, Nedzelnitsky, Priests Turkevich (Benedict), P. Popov, and Nemolovsky, and the General Consul and Cathedral Starosta, N.N. Ladyzhinsky.]



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