History of Orthodox Christianity


St. Paul is a mission of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, which is under the guidance of His Grace Bishop Antoun.  The Diocese of Miami is part of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, which is an Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East. 

The Patriarchate of Antioch is one of the five oldest organized bodies of Christianity.  Beginning in the time of the apostles Christianity spread through the known world and one of the first places it found root was in Antioch, Syria.  The physical and spiritual descendants of those Christians who were the first to be called by the name “Christian” (The Book of Acts 11:26) are those who today make up the Patriarchate of Antioch. 

The Patriarchate of Antioch is in communion with three of the other four ancient patriarchates, those being Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Constantinople.  The Patriarch of the West, the bishop of Rome called the Pope, who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is the fifth of the five ancient Patriarchates but has not been in communion with the other four ancient patriarchates since the twelfth century. 

Today the Patriarchate of Antioch is one part of what is called Orthodox Christianity.  Orthodox Christianity is found as the indigenous religion of Christians in the Holy Land and Middle East, Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and in parts of Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.  By immigration or conversion Orthodox Christianity has spread to all parts of the world including the United States. 

Immigration of course brought many Orthodox Christians to the United States but conversion has also been a large contributor to the number of Orthodox Christians in North America.  Native Alaskans began converting in the 18th century when Russian fur traders brought their religion with them.  It was at first through marriage with native Alaskans that Orthodox Christianity spread in Alaska but later due to the missionary efforts of Sts. Herman, Innocent, Jacob and Juvenaly all who labored in Alaska in the 18th and 19th century. 

Outside of Alaska Orthodoxy Christianity had it’s first churches in New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Wilkes-Barre PA, Chicago, New York, Bridgeport CT, Galveston, and Garfield NJ all before the turn of the 20th century.  These churches were made up mostly of immigrants but Americans could be found converting to Orthodox Christianity even early on.  In our part of the South, the oldest parish Church is in New Orleans (1865), which is the oldest in North America outside of Alaska.  In 1908 a parish was founded in Vicksburg MS and in 1909 in Birmingham AL.

Outside of the mission in Tupelo there is a mission in Aberdeen, MS.  The closest monastic community is found in Grand Junction, TN (St. Paul Skete).  The closest parish Churches to Tupelo are in Memphis, TN: Holy Annunciation (http://www.goann.tn.goarch.org), St. John Orthodox Church (http://www.stjohnmemphis.org), and St. Seraphim Orthodox Church (http://www.orthodoxmemphis.org).

For More information on Orthodoxy in America see http://orthodoxhistory.org/

For More information about Orthodox Christianity in general see http://www.orthodoxinfo.com and http://www.monachos.net

For a dictionary of Orthodox terms, please visit http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/dictionary_terminology.htm