Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (1921 - Present) - Religious GroupReligious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: With 376,000 adherents (2020), the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) is by far the largest Orthodox Christian Church body in the U.S. Administratively, the GOA is a part (“eparchy”) of the worldwide Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey). The Archdiocesan Center is in New York City, NY. The first documented Greek Orthodox parish in the U.S. was the Holy Trinity Church in New Orleans, established in 1864. Between 1890 and 1920, hundreds of thousands of immigrants arrived from Greece and from the collapsing Ottoman Empire. Consequently, by 1922, the number of Greek Orthodox parishes in America had swelled to 141. These original congregations were self-sufficient and independent of any ecclesiastical authority. Typically, the local Greek community organized a “fraternity” or “society” comprised of compatriots from the same Old-World towns, regions, or islands. The society would obtain a hall, then open a church, and invite a clergyman from their Old-World hometown to emigrate and serve. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America was incorporated in 1921 during a visit of Meletios Metaxakis, the Archbishop of Athens, to the United States. He called the first Clergy-Laity Congress to administer the affairs of the Archdiocese, importantly setting the principle of significant lay involvement with Church administration. In 1937, the Holy Cross Seminary was founded in Brookline, MA, with the goal of training US-born clergy. In 1968, the Seminary became the graduate-level Holy Cross School of Greek Orthodox Theology, and the undergraduate Hellenic College was added. Following WWII, a generation of Greek Orthodox born in the United States began to take their place in Church leadership, but, at the same time, a new wave of economic immigration (approximately 200,000 between 1950–1970) from Greece arrived. This created an ongoing debate about the proper balance between being “Greek” and “American” in Church life. In 1955, the US Congress recognized the Greek Orthodox Church as a “major American religion.” The public profile of the Archdiocese was elevated during the tenure of Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzes (served 1959–1996). In 1965, he made headlines by marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists in Selma, Alabama. Friendly with both US political parties, Iakovos was the first American religious leader to offer a prayer at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. In the 1970s and 1980s, mixed marriages brought many non-Greeks into the GOA, and more parishes adopted English as the primary language of worship. But in the 1990s, during the tenure of Archbishop Spyridon Papageorge (1996–1999), the GOA experienced the opposite trend. The new leadership opposed the acculturation of the Greek-Orthodox community into “mainstream America,” while an ultraconservative monastic movement spearheaded by Elder Ephraim from Mt. Athos spread and grew quickly. Today, the Archdiocese continues to balance both its Greek and American identities. “Mixed” (Orthodox/non-Orthodox) marriages presently comprise about 65 percent of all marriages in the Archdiocese. Since 2019, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) has served as head of the GOA. In 2009, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA was established. It serves as a consultative body for all canonical Eastern Orthodox bishops in America. Per the Assembly’s bylaws, the head of the GOA holds the position of Chairman of the Assembly.
Official Site: https://www.goarch.org/
Maps: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America1
Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)
Top 5 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America States (2020)1 [View all States]
Top 5 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]
Top 5 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Members (1925 - 2006)2
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Ministers & Churches (1925 - 2006)2
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Trends (1925 - 2006)2
1 The 2020 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include data for 372 religious bodies or groups. Of these, the ASARB was able to gather data on congregations and adherents for 217 and on congregations only for 155. [More information on the data sources]
2 All data on clergy, members, and churches are taken from the National Council of Churches’ Historic Archive CD and recent print editions of the Council’s Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The CD archives all 68 editions of the Yearbook (formerly called Yearbook of the Churches and Yearbook of American Churches) from 1916 to 2000. Read more information on the Historic Archive CD and the Yearbook.
Membership figures are "inclusive." According to the Yearbook, this includes "those who are full communicant or confirmed members plus other members baptized, non-confirmed or non-communicant." Each denomination has its own criteria for membership.
When a denomination listed on the Historic Archive CD was difficult to identify, particularly in early editions of the Yearbook, the ARDA staff consulted numerous sources, including Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions and the Handbook of Denominations in the United States. In some cases, ARDA staff consulted the denomination’s website or contacted its offices by phone. When a denomination could not be positively identified, its data were omitted.