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Orthodox Church in America, The (1970 - Present) - Religious Group

Religious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: If measuring by number of congregations (560 as of 2020), the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is the largest American Orthodox Christian Church. Known under its current name since 1970, its history stretches back to 1794, when ten Russian Orthodox monks arrived at Kodiak Island in Alaska. By the beginning of the 20th century, this mission to the native peoples of Alaska evolved into a North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. It grew considerably, due to the arrival of immigrants not only from Russia, but also from Eastern and Central Europe and the Middle East. At that time, the non-Russian ethnic groups of Orthodox Christians did not have their own bishops in America, so most of them were united under a single North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the wake of the chaos caused by the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Tikhon, directed all his parishes and dioceses outside of Russia to govern themselves autonomously. In 1924, the North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church became a self-governing Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (also known popularly as "Metropolia"). In 1970, this Church was granted autocephaly (full independence) by the "Mother Church," the Russian Orthodox Church, and was renamed as the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Unlike most other Orthodox Christian Church bodies in the USA, the OCA does not have an affinity towards any particular ethnic group: typically worship services are in English, the majority of clergy and members are born in the USA, and about half of them are converts to Orthodox Christianity (i.e., former Roman Catholics and Protestants). Founded in 1905, the OCA’s St. Tikhon’s Orthodox monastery is the oldest Orthodox Christian monastery in the United States. The OCA produced many prominent Orthodox theologians and historians, including Fr. George Florovsky, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Fr. John Meyendorff. Established in 1938, St. Vladimir Orthodox seminary (Yonkers, NY) became a graduate school of theology and academic center, with students representing various Orthodox Churches, both Eastern and Oriental. Each August, the rich history of the OCA comes alive in the annual pilgrimage to the abode of St. Herman (one of original ten Russian missionary monks and the first American Orthodox saint) on Spruce Island, near Kodiak Island in Alaska.
Official Site:

Connections: Orthodox Church in America, The

 Group (Active) 
 Group (Defunct) 

Maps: Orthodox Church in America, The1

Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)

Congregations (2020)

Top 5 Orthodox Church in America, The States (2020)1 [View all States]

Rank State Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Alaska 85 10,185 13.89
2 District Of Columbia 1 550 0.80
3 Connecticut 18 2,529 0.70
4 Pennsylvania 78 7,969 0.61
5 Ohio 35 6,125 0.52

Top 5 Orthodox Church in America, The Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]

Rank County Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Lake and Peninsula Borough, AK 9 663 449.19
2 Dillingham Census Area, AK 7 1,185 243.98
3 Bethel Census Area, AK 22 3,613 193.56
4 Kusilvak Census Area, AK 5 983 117.47
5 Aleutians East Borough, AK 4 290 84.80

Top 5 Orthodox Church in America, The Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]

Rank Metro Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Anchorage, AK Metro Area 4 1,270 3.19
2 Toccoa, GA Micro Area 1 68 2.54
3 Crawfordsville, IN Micro Area 1 94 2.48
4 DuBois, PA Micro Area 5 195 2.42
5 Corvallis, OR Metro Area 1 210 2.21

Orthodox Church in America, The, Members (1970 - 2010)2

Orthodox Church in America, The, Ministers & Churches (1970 - 2010)2

Orthodox Church in America, The, Trends (1970 - 2010)2

1970 1,000,000 362 312
1971 1,000,000 448 387
1972 1,000,000 455 370
1973 1,000,000 460 375
1975 1,000,000 498 410
1978 1,000,000 531 440
1999 1,000,000 796 710
2000 1,000,000 830 721
2002 900,000 873 725
2003 1,000,000 876 731
2004 1,064,000 905 737
2009 131,000 970 750
2010 131,000 970 750


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.

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