Orthodox Christians in the USA grow 16% in a decade

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Whitney Jones for ENI, wrote that "America's Eastern Orthodox Parishes have grown 16% in the past decade, in part because of a settled immigrant community according to new research." Her article follows:

Alexei Krindatch, research consultant for the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, said the 16 percent growth in the number of  Orthodox parishes is "a fairly high ratio for religious groups in the United States," Religion News Service reports. 

The number of Orthodox parishes has reached 2,370, and the Orthodox community in America consists of more than 1 million adherents across 20 different church bodies, according to the 2010 U.S. Orthodox Census.

orthodox clergy.jpg
The top five largest Orthodox churches in the United States are Greek Orthodox (476,900), Orthodox Church in America (84,900), Antiochian Orthodox (74,600), Serbian Orthodox (68,800) and Russian Orthodox (27,700).

Two of these church bodies - the Bulgarian Orthodox Eastern Diocese and the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese - experienced a growth rate of more than 100 percent. Both churches began with a small number of parishes in 2000 and are supported by a community of established eastern European immigrants.
"It takes immigrant communities a little while to establish a religious community," Krindatch said. "They settle, then begin to think about their religious lives." Even though the majority of Orthodox church bodies grew, some lost parishes.  The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolic Church of America all experienced a slight decrease in the number of parishes.

The study, which was part of the national Religious Congregations and Membership Study 2010, also shows that just 27 percent of Orthodox members attend churches regularly. Krindatch said the definition of each of the groups affected this statistic. Church "adherents" was the most inclusive category, consisting of anyone who occasionally participated in church life, while "regular attendees" are those who attend church on an almost weekly basis.

More information on the survey is posted online at: www.orthodoxreality.org.

The report can be read here: 2010-USOrthodox-Census.pdf

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Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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