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American Orthodoxy and Parish Congregationalism

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The American Orthodox Christian presence has been declining in size over the past few decades, even until now. Orthodox parishes are often criticized for being unable to grow spiritually and in numbers. Education, charitable works, outreach to the community, and other signs of vibrant, healthy communities of faith languish if they exist at all. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer people participate in the liturgical life of the Church, supposedly the cornerstone of Orthodox faith and witness. The cause for these endemic problems is often laid at the door of ethnophyletism, xenophobia, an extremely parochial and self-serving attitude in Orthodox parishes, lack of faith education, and other ills. In this book, Fr. Nicholas traces the roots of the current distressing situation in American Orthodoxy to another, more radically fundamental issue: the fact that virtually all of the original parishes in America were founded on a congregationalist structure. He argues that this parish structure, radically opposed to Orthodox ecclesiology, is what has allowed and even encouraged the attitudes and problems that continue to plague Orthodox Christianity in America. His book delineates the factors that have influenced the growth of congregationalism in Orthodox parishes. Fr. Nicholas contends that if there is to be a serious attempt to correct the present, resulting in a reasonable assurance that the American Orthodox presence will have a future, then it is first necessary to understand the past.


Preface to the Paperback Edition

p. vii

Preface to the Hardback Edition

p. xi

Preface to the Original Edition

p. xv

Introduction to the Paperback Edition

p. xvii

What is an Orthodox Parish?

p. xvii

Openness and Transparency

p. xxviii


p. xxix

Chapter One: The Theology and Patriarch of Church Structure

p. 1

A Definition of the Issue

p. 2

The State of the Question

p. 3

The Value of the Question

p. 6


p. 8

A Canonical Excursus

p. 10

Chapter Two: Unity in Authority - Ecclesiology

p. 17

Unity and Catholicity in the Church in Transition

p. 23

Unity and Catholicity in the Expanded Church

p. 32

Unity and Catholicity in the Modern Era

p. 45

Unity and Catholicity in Eucharistic Ecclesiology

p. 58


p. 68

Chapter Three: Disunity in Authority - Present Practice

p. 71

The Place of the Canons in Jurisdictional Laws

p. 79

Supra-Parish Governance in Jurisdictional Laws

p. 81

Parochial Governance in Jurisdictional Law

p. 95

Chapter Four: Moral Absence of the Hierarchy

p. 109

Chapter Five: The Toth Movement

p. 143

Chapter Six: Lay Societies

p. 161

Slavic Brotherhoods

p. 161

Greek Lay Societies

p. 172

Summary of the Causes of Congregationalism

p. 178

Chapter Seven: Congregationalism in Orthodoxy - An Analysis

p. 181

Archbishop Tikhon and Archbishop John Carroll

p. 181


p. 195


p. 203


p. 211

Product Description


228 Pages


Holy Cross Orthodox Press



Product Dimensions:

9 x 6 x 0.7 inches


Nicholas Ferencz

Publication Year:


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