To start, a side note:
You have, my brothers and sisters, the privilege to be citizens of a country which determines to a great extent the fate of many people on our planet
With all the quibbling about how much the GOA versus the CoG is responsible for the upkeep of the EP (and Alexandria and Jerusalem. On a more positive note, the GoC does a LOT for the Church in Albania (and not just for the Greeks there) and at least in Romania in the former Soviet Block), this goes to the heart of the matter. Whether, in the terms of politics, the EP survives in Constantinople depends on whether the Orthodox can pressure the U.S. and the E.U. to pressure the Turk to allow it. Moscow possesses its pressures, but the issue differs there.
Btw, during the Soviet period, Antioch received aid from the PoM (allowed under the guise of Soviet Diplomacy). I don't know if this has dropped, as the needs of Russia have increased since liberation from the Bolshevik yoke. And I don't know how much U.S.-Syrian relations put a strain on support from the Archdiocese here to Antioch. Something to consider, in view of the recent "changes," and how the Chief Secretary's little parley plays in this.
a country where pioneering technologies as well as ideas and philosophies have been discovered and disseminated. The cultural peculiarities and characteristics of the United States find also a reflection in, as it is only natural, and exercise an influence on the religious communities of this country. It is far from accidental that none of the “traditional” religions (coming either from Europe or elsewhere), remained the same once they were replanted on American soil.
The configuration of the Church and of the Faith didn’t remain the same when it was transplanted from Jerusalem into the soil of the Greco-Roman world, nor when the Roman Emperor converted, nor when Constantinople rose, nor when she fell, nor when Greece (and the CoG) achieved independence from Constantinople/Istanbul: certainly not after Greece was integrated into the EU. How does the United States differ from Constantinople or Greece in this principle?
The same change can be of course observed in the case of Orthodoxy, whose appearance and development in America was influenced by certain indeterminable factors.
Among those “certain indeterminable factors,” does he count the Bolshevik revolution and the havoc it wrought on the Metropolia of North America, and the EP’s eagerness to capitalize on it?
The first and main challenge that American Orthodoxy faces is that it has been developed in a region which, from an administrative and technical point, is that of diaspora.
No. America, from an administrative and technical point, was an Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, spreading from the part of the Russian Empire in America. American Orthodoxy developed because the Russian colonial authorities visited Valaam Monastery and requested that missionaries come to the colonies, and founded what became the Metropolia of North America, an Archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Moscow. It turned out to be a mistake on the part of the colonial authorities, because the monks protested the treatment of the natives, and complained to the Czar, to the point that the colonial authorities forbade contact between the natives and the monks.
The monks, however, went on and converted the natives. As the Librarian of Congress records, in the Congressional Record (91st Cong. Vol. 116, No. 133 Aug. 4, 1970):
The mission (8 monks and deacons, headed by the Archmandirite Joseph (who was later drowned [Joasphat drowned in 1799, when he was returning from being ordained as the first bishop of the See of Kodiak, AK, the Holy Synod creating the auxiliary diocese for him and, in their election of him, directed the Bishop of Irkutsk in Siberia to ordain him alone, the only known record of the Russian practicing the economy of ordination by one bishop, used only in dire situations, indicating the importance they placed on the Alaskan mission]) landed at St. Paul's Harbor, Kodiak in September of 1794. Within a year, over 7,000 native Americans had been baptized, mostly Aleuts. Conflicts developed with the Russian-American Trading Company...over the treatment of the Alaskan natives, whose rights the missionaries upheld. In 1800 [the colonial administration] placed the members of the mission under house arrest and forbade contact with the natives. The following year, the missionaries administered the oath of allegiance to the Czar to the natives in an attempt to extend imperial protection over them....Father Herman represents the flowering of Russian monastic spirituality in America. The survival of Orthodoxy in Alaska has been attributed to the zeal of the first missionaries and of their native converts, the absence of racism in the Russian mission and its leaders and such contemporary elements as the use of the vernacular (in the liturgy), the cultivation of a self-relient Church, and an indigenous (native) clergy. The Russian American mission derived much of its strength from the leadership of the first Archbishop of Moscow, founder of the Orthodox Missionary Society, and one of the greatest figures Russian Church history-and the father of Alaskan anthropology. It was [Met. St. Innocent] Veniaminov who firmly established the policy of protecting native tribal rights and who introduced both Aleut and Tlinglit into the liturgy [and had served the Diocese of Alaska as across the Aleutians and down into San Francisco, before assuming the see of Moscow]. However the influence of a life such as that of [St.] Father Herman cannot be underestimating in explaining the ardent faith of the natives whose religious traditions have survived to this day, despite many trials. http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Various_Photos/Glorification_of_St._Herman_of_Alaska/30.shtml
[the record also records accurately that St. Herman was the first glorification of any saint on North American soil].
Among those trials was the Czar selling his American possessions to the U.S. on October 7/18, 1867. Although the treaties contained guarentees on "that the churches which have been built...shall remain the property of such members of the Greek Oriental Church...as may chose to worship therein," and full citizenship for the Russians who stayed, these promises were not kept. The U.S. also excepted the "uncivilized native tribes" (not specifying what of "civilized" tribes, as the Orthodox ones were literate, thanks to the missionaries. In fact, St. Innocent wrote his "The Indication of the Pathway into the Kindgom of Heaven" in Aleut, and then translated it into Russia when he assumed the See of Moscow, whence it became a Russian Classic. Similar material intended for the Alaskans and in their languages ended up in the Russian Church).http://www.asna.ca/alaska/
[on the Orthodox mission in America, "Orthodox Alaska: a theology of mission," by Michael Oleska (from his dissertation in Theology at Presov, CR)http://books.google.com/books?id=r6iwMR-xoEIC&dq=alaskan+orthodox+texts&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=wWnk-f1723&sig=CvLT_5NGAB0CzR6Hz-mOvBxdZz0&hl=en&ei=M9jLSdOoC87qlQeY5snjCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA223,M1
reporting the slander of the Russian-American Company against the monks (as regards administering to the Alaskans the oath of allegiance to the Czar]:
...is replete with distortions and fabrications...That the clergy were were inciting the Natives to assert their freedom and that the company insisted that they obey Baranov's [the governor] indicates where the real issues lay. Hieromonk Iuvenalii traveled alone and unarmed, so that it was beyond his personal strength to force anyone to submit to baptism. Two centuries after his visit the villages he baptized have remained overwhelmingly loyal to Orthodoxy. The historical evidence substantiates the monks', not the company's account. Had the Kenai, Chugach or Iliamna people been forced to accept Christianity, they would have abandoned it as soon as the missionaries left town. Instead, they have remained steadfast in their allegience, not to any earthly tsar, but to the King of Kings and His Church. The martyr St. Juvenaly did his work well.
The Russians lost their homes and either returned to Russia, or joined the Russians in San Francisco. The Congress then split Alaska into 10 districts, and gave each district to a Protestant denomination to "educate." Congress erected a statue in Sitka (the See of the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska of the Russian Church) of Dr. Sheldon Jackson, dedicated to him as "the first Christian missionary in Alaska," who came in 1877 (i.e. nearly a century after St. Herman) to oversee this. (the museum in his honor, again in Sitka, houses his collection of the cultures that he engaged in obliterating). His aide in this, the Tsimshian Rev. Edward Marsden (the "first Alaskan Native to be ordained in the ministry" in 1898, i.e. 73 years after St. Fr. Jacob Netsetov, the first Aleut Orthodox priest was ordained) tried to convert the Tlingit, who converted to Orthodoxy as a nation AFTER the Russians left. In fact, in 1897 "the Tlingit Orthodox Chiefs" petitioned the U.S. President
The reason for this (petition) is following; because here we cannot get any satisfaction to our just and lawful demands. We know that the Russian Government at the time of the transfer of Alaska to the U.S. did not sell us as slaves to America, but left us some rights and privileges which were later made lawful and firm by the U.S.
and also requested that the Imperial Russian ambassador send an envoy to Sitka to monitor the Americans. The ruling bishop of the Orthodox diocese also attempted to influence the American president to fulfill its pledges.http://www.alaskool.org/projects/native_gov/recollections/peratrovich/Elizabeth_1.htm
In the district given to the Luterans, someone hit on the idea of getting Sami (then Lapps) from Scandinavia to settle in Alaska with their reindeer. The Sami men would marry the Alaskan women and make them good Lutherans, and the reindeer would give them a livelihood. The Sami did marry, but these Orthodox wives converted their husbands, leaving an Orthodox population which has Nordic surnames, Sami y chromosones, and Amerindian faces. The reindeer ran off with a herd of caribou, and were never seen again.
Of course, the real irony is that these Sami came from the neighborhood of Valaam, the Monastery from which came St. Herman to enlighten America, and the Sami as far as Njávdán/Neiden Norway had embraced Orthodoxy:
St.Georgs chapel was built in 1565. It is by the Neiden river, not far from the road. A legend says that the holy Trifon baptized the Sámi people in the river, and after that the water in the Neiden river was considered holy. Every year in the last weekend of august there is a orthodoxy ceremony at the chapel and the holy water is a part of the ceremony. http://www.ub.uit.no/baser/arkinord/data/media/359/neiden01-med.jpghttp://www.publish.diaspora.ru/gazeta/articles/i/russia021_1_1.jpghttp://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pasvikelva.no/ep_bilder/3/258-1973a4cb1a698164f5f75ad156ce21fa.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.pasvikelva.no/index.php%3Fpage_id%3D4%26article_id%3D64%26lang_id%3D2&usg=__ZgP8Zgrl19GDeOn747QqE6ICXUU=&h=78&w=78&sz=7&hl=en&start=13&tbnid=qXOlVNErtpZqmM:&tbnh=73&tbnw=73&prev=/images%3Fq%3DSt.%2BGeorge%2BNeiden%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den
A large graveyard surrounds the chapel. According to tradition, there is holy water in a pool in the river above the waterfall. This water was used for purification and baptisms. It is believed that the chapel was consecrated on the 24th of June 1565, as the chapel for the Eastern Sámi 'siida' in Neiden. (A 'siida' was the fundamental unit of the traditional Sámi society, indicating both the occupied area and the family group(s) making use of it.) The Russian Orthodox faith became the religion practiced by the Eastern Sámi, subsequent to the influence of the monk Trifon and the monastery in Petchenga.http://www.ub.uit.no/baser/arkinord/categories.php?cat_id=359http://www.ub.uit.no/baser/arkinord/data/media/359/neiden02-med.jpg
Neiden, located in the municipality of Sør-Varanger, historically has been a seasonal settlement for the Skolt Sámi. According to written sources, the Skolts have been influenced by evangelising since the middle of the 16th century. The missionaries were sent from Russian monasteries. The present chapel is Norway's smallest sacred building and it houses 16 Russian icon panels. Each panel is at least 100 years old. As Sámi cultural monuments, both the chapel and the icons are automatically protected under the Cultural Heritage Act.
God preserve the Indigenous Nations, multiply them and number them among the Great Commission!
This region was evangelized when the Met. of Moscow became the Patriarch of Moscow, All the Russias and Northern Lands." Or was Constantinople in charge of the souls of these "Barbarians?"