Here is the census data:http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2010/10/krindatch-2010-orthodox-census-power-point/http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/research/2010-USOrthodox-Census.pdf
67% of GOA members said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without attending Liturgy every Sunday.
56% said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without obeying the Priest.
56% also said you can be a good Orthodox Christian without observing fasting days, including Lent.
Out of all the Orthodox Churches in America, GOA has the 4th lowest attendance rate of it's members (only 23%)
52% of GOA Churches say they are trying to preserve their ethnic identity. With 42% of parishioners and 45% of clergy speaking Greek as their first language.
More general statistical data (not negative data):
The GOA has 476,900 members. But only 107,400 participate every Sunday. (this isn't just a GOA problem though)
The average size of a GOA parish is 908 people per parish. (comp. to 154 in OCA, 300 in AOCA and 564 in Serbian)
68% of American Orthodox think the teachings of the Church can be interpreted in a flexible manner.
Most American Orthodox also attend Church less often than other Christian faiths.
Also, I had assumed that more Greek Parishes had modern icons as I've seen photos of Greek parishes like St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Personally I don't see pews as a big issue unless there are other things present in a parish as well, such as frequent sitting (unless the parish is made up of infirm, nursing or elderly), lack of laity participation, feeling of a "concert"/performance, lack of prostrations (at appropriate times), all in addition to other problems a parish might have such as western icons, westernized teachings, liberal views, etc...
As for soloists, I'm definitely aware of the Byzantine style with a "soloist" (with others keeping the ison) but I'm talking about soloist like you might think of like what Divna or Eikona does, only instead of being on a CD (or the radio), it's actually done in Church.
Regarding views on the Ecumenical Patriarch, I have heard (and again, this is just hearsay) that some GOA believe him to be more of a
Pope figure, and while I don't think he sees himself in this manner, I still worry about this view spreading.
As for the architecture, I'm thinking of Churches such as St. Dionysius in Overland Park, KS; Annunciation in Kansas City, MO; St. Luke in Columbia, MO; Annunciation in Milwaukee, WI; Ascension in San Francisco, CA; etc...
As a disclaimer, I'm not saying those are bad Churches, as they are still blessed and consecrated houses of God and Orthodox places of worship. However, I am saying that Churches should be built in a traditional manner according to forms/layouts.
I have heard there are canons regarding Church architecture, but I haven't found any yet and am not sure where to look. I know the basics such as the narthex-nave-apse/sanctuary is probably required, and that other elements such as the dome, etc... are probably strongly encouraged. Even if you look at plans of Orthodox Churches in Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, etc... you will notice that they have obvious/distinct similarities, it's only in some countries (mainly the US) that this seems to not be the case. I would be really interested in finding actual canons/rules on Church architecture. I have little problem with a "contemporarily designed" Church with the form of the traditional (IE: not in the round or another weird arrangement) as long as it isn't "iconoclastic" (not in the Orthodox sense though) inside or out.
I also do not think the whole Church can fall away, but what I'm worried about is a schism between Churches. I'm also concerned because of the unity that is hopefully going to be coming in the next 5-10 years. While no one is perfect, I worry about these problems spreading into parishes that aren't a part of the GOA archdiocese (should unity occur).
As for icons, I know this is a problem in more than just the GOA (and probably a bigger problem in the OCA and other Russian-oriented jurisdictions), and I'm aware of most of the architecture in Russia. I am not denegrating it, but just saying that such iconography is not traditional, nor "canonical" (using that in a very loose sense). From what I've read, even Russia is turning away from such westernized iconography and is going back to a more traditional style in it's new churches and with it's new iconographers it's training..
While these things aren't in and of themselves bad, it is my understanding, just as with doctrine and our theology, that such things can cause other problems subtly. As an architecture student, I understand this about architecture as well. Even though westernized icons (that are blessed) aren't bad, and even though modern architecture isn't bad, it affects you more than you know. Once you create this environment, it begins to shape your worldview, your theology, your psychology, etc... This is what I'm worried about, if you have a parish with pews, western icons, liberal views, etc... Then chances are, even if you don't have unorthodox views, those things will slowly affect you or others.
Again, as I said before, many of this is just rumors and hearsay, and I appreciate everyone addressing these concerns!
As an aside, I will be living in Greece this Spring for 3 months and have been planning on attending many Orthodox Churches/services and especially looking at the architecture. (as Byzantine is probably my favorite)
While I would like to attend a service at a Greek Church here in the U.S. I would like to see those in Greece first, and then see what American Churches are like.
I know I need to get out more, but I've experienced 4 Orthodox parishes, 3 of those being OCA. 1 had pews, 2 had chairs in rows and my home parish has chairs along the walls. I hope to visit more in the future.
Again, thank you for all your replies!
(my intention is NOT to offend anyone, I apologize if I have, but these are concerns I've had, and all I've desired is to have them addressed/rebuffed)