New Research Project Overview
by Alexei. D. Krindatch
Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA
The second stage of the continuing study on “The Orthodox (Eastern Christian) Churches in the USA at the Beginning of a New Millennium. The Questions of Nature, Identity and Mission” will focus on two issues.
First, it will look at the social integration of the Eastern Christian Churches into American religious scene.
Second, it will explore the ethnic-cultural assimilation of Orthodox Christian immigrant communities with the wider American society.
Historically, the link between ethnic and religious identities has been maintained in a strong way in the parishes of diverse Orthodox Churches in USA. This linkage has limited the ability of ethnically diverse Eastern Christian communities to transcend their differences and create a unified American Orthodox Church (based on common Orthodox faith and not divided by ethnic borders). It has also hindered their assimilation into the American pattern of religious pluralism.
Nevertheless since the 1970s, the process of indigenousation of many Orthodox Churches in America has challenged seriously this linkage between ethnicity and religious affiliation and questioned the traditional understanding of nature and mission of the Orthodox Churches in the USA.
The goal of current stage of research is to carry out the comparative analysis of the four Eastern Christian Churches in the USA (“Ukrainian Orthodox Church”, “Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch”, “Romanian Orthodox Episcopate” and “Patriarchal Parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in North America”) with an emphasis on:
The changing relationships between the Orthodox Churches as social institutions and the corresponding ethnic communities of their members;
The varied policies of an ecumenical participation administered by different Orthodox Churches in North America;
The different understanding of their mission in the context of American religious pluralism and of a contemporary American society.
In order to obtain first-hand, reliable information the basic procedure of the current research will include a sociological survey of the local Orthodox (Eastern Christian) parishes.
About 250 standard questionnaires will be distributed to all the parishes of the four Orthodox Church groups included in the study. These questionnaires will be completed by the priests who are in a charge of the each parish. View a sample questionnaire. This questionnaire is in .pdf format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat to view the files, click the icon to download.
The variety of data obtained from the survey will allow for comparative analysis between various ethnicities of the Orthodox religious background, between various types of settlements and geographic areas of the USA where the Orthodox parishes are located, between parishes of the different years of foundation and between various social breakdowns of the memberships.
Read more about Alexei Krindatch's earlier study of Orthodox Churches in the United States at the index page for this study.