WHO ARE WE?
We are The Holy Eastern Orthodox Church of the United States
(THEOCUS), an independent jurisdiction within the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church. The THEOCUS is a
jurisdiction that is unyielding and uncompromisingly Orthodox in faith and
practice. We seek to serve the people of the Americas by caring for them in a
variety of ways. One of the many ways we serve the faithful is by conducting
Church Services in their native languages (for example, English for the
English-speaking, French for French Canadians, etc.).
Our Diocese is "non-ethnic", but
we’re not "anti-ethnic"; there’s a big difference! We’re not
caught up in maintaining or preserving any ethnic, racial, or national "old
country" ties as is the case in many "ethnic" nationality
parishes and jurisdictions.
We believe that Heaven is our permanent
home and the earth is only our temporary dwelling place; therefore, we have the
Church as our guide for reaching our permanent home. As a consequence, we do not
get involved in political controversies that have so marked the history of
ethnocentric dioceses in this hemisphere for more than two hundred years! We
know from the Holy Scriptures that there will be no ethnicity in the Kingdom of
Heaven. We believe that the Holy Orthodox Church is an earthly glimpse of the
Heavenly Kingdom to come; therefore, the Orthodox Church should represent all of
mankind regardless of race or ethnic heritage.
The clergy of the THEOCUS are men who are
intensely loyal to their unique calling to serve God's people in His Church.
Most of our clergymen are "worker-Priests". They have many years of
experience as "hands-on shepherds". Our Priests are not hirelings who
are remote and distant from their flock. Currently, none of our Priests serve as
salaried clergy; all have secular positions to support themselves, their
families, and more often than not, their churches as well! Although spiritually
rewarding, the life of a Priest in the THEOCUS is not an easy one!
WHERE DO WE COME FROM?
The roots of the THEOCUS are as diverse as
America itself. Our ecclesiastical, Apostolic Succession is found in multiple
Orthodox sources including the Albanian, Greek, Oriental, and Athonite Churches.
Also in the Orthodox Patriarchates of Russia, Antioch, Alexandria and
Constantinople. In the past those who have served as our hierarchs have been
Lithuanian, French, Czech, Irish and English, or were children of immigrants
from those countries. The clergy and people of the THEOCUS are from nearly every
The ecclesiastical structure of the THEOCUS began in the 1890’s with the massive immigration movements from Europe and the
Mediterranean basin. They came for various reasons, mostly economic. Some
immigrated because they were tired of the wars that continued relentlessly for
many years. The Carpatho-Russians in particular immigrated because their land
had been overworked and no longer produced enough food for their families.
Like the melting pot that Orthodoxy in
North America is, to a great extent, the THEOCUS can trace itself back through
several Bishops. One of our earlier Bishops was given a mandate from the Syrian
(Antiochian) Church to establish a jurisdiction for American people. This Bishop
was also given permission to establish an Orthodox Church that would serve as a
haven for those of the Western rite. The original document is from the 19th
century, dated some 70 years before Metropolitan Antony Bashir established his
Western Rite Vicariate in 1957!
We are fortunate to have had the
leadership of Bishops, Priests, and fine men and women who, in the past, saw the
need for a jurisdiction not bogged down with the tired old blood of the old
countries. The latter simply could not, or would not, speak plainly to the
up-and-coming generations of Americans. In an attempt to establish a second
diocese (similar to the one founded in the 19th century), the Russian and Arabic
Jurisdictions set up an administration (complete with one or two Bishops) to
accommodate English-speaking American converts. It failed because the ethnic
dioceses "pulled the plug" after a few years. The new diocese was
"stealing" second and third generation Russians, Greeks, etc. Such was
the mind set in those days. The ethnic dioceses felt that Orthodoxy was their
exclusive property, and the property of their children. Ironically, their own
children (second and third generation Orthodox) were drifting away from
Orthodoxy; they were leaving in droves! When asked for the reason they were
leaving, (and this reason can be heard to this very day) -- their reply was:
"I want an American Church, not a foreign church. I love the Orthodox
Faith, but I want to be an American, not a displaced foreigner. After all, I was
born in America."
For decades, the THEOCUS has had Bishops
who were born on this side of the Atlantic, though their ancestors were from
Asia Minor or Europe. They are fully American, and feel that their allegiance is
to the North American people, not to some "mighty" Bishop whose
predecessor in the 12th century ruled over millions of Orthodox Christians, but
whose flock sadly numbers only a mere 3,000 today.
We need to make clear; however, that our
Apostolic Succession derives from the predecessors of today's "old
country" hierarch’s and due to this fact, our clergy and Bishops are
fully Orthodox and unquestionably valid!
WHAT DO WE STAND FOR?
Since our faithful need to know our position; we state,
without reservation, that we stand for the Truth!
bear witness to the Faith once delivered to the Saints (St. Jude 3). Our Church
strictly upholds the ancient Christian faith and we are a valid branch of the
pure and unadulterated Early Orthodox Christian Church. We follow and teach
everything that Christ and His Church taught in the Scriptures, in oral
Tradition, in the Nicene Creed, in the Seven Ecumenical Councils and in the
writings of the Church Fathers.
Since it is our duty, we hold to the
commission given by Our Lord to teach all nations. Understanding that with so
many cultures in the Americas, we are obliged to offer the peoples of these
lands more than one liturgical rite, so long as it is approved by competent
Orthodox authority. Furthermore, realizing that Americans are essentially a
western people, we feel that offering only an Eastern rite expression of
Orthodoxy is not adequate. Therefore, we advocate Western rites in places where
it is most effective. To have more than one rite was the practice of the Early
Church and it is clearly vital for this increasingly westernized world.
True Orthodoxy finds itself in the
minority, even among the older Orthodox jurisdictions. We are not exclusivists,
we are not Gnostic in any sense of the word, and it is necessary for us to state
that we have no "inside track" to the Truth. We have only the
revealed to us, through our Apostolic Succession and through Holy Traditions
(including the Scriptures) in the Orthodox Church of the ages.
It is for the sake of truth that we must
proclaim that The THEOCUS rejects the outright betrayal of sacred
Orthodoxy carried out by the Judas’s of the present day "ethnic"
jurisdictions particularly at Balamand, Assisi, and elsewhere in the name of
The THEOCUS does not support some of
the "ethnic" jurisdiction’s policy of turning a blind eye to rampant
Freemasonry membership among the ranks of their clergy (most unfortunately), as well as their parishioners.
For Orthodox Christians, Freemasonry membership is not allowed in "The
Rudder" (The Orthodox Christian book of Canon Law).
We are a legally registered Religious Organization in America, we have a
501(c) 3 Non-Profit Organization status. As with any Religious
Organization in the United States of America, we have the right to practice
our faith and beliefs without interference according to the First Amendment
- as cited below:
First Amendment of the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
NOW, WE CHALLENGE YOU!
Earnest seekers of the truth are invited
to investigate the truth of Orthodoxy in the THEOCUS. If you are already Orthodox
and seeking a home where you can worship in an atmosphere unfettered by ethnic,
ecumenical, and geo-political tomfoolery, then we urge you to seek out a local
THEOCUS parish or mission. If you are new to the Orthodox Faith, we welcome you
to join us and learn Orthodox Christianity in its purest form! If there is no
THEOCUS presence in your area, it might just be God Who is calling you to
organize one! Above all, pray that the Good Lord will grant His light to those
who are seeking the full truth.
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