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Orthodox Church in America

Orthodox Church in America
Show NameOrthodox Church in America
RecognitionAutocephalous by the Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Polish, and Czech and Slovak Churches
PrimateMetropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen)
HeadquartersSyosset, New York, United States
TerritoryUnited States, Canada
PossessionsMexico, South America, Australia
LanguageEnglish, Church Slavonic
Population22,619 (est.) supporting members

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The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen), who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008. The OCA's headquarters are located in Syosset, New York, and consists of more than 700 parishes, missions, communities, monasteries and institutions located primarily in the United States and Canada. Additional parishes and missions are located in Mexico and Australia. Membership estimates for the OCA vary, with recent figures ranging from as low 27,169 to as high as 1,064,000.

The history of the OCA began with the arrival of eight Russian Orthodox monks at Kodiak Island, Alaska, then part of Russian America, in 1794. The monks established a mission in Alaska, which was made a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church a few years after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. By the late 19th century, the Russian Orthodox Church had grown in other areas of the United States due to the arrival of immigrants from areas of Europe and the Middle East. Many of these immigrants, regardless of nationality or ethnic background, were united under a single North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Due to the massive disruption brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution, Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in 1920 directed all Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia to govern themselves autonomously if the central administration were disabled or if they were unable to contact it. Some Russian Orthodox churches outside Russia took this directive as applying to them as well, and used it as the basis for declarations of autonomy even without the necessary condition of the inability of the central administration to govern them. While many ethnic dioceses subsequently placed themselves under the jurisdiction of other Orthodox churches, a large number of Orthodox in America became a self-governing Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (known informally as the "Metropolia") in 1924 under the leadership of Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky).

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America was granted autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, and was renamed the Orthodox Church in America. Although the autocephaly of the OCA is not universally recognized by all autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches, it is in full communion with them. It also is a member of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA).

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