A History of the Russian Church Abroad 1917-1971


Original Title: The History of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States

Published By: St. Nectarios Press, 9223-20th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98115

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 72-79507

ISBN 0-913026-04-2


Our Saviour told us that the tree shall be known by its fruit, whether it be healthy or not. Fifty-five years have passed since the ungodly Bolshevist revolution overran the Russian land and many Russian people were found abroad as refugees.  Although in the beginning this was essentially a political emigration, i.e., fleeing from the Bolsheviks, today, with the passage of time, it has shown forth to be a religious emigration.  Now after fifty-five years, one is in a better position to taste of the fruit and discern whether the tree be healthy indeed.

We, as non-Russians, came to the Russian Church Abroad as spiritual refugees, fleeing the heresy of Ecumenism.  We have come to love the Russian Synod Abroad and to appreciate her pastoral care for our spiritual growth and salvation.  Notwithstanding this, of late especially, many half-truths and untruths have been printed concerning the Russian Orthodox communities in the diaspora.  Since there are claims made by at least four distinct groups -- the Synod Abroad, the Metropolia, the Paris group, and the Soviet church -- it is difficult for those who neither read nor speak Russian to be able to assess who is right and who is wrong.  For a long time now, there has been a need for a chronicle in English of events and developments in Russian Church affairs outside Russia, so that students of Church History and individuals concerned might be able to make a true assessment of the state of affairs in this sphere.

We of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery have always contended that the differences between the various Russian groups were not personality conflicts, but primarily matters of faith and order. Today, after fifty-five years, one is better able to discern and to verify the spiritual witness and strength of the Russian Synod Abroad, and the laxity  and spiritual poverty in those groups which have chosen to be separated from her.

For the early part of this history, much information was taken from Michel D'Herbigny and Alexandre Deubner, Les Eveques Russes en Exile, Rome 1932.  Both these authors were extremely ultra-conservative Roman Catholics of a breed now virtually extinct, and the purpose of their book was to demonstrate to the Orthodox peoples and to all students of Church History, that without a central, supreme authority such as the Papacy it was inevitable that one should come to the state of affairs of the Russian Church at that time:  a state of confusion, divisions, claims and counterclaims.  Yet their account is an excellent and objective work of scholarship, full of interesting and enlightening information not found elsewhere.  We have used this source, therefore, because the authors were completely disinterested in the Russian Church groups [actually the book was written against them all to show up the "organizational weaknesses" of Orthodoxy.  They have merely recorded events and statements in an objective and scholarly manner.  Yet, the conclusion of their book is that if anyone has a sound foundation and claim, it is the Synod.  We are fortunate in having a copy of this book in our library; should anyone wish to have a copy, we can make a Xerox copy.

At times, original source material has not been available to us and so, when using quotations, we were forced to translate into English from other translations because we were not able to find a copy of the original Russian text.  We ask the readers to forgive this unavoidable shortcoming.

It is evident from the scope of this present work that no one individual could have written it, but rather a group of dedicated Orthodox scholars and laymen have laboured, translating from the Russian, French, Greek, German, and from other sources.  We are indebted to all who have contributed: the authors, the typist and the publisher.  Such a work in English has been long overdue.

Glory to God for all things
The Holy Transfiguration Monastery,
Boston (1972)


page   2
Chapter I:  A Brief History of Orthodoxy in America Before the Bolshevist Revolution of 1917 

page   9
Chapter II:  The Russian Church Abroad After The Revolution of 1917 

page  66
Chapter III:  The Orthodox Church In America Since The Bolshevist Revolution

page 120
Chapter IV:  Is The Metropolia Ready For Autocephaly?  

page 150
Chapter V:  Ought The Metropolia To Have Dealt With The Moscow Patriarchate?

page 175
Chapter VI:  The Fruits Of The Autocephaly
page 210
For Further Reading