2010 Census of Orthodox Christian Churches in the USA Now Complete
JOHNSTOWN, PA -- Data is now available from the 2010 US Orthodox Christian Census which our diocese participated in. This census was part of the national “Religious Congregations and Membership Study 2010, that was conducted by Alexei Krindatch, a researcher engaged by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America.
The following represents a summary of the research findings:
What is the US National Orthodox Census and what it tells us about?
The 2010 US Orthodox Christian Census provides information on:
Ø parishes and monastic communities in American Orthodox Christian Churches including the so-called Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches;
Ø Church “adherents” - the most inclusive category of church membership which includes children and anyone participating even occasionally in church life;
Ø Church “regular attendees” - the persons attending church on the regular basis.
Data on adherents and regular attendees are available for each local Orthodox parish (congregation), each national American Orthodox Christian Church and for each geographic area and each county of the USA.
Why is this National Orthodox Census unique?
The data in the Census was obtained directly from the local Orthodox parishes - not from the national church headquarters or regional judicatories (dioceses). Therefore the 2010 National Orthodox Census provides the most reliable and accurate information on the Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States.
What is the total membership in all American Orthodox Christian Churches combined?
There are roughly 1,044,000 adherents of the various Orthodox Christian Churches in the United States. This figure includes 227,000 members of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches such as Coptic, Armenian, Syriac and Malankara Indian Orthodox Churches. The American Orthodox Christians worship in 2,380 local Orthodox parishes which belong to 20 different national Orthodox Church bodies including 6 Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Are American Orthodox Churches growing?
The answer to this question is “Yes.” From 2000-2010, the total number of Orthodox parishes in America increased for 16 percent.
The fastest growing groups among national Orthodox Churches in the US are: Bulgarian Orthodox Eastern Diocese (+122% increase in parishes), Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese (+121%), and Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church (+89%). Out of twenty national Orthodox Churches participating in 2010 US Orthodox Census, only three declined in number of parishes during 2000-2010: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Catholicosate Cilicia).
Which of American Orthodox Christian Churches are the biggest and which are the smallest ones?
In terms of membership, of all US Orthodox Christian Churches, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) is by far the largest one. According to 2010 US Orthodox Census, GOA has nearly 477,000 members. Put differently, 46% of all Orthodox Church members in the USA belong to GOA. In terms of number of parishes, however, Orthodox Church in America has more local congregations than GOA does: 551 and 525 respectively. The smallest of American Orthodox Churches is Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America. Although it is considered as a national Church, it has just 2 parishes with 700 members total.
Are the members of American Orthodox Christian Churches regular and frequent church goers?
There is no one general answer to this question. It depends on particular Church. Nationwide, for all US Orthodox Christian Churches combined, the proportion of the regular church attendees in the total of church adherents is 27 percent. But there are huge differences in the frequency of church attendance across the various American Orthodox Churches. The regular church attendees constitute as much as 77% of all church members in the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 53 % in Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and 51% in Coptic Orthodox Church. Quite differently, no more than 15% of all members attend church regularly in the case of American Diocese of Macedonian Orthodox Church (11%), Vicariate for Palestinian Orthodox Communities (12%), Armenian Church of North America Catholicosate Etchmiadzin (13%) and Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church (15%).
How large are American Orthodox parishes?
The size of an “average” Orthodox parish in America varies greatly from one Orthodox Church to the other. The most sizeable parishes are in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA). An “average” GOA parish has 908 persons. At the same time, the parishes of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese and American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese are relatively small: 81, 130 and 133 persons per parish on an average.
Where in America do the members of Orthodox Christian Churches live and worship?
Orthodox Christians live and have their churches in all US states. At the same time, 48% - almost half – of all Orthodox Church members live in just five states: California (14.5% of all American Orthodox Church members), New York (13.5%), Illinois (7.2%), New Jersey (6.9%) and Massachusetts (5.9%). In terms of the number of the local Orthodox parishes (rather than church members), five states with the biggest number of Orthodox congregations are: California (255 Orthodox parishes total), Pennsylvania (250), New York (240), Florida (136) and New Jersey (128).
Which US states have the highest proportion of the Orthodox Church members in the state’s total population?
Nationwide, the proportion of adherents of the various Orthodox Christian Churches in the total country’s population is small: 0.34%. In certain states, however, this proportion is significantly higher. These states are: Alaska (1.93%), Massachusetts (0.93%), New Jersey (0.83%), New York (0.72%) and Rhode Island (0.72%).
Does 2010 US Orthodox Census tell us about all Orthodox Christians living in the United States?
The answer to this question is “No.” The 2010 US Orthodox Census provided information only on persons who are – at least marginally – involved in the Church life and, therefore, are known to the local Orthodox parishes. Similarly to many other Christian denominations in America, there can be significant number of persons who were once baptized in the Orthodox Church and who still consider themselves as being Orthodox Christians, but who do not participate and attend at all. In other words, the 2010 US Orthodox Census was Census of members of US Orthodox Christian Churches rather than Census of the entire Orthodox Christian population in America.
Read the Complete Results Here
View More Statistical Finds Regarding Orthodoxy in America