I'm no mathematician, but a laborious perusal of the SCOBA Orthodox Church Directory lists a total of 1661 Orthodox Churches in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. This includes all jurisdictions. The most commonly quoted statistic is "about 6 million Orthodox people in United States". According to this, there is an average of 3613 parishioners per church. I have quoted the head of the SCOBA Media outlet as having said there are actually just under 2 million. Using that figure, there are 1,204 parishioners per church. Help me, but does something seem amiss with these statistics? Knowing that I am but a lowly artistic type- actor, writer, film producer, singer, composer, please help me with the math. How many Orthodox are there in America? Are we blindly choosing to use unverified stats in order to earn the title "rapidly growing church." Haven't we been here since the late 1800's? Please correct me if I am wrong or are there other equations to include for better accuracy? Congrats to Pennsylvania for having the most churches-222, but 37 states have under 50 churches. Of those 50, 19 states have under 10 churches. Of those 19, 7 states have under 5 churches. By the way, and attempting to be generous, I will offer one more math equation. Giving each Orthodox church in America an average of 250 members per church (and that is very generous), would mean that there are closer to 415,250 Orthodox parishioners in America. Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian body in the world, but it comes close to dead last in the United States. The first rule of change is to admit that something is wrong. The word is evangelism. Metropolitan Philip has expressed hope in the inclusion of the evangelicals to the Orthodox faith in America in that they may teach the rest of the church how to evangelize.
Okay, evangelism lesson number one: Not to lessen the importance nor the value of the tradition thereof, but, did the Apostles or the early church use the Eastern Rite? Thank God for the growth of the Church during the Byzantine period and the development of the Eastern Liturgy, but weren't there Orthodox Christians in the West at the same time? Turn the Western Rite loose. Better still, let SCOBA launch them in a public and dynamic way. Then and only then can the Orthodox Church even begin to come close to the 6 million people statistic and be one step closer to truly unifying as one, jurisdictional, American Orthodox Church.
UPDATE: In the June 2009 issue of The Word magazine, the Antiochians have revised their numbers. In the section "Orthodox World" on page 58, under the heading "The Orthodox Church Today: New Research Reveals Some Not-So-Obvious Facts about American Orthodox Christianity", there is the statement,
So, it seems they are getting closer to the correct mathematical truth of the size of the Orthodoxy membership in the USA. But this revised figure still gives each church an average of over 500 members. The article is still too generous and speculative to be accurate as illustrated by the fact that they don't seem to know whether there are 2200 or 2300 parishes. Where are the hundred parishes and why is there a question? Should not each jurisdiction know exactly how many parishes they have? This looseness or laziness with the facts seems indicative of what led to the overstating to begin with (6,000,000). I have yet to have anyone dispute my math (though I am not a Mathematician) which concludes that there are closer to 415,250 Orthodox Christians of any jurisdiction in ALL of North America.
With the seeming oblivion of it leaders and the current threat of a split within the ranks of the North American Diocese, there follows an obvious question: