The Orthodox Church in America, the largest non-ethnic Orthodox church in the US., is experiencing a drop in attendance and other problems, according to a candid report by one of its leaders.
Official membership figures of Orthodox churches are often unreliable, making it difficult to track increases or declines in attendance and other membership trends. In a letter to the Metropolitan Council of the OCA cited in Touchstonemagazine (June), theologian and senior priest Thomas Hopko lists problems that include financial scandals; alienation between bishops, priests and laypeople; “the virtual reduction of church life among many clergy to liturgical services and ritual practices” and “of supra-parochial church life to liturgical services, ecclesiastical celebrations and social events;” and a confusion about how to deal with social, political, military, economic, sexual and bioethical issues. The church reports having 400,000 members, “when less than 30,000 identify themselves as members and some dioceses have fewer members than their cathedral churches alone had 50 years ago [to] the point where a church of 200 people is considered to be large.”
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