One of the biggest controversies within the Orthodox Church here in United States is the issue of a united “American Orthodox Church”. Traditionally, Orthodox missionaries will go to a country and establish a mission church there. After some time, that church will become independent from the “Mother Church”, forming a national church such as the Russian Orthodox Church or the Bulgarian Orthodox Church or the Romanian Orthodox Church. Note that when I say “independent” I don’t mean that the new church has a different belief system than the mother church, just that it is its own jurisdiction now. All the Orthodox Churches are united in the faith but they each have their own governing structure. (There is a great resource available online which describes the history of each church here).
However, this is not what has happened in America. Here we have the presence of just about every Orthodox Church in the world, so we have the phenomenon of dozens of Orthodox churches in our major cities, all under different jurisdictions. We even have the Orthodox Church in America, which originated with the Russian Orthodox Church, but despite its name is just one more Orthodox body in America. There are a number of reasons for this situation, and there are many Orthodox in this country who want to unify all the American Orthodox churches into one juridical body. Back in 1994 there was a serious attempt for this to happen, but it was quickly quashed by the Ecumencial Patriarch for reasons I’ll admit I don’t understand.
Now another effort is underway and many are hoping that this one will be more successful than the last. One thing I’m impressed with is that Metropolitan Jonah, the head of the OCA, seems to be supportive of this effort even though it may mean the suppression of his own Church. That takes a good dose of humility.
As a Catholic I don’t really have any skin in this game, but I do support the efforts of those trying to unify the Orthodox churches in America. It seems to be consistent with their history and it also will give them a stronger voice for traditional Christianity in our society, something that is sorely needed.
Pray for those involved in these efforts that they might be lead by the Holy Spirit towards a unified church in this country.