Russian Orthodox Church, 
Orthodox Church America, American Orthodox, Orthodox U.S.A.


Chapter 4 -- From Archbishop President AFTIMIOS to Patriarch VLADIMIR I

Bishop Aftimios (Abdullah) Ofiesh – First Primate of the American Orthodox Church was consecrated on May 13 (Civil Date), 1917 (April 30, O.S.) at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, 15 East 97th Street, New York City, by Archbishop Evdokim (born Basil Mikhailovich Meschersky) (Russian Orthodox Archbishop of Alaska and North America, ruling hierarch in the western hemisphere of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia), assisted by Bp. Stephen Alexander Dzubay of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Bp. Alexander ( born Alexandrovich Nemolovsky), Russian Orthodox Bishop of Canada. Aftimios Ofiesh was consecrated Russian Orthodox Bishop of Brooklyn, New York and Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Syro-Arab Mission; in 1923 he was elevated to Archbishop of Brooklyn by Metr. Platon Rozhdestvensky.

In 1926, Abp. Aftimios was the Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America, First Vicar and the Acting Head of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Jurisdiction in North America, the Archdiocese of Alaska and North America; that is, Abp. Aftimios then was the senior Orthodox Catholic hierarch in the Western Hemisphere. The American Orthodox Church was founded by the Russian Orthodox Authority in the Americas.

By the Russian Orthodox Church Charter granted on February 2, 1927, Abp. Aftimios became the first Primate of the American Orthodox Church [AOC]. Archbishop Aftimios of Brooklyn reposed in Christ on July 24, 1966. On April 5, 1986, Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh was canonized by the North American Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church as Saint Aftimios of America. Memory Eternal!!!

Bishop Emmanuel (Rizkallah) Abouhatab (Abo-Hatab) was consecrated, in New York City, on September 11, 1927, as the American Orthodox Church Bishop of Montreal, by Abp. Aftimios Ofiesh, assisted by the Russian Orthodox Bishops, Bishop Theophilus (Theodore Nicholaevich) Pashkovsky, Bishop of Chicago, and Bishop Arseny (Andrew Lvovich) Chavtsov, Bishop of Winnipeg.

Bishop Sophronios Bishara (born in 1888, his name is also rendered Sophronius Beshara or Bashira) was consecrated as the American Orthodox Bishop of Los Angeles and the West on May 26, 1928, in New York City, by Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, the first primate of the American Orthodox Church, assisted by Bp. Emmanuel Abouhatab and by His Eminence, Elias II, Metropolitan of Tyre and Sidon of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Bp. Sophronios Bishara reposed in Christ on October 8, 1940 (not in 1934, as is widely reported). Following Archbishop AFTIMIOS’s resignation and subsequent marriage, Bishop SOPHRONIOS incorporated the Ecumenical Orthodox Church in the state of California.

Bishop Joseph A. Zuk was consecrated by Abp. Aftimios Ofiesh, assisted by Bp. Sophronios Bishara and Bp. Emmanuel Abouhatab, on September 25, 1932 as the AOC Bishop of New York for the Ukrainian jurisdiction of the American Orthodox Church. Bp. JOSEPH’s jurisdiction is today is called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America (and is part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate). Bp. JOSEPH was succeeded as primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America by Metropolitan-Primate BOHDAN T. Shpilka (consecrated in New York in 1937 by order of the Ecumenical Patriarch; Archpriest Walter Myron Propheta (the future Patriarch VLADIMIR- AOC Primate V) was Metr. Bohdan's Chancellor. Bp. JOSEPH Zuk reposed in Christ in February 1934.

Abp. WILLIAM (William Albert) Nichols - AOC Primate II - was consecrated in the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Brooklyn, New York, on September 27, 1932 as AOC Bishop of Washington, D.C. and Vicar for the English-speaking Americans by Abp. AFTIMIOS Ofiesh - AOC Primate I, assisted by Bp. SOPHRONIOS Bishara and Bp. JOSEPH A. Zuk, Bishop of New York. Abp. WILLIAM Nichols was the first native-born American ever to be consecrated as an Orthodox Bishop. Abp. Nichols reposed in Christ on February 6, 1947.

Following the abandonment of support of all the Russian Bishops, Archbishop AFTIMIOS, with his Synod (at first) set out to make the changes in Church polity which would make the Church not only English speaking (for the American born members and for converts in this country). The Archbishop was tireless in his writings, producing a groundbreaking constitution for the new Church, a proposal for unity between the new Church and American Episcopalians and a periodical scholarly journal The Orthodox Catholic Review. Once it was apparent that Metropolia, the Syrians and all other groups had abandoned their support for the fledgling American Orthodox Church, Abp. AFTIMIOS resigned as Primate of the Church and then married. Many use his subsequent marriage to invalidate all of his previous actions, but, to do so is based on a logical fallacy.

Sources from ROCOR, the Metropolia, and the Antiochians swear that the establishment of the American Orthodox Church was only an abortive attempt at independence for the American Church. However, they do not even attempt to explain why, in 196?, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of New York presided at one of the pannykhidas following the repose of AOC Primate 5 Patriarch VLADIMIR’s repose.

Bp. GEORGIOS (George Winslow) Plummer - AOC Primate III - was consecrated Bishop of New York on May 6, 1934, at Holy Trinity Oratory, 321 West 101st St. in New York City, by Abp. Nichols, assisted by Bishop (Maitland Ambrose) Raynes. Abp. and Abp. incorporated the American Orthodox Church (AOC) in New York on March 16, 1936 as the "Holy Orthodox Church in America (Eastern Catholic and Apostolic)". Archbishop reposed in Christ on January 23, 1944.

Archbishop Theodotus (born Stanislaw de Witowski) – AOC Primate IV, was consecrated November 29, 1936 for the American Orthodox Church (which he chose to operate as the Holy Orthodox Church in America). The reason that Abp THEODOTUS chose to reincorporate the Church under a new name was that Bishop GEORGIOS had continued Archbishop WILLIAM’s apostolate to Western Rite Churches, which was a direct outgrowth of Archbishop Aftimios‘s attempt to bring the American Espicopal Church into the Orthodox Church.

Much has been written about the episcopates of Bishop GEORGIOS and Archbishop THEODOTUS. Nevertheless, most of that which was written was based on the personal recollections of stories half remembered by people who at best were only remembering stories that they had heard secondhand. Every indication is that both bishops in question were devout Orthodox Hierarchs to the best of their abilities and understanding.

As part of the current field of enquiry dealing with the compilation of this current history, this author has searched contemporary newpaper accounts as well as the extant histories of the organizations in question (which are in all other instances quite forth-coming in providing information on the people involved in the founding and operation of their respective organizations, as well as having publicized who was involved in their activities in the local media at the time events were unfolding). As far as this author can tell, this is the first attempt to research many of these stories.

Having conducted such research, I feel confident in stating that neither man was ever involved in Theosophy, the America Theosophical Society, the Liberal Catholic Church, the Rosicrucian Fellowship, or any other occult or secret society.

On the third of October 1964, Bishop JOSEPH Klimovich, Bishop JOACHIM Souris, Archbishop THEODOTUS consecrated Bishop VLADIMIR (AOC Primate V) who incorporated the American Orthodox Church as the American Orthodox Catholic Church in the State of New York.

Patriarch Wolodymir I / Vladimir I (Walter Myron Propheta and the AOC (NY)


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