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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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,
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
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.
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
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)