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Will There Be An “Indian Orthodox Church Of North America”?

Until 1993 there were only five Oriental Orthodox Churches. On May 3rd, 1993 Eritrea became an independent state and broke it ties with Ethiopia. Eritrea was part of the Ethiopian Kingdom from 8th Century and went under different powers. Ethiopians, under Coptic patronage became non-Chalcedonians during the Christological controversies when Eritrea was part of Ethiopia. Eritrea became independent political- national unity in 1993. This caused the increase in number of Oriental Orthodox Churches to six.

The question here: Is political or national boundary the clear mark of autocephaly? Second, if not why Ethiopian or Coptic Orthodox Church do not claim “spiritual authority” over the Eritreans like the Syrian Patriarch’s claim on Indian Orthodox Church?

When Armenians or Coptic, or the Greek people migrated to the United States or any other country, they consider themselves as a diocese of their Church of origin even after their existence in a different political/national system well over a Century. Second and third generation Greeks still keep their allegiance to the Greek Church. Greek Orthodox Church enjoys the commitment of the Greek Orthodox Diaspora in the US. A historical look at the formation of the Episcopal Church shows us that it was a breakaway from the Anglican Church not on theological reasons but on political or philosophical reasons. The ideal of separation of Church and state was one such reason. Love of Nationalism and contempt for foreign domination was another reason.

Russian Orthodox Church was started as a mission under the see of Constantinople and eventually it gained independence. “Liberating itself from the invaders, the Russian state gathered strength and so did the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1448, not long before the Byzantine Empire collapsed, the Russian Church became independent from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Metropolitan Jonas, installed by the Council of Russian bishops in 1448, was given the title of Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia”. When more and more clergy and bishops started to come from Russian land, the Church broke away from its mother Church.

Today, Immigrant Indian Orthodox Church in the Americas has several ordained deacons, aspirant theological students and clergy who were born and brought up in the United States. Most of these deacons had bulk of their theological training from seminaries run not by the Indian Orthodox Church. Eventually the Church will have a metropolitan born, raised and trained in the America if we allow current tend to continue. (Russian Church had its first Russian metropolitan after one hundred years of existence).

History is the great teacher. It would be highly desirable that two dioceses of Indian Orthodox Church in North America jointly take initiatives to establish a clergy training center in North America to keep the tradition and heritage of the Indian Orthodox Church. One day an “Indian Orthodox Church of America” will be counted among the Oriental Orthodox Churches, just like the Eritrean.