Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
History in the United States[edit | edit source]
The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is an Eastern Orthodox Christian church based in North America. The OCA consists of more than 700 parishes, missions, communities, monasteries and institutions in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2011, it had an estimated 84,900 members in the United States.
The OCA has its origins in a mission established by eight Russian Orthodox monks in Alaska, then part of Russian America, in 1794. This grew into a full diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. By the late 19th century, the Russian Orthodox Church had grown in other areas of the United States due to the arrival of immigrants from areas of Eastern and Central Europe, many of them formerly of the Eastern Catholic Churches ("Greek Catholics"), and from the Middle East. These immigrants, regardless of nationality or ethnic background, were united under a single North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Orthodox churches in America became a self-governing Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America. The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America was granted autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, and renamed the Orthodox Church in America.
Unlike most orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, the OCA does not have an affinity towards any particular foreign nationality, but most OCA members are ethnically Euro-American, and most OCA clergy are those who are born and raised in the United States. Source: Wikipedia
Other Orthodox Churches with Wiki pages:
- Armenian Orthodox
- Coptic Orthodox
- Greek Orthodox
- Russian Orthodox
- Serbian Orthodox
- Syriac Orthodox Church
- Ukrainian Orthodox
Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]
- There are many entries of Mennonite church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:
- Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog state-wide, county-wide, or for a town.
- If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
- Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
- To find records statewide records:
- a. Enter your state name in the "Place" search field of FamilySearch Catalog. You will see a list of topics and, at the top, the phrase "Places within United States, [STATE]".
- b. Click on "Church records" in the topic list. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- To find county-wide records:
- c. From the original page, click on Places within United States, [STATE] and a list of counties will appear.
- d. Click on your county.
- e. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- To find town records:
- f. From the list of counties, click on Places within United States, [STATE], [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
- g. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
- h. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- i. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.
Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]
Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.
- Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
- To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
- Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
- A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
- If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
- See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]
Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.
Orthodox Church in America (OCA) Archives
PO Box 675
Syosset, New York 11791
6850 N. Hempstead Turnpike
Syosset, NY 11791
Phone: 516-922-0550 ext. 121
- "The Archives of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) are the official repository for the inactive records of the Central Church Administration, documenting the All-American Councils, the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, dioceses, monasteries, seminaries, parishes, clergy, departments, boards, commissions, and a variety of other external and internal matters affecting the Church."
- "Additional collections preserved with the OCA Archives include some 90 sets of personal and institutional archives of hierarchs, clergy, lay leaders, and Church-related entities, as well as photographs, films and videos, computer discs, and other media, periodicals, Church directories, and anniversary and historical publications and artifacts from throughout the world."
- "These rich and unparalleled historical collections include original documents handwritten by the North American Orthodox saints and documentation chronicling the history of Orthodox Christianity in North America dating back to the Alaskan mission in 1794."
- "Individuals and groups are always welcome to visit the OCA Archives to familiarize themselves with the collections or to conduct research on a particular topic. Historical questions may also be directed to the OCA Archivist by e-mail, phone, fax or mail."
Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]
You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:
- name, including middle name and maiden name
- names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
- exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
- names and approximate birthdates of children
- all known places of residence
- military service details
Carefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.