Dolya Evgeniy, priest

Relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the American Metropolitanate in the 1950s as shown by the documents of the State archive of the Russian Federation

Dolya Evgeniy (2021) "Relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the American Metropolitanate in the 1950s as shown by the documents of the State archive of the Russian Federation ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2021, vol. 99, pp. 150-162 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII202199.150-162


This article examines the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the American Metropolitanate that split off from it in the 1950s. This period remains the least studied compared to other decades of confrontation between the North American Metropolitanate and the Moscow Patriarchate. The documentary basis of the article is the Fund R-6991 (Council for religious aff airs under the Council of Ministers of the USSR) of the State Archive of the Russian Federation. The materials show that the 50s are characterised by an almost complete cessation of bilateral dialogue. Metr. Leonty (Turkevich) replaced deceased metr. Theophilus (Pashkovsky) and set a course for the separation of the American Metropolitanate from the Patriarchate. Patriarch Alexy was no longer recognised as the “spiritual head” of the Metropolitan district, and his name was no longer mentioned in the divine service. By the mid-1950s, the Metropolitanate began to consider the possibility of canonical subordination to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The head of the Church of Constantinople, not of the Russian Church, was already seen as a source of Church legalisation. Moreover, with the support of the Greeks, a number of prominent fi gures of the American Metropolitanate began to declare the idea of creating an Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the United States, in which the leading role would be taken by representatives of Constantinople. Moscow Patriarchate could not allow the weakening of its position in the United States and, for its part, made several attempts to approach the leadership of the Metropolitanate, but they were either rejected or completely ignored. Archival documents, being made public for the fi rst time, show, fi rstly, the reaction of representatives of the Patriarchate and state structures of the USSR to certain processes in the USA, and, secondly, allow us to identify a number of reasons which did not make possible for the American Metropolitanate to contact the Patriarchate.


All-American Council, North American Metropolitanate, American Exarchate, autocephaly, Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Boris (Vik), Archpriest Alexander Shmeman


  1. Constance J. Tarasar and John H. Erikson (eds) (1976) Orthodox America 1794—1976: Development of the Orthodox Church in America. Syosset (NY): The Orthodox Church in America.
  2. Iuvenalij, metropolitan (ed.) (1999) Chelovek Tserkvi [Man of the Church]. Moscow: Raritet (in Russian).
  3. Ivanov A. (1955) “Pravoslavie v Amerike (Okonchanie)” [Orthodoxy in America (Ending)]. Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, 1955, vol. 3, pp. 69–76 (in Russian).
  4. Kostryukov А. (2015) Russkaia zarubezhnaia tserkov’ v 1939–1964 gg. Administrativnoe ustroistvo i otnosheniia s tserkov’iu v otechestve [Russian Church abroad in 1939–1964. Administrative structure and relationship with the church in the motherland]. Moscow: PSTGU (in Russian).
  5. Kostryukov А. (2016) “Darovanie avtokefalii Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v Amerike v svete dokumentov tserkovnykh arkhivov” [Granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in the light of the documents of Church archives]. Vestnik PSTGU, 2016, vol. 3 (70), pp. 93–103 (in Russian).
  6. Prosvetov R. (ed.) (2016) Benjamin (Fedchenkov) mitr. Sluzhenie v Amerike (v dokumentakh 1943–1947 godov) [Benjamin (Fedchenkov) Metropolitan. Service in America (in documents of 1933–1947)]. Moscow: Otchii dom (in Russian).
  7. Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’ v Severnoi Amerike. Istoricheskaia spravka [The Russian Orthodox Church in North America. Historical background]. Jordanville (New-York): Sviato- Troitskii monastyr’ (in Russian).
  8. Serafim (Surrency), archimandrite (1973) The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America: A History of the Orthodox Church in North America in the Twentieth Century. NY: Saints Boris and Gleb Press.
  9. Vedernikov A. (1950) “Grekh protiv Materi-Tserkvi” [Sin against Mother Church]. Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarkhii, 1950, vol. 7, pp. 68–78 (in Russian).

Information about the author

Dolya Evgeniy, priest

Student status: Graduate student;
Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: Russian State University for the Humanities; 6, Miusskaya Square, Moscow 125993, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0002-7977-7968;
Email: vosdol@yandex.ru.