Recent research has revealed an Orthodox presence in America in the mid eighteenth century, more than fifty years before the better-known Russian mission in Alaska. These early Orthodox believers were indigenous to this continent but also connected to the wider Greek speaking Mediterranean world and the emerging Russian Empire. Furthermore, they were intimately acquainted with many of the founding fathers of the United States, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. What can we discern from their lives and writings that may point the way to an authentically American Orthodox piety rooted in the history and values of this nation?
Nicholas Chapman is the Director of Holy Trinity Publications, the publishing work of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. He has lived in New York State with for the past seven years. A citizen of the United Kingdom, he was born in the crown colony of Gibraltar, of Welsh/Scots parentage. Four years of his childhood were spent living in Mystic, Connecticut where he attended Pine Point School in nearby Stonington. He completed his education in England gaining a degree in Business Administration, before becoming an Inspector of Taxes for the British government and subsequently a private taxation consultant. An Orthodox Christian for over twenty-nine years, he has worked in various Church-related roles for almost a quarter of a century and has had first hand experience of the life of the Church in some twenty-three countries on three continents. In all of this Nina, his wife of almost twenty-six years has ably supported him. An avid reader and lover of history and travel, he has worked for the past fifteen years exclusively in the book industry. He podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio’s Speaking of Books: Exploring the World of Christian Books, and is also a member of the Society for Orthodox History in the Americas and one of the main authors on its website orthodoxhistory.org where you can read many of his published articles on the history of the Orthodox Church in antebellum America.