Sunday, October 6, 2013

From Evangelism to Ethnic Enclaves: Early Eastern Christian Immigration to America

The Russian Orthodox missionaries worked among the Alaskan Natives, converting many thousands to the true faith by their sincere efforts to inculturate the gospel. They came to Alaska with evangelical intent. Even Fr. Juvenaly’s great detractor, Nicholas Rezanov, acknowledges this: “the monk Juvenaly went there immediately to propagate the faith.”

Unfortunately, later Eastern Christian immigrants did not always maintain this evangelical impulse to present the faith in terms comprehensible to other cultures. A difference of intention motivated subsequent immigrant communities of Eastern Christians. They came not to evangelize but primarily to escape economic hardships. Their priests also came with no particular intention to evangelize, but rather to serve their own people while they temporarily sojourned in a foreign land, already peopled with others of Western European descent. The Eastern Churches in America, perhaps also unjustly suffering from feelings of cultural inferiority, began to isolate themselves ethnically. 

Most Popular Posts this Month

Most Popular Posts of All Time