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Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The (1921 - Present) - Religious Group

Religious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is a US-based church which – with rights of broad autonomy and self-governance – is part of the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (headquartered in Moscow, Russia). ROCOR was founded in 1921 in Sremski Karlovci, Yugoslavia by Russian Orthodox bishops who had escaped from Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. After WWII, its worldwide headquarters moved from Yugoslavia to New York. A Russian banker, Sergei Semenenko, donated to ROCOR the historic Baker Mansion at 75 East 93rd St. in Manhattan. It became a Synodal Cathedral of Sign and a center for both ROCOR and the Russian emigrant community in New York. The staunchly monarchist political orientation of its clergy and members separated ROCOR from another Russian Orthodox church body in the U.S.: the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (also known as the “Russian Metropolia”) which became the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. A very important figure in ROCOR history in America was Archbishop John (Maximovitch), who was later glorified as a Saint. From 1934 to 1949, he served as an Orthodox bishop for the sizeable Russian émigré community in Harbin, China, where exiled soldiers and officers of the Anti-Bolshevik White army had settled. With the Communist takeover of China, in 1949, Archbishop John led the exodus of these Russian émigrés from China to the U.S. He played a key role in successfully lobbying the American government to amend the immigration law to allow thousands of Russians to enter the United States. In the 1950s, the arrival in America of thousands of displaced persons from the Soviet Union sparked further growth in ROCOR parishes. During Archbishop John’s tenure, the Russian Orthodox Holy Virgin Cathedral - Joy of all Who Sorrow was built on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. To this day, it remains a spiritual and social center for the Russian community there. From the very beginning, ROCOR had a strong emphasis on preserving Russian culture, the Slavic style of Orthodox Christian worship (with Church Slavonic as the principal language of services), traditional church order, a conservative theological outlook, staunch anti-ecumenism with regard to non-Orthodox Christian Churches, and a firm anti-Communist political stance. The fall of the Communist regime and collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) led to gradual reconciliation between ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate. In 2007, the two groups reunited, but ROCOR retained broad autonomy in its affairs and administration. During the same period, many old and declining ROCOR parishes were revitalized by an influx of new immigrants from the former USSR, who came to the United States in the 1990-2000s. They typically preferred to join ROCOR, because it retained the Russian cultural appearance and Slavic character of Orthodox worship that was familiar to them.
Official Site:

Maps: Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The1

Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)

Congregations (2020)

Top 5 Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The States (2020)1 [View all States]

Rank State Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 District Of Columbia 1 400 0.58
2 Wisconsin 6 1,161 0.20
3 North Dakota 1 150 0.19
4 New York 25 3,595 0.18
5 New Jersey 10 1,255 0.14

Top 5 Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]

Rank County Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Bristol city, VA 1 80 4.65
2 Indiana County, PA 1 300 3.60
3 Loudon County, TN 1 150 2.73
4 Sagadahoc County, ME 1 90 2.45
5 Wayne County, WV 1 90 2.31

Top 5 Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]

Rank Metro Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Indiana, PA Micro Area 1 300 3.60
2 Freeport, IL Micro Area 1 100 2.24
3 Walla Walla, WA Metro Area 1 140 2.24
4 Lewisburg, PA Micro Area 1 60 1.41
5 Houghton, MI Micro Area 1 50 1.27

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The, Members (1951 - 2008)2

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The, Ministers & Churches (1951 - 2008)2

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, The, Trends (1951 - 2008)2

1951 55,000 224 91
1955 55,000 168 81
1994 319 177
2003 480,000 196 180
2006 480,000 258 190
2008 480,000 269 190


1 The 2020 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include data for 372 religious bodies or groups. Of these, the ASARB was able to gather data on congregations and adherents for 217 and on congregations only for 155. [More information on the data sources]

2 All data on clergy, members, and churches are taken from the National Council of Churches’ Historic Archive CD and recent print editions of the Council’s Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The CD archives all 68 editions of the Yearbook (formerly called Yearbook of the Churches and Yearbook of American Churches) from 1916 to 2000. Read more information on the Historic Archive CD and the Yearbook.

Membership figures are "inclusive." According to the Yearbook, this includes "those who are full communicant or confirmed members plus other members baptized, non-confirmed or non-communicant." Each denomination has its own criteria for membership.

When a denomination listed on the Historic Archive CD was difficult to identify, particularly in early editions of the Yearbook, the ARDA staff consulted numerous sources, including Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions and the Handbook of Denominations in the United States. In some cases, ARDA staff consulted the denomination’s website or contacted its offices by phone. When a denomination could not be positively identified, its data were omitted.

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