To the adherents of Orthodox churches, orthodoxy means "right belief" as defined by the earliest scriptures and traditions of Christianity. Churches in the state representing the three branches of Orthodoxy— the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Eastern Catholic churches—are located primarily within the metropolitan Atlanta area. While all these churches are Orthodox, they may differ regarding theology, worship practices, and church administration.
Of these three branches, the Eastern Orthodox churches constitute the largest group in Georgia. These churches share the theology expressed by the early creeds of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451). Generally, the Sunday worship service uses the early Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 354-407); on special occasions, the worship service uses the Liturgy of St. Basil (A.D. 329-79).
In Georgia the Eastern Orthodox churches are either Greek or Russian. In 1905 Greeks began to
Although the Cathedral of the Annunciation is the state's main Greek Orthodox church, with approximately 1,500 families, other Greek churches have been founded throughout Georgia. These include St. Paul in Savannah; Holy Trinity in Augusta; Holy Cross in Macon; Holy Transfiguration in Columbus; Holy Transfiguration in Marietta; St. Philothea in Athens; St. George Chapel in Brunswick; and Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene in Cumming.
Georgia also has churches associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church was formed in 1976. Its members met in numerous locations before building the current church in Gwinnett County. Other metro Atlanta Russian Orthodox churches include St. John the Wonderworker and the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension.
Saint Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Atlanta, founded by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, is another major Eastern Orthodox congregation in the state.
Another branch of Orthodoxy is the Oriental Orthodox churches, which include Coptic (Egyptian), Syrian, and Ethiopian churches. In Roswell, St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church represents this tradition. Though Coptic churches are designated as non-Chalcedonian, they seek unity; they joined the World Council of Churches in 1948, and they recognize, and are recognized by, other Orthodox churches. The Roswell church (built in 1994) has now received its iconostasis, a screen with icons at the front of the church.
John Meyendorff and Nicolas Lossky, The Orthodox Church: Its Past and Its Role in the World Today, 4th rev. ed. (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996).
Léonide Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, 2d ed. (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1982).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Curtis G. Lindquist, Reinhardt College
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