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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Orthodox Church

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006"St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church." Image courtesy of Flickr user David Hoffman.

The Orthodox Church has 225 million members worldwide and 6 million members in North America. In North Carolina, the church is represented by the Greek Orthodox Church and, to a lesser extent, the Russian Orthodox Church. From 1900 until about 1920-paralleling the nation's "third wave" of immigration-the number of Greek and Russian immigrants to the state increased. Orthodox churches were subsequently established, beginning in about 1905 with a Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville. Some 30 years later, the number of Greek Orthodox churches in the state had grown to three, with a total membership of about 400 communicants. By the early 2000s there were about 1,000 members altogether in Greek Orthodox churches in several metropolitan areas, including Asheville, Burlington, Charlotte, Durham (which traces the Parish of Saint Barbara from 1945), Fayetteville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.

North Carolina was, for many years, home to the only Russian Orthodox Church in the South-Saints Peter and Paul, formed in 1932 in St. Helena, a small Pender County community. In that year, on land acquired from Wilmington real estate promoter Hugh MacRae, the tiny red brick church began with 15 charter members and their families. By 2006 Russian Orthodox congregations could be found in the Piedmont and Mountains as well as the Coastal Plain, in the form of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Durham and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Fletcher.


Paula Maria Stathakis, "Development of a Greek-American Community in the South: Charlotte, North Carolina, 1900-1940" (M.A. thesis, UNC-Charlotte, 1988).

Additional Resources:

Orthodox Church in America:

Image Credit:

"St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church." Image courtesy of Flickr user David Hoffman. Available from (accessed June 5, 2012).


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