Michael Allen

In 2004, Michael Allen, a student at Harvard Divinity School, produced a web resource on Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian Churches in America. The goal of this project was to bring about a greater awareness of the presence of these churches in the United States. His research consisted of two parts. First, he provided an introduction to the six churches, including sections on history, language and culture, iconography, music, and the establishment and growth of the churches in America. The web-based version of this introduction was accompanied by photographs, icons, and links to samples of music. Second, Allen profiled five Oriental Orthodox churches from the greater Atlanta area, based on fieldwork conducted in summer 2004. The web version of this project is now archived as a .pdf (link below). Dr. Diana Eck served as the faculty sponsor for this research.

The Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian Churches in America

“Oriental,” or “non-Chalcedonian,” Orthodoxy is one of the most ancient and yet least well-known communions within Christianity. The Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, and Indian churches trace their heritage from the first centuries of the Christian era and continue to number millions of believers in their home countries; nonetheless, they are virtually unknown to many Americans, for whom Christianity means essentially Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Although the Oriental Orthodox Churches remain a minority in the United States, they have grown remarkably over the past four decades. The Coptic Church, for example, had no parishes before 1969; today it has over 180,000 members. Parishes of all six churches can now be found throughout America, and not simply in the major hubs of immigration.

Selected Links and Publications