The History

The Othodox Church was formed on the day of Pentecost The word “Orthodox” is derived from two Greek words, “orthos”, meaning correct, and “doxa”, meaning belief. The church follows the teachings of the early fathers in an unbroken tradition. She is the original form of Christianity that emphasizes Apostolic tradition and continuity nearly a 2,000 year history. The Orthodox church is the church handed down by Christ through his Apostles.

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was ruled by five patriarchs: those of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, each having authority over bishops in a specified geographic territory. Although the five split from each other, none was a newly founded organization. Each group took (and still today takes) the view that it is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the other group left that church at the time of the schism.

The followers of Jesus were first named Christians in Antioch. These Christians were also first called Catholics in Antioch around AD 98. The word Catholic comes from a Greek word katholikos which means universal. The Orthodox are the original Christians of the Catacombs, the first Catholics, and the Church of the Apostles. The Orthodox Saints, Martyrs, Patriarchs and Bishops have forged an unbroken chain to the day of Pentecost and the Apostles.

All Christian including that of Rome, were part of the unity of Orthodoxy through the first 1,000 years of Christianity. The Church of Rome, now called the Catholic Church separated from the unity of the church by making heretical claims for the earthly powers of her Pope (Patriarch) at the beginning of the 11th century and completed the break with the Orthodox by the 13th century.

The Protestant reformation began the break from the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. As the centuries passed, many contradicting theologies were formed. The Church of “one faith” faded away. These early schisms from the Roman Church were centered around perceived earthly Papal powers and the continued changing theology of the Roman Church. Sadly, these reforms resulted in the eventual formation of thousands of Protestant denominations each with their own theology.

Out of the Five original churches that were formed by the Apostles through their travels, four remained Orthodox. These are the ancient churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Only the Church of Rome following the erroneous teachings of her Popes left the original Apostolic Church. Today there are over 250 million people who are members of the various Orthodox churches.

The Orthodox Church is universal (catholic) and diversified. From the ancient Churches of Africa and the Mid East to the more recent Churches in the Americas these Churches follow the unchanged faith passed on by Jesus through his Apostles. The church directly follows the teaching of the Apostles, the wisdom of the early fathers and the cannons of the Ecumenical Councils.

The various Orthodox Churches all have Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Laity, and an unbroken chain of Monastic life which started with the desert fathers of the third century.

We live in an era that preaches “New is Better” around every corner. We need to realize that not everything “old” should be thrown out and replaced. Religion is the foremost example of such lack of prudence.

You can always find a religious channel, if not several of them, when you turn on the TV or radio. People yearn for a deeper meaning and ways to simplify their stressful lives. They often turn to these mediums to find a solution to their problems. After listening to one of these channels for a short period of time you’ll most likely hear the phrase “ancient church”, “old church” or “original church”. Ever wondered exactly who they are referring to? Well, we want you to know that the church they are referring to is still very much alive and beating today. For Christ’s Church will never die…it has always been, it is today, and it always will be.

Pentecost was the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ They were gathered together and given the ability to each speak in a language other than his own, in order to go to different lands, spreading the message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the teachings that Christ had imparted to them. Thus was the beginning of the evangelism of the Orthodox Church, which preceded the New Testament and the written Bible by three centuries. The New Testament, in fact, was compiled by the Orthodox Church in the fourth century, lead by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles baptized thousands and ordained the first Bishops of the Orthodox Church. This process of ordination and “laying on of hands” is one of seven sacraments in the Orthodox Church. It has provided an unbroken chain of bishops and priests from the time of Christ, through his Apostles, to this very day.

Offered on this website is valuable information about the One, True Church of Jesus Christ You’ll find sources that reveal how we should worship, as handed down by Jesus Christ through his Apostles, rather than the minds of intellectuals–centuries removed from the days of Christ

It is important for one to understand that there was only ONE Christian church throughout the first 1,000 years after Pentecost. It was the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Church compiled the New Testament in the fourth century. Some of the early writings were chosen to become the New Testament of the Bible. Others were preserved as part of church “Tradition”, a significant part of the Orthodox Church. Many others were deemed to be heretical and discarded. Many of these heretical writings, all known to the Church for centuries, are now being “discovered” and promoted as new information by those who care nothing of the truth but only about profits and ratings.

Holy tradition, which guided Christianity for the first three centuries of it’s existence, together with the sacraments, the Bible and the icons make up the fullness of the Orthodox faith which cannot be found elsewhere.

Orthodox Christianity, from the very beginning saw both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as complementary to one another. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle” (II Thes. 2:15). Likewise, Orthodoxy remains on guard to the Apostle’s admonishment: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Thus, while Orthodoxy is a Bible believing and Bible based church, its belief and interpretation of the Bible is not left to individual opinion but is tempered by the wisdom of Holy Tradition, the Church Fathers, and the Church Councils.

In conformity with the first century Church, Orthodox worship focuses on celebrating the Eucharistic Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ’s Sacrifice with hymns, Psalms, prayers, and teaching. The Divine Liturgy remains the forms and prayers of the early Church, having changed little in the last fifteen centuries.

The Byzantine Holy Orthodox Catholic Archdiocese of Nigeria is a Byzantine Rite Orthodox Church, part of the Byzantine Catholic Church, Independent Jurisdiction, which trace its routes to the Apostles under the Russian Orthodox Church. We are in communion with the The Syriac-Greek Antiochian Synod is the body of Bishops in the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, originally known as the American Orthodox Catholic Archdiocese (1892).

The Byzantine Orthodox Catholic Church is the original and true Christian Church founded by Jesus Christ and continued by his Apostles.  Throughout its 2000 year history Orthodoxy has remained faithful to the traditions and Holy Faith laid down by Christ and the early Church Fathers.

The word “Orthodox” comes from the Greek words, “ortho” and “doxa” meaning right belief.


It is a canonical autocephalous jurisdiction that adheres to the Rudder (Canon Law) of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, the Teachings of Christ God, the Early Church Fathers, the Ecumenical and Local Councils, and the ancient customs of the Orthodox Christian Church.  It also possesses a valid priesthood and episcopacy coming from the Syrian and Russian Orthodox Successions.  It uses the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom with Syriac-Greek Typicon (Rubrics).

This was the first uniquely American jurisdiction to be formed with the blessing of His Holiness Ignatius Peter III of Antioch. It was the first Western Rite jurisdiction to offer the Divine Liturgy and other services in English and allowed vernacular to be used wherever the jurisdiction had parishes throughout the world. The very first Western Rite parish in the United States was established by Metropolitan Timotheos.

It is a canonical autocephalous jurisdiction that adheres to the Rudder (Canon Law) of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, the Teachings of Christ God, the Early Church Fathers, the Ecumenical and Local Councils, and the ancient customs of the Orthodox Christian Church. It also possesses a valid priesthood and episcopacy coming from the Syrian and Russian Orthodox Successions. It uses the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom with Syriac-Greek Typicon (Rubrics).

Canonical Jurisdiction

Our jurisdiction is “canonical” in the true sense of the word. A number of autocephalous jurisdictions remain canonical through the manner in whcih they came into existence. Our “canonical existence” dates back to 1892 when His Holiness Ignatius Peter IV of Antioch issued a Bull for the consecration of our first Primate. This was reinforced in 1966 when the Greek Patriarchate of Antioch approved the consecration of Metropolitan Joseph John (Skureth). Today, we are in very close dialogue with the Syriac Archdiocese of the United States and through them with the Patriarchate of Antioch, Syriac Orthodox Church.

Russian Succession.

Secondly, but equally as important, comes Apostolic Succession from the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, as it was called in the 1960’s, through Archbishop Constantin and Archbishop Dosifej both of the Russian Orthodox Succession from St Andrew. This succession came into our Church through Archbishop John (Skureth) who was consecrated through Archbishops Konstantin and Dosifej in 1966.  It is because of these two historic facts that both the Syrian and Russian Successions are contained in our Church.

Our ecclesiastical focus is on the Apostolic Canons. While we acknowledge the later canons as valid, they were adaptations of that earlier canon, as required by the Church to deal with specific circumstances. An example of this is the issue of the married Episcopate. Not only was the married Episcopate accepted in the early Church, but it was the standard. Circumstances forced the developing Church to later move toward a monastic episcopate (and to do so was within the Church’s ecclesiastic rights), but as circumstances changed allowing us the opportunity to return to the Apostolic traditions, we feel the obligation to do so.

“hold fast to those traditions we have learned, both the oral and written” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

On issues of doctrine, we are rooted in the first seven councils. In that undivided Church, the doctrines were clarified, and we accept them as such. We are traditional in that we do not accept new or re-defined doctrines. We are Orthodox. On issues of Church ecclesiology as stated previously, we refer back to the Apostolic Canons, recognizing the synods responsibility and historic pattern of the Church to adapt them to meet current circumstances (always returning to the Apostolic Tradition when circumstances allow).

In the name of the Essential, Eternal, Self-existing, Almighty God, His servant, Ignatius Pater [sic] IV, Patriarch of the Apostolic See of Antioch and the East.
We, the humble servant of God, hereby allow the consecration by the Holy Ghost of the Priest Joseph Rene Vilatte, elected for Archepiscopal dignity, Archbishop Metropolitan, in the name of Mar Thimotheus, for the church of the Mother of God in Dyckesville, Wisconsin, United States, and other churches in the Archdiocese of America, viz, the churches adhering to the Orthodox Faith, in the name of the Father, Amen, of the Son, Amen, and of the Living Holy Ghost, Amen.

We stand up before God’s majesty, and, raising up our hands towards His grace, pray that the Holy Ghost may descend upon him, as He did upon the Apostles at the time of the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they were made Patriarchs[,] Bischops [sic] and Priests, and were authorised to bind and loose, as written by St. Matthew.

We, therefore, by virtue of our authority received from God, authorise him to bind and loose, and, elevating our voice, we offer thanks to God, and exclaim, “Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.” Again, we pray to God to grant him cheer of face before His throne of majesty, and that at all times for ever and ever.

Given on the seventeenth of Conoon Kadmayo, of the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and ninety one (corresponding to twenty-ninth of December, eighteen hundred and ninety-one), from the Patriarchal Palace of the monastery of Mardin.





Metropolitan of Malabar


True translation E.M. Philip.,

Secretary to the Metropolitan of Malabar

Syrian Seminary

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