Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia; the church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion based in the United States with dioceses elsewhere. It is a mainline Christian denomination divided into nine provinces; the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American bishop to serve in that position. In 2017, the Episcopal Church had 1,871,581 baptized members, of whom 1,712,563 were in the United States. In 2011, it was the nation's 14th largest denomination. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, or 3 million people, self-identify as mainline Episcopalians. The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England; the Episcopal Church describes itself as "Protestant, yet Catholic". The Episcopal Church claims apostolic succession, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders.
The Book of Common Prayer, a collection of traditional rites, blessings and prayers used throughout the Anglican Communion, is central to Episcopal worship. The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a decidedly more liberal course, it has supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests are known for marching with influential civil rights demonstrators such as Martin Luther King Jr; the church calls for the full legal equality of LGBT people. In 2015, the church's 78th triennial General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions; the Episcopal Church ordains women and LGBT people to the priesthood, the diaconate, the episcopate, despite opposition from a number of other member churches of the Anglican Communion. In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first gay person ordained as a bishop.'The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and "The Episcopal Church" are both official names specified in the church's constitution.
The latter is much more used. In other languages, an equivalent is used. For example, in Spanish, the church is called La Iglesia Episcopal Protestante de los Estados Unidos de América or La Iglesia Episcopal. and in French L'Église protestante épiscopale dans les États Unis d'Amérique or L'Église épiscopale. Until 1964, "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" was the only official name in use. In the 19th century, High Church members advocated changing the name, which they felt did not acknowledge the church's Catholic heritage, they were opposed by the church's evangelical wing, which felt that the "Protestant Episcopal" label reflected the Reformed character of Anglicanism. After 1877, alternative names were proposed and rejected by the General Convention. One proposed alternative was "the American Catholic Church". By the 1960s, opposition to dropping the word "Protestant" had subsided. In a 1964 General Convention compromise and lay delegates suggested adding a preamble to the church's constitution, recognizing "The Episcopal Church" as a lawful alternate designation while still retaining the earlier name.
The 66th General Convention voted in 1979 to use the name "The Episcopal Church" in the Oath of Conformity of the Declaration for Ordination. The evolution of the name can be seen in the church's Book of Common Prayer. In the 1928 BCP, the title page read, "According to the use of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America", whereas on the title page of the 1979 BCP it states, "'According to the use of The Episcopal Church"; the Episcopal Church in the United States of America has never been an official name of the church but is an alternative seen in English. Since several other churches in the Anglican Communion use the name "Episcopal", including Scotland and the Philippines, for example Anglicans Online, add the phrase "in the United States of America"; the full legal name of the national church corporate body is the "Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America", incorporated by the legislature of New York and established in 1821.
The membership of the corporation "shall be considered as comprehending all persons who are members of the Church". This should not be confused with the name of the church itself, as it is a distinct body relating to church governance; the Episcopal Church has its origins in the Church of England in the American colonies, it stresses continuity with the early universal Western Church and claims to maintain apostolic succession. The first parish was founded in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, under the charter of the Virginia Company of London; the tower of Jamestown Church is one of the oldest surviving Anglican church structures in the United States. The Jamestown church building itself is a modern reconstruction. Although no American Anglican bishops existed in the colonial era, the Church of England had an official status in several colonies, which meant that local governments paid tax money to local parishes, the parishes handled some civic functions; the Church of England was designated the established church in Virginia in 1609, in New York in 1693, in Maryland in 1702, in South Carolina in 1706, in North Carolina in 1730, in Georgia in 1758.
From 1635 the vestries and the clergy came loosely under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of London. After 1702, the Society for the Propagation of the Gos
Holy water is water, blessed by a member of the clergy or a religious figure. The use for cleansing prior to a baptism and spiritual cleansing is common in several religions, from Christianity to Sikhism; the use of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Christians. In Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and some other churches, holy water is water, sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons and objects, or as a means of repelling evil; the use of holy water used by various sects of Christianity is a practice only attested to in Catholic documents. The Apostolic Constitutions, which goes back to about the year 400, attribute the precept of using holy water to the Apostle Matthew, it is plausible that in earliest Christian times water was used for expiatory and purificatory purposes in a way analogous to its employment in Jewish Law. Yet, in many cases, the water used for the Sacrament of Baptism was flowing water, sea or river water, it could not receive the same blessing as that contained in the baptisteries in the view of the Roman Catholic church.
However, Eastern Orthodox do perform the same blessing, whether in a baptistry or an outdoor body of water. Sprinkling with holy water is used as a sacramental that recalls baptism. Holy water is kept in the holy water font, located at the entrance to the church. Smaller vessels, called stoups, are placed at the entrances of the church, to enable people to sprinkle themselves with it on entering. In recent years, with the concerns over influenza, new holy water machines that work like an automatic soap dispenser have become popular. In the Middle Ages the power of holy water was considered so great that in some places fonts had locked covers to prevent the theft of holy water for unauthorized magic practices; the Constitutions of Archbishop Edmund Rich prescribe that "Fonts are to be kept under lock and key, because of witchcraft. The chrism and sacred oil are kept locked up." In Catholicism, holy water, as well as water used during the washing of the priest's hands at mass, is not allowed to be disposed of in regular plumbing.
Roman Catholic churches will have a special basin that leads directly into the ground for the purpose of proper disposal. A hinged lid is kept over the holy water basin to distinguish it from a regular sink basin, just beside it. Items that contained holy water are separated, drained of the holy water, washed in a regular manner in the adjacent sink. Holy water fonts have been identified as a potential source of viral infection. In the late 19th century, bacteriologists found staphylococci, coli bacilli, Loeffler's bacillus, other bacteria in samples of holy water taken from a church in Sassari, Italy. In a study performed in 1995, 13 samples were taken when a burn patient acquired a bacterial infection after exposure to holy water; the samples in that study were shown to have a "wide range of bacterial species", some of which could cause infection in humans. During the swine flu epidemic of 2009, Bishop John Steinbock of Fresno, California recommended that "holy water should not be in the fonts" due to fear of spreading infections.
In response to the swine flu, an automatic, motion-detecting holy water dispenser was invented and installed in an Italian church in 2009. A blessing is, as a prayer, a sacramental. By blessing water, Catholic priests ask him for his grace; as a reminder of baptism, Catholic Christians dip their fingers in the holy water and make the sign of the cross when entering the church. The liturgy may begin on Sundays with the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water, in which holy water is sprinkled upon the congregation; this ceremony dates back to the ninth century. An aspergill or aspergillum is a branch used to sprinkle the water. An aspersorium is the vessel which holds the holy water and into which the aspergillum is dipped, though elaborate Ottonian examples are known as situlae. Blessed salt may be added to the water "where it is customary." This use of holy water and making a sign of the cross when entering a church reflects a renewal of baptism, a cleansing of venial sin, as well as providing protection against evil.
It is sometimes accompanied by the following prayer: "By this Holy water and by your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins O Lord". Although not holy water since it has not been blessed by a priest, some Catholics believe that water from specific shrines, such as Lourdes, can bring healing; the traditional Latin formula for blessing the water is as follows: Exorcizo te, creatura aquæ, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis, et in nomine Jesu Christi, Filii ejus Domini nostri, et in virtute Spiritus Sancti: ut fias aqua exorcizata ad effugandam omnem potestatem inimici, et ipsum inimicum eradicare et explantare valeas cum angelis suis apostaticis, per virtutem ejusdem Domini nostri Jesu Christ: qui venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos et sæculum per ignem. Deus, qui ad salutem humani generis maxima quæque sacramenta in aquarum substantia condidisti: adesto propitius invocationibus nostris, et elemento huic, multimodis purificationibus præparato, virtutem tuæ benedictionis infunde. Non illic resideat spiritus pestilens, non aura corrumpens: discedant omnes insidiæ latentis inimici.
Methodism known as the Methodist movement, is a group of related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were significant early leaders in the movement, it originated as a revival movement within the 18th-century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming 80 million adherents worldwide. Wesley's theology focused on the effect of faith on the character of a Christian. Distinguishing Methodist doctrines include the new birth, an assurance of salvation, imparted righteousness, the possibility of perfection in love, the works of piety, the primacy of Scripture. Most Methodists teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all of humanity and that salvation is available for all; this teaching rejects the Calvinist position that God has pre-ordained the salvation of a select group of people.
However and several other early leaders of the movement were considered Calvinistic Methodists and held to the Calvinist position. Methodism emphasises charity and support for the sick, the poor, the afflicted through the works of mercy; these ideals are put into practice by the establishment of hospitals, soup kitchens, schools to follow Christ's command to spread the gospel and serve all people. The movement has a wide variety of forms of worship, ranging from high church to low church in liturgical usage. Denominations that descend from the British Methodist tradition are less ritualistic, while American Methodism is more so, the United Methodist Church in particular. Methodism is known for its rich musical tradition, Charles Wesley was instrumental in writing much of the hymnody of the Methodist Church. Early Methodists were drawn from all levels of society, including the aristocracy, but the Methodist preachers took the message to labourers and criminals who tended to be left outside organised religion at that time.
In Britain, the Methodist Church had a major effect in the early decades of the developing working class. In the United States, it became the religion of many slaves who formed black churches in the Methodist tradition; the Methodist revival began with a group of men, including John Wesley and his younger brother Charles, as a movement within the Church of England in the 18th century. The Wesley brothers founded the "Holy Club" at the University of Oxford, where John was a fellow and a lecturer at Lincoln College; the club met weekly and they systematically set about living a holy life. They were accustomed to receiving Communion every week, fasting abstaining from most forms of amusement and luxury and visited the sick and the poor, as well as prisoners; the fellowship were branded as "Methodist" by their fellow students because of the way they used "rule" and "method" to go about their religious affairs. John, leader of the club, took the attempted mockery and turned it into a title of honour.
In 1735, at the invitation of the founder of the Georgia Colony, General James Oglethorpe, both John and Charles Wesley set out for America to be ministers to the colonists and missionaries to the Native Americans. Unsuccessful in their work, the brothers returned to England conscious of their lack of genuine Christian faith, they looked for help to other members of the Moravian Church. At a Moravian service in Aldersgate on 24 May 1738, John experienced what has come to be called his evangelical conversion, when he felt his "heart strangely warmed", he records in his journal: "I felt I did trust in Christ alone, for salvation. Charles had reported a similar experience a few days previously. Considered a pivotal moment, Daniel L. Burnett writes: "The significance of Wesley's Aldersgate Experience is monumental … Without it the names of Wesley and Methodism would be nothing more than obscure footnotes in the pages of church history."The Wesley brothers began to preach salvation by faith to individuals and groups, in houses, in religious societies, in the few churches which had not closed their doors to evangelical preachers.
John Wesley came under the influence of the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius. Arminius had rejected the Calvinist teaching that God had pre-ordained an elect number of people to eternal bliss while others perished eternally. Conversely, George Whitefield, Howell Harris, Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon were notable for being Calvinistic Methodists. George Whitefield, returning from his own mission in Georgia, joined the Wesley brothers in what was to become a national crusade. Whitefield, a fellow student of the Wesleys at Oxford, became well known for his unorthodox, itinerant ministry, in which he was dedicated to open-air preaching—reaching crowds of thousands. A key step in the development of John Wesley's ministry was, like Whitefield, to preach in fields and churchyards to those who did not attend parish church services. Accordingly, many Methodist converts were those disconnected from the Church of England. Faced with growing evangelistic and pastoral responsibilities and Whitefield appointed lay preachers and leaders.
Prayer is an important activity in Christianity, there are several different forms of Christian prayer. Christian prayers are diverse: they can be spontaneous, or read from a text, like the Anglican Book of Common Prayer; the most common prayer among Christians is the "Lord's Prayer", which according to the gospel accounts is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. "The Lord's Prayer" is a model for prayers of adoration and petition in Christianity. A broad, three stage characterization of prayer begins with vocal prayer moves on to a more structured form in terms of meditation reaches the multiple layers of contemplation, or intercession. There are two basic settings for Christian prayer: private. Corporate prayer includes prayer shared within other public places; these prayers can be informal extemporaneous prayers. Private prayer occurs with the individual praying either silently or aloud within a private setting. Prayer may be structured differently; these types of contexts may include: Liturgical: Often seen within the Catholic Church.
This is a orthodox service, according to Catholics. Within a Catholic Mass, an example of a liturgical form of worship, there are bible readings and a sermon is read. Seen within the Holy Orthodox Church; the Holy Bible is read and a sermon is read. Non-Liturgical: Often seen within Evangelical church, this prayer is not scripted and would be more informal in structure. Most of these prayers would be extemporaneous. Charismatic: Often seen within gospel churches, it is the main form of worship in Pentecostal churches. It includes song and dance, may include other artistic expressions. There may be no apparent structure, but the worshippers will be "led by the Holy Spirit". Prayer in the New Testament is presented as a positive command; the people of God are challenged to include prayer in their everyday life in the busy struggles of marriage as it is thought to bring the faithful closer to God. Throughout the New Testament, prayer is shown to be God's appointed method by which the faithful obtain what he has to bestow.
Prayer, according to the Book of Acts, can be seen at the first moments of the church. The apostles regarded prayer as an essential part of their lives; as such, the apostles incorporated verses from Psalms into their writings. Romans 3:10-18 for example is borrowed from other psalms. Thus, due to this emphasis on prayer in the early church. Lengthy passages of the New Testament are prayers or canticles, such as the Prayer for forgiveness, the Lord's Prayer, the Magnificat, the Benedictus, Jesus' prayer to the one true God, exclamations such as, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ", the Believers' Prayer, "may this cup be taken from me", "Pray that you will not fall into temptation", Saint Stephen's Prayer, Simon Magus' Prayer, "pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men", Maranatha. Elements of the oldest Christian prayers may be found in liturgies such as the Roman Catholic Mass, the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the Lutheran Book of Worship.
Many denominations that adhere to a liturgical tradition use specific prayers geared to the season of the Liturgical Year, such as Advent, Christmas and Easter. Some of these prayers are found in the Roman Breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Orthodox Book of Needs and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer; the ancient church, in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, developed a tradition of asking for the intercession of saints, this remains the practice of most Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, some Anglican churches. Churches of the Protestant Reformation however rejected prayer to the saints on the basis of the sole mediatorship of Christ; the reformer Huldrych Zwingli admitted that he had offered prayers to the saints until his reading of the Bible convinced him that this was idolatrous. Christian meditation is a structured attempt to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God; the word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice.
Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion. At times there may be no clear-cut boundary between Christian meditation and Christian contemplation, they overlap. Meditation serves as a foundation on which the contemplative life stands, the practice by which someone begins the state of contemplation. In contemplative prayer, this activity is curtailed, so that contemplation has been described as "a gaze of faith", "a silent love". Meditation and contemplation are components of the Rosary, encouraged by the Magisterium; this kind of prayer involves the believer taking the role of an intercessor, praying on behalf of another individual, group or community, or a nation. Ejaculatory prayer is the use of brief exclamations. Saint Augustine remarked that the Egyptian Christians who withdrew to a solitary life "are said to sa
Our Sunday Visitor
Our Sunday Visitor is a Roman Catholic publishing company in Huntington, which prints the American national weekly newspaper of that name, as well as numerous Catholic periodicals, religious books, catechetical materials, inserts for parish bulletins and offertory envelopes, offers an "Online Giving" system and "Faith in Action" websites for parishes. Founded in 1912 by Father John F. Noll, the newspaper Our Sunday Visitor was the most popular Catholic newsweekly of the twentieth century. John Francis Noll Bishop of Fort Wayne in Indiana, was a small town priest who, having grown weary of anti-Catholic literature, a circulated anti-Catholic paper called The Menace, decided to print a parish bulletin; the first issue of Our Sunday Visitor, numbering 35,000 copies, was dated May 5, 1912. A year the circulation of the paper had reached 160,000 copies, far beyond Noll's parish. Shortly after World War I, the circulation had grown to 500,000 copies; the initial focus of Our Sunday Visitor was to combat anti-Catholicism, help Catholics preserve their identity, teach Catholics about their faith, combat social injustice.
A column Noll started in 1912, called "Father Smith Instructs Jackson", was collected into a popular book, which sold millions of copies. On March 30, 1913, the paper offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who could prove the anti-Catholic charges laid against the Church. No one claimed the reward. In the 1930s, Our Sunday Visitor focused on how Catholics could preserve their faith in a secular society. During the 1940s, Noll's newspaper took positions against birth control and indecent literature and movies. During the Cold War, the paper stepped up its attacks on communism and warned Catholics away from joining communist groups; the fortieth anniversary issue of Our Sunday Visitor, published on May 4, 1952, carried a banner headline that read, "They Do Not Want God in Our Schools: Secular Trend is Certain to Bring Disaster."In 1953, Noll was named archbishop ad personam by Pope Pius XII. Noll was no longer able to edit Our Sunday Visitor, he died on July 31, 1956. After Noll's death, the paper continued to be produced, in 1961 its circulation had surpassed one million.
Today, Our Sunday Visitor has a full publishing wing which publishes books, religious educational materials, other media. The company expanded by purchasing Harcourt Religion in 2009. In July 2012, the Sunday Visitor was selected by the Vatican as the exclusive distributor of the North American English edition of the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. Official website
Oriental Orthodoxy is the fourth largest communion of Christian churches, with about 76 million members worldwide. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and parts of the Middle East and India. An Eastern Christian communion of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, its doctrines can be summarised in that the communion recognizes the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils; the Oriental Orthodox communion is composed of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Collectively, they consider themselves to be the One, Holy and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles.
Most member churches are part of the World Council of Churches. All member churches share a identical theology, with the distinguishing feature being Miaphysitism. Three different rites are practiced in the communion: the western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syrian Rite of the two Syriac churches, the Alexandrian Rite of the Copts and Eritreans. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the Oriental Orthodox churches separated from the Imperial Roman Church over differences in Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy developed distinctively under the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt part of the Pentarchy, the only episcopal see besides the Holy See to maintain the title "Pope"; the majority of Oriental Orthodox Christians live in Egypt, Ethiopia and Armenia, with smaller Syriac communities living in the Middle East–decreasing due to persecution–and India. There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity; the Oriental Orthodox churches are distinguished by their recognition of only the first three ecumenical councils during the period of the State church of the Roman Empire –the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Oriental Orthodoxy shares much theology and many ecclesiastical traditions with the Eastern Orthodox Church. The primary theological difference between the two communions is the differing Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy rejects the Chalcedonian Definition, instead adopts the Miaphysite formula, believing that the human and divine natures of Christ are united; the early prelates of the Oriental Orthodox churches thought that the Chalcedonian Definition implied a possible repudiation of the Trinity or a concession to Nestorianism. Other differences include minor deviations in social teaching and different views on ecumenism. Oriental Orthodox churches are considered to be more conservative with regard to social issues as well more enthusiastic about ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches; the break in communion between the Imperial Roman and Oriental Orthodox churches did not occur but rather over 2-3 centuries following the Council of Chalcedon. The two communions developed separate institutions, the Oriental Orthodox did not participate in any of the ecumenical councils.
The Oriental Orthodox churches maintain their own ancient apostolic succession. The various churches are governed by holy synods, with a primus inter pares bishop serving as primate; the primates hold titles like patriarch and pope. Among these patriarchs, the Pope of Alexandria takes precedence, is sometimes considered the "face" of Oriental Orthodoxy; the Alexandrian Patriarchate, along with Rome and Antioch, was one of the most prominent sees of the early Christian Church, contains a majority population of Coptic Christians, unlike Antioch is still a major population center. That said, the Pope of Alexandria has no governing powers with respect to the non-Coptic churches. Oriental Orthodoxy does not have a magisterial leader like the Roman Catholic Church, nor does the communion have a leader who can convene ecumenical synods like the Eastern Orthodox Church; the schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and the adherents of Chalcedonian Christianity was based on differences in Christology. The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, declared that Jesus Christ is God, to say, "consubstantial" with the Father.
The third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, declared that Jesus Christ, though divine as well as human, is only one being, or person. Thus, the Council of Ephesus explicitly rejected Nestorianism, the Christological doctrine that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine and one human, who happened to inhabit the same body; the churches that became Oriental Orthodoxy were anti-Nestorian, therefore supported the decisions made at Ephesus. Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon reaffirmed the view that Jesus Christ was a single person, but at the same time declared that this one person existed "in two complete natures", one human and one divine; those who opposed Chalcedon saw this as a concession to Nestorianism, or as a conspiracy to convert the Church to Nestorianism by stealth. As a result, over the following decades, they separated from communion with those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon, formed the body, today called Oriental Orthodoxy. At times, Chalcedonian Christians have referre