In 2016, I began a series of interviews with African American Orthodox Christians in four regions of the United States. An integral component of a wider ethnographic research project (one combining participant observation and digital research) personal narratives offer a necessary depth of insight into an Orthodox community which still remains relatively unfamiliar to many.
While the number of African American Orthodox Christians appears to be growing, research on this particular group remains scant. Focused either on historical figures like Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first African American Orthodox priest— or on narratives gleaned from a “community of elders,” the most prominent exemplary African American Orthodox Christians, existing research can sometimes convey a single-story narrative, one not entirely untrue—but incomplete. There remains, therefore, much to be learned at the intersection of Orthodox Christianity and African American culture. Continue reading