St. Simon the Cyrenian - The African Orthodox Church in America
 About Us
The Founding Fathers:  +Archbishop George Alexander McGuire,
+Archbishop Daniel William Alexander,
Marcus Garvy, a supporter of the founding process of the AOC.
+Archbishop Joseph Rene Vilatte
Below the founding Bishops of the African Orthodox Church with +Archbishop McGuire and +Archbishop Alexander in the center.
The African Orthodox Church owes its Episcopate and Apostolic Authority to the Syrian Church of Antioch were there disciples were first called Christians, and of which See St. Peter the Apostle was the first Bishop.
In a Bull issued by Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of Antioch and the East, permission was given for the Consecration of the Priest Joseph Rene Vilatte as Archbishop-Metropolitan of the arch-diocese of America, namely, for churches adbering to the Orthodox Faith; and, on May 29th, 1892, Archbishop Vilatte was duly consecrated in Ceylon by Archbishop Julius Alvarez, assisted by the Syrian Bishops George Gregorius and Paul Athanasius, all three being under obedience of the Patriarch of Antioch.
On September 28th 1921, in the City of Chicago, George Alexander McGuire was cconsecrated first Bishop and Primate of the African Orthodox Church by Archbishop Joseph Rene Vilatte, assisted by Bishop Carl A. Nybladh who had been consecrated by Vilatte.
The next Bishops of the African Orthodox Church to be consecrated.  Bishop William Ernest Robertson, November 18, 1923, in the City of New York, and Bishop Arthur Stanley Trotman, September 10th 1924, in the same city.
The Conclave, or House of Bishops of the African Orthodox Church, was duly organized, following which the first Bishop, George Alexander McGuire,was unanimously elected Archbishop, and enthroned with the title of "Archbishop Alexander".
In 1924 Daniel William Alexander of South Africa was consecrated Bishop by Archbishop George Alexander McGuire in New York City.  Archbishop Alexander came back to Africa and the Church grew throughout East Africa.

The African Orthodox Church is Eastern Orthodox
in doctrine and Western in tradition and dress.


You have a choice!

One of the truly unusual things--and perhaps one of the more frightening things--about living in America, as an African-American since the era of civil rights, is the wide degree of choice we possess in so many things. We can choose our mates, our schools, our political party, our style of dress, our diet . . . and on and on. And we can choose our religion. If you are raised in England, the chances are that you will be an Anglican, if in Germany, a Lutheran, if in Switzerland, a Reformed churchman. But in America, we are wondrously free to choose. Even if one is, from infancy, a Christian, it is still possible to be a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox Christian, a Methodist, a Pentecostal, a Baptist, or nothing in particular.
So why be African Orthodox?
Certainly it is not particularly easy. It requires, among other things, preparation in order to be confirmed. It requires the sacrifice of many conventional conveniences of Christian life, such as grand buildings, giant organs, beautiful stained glass, huge church schools and the like, simply because the African Orthodox Church does not place its emphasis on such matters. It demands time and commitment. It involves having to explain who you are to friends and neighbors who have never heard of the African Orthodox Church. And yet, there are good reasons to choose it. Let's look at a few.
The Church has deep roots
Its present structure may date from 1921, but its roots lie deep. Its antecedents are the Early Church and the Apostolic Fathers. It is, self-consciously, an historic church. And that is good, because nothing should be so distrusted as something "new" in Orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christianity is an historic religion and a realization of this connection with the past is the ballast, which keeps the Church honest and truthful and faithful. When you row a boat, you face the stern. You face where you have come from. And to steer a true course, you maintain an alignment with landmarks in the past. This is no less true in the life of the Church. Its present and its future are always true, always in alignment with its past, and that is the best assurance that what it teaches is, in fact, true--as the truth was revealed in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Church is Orthodox
The African Orthodox Church does not owe its existence to the theological inspiration of any one individual. Its faith was formed in the Apostolic Age and refined in the early centuries of the undivided Church. Its theology is that of the first seven Ecumenical Councils and it holds this theology in common with the great churches of Rome and the Orthodox East. It has not chosen to emphasize one part of the faith over another, no matter how useful a single part may be. It preaches an individual living faith in Jesus Christ--but it stresses a life lived out in the given of the real Church, the community of saints. It exalts the Lord Christ above all--yet it recognizes the proper honor paid to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos). It stresses a strict morality--yet it provides ready confession and absolution to the penitent sinner. In short, it holds the whole faith, the faith once delivered to the saints. And it does not feel at liberty to improvise on that faith.
The Church is holy
The first mission of the Church is the worship of Almighty God. And it is in this context that the holiness of individual members is realized. Our worship is elegant, respectfully formal, and essentially timeless in its form and attitude. That does not make it an historic relic or a sterile ritual. Rather it is a structured worship that allows the individual mastery over its elements and the ability to pray the liturgy on a deeply personal basis. Yes, our prayers are largely "written down". So that we may use them as familiar and personal avenues to God. Nothing to our mind is more productive of passivity in worship than to have someone else pray for you in ways and words you are hearing for the first time and which cannot be your own (or with which you may, in fact, disagree!). Our liturgy provides the foundation for personal holiness, for the continuing process of each member to stretch and reach and grow in God's grace.
The Church is sacramental
It is often said that our society is too materialistic. Perhaps, in many ways, this is true. But it also exhibits a profound disdain for the material. Think for a moment of all the things we use once and then throw away and you will be convinced that we do not value the material or especially respect it. But the Catholic Church has always respected the material world as the loving creation of God Himself. And it is through this material world that God reaches us with his love and power, for He has no other means. Thus we employ material elements (water, bread, wine, oil, married life) as channels of that love and power which He has ordained. Weekly, if not more often, we meet our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, where He allows us to feed on His Body and Blood, His Real Presence, strengthening our souls and imparting eternal life.
The Church is small
Many of our congregations are smaller than we would like! But the Orthodox ethos, although productive of great cathedrals, focuses most consistently on the relatively small parish church--because this is the laboratory of love wherein people know and care for one another. Big is not necessarily better when it comes to the care of souls.
The Church is traditional
By this time, you will have gathered that we are not interested in being "blown by every wind of doctrine". Trees deeply rooted do not succumb to passing breezes. We are profoundly unhappy that so many of our Christian brethren have decided to take as their examples of life the passing whims and fancies of the popular culture. We are not trendy. We believe in an historic faith, which is a "still point in a changing world". The Church is a rock, a sure foundation on which we can build our own lives and the lives of our children.
The Church is friendly
Our Savior was the supreme example of God's eternal love for us, and his particular commandment to us was to "love one another". We try to do this. Sometimes it's hard, of course. But we work at this business of loving; we work at it hard. And we love you. Even before we've met you. And we want to share that love when you come to visit us. We hope you will choose to be a part of our growing Christian community We think that you will find in the African Orthodox Church that seriousness of purpose and joy in living that will best meet your deepest needs. We are certain that, among us, you can grow in grace and in the knowledge of God.
Come and meet us!
The African Orthodox Church can accurately be described as a "liturgical church" and our worship is entirely liturgical. Below is an discourse, which one may use to explain why we use and love liturgy.
1. Liturgy is Active and Participatory
Liturgy literally means, â the work of the people. Worship in the early church was liturgical-it was not a passive experience but a participatory action and event in which the assembled people of God actively worshipped together. Liturgy requires the active participation of the whole assembly through corporate forms of prayer, song, response, and action.
2. Liturgy is Biblical
When we look to the many models we have of worship in Scripture, we find some common themes. First, we see that God’s people took seriously the *holiness* of God in their worship. Often in our western expressions of worship, we have lost a sense of God’s holiness in our well-meaning attempts to make God more approachable. This is where we need to make a distinction: God is indeed approachable through Jesus Christ because Jesus has mediated salvation and forgiveness to us. (Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. Eph.3:12). However, God is still God and deserves to be approached with awe, reverence, and deep respect for His Holiness and Other-ness in the context of worship. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Hebrews 12:28-29 reminds us, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire. Old Testament worship, as well as early Church worship, was liturgical. It included liturgical elements such as ritual and decorative, beautiful surroundings. In God’s commands to build the Temple, it was to be decorated ornately with golden cherubs, lamp stands, carvings, dishes for incense, fine linens of blue and purple, crimson yarns, looping blue curtains, sacred vestments, bells, anointing oils, perfumes, etc. (See Ex. 25-30). These passages shed light on how God deigns to be worshipped by his people; we can apply the spirit of such worship in our worship environments today.
This tradition of taking seriously the holiness of God continues in the New Testament. Notice that Jesus was raised in the context of the fullness of Jewish worship. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus participated fully in the liturgical celebrations and rites of the Temple and local Synagogues. Jesus never spoke against the form of worship itself, but he did speak out against the legalism and hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. Jesus upheld the idea that God’s house is to be a place of reverential prayer and worship; the only account we have of Jesus being greatly angered is when he encounters the money changers in the Temple. The people were not taking seriously the sanctity of God’s house and had turned it into a market place and â den of robbers. This is a serious sin.
One of Paul’s major concerns regarding worship was that it be one decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). Paul wanted everyone to participate fully in worship, his only concern was that order and decency be upheld, for God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). 
The book of Revelation also offers us a vivid picture of worship as it takes place in heaven. In it we find the elders falling down on their faces before God, we see an ocean of people and creatures paying homage to God day and night without ceasing.
We hear the refrain of angels singing, holy, holy, holy, Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come (Rev.4:8) before God who is seated on the throne. All focus and praise is on God and God alone. If we truly believe and understand that we are in the presence of the Lord of Lords, our worship ought to reflect that!
Of course, taking seriously God’s holiness does not negate the joy of worship. If anything, it should increase our sense of joy! Worship should be joyful because it is celebratory! We are in the presence of the Holy Victorious King and have the privilege of worshipping and glorifying God!


For additional Information contact:
+Archbishop Metropolitan James Salisbury Jr., OSB., D.Div.
Location:  Rectory
201 Sedgefield Drive (Rectory)
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

Tue - Thur: 10AM - 4PM
Please Call or  Text for appointments 301 437 3914

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