ORTHODOXY IN THE UNITED STATES: North and South America were colonized by the empire-building nations of Western Europe which were predominantly either Roman Catholic or Protestant. By the time the immigrants from the Orthodox countries began arriving in large numbers in the early 1900s, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches were permanent fixtures on the American landscape.
The Orthodox immigrants settled in ethnic neighborhoods where they could speak their native language, practice their ethnic customs, and share their traditional foods with each other. They established Orthodox churches in those neighborhoods to serve their religious needs in their native language.
In most cases the Orthodox Parish Hall serves as the social center for these ethnic communities. Dances, dinners, concerts, and celebrations of all kinds (weddings, baptisms, bridal showers, anniversaries, etc.) are held there.
Although these Orthodox Churches are mostly vibrant and healthy, they are often isolated from the rest of the population by language, culture, and ethnic pride.
In the late 1900s second and third generations of Orthodox began to establish Orthodox Churches in which the services are in English (which is their native language). With the language barrier broken, a steady stream of people have investigated and experienced Orthodoxy, and have become Orthodox. The Orthodox Church is now the fastest growing denomination in the United States with approximately 6 million members.
(borrowed with permission from the website of Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste Antiochian Orthodox Church)