Global Orthodoxy

The Pew Research Group has released a study of Christianity in the world. The full study can be found here. They did a great job in presenting the information and I believe there is much we can learn from this study. I was surprised by some of the findings regarding the distribution of the world’s Orthodox.
Not surprisingly Russia boasts the largest Orthodox population with 101.4 million or 71% of the population of Russia. However number 2 was very surprising. Ethiopia came in second with 36 million or 43.5 percent of the population! I knew the Church was very active in Africa but I did not realize it was that active. Romania came in at number 4 after Ukraine with 18.7 million or 87% of the population. Sad to say the USA did not make the chart as less than 1% of the population is Orthodox.
If we look at the numbers based on the percentage of the population Greece still ranks number one with 88.3% of the population followed by Romania. 54.9% of the world’s Orthodox resided in just 10 countries. I find that just fascinating.
Europe has the largest percentage with 77%. This is not a surprise since Orthodoxy comes from this region and for the purpose of this report it includes all of Russia. Russia as you know is on both the European and Asian continent. Sub-Saharan Africa has the second largest population with 15% of all of the Worlds Orthodox! The Americas, that includes North, Central, and South America has 1% of the world’s Orthodox. We have some work to do for sure.
Of course this is the number of people who consider themselves Orthodox it says nothing of church attendance. A survey of Orthodox Churches in the United States completed last year showed that 28% of the 1 million Orthodox attend Church on a regular basis. We need to increase this number if we ever hope to increase the number of Orthodox in the United States.
So what is the “take away” from this information for me? We have a lot of work to do! The interesting thing it shows me is we need to evangelize our own membership about the necessity of coming to Church, if we cannot get out own people to come to Church how do we ever hope to reach those who have never heard of Orthodoxy?


  1. Interesting report. The high number of Orthodox in Africa is due to Oriental Orthodox Christians primarily in Egypt and Ethiopia. Technically, they are not the same as Eastern Orthodox (despite identical beliefs expressed somewhat differently), but lumping us all together in a group called Orthodox gives me hope for future unity that we all must pray for.

  2. It's a little misleading to describe Ethiopia as the second-most Orthodox country, since the Ethiopians are non-Chalcedonian (sometimes called "Oriental Orthodox"). To a certain extent it is mixing apples and oranges to put Eastern Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians into the same category because they both have "Orthodox" in their names.

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