This is not a “harping” post and I’m not seeking to get into an argument with anyone. After reading this post by Ad Orientem I decided to post some helpful information for those who are looking for an Orthodox church.
Sometimes, people’s only contact with Orthodoxy has been on the web. When they are interested enough to look for a church they might just look in the phone book or google the closest Orthodox church. Or you might do this if you are out of town and looking for a church. Now this will probably lead you right to an Orthodox church, whether it be Greek, OCA, Antiochian, ROCOR, whatever. On the other hand, if you don’t know enough about Orthodox churches to be wary, you might just land in a church like the “English Nordic Orthodox Church of North America” or the “Autonomous True Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and the Americas, Milan Synod”. These names are odd enough that you might think twice, but what if it’s called “St. Nicholas Orthodox Church”? How do you know if this is actually an Orthodox church? Because the people there will hasten to assure you that it is.
A site called Religious Groups That Use ‘Orthodox’ in Their Names But Are Not Canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches helps identify known non-Orthodox churches. It is not merely a list, but includes quite a bit of information. These churches range from the crazy (trust me) to the merely misguided.
This page provided by the OCA contains links to the canonical Orthodox Churches world-wide. If you can’t find the “church” listed on this page, then you are probably dealing with a non-Orthodox church.
I have to say that in the list of warning signs that you might be dealing with a non-canonical Orthodox church (or a non-Orthodox church) on Ad Orientem, this one is my favorite:
2. If any of the following words appear in the church’s name (as opposed to the parish name) you may have a problem… True, Authentic, Real, Holy, Synod, Metropolia, Resistance, Exile, Underground, Old Calendar, Reformed, Liberal or Conservative, Canonical. If you run into the “Really True Old Calendar First Holy Orthodox Church of Dump Truck County Alabama in Exile” don’t walk away. RUN!
Again, this is not meant to start arguments, just provide helpful information in case someone needs it.