Just as the Apostolic Authority given by Christ to His Apostles was passed on through Sts.
Thaddaeus and Bartholomew to their chosen successors, the first bishops of Armenia -and their
first Catholicos, St. Gregory the Illuminator.  Likewise the Apostolic Succession and Authority was
passed on to the Patriarchs of Constantinople, including St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John
Chrysostom, and St. Photius the Great and eventually to the Patriarchate of Moscow (being
granted autocephaly in 1593).  In 1920, St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia,
Enlightener of America, granted autonomy to the Orthodox Church in America.  In 1970 the
Orthodox Church in America was granted autocephaly by the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexi I.  
Together with the other historic Orthodox Churches, we comprise the one holy catholic and
apostolic Church of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:4-6).

The Orthodox Church in America is headed by a Metropolitan rather than a Patriarch.  The title and
office of Metropolitan is older than that of Patriarch.  "Before the establishment of patriarchs
(beginning in AD 325), metropolitan was the highest episcopal rank in the Eastern Church.  Holders
of this rank presided over synods of bishops, and were granted special privileges by Church
canons and sacred tradition" (adapted from Wikipedia).  

As another writer states, "By the end of the third century or by the beginning of the fourth, certain
bishops of important cities or provincial capitals in the Roman empire gained preeminence above
other bishops and they came to be known as Metropolitans.  The Ecumenical Councils of the fourth
century recognized the authority of these Metropolitans."

"By the fifth century the Bishops of the major cities of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and
Antioch gained jurisdiction over the churches of their surrounding cities.  Gradually they became
the heads of each independent regional Church and were called 'Patriarch' which means ‘common
father’ (adapted from:  http://malankaraorthodoxchurch).  But this does not undermine or negate
the historic importance and authority of a Metropolitan over a given Church.
Orthodox Christianity in North America
-Rejoice, O continent of North America, illumined by the
holy Gospel!
-Rejoice, every province, state, city and town,
which raised up citizens of the heavenly Kingdom!
-Rejoice, our venerable Father Herman, first saint of our
land!
-Rejoice O Martyrs Juvenaly and Peter,
for your blood has watered the seed of faith planted in
Alaska!
-Rejoice, O holy Hierarchs: Innocent, Tikhon, Nicholas and
Raphael!
-Rejoice, O holy Fathers Alexis, John, and all righteous
priests!
-Rejoice, All Saints of North America,
for your light has shone forth to the ends of the earth!
-We beseech you to pray to Christ our God that our souls
may be saved!
St. Alexis Toth:  Defender of
Orthodoxy in America
Rejoice, O mountains of Pennsylvania;
leap for joy, O waters of the Great Lakes;
rise up, O fertile plains of Canada;
for the elect of Christ who dwelt in you are glorified,
men and women who left their homes for a new land!
With faith, hope and patience as their armor,
they courageously fought the good fight.
Comforted by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith,
they labored in mines and mills, they tilled the land,
they braved the challenges of the great cities,
enduring many hardships and sufferings.
Never failing to worship God in spirit and truth
and unyielding in devotion to His most pure Mother,
they erected many temples to His glory.
Come, O assembly of the Orthodox,
and with love let us praise the holy women, men and
children,
those known to us and those known only to God,
and let us cry out to them:  "Rejoice, All Saints of
North America and pray to God for us!"


-Stichera for All Saints of North America
St. Tikhon:  
Enlightener of America