A Brief History of the Metropolis of Chicago

The Metropolis of Chicago itself traces its explicit roots to 1923, when Rt. Rev. Philaretos Johannides became the city’s first Greek Orthodox bishop. Nearly twenty years later, Chicago became the ‘2nd Diocesan District’ of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America. That ‘district’ would continue to coordinate the ecclesial growth of this major immigrant, industrial, and rail center on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan.

A number of distinguished bishops served the diocesan community, including the memorable Meletios, the beloved Ezekiel and the late Timotheos of Rodostolon, to mention only a few. Each brought unique gifts to Chicago’s Greek Orthodox and larger communities. This Episcopal ministry excelled with the singular dedication of Chicago’s Metropolitan Iakovos, who tirelessly ministered in the nation’s “Second City” for thirty eight years. A studied and accomplished liturgist, Athens-born Metropolitan Iakovos made a profound imprint upon the character of the Midwest’s Greek Orthodox communities.

On March 17, 2018, a new chapter in the life and history of the Metropolis of Chicago was inaugurated with the ordination of her next Archpastor, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. A dedicated and energetic servant of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the faithful of the Metropolis are poised to enter into a new period of growth under the guidance of her new Metropolitan.

The majority of Metropolis parishes are concentrated in the Chicago metropolitan area, where immigrants arrived as early as the 19th century. Hence the older parishes are to be found primarily in the older Midwestern industrialized cities, while newer congregations have followed demographic patterns, locating in suburban and even rural/missionary contexts. Within recent decades, Metropolis churches have been built integrating traditional Byzantine forms; earlier structures, in contrast, often were acquired from other faith groups. The Metropolis of Chicago consists of thirty-four parishes in Illinois, with another twenty-four parishes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, northern Indiana, and eastern and central Missouri. The general offices of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago are located in Chicago, Illinois.