The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago traces its roots to the early 1920s, when Rt. Rev. Philaretos Johannides became the city’s first Greek Orthodox bishop. Nearly 20 years later, Chicago became the “Second Diocesan District” of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America. The Diocesan District would continue to coordinate the ecclesial growth of this major immigrant, industrial, and rail center in northeastern Illinois.
A number of distinguished bishops have since 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 38 years. A studied and accomplished liturgist, the Athens-born Metropolitan Iakovos left a profound imprint upon the character of the Midwest’s Greek Orthodox communities.
On March 17, 2018, the next chapter in the history of the Metropolis of Chicago began with the ordination of her new Archpastor, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. A dedicated servant-leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Metropolitan Nathanael has taken decisive steps to renew the Metropolis of Chicago’s reason for being: to support and serve its parishes so they can minister to their faithful to do Christ’s work on Earth.
The majority of Metropolis parishes are concentrated in the greater Chicago area, where Greek immigrants arrived as early as the 19th century. Older parishes are found primarily in the older Midwestern industrialized cities, while newer congregations have followed demographic shifts, locating in suburban and even rural or missionary contexts. In recent decades, the Metropolis’ new churches have integrated traditional Byzantine architectural and decorative forms; earlier structures, in contrast, were often acquired from other faith groups.
The Metropolis of Chicago consists of 58 parishes and two monasteries in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin as well as central Missouri. All the clergy of the Metropolis of Chicago report to the Metropolitan, who in turn reports to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople.