Close to 150 million people across the world consider themselves Russian Orthodox. Among Christian Churches, it comes second only to the Roman Catholic Church in terms of the number of followers. While more than half of the Russian Orthodox fellowship lives within Russia itself, there is still a large following in countless countries around the world, including the United States.
A little over five years ago, The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which is headquartered in New York, united with the Russian Orthodox Church under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate.
There have been various ideas on how to commemorate the five year anniversary of the unison, and eventually a decision was made to honor two churches: one in Russia and one in the United States, to act as landmark churches representing the reconciliation.
On Wednesday, Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the Russian orthodox church outside of Russia, appointed the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Sea Cliff, New York, with the exclusive status.