Over the last 30 years, Orthodox churches in the southern United States have multiplied from a handful of congregations located mainly in Florida and Texas to more than 60 churches and missions stretching from Virginia to New Mexico.
"In the Florida area most churches developed from the families from the North," said the Rev. Seraphim Hipsh of the Diocese of Dallas and the South, explaining transplants from such states as Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey — where immigrant groups created a high concentration of Orthodox churches — brought their faith south.
But after the Diocese of Dallas and the South formed in the late 1970s, new Orthodox churches and missions have sprouted throughout its jurisdiction, which includes Mississippi and 12 other states in the southern quarter of the country.
"The South has hands down the greatest growth," said the Rev. John Matusiak, a spokesman for the Orthodox Church of America. "Growth of the church simply mirrors demographics of the country. More people are moving South and West."
There are six Orthodox churches in Mississippi, including a century-old Antiochian Orthodox congregation in Vicksburg and a three-year-old mission in McComb.