Descendants of these immigrants are in their fourth or fifth generations and are several million in number with the vast majority beyond the second generation.
In a startling find, statistics disclose over 60% of Greek Orthodox families of the last generation and 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Church.
It is a concern shared by learned religious leaders who understand the need for a compassionate outreach towards intermarried families with sensitivity to differences among intermarried couples and the problems they face as a family.
Kehayes goes as far as saying that the Greek Orthodox Church in America will be nearly extinct, unless the church acts quickly.
“As each population passes into successive generations, growing numbers of families move further from their origins, with the probability that our beloved Greek Orthodox Church in America will become moribund in the very near future.” The complete text of the article, entitled “An Important Challenge for Greek Orthodox Christianity” is below.
Since 1922, with continuing immigration and with families spreading across America, over 300 churches were added; yet as the Greek American population has grown into the millions, the number of religiously observant communicants has dropped significantly.
Although the Greek American population has grown extensively through immigrations and post war baby boomer periods, there are fewer active Greek Orthodox today, than in 1922: while the overall American population has tripled.
Indeed, religious attrition has drawn the attention of religious leaders of all faiths.
Certainly the high intermarriage trend has affected many institutional religions in a nation that increasingly embraces all religions and in the process has become more secular.
In America, where the Orthodox marriage constitutes a minority of marriages among people of Greek descent there is a critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families who are typically our children’s families.
The family must be encouraged to facilitate their worshiping as one family.
The Asian population is also projected to grow from 5% to 9%, from 15 to 37 million people, together with continuing growth of the national population in a change that can be expected to impact religious diversity in America.