The Apostolic Faith
After Jesus' Resurrection, apostles and missionaries travelled throughout the known world spreading the Gospel and establishing local churches. Soon five major centers of the Faith emerged: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. In A.D. 1054, the Roman church broke from this united Church, a break which reflected its deviation from the Apostolic Faith. Then 500 years later Protestant churches began breaking away from Rome on account of Rome's manifest errors, but they fell into errors of their own. The original Church, however, has remained united in the Apostolic Faith since the first century in accordance with Christ's promise that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church. The Nicene Creed, composed in the fourth century in response to various heresies, summarizes Her Apostolic Faith. The Church is now striving to bring America to Orthodoxy two hundred years after Orthodoxy first arrived on America's Alaskan shores in 1794.
Of the 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, some 3 million live in the United States. Even though it is the second largest body of Christians in the world, relatively few Americans are aware of the Orthodox Church. In the 20th century alone, more than 20 million Orthodox Christians have been martyred for the Faith, primarily under Communism. For this and for Her suffering under the pagan Roman emperors and Muslim conquerors, She is called "the Church of the Martyrs". She is also the Church of some of history's greatest theologians, scholars, and writers - men such as John Chysostom, Augustine, Athanasius, Ambrose, Dostoyevsky, and Solzhenitsyn.
Lives of Ss. Peter and Paul
Saint Peter traditionally is regarded as the leader of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was intimately connected with the earthly life and ministry of our Lord, and after His death tried to preserve the spiritual legacy left by Jesus to his followers. In the course of his missionary journeys, Peter founded the Church in Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Saint Peter is regarded by the Church as the first leader of Antioch, and the present-day Patriarch of Antioch is his successor in that Apostolic See. Saint Paul is the greatest of the missionaries. The marvelous story of conversion on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-22) is hardly more striking than the rest of his life, one of the great adventure stories of history. The account of Paul's missionary journeys and the letters he wrote to the Churches he founded, form an important part of the New Testament. He traveled over vast areas of the Roman world, preaching Christ, and fashioning the Christian Faith for all time. He called himself an Apostle, and he was the greatest of them, even though he was not of the Twelve Apostles. Saints Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome, during the reign of the Emperor Nero, about 67 A.D.