(REVIEW) Since its appearance in the mid-2000s, the podcast format has been one of the fastest growing media forms.
According to Forbes, at the beginning of this year, there were 5 million podcasts with 70 million episodes available. As of today, that number is likely higher. Various news and entertainment outlets, religious organizations and churches utilized the popularity of the podcast. The Orthodox Church is no exception!
Despite its demographic size (less than 1% of Americans identify as Orthodox Christians) and limited English-speaking-global Orthodox community, Orthodox Christian-themed podcasts are thriving in America.
There are dozens of them. Orthodox Christian churches might have not fully taken advantage of the digital era possibilities. However, in the podcast arena, the Orthodox Church is among the country’s leaders.
Ancient Faith Radio (the project of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America) is the leading producer of Orthodox podcasts. A pan-Orthodox outreach, quantity and quality of production positions Ancient Faith Radio as the powerhouse on the Orthodox podcasts market.
However, the decentralized nature of podcasts, spread of the internet and fairly easy editing process have led to an increase in Orthodox Christian podcasts. Countless Orthodox priests are using podcasts as a means of communication with their parishioners, providing news and updates on the most recent developments in their local parishes.
Orthodox Christian podcasts are the internet’s hidden treasure. Besides Orthodox Christian teachings, they can introduce us to Orthodox perspectives on contemporary issues and the history of the church, while giving voices to Orthodox priests and everyday Orthodox people.
With an abundance of Orthodox Christian podcasts a fingertip away, one might be lost in a labyrinth. Instead of going down the internet’s rabbit hole, here are five podcasts to listen to for insight into Orthodox Christian theology, Orthodox community in the United States and Sunday homilies.
‘Daily Orthodox Scriptures’
“Daily Orthodox Scriptures” is a podcast that takes us on a journey through the Bible in a year. In this endeavor, the host, Father Alexis Kouri, uses the Orthodox Study Bible. In addition to the regular podcast, there is “Daily Orthodox Scriptures for Kids,” with significantly shorter episodes read by kids.
In addition to daily Bible readings, Kouri accepts prayer requests on the “Daily Orthodox Scriptures” website, building a spiritual community with his listeners. He is the Orthodox version of Father Mike Scmitz, host of the popular “The Bible in a Year” podcast.
Daily Orthodox Scriptures is a go-to podcast for any inquirer, catechumen or cradle Orthodox!
‘Saint of the Day’
“Saint of the Day” podcast, produced by Ancient Faith Radio, is an excellent way to start your day. The podcast host, Deacon Jerome Atherholt, tells a story of venerable saints the Orthodox Church is commemorating each day. In a few minutes or less, a listener can learn about the lives, faith and struggle of Orthodox saints, such as Holy Righteous Martyr Paraskeve, St. Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska and St. Sava of Serbia, among others.
The “Saint of the Day” could be a short but excellent addition to “Daily Orthodox Scriptures.” It is a perfect podcast to inform and provide daily inspiration to Orthodox Christians.
“Everyday Orthodox” is another Ancient Faith Radio gem. Ask yourself: how well do you know your fellow parishioners: their stories, struggles or successes? The church is a family of individuals with unique life and faith journeys. Knowing each other’s lives makes us understand better our fellow parishioners, while deepening our relationship with them.
“Everyday Orthodox” is the podcast that does exactly that! The host, Elissa Bjeletich Davis, interviews everyday Orthodox people about their life stories. Judging by previous episode guests, everyone’s perspective is welcomed, from medicine doctors to yoga teachers.
Dive into stories of the Ritchey brothers, producers of an Orthodox musical children’s show; Kathryn Reetzke, the author of “God’s Saintly Friends”; or Frank Papatheofanis, the founder and president of the University of St. Katherine.
“Everyday Orthodox” podcast provides a platform and a voice to Orthodox Christians in the United States. It also shows diversity within the Orthodox Church and explores different paths converts took to come to Orthodox faith.
According to its website, “Be Transfigured” podcast’s mission is to restore the functional understanding of Orthodox Christian Faith, reminding listeners that “traditions have purpose and are not just a litany of tasks and obligations Orthodox must perform.” “Be Transfigured” host the Rev. Athanasios Haros shares his weekly homilies as well as occasional Bible studies.
In his teachings, Haros guides himself with the idea that Orthodox Christianity is a way of life, not a religion. His homilies reflect that! He invites his listeners to strive to live like saints, get over themselves and to embrace obedience. Haros also addresses societal issues such as poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economic crisis.
“Be Transfigured” episodes are short, on point and inspirational. They are not only an insight into the Church’s teachings, but each of them can serve as a contemplative exercise about burning life questions.
‘American Orthodox History’
Despite having less than 40 episodes and lasting for only three years, the “American Orthodox History” podcast is a classic. It is an exploration into the early American Orthodox past. The podcast paints a detailed picture of Orthodox Christian communities in the early American Republic.
Host Matthew Namee explores Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia and the Russian mission in America, among other themes. He also recounts stories of prominent Orthodox individuals such as Father Kallinikos Delveis, the first priest of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New York; Metropolitan Antony Bashir, well known for introducing English in Antiochian Church’s services and sermons; and Isabel Hapgood, one of the most prominent females in early American Orthodox History.
Due to the limited number of episodes, this podcast is the perfect crash course on the early history of American Orthodoxy.
The last episode was released in June 2012. Since then Matthew Namee has served as an editor of Orthodox History, the website committed to study the history of Orthodox Christianity in the modern world.
“American Orthodox History” is a must listen podcast for not just Orthodox Christians but also American historians, journalists covering the Orthodox Church and religious studies scholars.
There is plenty of time this weekend to start listening to these meaningful podcasts. What is your favorite Orthodox Christian podcast? Let us know in the comments section.