Origins of the Church
The Orthodox Church was formed on the day of Pentecost. The word "Orthodox" is derived from two Greek words, "orthos", meaning correct, and "doxa", meaning belief. The church follows the teachings of the early fathers in an unbroken tradition. She is the original form of Christianity that emphasizes Apostolic tradition and continuity nearly a 2,000 year history. The Orthodox church is the church handed down by Christ through his Apostles.
The followers of Jesus were first named Christians in Antioch. These Christians were also first called Catholics in Antioch around AD 98. The word Catholic comes from a Greek word katholikos which means universal. The Orthodox are the original Christians of the Catacombs, the first Catholics, and the Church of the Apostles. The Orthodox Saints, Martyrs, Patriarchs and Bishops have forged an unbroken chain to the day of Pentecost and the Apostles.
All Christian churches, including that of Rome, were part of the unity of Orthodoxy through the first 1,000 years of Christianity. The Church of Rome, now called the Catholic Church separated from the unity of the church by making heretical claims for the earthly powers of her Pope (Patriarch) at the beginning of the 11th century and completed the break with the Orthodox by the 13th century.
The Protestant reformation began the break from the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. As the centuries passed, many contradicting theologies were formed. The Church of "one faith" faded away. These early schisms from the Roman Church were centered around perceived earthly Papal powers and the continued changing theology of the Roman Church. Sadly, these reforms resulted in the eventual formation of thousands of Protestant denominations each with their own theology.
Of the 5 original churches that were formed by the Apostles through their travels four remained Orthodox. These are the ancient churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Only the Church of Rome following the erroneous teachings of her Popes left the original Apostolic Church. Today there are over 250 million people who are members of the various Orthodox churches.
The Orthodox Church is universal (catholic) and diversified. From the ancient Churches of Africa and the Mid East to the more recent Churches in the Americas these Churches follow the unchanged faith passed on by Jesus through his Apostles. The church directly follows the teaching of the Apostles, the wisdom of the early fathers and the cannons of the Ecumenical Councils.
The various Orthodox Churches all have Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Laity, and an unbroken chain of Monastic life which started with the desert fathers of the third century.