Below is a letter from Archbishop Michael (his biography is here) from December 22, 1950 in the original Greek with a working English translation.  There were many instances at the time of Greeks coming to the midwest and mountain states and marrying Americans in non-Orthodox churches since in most places there were no Orthodox churches at that time (I wonder if, for example, the parents of the Andrews Sisters were married in this sort of environment in Minnesota over a hundred years ago).  In the letter Archbishop Michael addresses the situation and says that out of oikonomia marriages in non-Orthodox Christian churches before the end of 1940 would be recognized as church marriages although purely civil weddings would not be.  Here is the English with the original Greek below.  Our friends at the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA) may also be doing something with this so make sure to keep up with their site.


DECEMBER 22, 1950

To the most devout Presiding Priests and the Governing Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities of the Sacred Archdiocese of North and South America.


During our visits to the Greek Orthodox Communities of America and from the regular correspondence of the Sacred Archdiocese, we have ascertained, that there are a great number of Greek Americans, who were married in other churches, not Orthodox, which makes it very difficult for them in their relationship with the community where they live.

The Sacred Archdiocese looks with sympathy for those Orthodox brothers of ours and with affection desires to liberate them from the situation they find themselves in. For this and pushed by such sympathy, we tend toward leniency and condescension to help them, and we authorize, that the weddings that took place in non-Orthodox churches until the end of the year 1940, be recognised, and those concerned to be able to have and to exercise freely all community privileges and responsibilities, as the other Greek American members.

For those who were married in a civil ceremony only the above recognition does not apply. The civil ceremony alone is not enough for the Orthodox Church. Those married in a civil ceremony only are not able to have community and religious privileges, unless they also marry in an Orthodox Church.

For this reason we ask the Priests of our Communities, to approach them with affection and convince them, that it is easy to rectify their situation and to arrange for their wedding In addition, we wish with all our heart that you pass the joyful days of the Dodekaemeron with health and the Lord’s every blessing, as far as the new year is concerned, it is for us always prosperous and blessed by God, we end.

With much agape Fervent blessings of the Lord The Archbishop Of America Michael

The Seal of the Greek Archdiocese Of North and South America