His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah, was born James Paffhausen on October 20, 1959, in Chicago, IL, and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. While still a child, his family later settled in La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. He was received into the Holy Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego. Later, he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was instrumental in establishing an Orthodox Christian Fellowship. After completing studies at UCSC, James attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988. He went on to pursue studies towards a PhD at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley but interrupted those studies to spend a year in Russia.
In Moscow, working for Russkiy Palomnik (”The Russian Pilgrim”) at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, he was introduced to life in the Russian church, in particular monastic life. Later that year, he joined Valaam Monastery, having found a spiritual father in the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Pankratiy. It was Archimandrite Pankratiy’s spiritual father, the Elder Kyrill at Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, who blessed James to become a Hieromonk. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name, Jonah. Returning to California, Fr. Jonah served a number of missions and was later given the obedience to establish a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The monastery, initially located in Point Reyes Station, CA, recently moved to Manton in Northern California, near Redding. During his time building up the monastic community, Fr. Jonah also worked to establish missions in Merced, Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, Susanville, and other communities in California, as well as in Kona, HI.
In the spring of 2008, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Fr. Jonah to the rank of Archimandrite and he was given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibilities of auxiliary bishop and chancellor for the Diocese of the South. Metropolitan Jonah’s episcopal election took place on September 4, 2008, at an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Earlier in the summer, his candidacy was endorsed by the Diocese of the South’s Diocesan Council, shortly after he had participated in the diocese’s annual assembly. Metropolitan Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Fort Worth and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX, on Saturday, November 1, 2008. On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, he was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, in Pittsburgh, PA. In July of 2012, Jonah resigned as the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of America and was given the title “His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah, former Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All-America and Canada”. Metropolitan Jonah was later received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in June of 2015.
Father Silouan Brown is the founder and director of Orthodox Africa. Father Silouan converted to Holy Orthodoxy in 1997. After serving four years in the United States Marine Corps he was tonsured a Rassophore monk in 2012 by Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Church Abroad. Father Silouan was ordained to the Subdiaconate in 2016 by Metropolitan Jonah at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint John in Washington, DC. Father Silouan then was ordained to the Holy Diaconate at St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Stafford Virginia and tonsured into the small schema at the Holy Monastery of St. Demetrios in Spotsylvania, Virginia in 2020. Father Silouan has a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from the University of South Florida.
Subdeacon Nektarios converted to Holy Orthodoxy in 2004 and was baptized by Father Josiah Trenham at Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. After serving five years in the United States Marine Corps he moved to San Diego, California, where he attended National University and attained his Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Global Studies. Nektarios moved to Washington, D.C. in 2016, where shortly after moving to Washington, he was ordained a Reader by Metropolitan Hilarion. Nektarios was then ordained to the Subdiaconate in 2019 by Metropolitan Jonah. In addition to working for Orthodox Africa. He is also currently pursuing a Masters of History Degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and a Masters of Arts Degree in Ancient and Classical History from the American Military University in West Virginia.
Father Seraphim is a priest within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He is the current pastor of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKinney, Texas. He has been an Orthodox Christian Priest for over 25 years. His various ministries during his priesthood include parish ministry, prison ministry and international ministry. Father Seraphim has travelled to Africa on multiple occasions working with Orthodox Africa. He also actively oversees and writes for his parish website which includes hundreds of edifying articles on Orthodox Christianity.
Father Peter is an Orthodox Priest within the Orthodox Church in America, in the Diocese of Alaska. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 2001. Father Peter has a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Speech Communications with an emphasis in Organization Communications and a Masters of Divinity Degree from Saint Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Athanasia has worked in the field of administrative support for 35 years. Most recently she is an independent contractor for Aurora Philanthropic Consulting where she provides off-site executive assistant and office management services to the firm’s partners who are located in the Greater Philadelphia area and who have clients in multiple states. She volunteers her time providing secretarial support to Fr. Andrew Bartek, Rector of Holy Assumption Orthodox Church in Marblehead, Ohio. She also serves on the Orthodox Church in America Diocese of New York & New Jersey Diocesan Council and the Council of her parish. Athanasia has taught Church school and adult Bible studies for 20 years and has served on various other church boards.
Olga was born in Vitebsk, Belarus, to a pious Orthodox Christian family. Olga and her family moved to the United States in 2001. Olga graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Vitebsk State Technological University, Belarus and a Masters in Business Administration from Virginia Tech University. Olga has been in the Accounting, Treasury, and Financial Analysis industry for over twenty years. She currently resides in the state of Virginia.
Andrea has been working with Orthodox Africa since the inception of the organization. Currently, Andrea is Orthodox Africa's special projects coordinator and working alongside her on all Orthodox Africa special projects is her husband Subdeacon Christopher. Andrea and her husband currently resides in Dallas, Texas.