The ROC, as well as the primate thereof, officially ranks fifth in the Orthodox order of precedence, immediately below the four ancient Patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church, those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
The official Christianization of Kievan Rus' widely seen as the birth of the ROC is believed to have occurred in 988 through the baptism of the Kievan prince Vladimir and his people by the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate whose constituent part the ROC remained for the next six centuries, while the Kievan see remained in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until 1686.
is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches, in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox patriarchates.
Other churches of the Western tradition, including some Anglican provinces and some Lutheran churches, also commemorate him on 13 September.
However, certain Lutheran churches and Anglican provinces commemorate him on the traditional Eastern feast day of 27 January.
The ROC currently claims its exclusive jurisdiction over the Orthodox Christians, irrespective of their ethnic background, who reside in the former member republics of the Soviet Union, excluding Georgia and Armenia, although this claim is disputed in such countries as Estonia, Moldova and Ukraine and consequently parallel canonical Orthodox jurisdictions exist in those: Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church and Metropolis of Bessarabia, respectively.
It also exercises ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the autonomous Church of Japan and the Orthodox Christians resident in the People's Republic of China.
The ROC should not be confused with the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), another autocephalous Orthodox Church (since 1970, albeit not universally recognised in this status), that traces its existence in North America to the time of the Russian missionaries in Alaska (then part of the Russian Empire) in the late 18th century, and still adheres to the ROC liturgical tradition. The ROCOR was instituted in the 1920s by Russian communities outside then Communist Russia, which refused to recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate then de facto headed by Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky.