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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Highways and Hedges Part III - The Charismatic Independent Sacramental/Liturgical Churches Part 2

Part One of this particular section dealt with the background for many of the groups we will now be discussing in detail here.   These groups all have a few things in common:

1.  They are either openly Pentecostal/charismatic in expression, or they are made up of people who possess those convictions

2.  All are doctrinally conservative.

3.  Many of them also have as their memberships a large number of former Pentecostals and Evangelicals, or they have disaffected Roman Catholic or Episcopalian charismatics in their leadership who felt more spiritually at liberty to practice their convictions as an independent communion.

That being said, again there are some groups we are leaving out.  For one, the Mar Thoma Orthodox Church, as led by Veron Ashe (Mar Enoch).   Although Ashe is a former Pentecostal, and even after becoming an independent Orthodox he was welcomed for a short time on TBN and other mainstream Evangelical venues, Ashe is also affiliated with a New Ager, Joseph Narsai (Vreneburg) of the Federation of Saint Thomas Christians, which mixes Eastern Orthodox and Hindu/New Age mysticism.   Again too, we also are omitting the Convergence groups such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church, because they are a communion of over 100,000 now and thus do not qualify as a "Highways and Hedges" church.   Reiterating those points, we are now ready to proceed.

1.  The Church of the East Tradition and Bishop John Marion Stanley

The first subset of communions we want to examine are those which come from the legacy of Bishop John Marion Stanley (1923-living), a former priest in a small Anglican communion called the Free Protestant Episcopal Church who was also a full participant in the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960's and 1970's, which is reflected in the church he founded in 1959 in Washington State, the Orthodox Church of the East.   According to Karl Pruter's Old Catholic Sourcebook (New York:  Garland, 1983), Stanley was consecrated a bishop by Charles Dennis Boltwood (1889-1985) of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church (Pruter, 82).   Stanley took the episcopal name of Mar Yokhannan, and his church was described as being a benefactor of the legacy of the Assyrian Church of the East with a charismatic emphasis, as many of its members did believe and practice such charismatic phenomena as glossolalia and divine healing.   It is not known how many congregations of this group are left, but an active community still exists on Vashon Island, WA, today.  Stanley is still living as well, although in declining health and advanced age. 


Bishop John Marion Stanley, or Mar Yokhannan, of the Orthodox Church of the East


On April 2, 1977, a bishop associated with Stanley, Bertram Schlossberg (Mar Uzziah) was released by Stanley from "all canonical obedience" and incorporated the Autocephalous Syro-Chaldean Church of North America, headquartered in Connecticut.  In 1983, this communion claimed 4 parishes served by 14 clergy and 200 parishioners (Pruter, 82).  In recent years, this group has a new name, as it is now known as the Evangelical Apostolic Church of North America, a name it adapted in 1992 (noted in The Biblical and Ecclesial Teachings Of the Evangelical Apostolic Church of North America, page 1).   Also, in recent years, they have been active in the mission field, in particular in Korea, and have also acquired as part of their membership Archdeacon Ben Torrey, who is the grandson of famed Evangelical scholar R.A. Torrey.  On their website, http://www.eacna.org/, they list 4 active congregations, including 2 in Connecticut (Rockville and Stanford), one in New York (Tuckahoe), and one in South Carolina (Fort Mill).  They still are open to charismatic expression, although not much position has been taken on it since their earlier days.    Their statement from the Biblical and Ecclesial Teachings on this reads as follows:

True worship is the result of complete submission to the Holy Spirit in any worship service, whether it has a prescribed form or not.  Unprepared services can be restrictive and binding; set forms can and should be used with spontaneity, allowing for complete, yet disciplined, freedom in the Holy Spirit.  (ibid, p. 14)


Like the parent body, the EACNA also uses the Assyrian Church Qurbana as its form of liturgy, and they also do not ordain women, although they do have married clergy.  Both groups also uphold traditional marriage, and homosexuality is condemned as a sinful lifestyle on Biblical principles.  


The current headquarters for this group is in South Carolina, where Archdeacon Torrey is the main administrator.  Torrey also coordinates the Korean mission work through Four River Hill of Refuge Family. 


 A third group sharing this same legacy is the Catholic Apostolic Church of Davis, located in Davis, CA.  This is a fruit of the ministry of Elijah Coady, or Mar Elijah, and as far as can be ascertained, this group never expanded any further than the local parish in Davis.  Coady was a dynamic evangelist, similar in method I am told to many of the great salvation/healing evangelists of the 1950's, and he also was sought-after in Pentecostal circles even up to his repose in 2010.   The most notorious event Coady is associated with though regards Christian comedian Mike Warnke, a former Satanist who was born again in the early 1970's and wrote a book about his experiences called The Satan Seller.  Many Evangelical leaders tried to debunk Warnke, and as a result in the mid-1990's he was all but blackballed by the Evangelical establishment.  Upon searching, Warnke was received by Coady, and ordained a priest by him.  Today, Warnke is in communion with the Convergence movement, and is part of the Evangelical Episcopal Church.


After Coady's death, his small flock in California was sustained by a layman, Henry Bruneau.  I corresponded with Bruneau to obtain more information, and in a letter dated April 23, 2012, that he sent me, I was informed that the Davis congregation had dwindled down to basically 3 families, and eventually the parish disbanded and its membership was absorbed by another communion, the Celtic Orthodox Church based in San Dolay France, under its bishop Mael.  That led me to look into the Celtic Orthodox Church more, and I contacted one of their priests in the US, Fr. Paul DuPuis, and he was very gracious and helpful in providing more detail as to what happened to the Davis group.   In short, Coady's ministry has lived on, but his church did not.  Bruneau in his letter also mentioned that their group was greatly influenced by the Catholic Apostolic Movement in Scotland ("Irvingites") in the 1800's, and they fully believed in the five-fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11.   It is really a tremendous shame this group was not allowed to blossom more, but they did leave behind a fantastic legacy.


A fourth group in this tradition was independent of Stanley's line, but was still important to this study because they are a Syriac-rite communion that also has ties to the Charismatic Renewal movement.  This group calls itself the Eastern Catholic Diocese, and is based in San Jose, CA.  They are under the leadership of a Metropolitan Archbishop, Mar Mikhael, and have a long history going back to 1947 in the US.   Their first primate, according to their website, was a German-born metropolitan, Mar David of Edessa, who assumed the metropolitanate in 1934.   The current Metropolitan, Mar Mikhael, is also of German origin and has ties to the German nobility.  Mar Mikhael had conducted missions work overseas in China, and was imprisoned and tortured by the Communist government there - today he sustains physical disabilities as a result of that experience.  He was also ordained to the priesthood in 1968, and on December 29, 1974, he assumed the office of Metropolitan of this communion.  To include him here, Mar Mikhael also has been actively involved in the Charismatic renewal movement since 1972.  Much of this information was taken from the church website, http://easterncatholicchurch.org/index.html, although I have also spoken and corresponded with Mar Mihael myself during a period between 2004-2005, as at one time I was contemplating ordination through him.   However, personally, I found Mar Mikhael to be somewhat abrupt, a little self-pitying, and he tended to react to people who disagreed with him almost with contempt, which is why I did not pursue any further efforts with his church.  This is not to say Mar Mikhael doesn't have his good qualities though, because he does have a remarkable testimony of his ordeals in the Chinese prison, and he has effectively led a diocese for almost 50 years.   Also, he is a strong defender of orthodoxy, and has produced (provided you can get them!) a wonderful series of DVD's of his television broadcasts from the San Jose area that give unique perspective on a lot of issues.   As for the demographics of the Eastern Catholic Archdiocese itself, it is not known how many parishes, etc., they have, although at least three (two in California and one in Hawaii) have been documented, and they also have communion with a group of parishes in Germany as well.   It is not a big group, in other words, but is still active. 




His Beatitude Mar Mikhael, Metropolitan of the Eastern Catholic Archdiocese


2.  Independent Communions Following The Byzantine Rite


There are two openly charismatic groups that follow the Byzantine Rite that I want to mention, as well as one non-charismatic group of former Evangelicals.   Although many Charismatics who came into the sacramental/liturgical tradition tended to gravitate more towards the Syriac liturgies, some did follow the Greek as well, and a couple of those are of note here.


The first of these is the older of the three groups, being named the American Orthodox Catholic Church, with its Archbishop, Stephen Kochones.   I was in touch with Archbishop Kochones many years ago (around 1991) and at one point I had an abundant amount of information on his church as he published many small booklets that contained various aspects of their church teachings.  Unfortunately, I misplaced those, and regrettably I have had to piece information together here from the sources I do have.   Kochones, although born a Greek Orthodox, was actually a former minister in the Independent Assemblies of God (a latter-rain denomination with Scandinavian roots that came into existence in the 1940's) into which he was ordained a minister in 1956.   However, he was also one of the very first Evangelical Protestants to begin the pilgrimage to a more liturgical/sacramental expression of his faith, and he was consecrated a bishop by Bishop David Baxter (who received Apostolic succession from Aftimios Ofiesh's line) in 1980.   However, he started a small liturgical communion called the Catholic Church of God in 1969 that not only incorporated the Greek Byzantine liturgy, but also incorporated elements of Hebraic and charismatic worship as well (Pruter, 71-72).   In the late 1980's, the Catholic Church of God officially changed its name to the American Orthodox Catholic Church, and today it still has a vibrant parish located at 810 East Walnut Street in Pasadena, CA.  


In preparation for this article, I wrote the church to see if I could obtain another set of the position booklets, and one of their priests, Rev. Perez, did send me a doctrinal statement of the AOCC on May 3rd.  In their statement of beliefs, the AOCC reaffirms the Orthodox faith as defined in the historic Creeds (Athanasian, Apostles, and Nicene) but also seeks to define Catholic doctrine in Hebraic terminology, which it does effectively.  As a result, they hold Liturgy on Saturday, rather than Sunday (interesting enough, the first contact I had with this group came not through independent Catholic sources, but rather through the Bible Sabbath Association, as they are listed in the Association's 1990 Directory of Sabbath-Observing Groups which I had a copy of at the time), and also observe some Judaic feast days.  In addition, they also observe the ordinance of footwashing regularly, and hold to the ten-percent tithing principle for its members.   As for its charismatic emphasis, that can be found in #28 of their Statement of Beliefs - without quoting it, they affirm the exercise of spiritual gifts as well as the Five-Fold Apostolic ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11.   As of #35 of their Statement of Beliefs, they are also unique among these groups in that they hold to a premillenial eschatology.   As of 1983, the AOCC was documented as having 4 parishes and around 400 members.  Recent numbers have not been given, and unfortunately the AOCC has very little Web presence, unusual considering the ready access of the internet and all its resources.


The second group that observes a Byzantine liturgical worship format is fairly recent in origin, but a dynamic and seemingly growing communion, the Charismatic Orthodox Church.  The roots of the COC go back to 1998, when Georgia native Mark Kersey felt led to study the writings of the Church Fathers, and like so many of us who have made this pilgrimage, he embarked on the establishment of the COC in St. Augustine, FL.  I actually had the privilege of getting to meet this remarkable minister, who since is known as Bishop Simeon John, and in 2005 we met in Clearwater and had lunch.   He is a very down-to-earth man, a self-described "redneck," and he also is very upfront and honest when he communicates with people, which actually made his visit (which he also did on his own volition, which speaks volumes) a real blessing.   Although he came from a Jehovah's Witness background, Bishop Simeon John later was born again and became part of a Pentecostal denomination and was active in ministry in that group for some time.   When he formed the COC, it at first was often identified with the Convergence Movement, which Bishop Simeon John does not concur with - he believes he is restoring the New Testament practices of the Church, and that the Orthodox Church is the closest expression of that and therefore he chose to be part of it based on the study he undertook.   The COC is, unlike other jurisdictions, not seeking to be formally part of mainstream Orthodoxy, but instead maintains that God gave it the vision of the ministry it is to perform.   Although reverently faithful to the Byzantine Liturgy of Saint Chrysostom as the basis for its worship, it is also very much open to Pentecostal spirituality and does incorporate those elements as well into its worship.  And, like Bishop Kochones, Bishop Simeon John also incorporates elements of Hebraic worship into his liturgies as well.  In the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_Orthodox_Church), the COC is listed as having parishes in several states, including Florida, Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas, as well as missionary activity in the Phillipines and Sierra Leone in Africa.   I personally see the COC having steady, although not explosive, growth in the near future, as Bishop Simeon John is an anointed leader of his church and his people are very well-discipled and vibrant spiritually.   The episcopal see (my terminology) of the church is in St. Augustine, FL, although they do maintain a seminary, Theosis College, in Indiana.   As a communion, the COC is young yet, but it does have a good future ahead of it provided it stays the course. 



Bishop Simeon John (Mark Kersey) of the Charismatic Orthodox Church, visiting the Holy Land in this picture


The third group under discussion in this section is the Evangelical Orthodox Church, which is the surviving remnant of the same group led by Fr. Peter Gillquist and the other Evangelicals who in 1987 entered the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese as the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission.  A minority of the EOC decided not to formally enter the Orthodox Church, and still maintain an independent communion today.   Their early history is basically identical to that described in Peter Gillquist's book, Becoming Orthodox (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1989), as they were at one time one and the same.   They maintain a website at http://www.evangelicalorthodox.org/, and they have 15 parishes worldwide that are part of their communion.   Their stands on issues are fairly conservative and traditional - strongly pro-life, upholding traditional marriage, and also professing the historic Creeds of the Church as their basis of faith.   They also have an all-male clergy, although they do order deaconesses too.  And, by all appearances, it appears they also allow for a married priesthood as well.   As for charismatic worship and expression, the EOC does not have a statement either advocating or condemning it, although it does say that "Worship in the EOC strives to hold in balance liturgy and spontaneity, antiquity and modernity, exuberance and dignity. All of our forms of prayer and worship are primarily based on those which were developed during the earlier, undivided centuries of Christian history," which means to me that they are open, but not endorsing.  That makes some logical sense, being many of the clergy in this communion were themselves former Pentecostals and charismatics at some point, but unlike the group that became the AEOM, they don't seem to be critical of Charismatics and are not inclined to totally eschew their past like some of the former do.  


The presiding Bishop of the EOC is Bishop Jerold Kliege, who has a Mennonite Brethren background.  He is based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is part of Holy Covenant Parish.  The majority of the EOC's parishes appear to be in the area of Indiana and Illinois, although they are also found nationwide and in several foreign fields. 


Presiding Bishop Jerold Kliege of the Evangelical Orthodox Church

Holy Covenant EOC, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada - the Presiding Bishop's home parish



3.  Roman-Rite Charismatic Jurisdictions - the Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada


Although there has been an active Charismatic Renewal movement in the Roman Catholic Church since 1968, some Roman-rite Catholics who had charismatic leanings chose to be independent as well, and the most notable of those groups is a Canadian-based communion called the Charismatic Catholic Church.   Although in reality the CCC doesn't consider itself outside of the Roman Catholic Church, structurally it actually is just that, despite the fact they have petitioned for many years for a "Charismatic Rite" in the Roman Church.   The CCC notes its origins as being in 1968, when its Patriarch, Archbishop Andre Barbeau of Quebec, instituted it.   He received Apostolic succession in his consecration as Bishop by two Old Catholic hierarchs, and held the post of Patriarch until his repose in 1994, when the current Patriarch, Andre Letellier, was elevated.   They have about 4 parishes in the US, including one I once was involved with briefly in 2004-2005 in Dunedin, FL, Holy Apostles Parish.  By personal observation, their worship is based on the post-Vatican II Roman Missal (Novus Ordo), and also incorporates many Pentecostal elements, such as praise choruses, some Hebraic/Messianic worship, and also the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit.  I served as a subdeacon under Bishop Angelo (Fr. William Nicolaro) at Holy Apostles, and my experience with them is that they are a group primarily consisting of people of Roman Catholic backgrounds, although a number of disaffected Episcopalians and also former Evangelical and Pentecostal members were found in this particular parish.  All clergy can marry, unlike in the Roman Catholic Church, and for the most part they follow (as do many of these communions) an Ignatian model of the episcopacy - the bishop is also the rector of the local parish.  They have also an open communion policy, in which validly-baptized Christians can receive the Eucharist.   On other issues, they are fairly conservative doctrinally, upholding a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and Biblical inerrancy stance on many issues.  And, although they feel they are "in communion" with Rome, in reality they practice many things that Rome does not (married episcopacy, etc).   In recent years, another group has gone into schism also calling itself "Catholic Charismatic Church," but other than common origins relations between the two groups are not the best.  As mentioned, they are based out of Quebec, where the Patriarch of the CCC resides, but they do have approximately four parishes in the US - in Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Massachusetts.  



The Marian Shrine at Bethany Catholic Charismatic Catholic Church in Brimfield, MA


4.  Primitive Catholic and Related Jurisdictions


I mentioned about Primitive Catholics and gave a brief synopsis of them in the first part of this article, and there are two groups that I want to focus on in particular regarding those.


The first group is one with which I identified until recently, and still maintain good relations with because they really are a fine group of people, and that is the Synod of Saint Timothy.   The Synod was formed in 2007 by a small group of clergy, many of whom were from Evangelical Protestant backgrounds or they were disaffected Episcopalians and others.   Like many Primitive Catholics, these people sought to return Christianity to its roots, free of the legalism and bondage brought on by centuries of unnecessary bureaucracy in the Church yet retaining the liturgies, customs, etc., of the early Church.   Unlike David Bercot and other pioneers in this movement though, the people who organized the Synod did not see an issue with using historic liturgies, and therefore allowed for that diversity.   There were four founding bishops of the Synod, and they were as follows:



Mor Michael

(Michael Joe Thannisch)

Mor Michael is the current bishop and rector of B'nai Avraham Congregation in LaPorte, TX.   He has a background in the Episcopal Church, but was also involved with the Charismatic Renewal movement for many years, and did a lot of missionary work in Latin America.   A Texas German, Bishop Michael over the years has also become a personal friend, and his Christian testimony is one of the most genuine I have seen, especially among the episcopacy of many churches.   His congregation in Texas follows a modified Mozarabic Liturgy, with some Hebraic and Syriac elements.  And, it is a spiritually vibrant congregation as well.



Bishop Paul Stanley


Bishop Stanley and his wife, Deaconess Susan (Sister Brigid) are the bishop and rectors of All Saints Parish in Rome, GA.   The Stanleys come from a nondenominational Pentecostal background, and Sr. Brigid also oversees a prayer order, the Order of Companions, which provides an intercessory prayer ministry for its members.  All Saints Parish uses as its liturgical format the 1928 Anglican Book of Common Prayer liturgy, sans the ex patre Filioque clause in the Nicene Creed (all the Synod parishes use the Eastern form of the Creed, as do I personally).  Bishop Stanley and Sr. Brigid also live a semi-monastic lifestyle at their Georgia home, and as I have personally gotten to know them over the years, they have been a tremendous source of encouragement and prayer support to me personally.   Bishop Stanley also broadcasts messages on the local radio, and they are available online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/IsaiahTwentySix.  



Mar Martin Severus

(Bishop Craig Davis)


Mar Martin Severus, from a Roman Catholic background, is based out of Hagerstown, IN, where with a Synod priest, Fr. Robert Lyons, he shepherds the Christian Mission of the Ascension.   This parish uses the Syriac Liturgy as the basis for its Mass, and Fr. Lyons also has an active hospital chaplaincy as an outreach.   Recently, Fr. Lyons has been working more with another Synod Bishop, Chuck Huckaby of Knoxville, TN (from the Reformed-Calvinist tradition originally) and they are part of a new but interconnected jurisdiction called the Diocese of Saint Andrew as of 2009.  Fr. Rob is a very gifted liturgist, and also is now rector of St Boniface Mission in Indiana, which unfortunately is in the process of disbanding, which I discovered upon reading their website.  More about Fr. Rob's current ministry can be accessed at www.churchodyssey.com .  I wanted to note as well that much of the information I have gotten on the Primitive Catholic movement is due in large part to Fr. Rob, who has done an exceptional job chronicling it.  



Fr. Rob Lyons


Since the Synod is an loosely-organized fellowship, no actual statistical data exists as far as membership goes, but they are definitely a "Highways and Hedges" church, no doubt.   Also, there is no central headquarters, although the Synod does meet approximately every three years or so to elect a Presiding Bishop and take care of ordinations and other business.   However, they are an exceptional group of people who I have maintained close friendships with for many years now, and I pray for their continued growth and development.  For more information on the Synod, please visit their website at http://christiansynod.webs.com/.


Although the Synod is one of the most visible of the organized Primitive Catholic groups, it is by no means the only one.  There is one other calling itself the Primitive Catholic Church, and it is similar in belief and practice to the Synod of Saint Timothy.   They do have a website that articulates their beliefs in detail - they are conservative, Biblical, and don't consider themselves a "denomination,"  but rather designate themselves as "pre-denominational" in true Primitive Catholic fashion.   That webpage is at http://www.primitivecatholic.com/index.html.  Another group, the Ante-Nicene Christian Fellowship, existed as an independent body until it was absorbed into a Continuing Anglican jurisdiction a few years back.   For more detailed information on Primitive Catholicism, I recommend Fr.Lyons' article series, "The Primitive Catholic Faith," which I used as a reference here for research and can be found at www.members.aol.com/anglicanfather/tracts.html.  


And, there are probably many more groups out there that could be added to this brief synopsis, and perhaps as the project develops and we discover them more, we will elaborate on those.  However, this will give an idea as to a sampling of many liturgical/sacramental groups that also are either openly Charismatic, or they are either founded by former Pentecostals or are open to Charismatic expressions of faith.  This is a work in progress, and by no means is complete, but hopefully this will serve as a good introduction.  And, that concludes this part of the "Highways and Hedges" project article.