c/o St. Michael’s House, 1200 NE 81st Terr., Kansas City, MO 64118-1361
The Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion is an association of episcopally led jurisdictions from Lutheran and Anglican and ideally Western Roman traditions. They are affiliated together because they share the desire for visible, corporate reunion of their jurisdictions with the Roman Catholic Church. They are open to a variety of options as to how that reunion (and reestablishment of communion) might take place. In the meantime the communion has brought the several member churches together for shared worship, service, the proclamation of the Gospel, and work toward reunion.
The communion is currently led by Archbishop Irl A. Gladfelter who serves as its Metropolitan Archbishop. Gladfelter is also the metropolitan-Archbishop of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church.
Not reported. At present, the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church is the only church directly affiliated with the communion; however, it is in communion with three other jurisdictions of like mind: the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the Traditional Church of England, and the Evangelical Marian Catholic Church
Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion.
704 Old Harrods Creek Rd., Louisville, KY 40223
Following the death of Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora (1878–1958), who had pioneered the Old Catholic movement in North America, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church that he founded split into several independent churches. These were the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America–Diocese of Michigan and the Central States, the Western Regionary Diocese (Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America) Church, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, and the Old Roman Catholic Church–Diocese of Florida within the Historic See of Caer Glow.
In 1981 the Diocese of Michigan and the Central States sent its then vicar general, Right Rev. Donald R. Currie, to Holland with the purpose of informing the Church of Utrecht on developments in North America and to probe the possibilities of a renewed dialogue between the North American leadership and the see of the Utrecht Union of Churches.
The archbishop of Utrecht, Marinus Kok, noted that before a dialog could begin, an entity that was representative of the various Old Catholic bodies would need to be identified. Taking their cue from the Archbishop’s observation, the Diocese of Michigan and the Central States initiated a dialogue among the groups that carried an unbroken lineage from Archbishop Carfora. An initial gathering of prelates was held in September 1982, and the attending bishops formed the Council of Independent Catholic Bishops, which later changed its name to Council of Old Roman Catholic Bishops (1999). Abp. Frederick L. Pyman of the Western Regionary Diocese and Abp. James H. Rogers, the Old Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, served as the first and second chairmen of the Council, respectively. Members of the council share common Catholic beliefs and practices and a documented apostolic succession from Archbishop Carfora.
The Council has as its goals the fostering of communication between the member churches, in order to lead their prelates into a greater experience of unity, and to expand the Old Catholic movement in North America. It does not interfere with the internal workings of its member jurisdictions. The members have agreed not to contribute to the proliferation of the episcopacy, an ongoing problem within the larger Old Catholic movement. A major accomplishment of the Council has been the development of an Old Catholic seminary.
Most Rev. John J. Humphreys, bishop of Florida, presently serves as chairman of the Council, and Most Rev. Francis P. Facione, bishop of Michigan and the Central States, is the executive director.
The Council includes the six bishops of the Council’s several founding bodies.
Thomas Aquinas Old Roman Catholic Seminary, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Council of Old Roman Catholic Bishops. www.orccna.org/ourfaith/indbishops.htm.
c/o The American Old Catholic Church, 14100 E Jewell Ave., Aurora, CO 80012
As its name implies, the Ecumenical Communion of Catholic and Apostolic Churches (ECCAC) is an ecumenical fellowship of churches of the Christian tradition. It was founded in the mid-1990s to bear witness through worship, ministry, and life to the essential unity that already spiritually exists among all the branches of the historic Catholic faith. It recognizes that the one true Holy Catholic Church includes equally the Roman Catholic communion and all those in communion with it, all of the autocephalous communions and jurisdictions of the Eastern Orthodox Church, those provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion which hold to orthodox, historic apostolic faith and order (including the “Continuing Church” movements within Anglicanism), and the orthodox, valid communions of the Old Catholic Church and other valid and orthodox branches or autocephalous communions with true apostolic succession, faith and worship. It considers all ecclesial communions that can clearly trace their lines of apostolic succession and hold to historic, apostolic, and Catholic order and practice in their faith and worship (as defined by the ancient and undivided church and reflected in the teaching of the first seven Ecumenical Councils of the early Christian Church) as valid and orthodox.
In practical terms, it supports unity while embracing a diversity of historic, orthodox Catholic liturgies, as used by the major branches of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity from the beginning. These would include the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Novus Ordo of the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican liturgies, Western Rite Orthodox liturgies, and others recognized as expressions of rites used historically within the broad scope of orthodox, Catholic Christianity worldwide.
The ECCAC believes that Christian unity can best be restored by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first stages of its existence that includes as an inherent component the affirmation of:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed word of God, “containing all things necessary to salvation” and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
- The creeds, i.e., the Apostles’ Creed, as the baptismal symbol; the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith; and the Athanasian Creed, or Quicunque Vult, as of great value in articulating the essentials of true Catholic and orthodox Christian faith.
- The sacraments as outward signs that confer the very grace they signify. These sacraments were ordained by Christ and are at least seven in number: baptism, anointing the sick, confirmation, matrimony, the Holy Eucharist, holy orders, and reconciliation.
- The Historic Episcopate, locally adopted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the people.
- The Seven General or Ecumenical Councils only, which are recognized by the whole of Catholic Christendom, held respectively in Nicea (325 c.e.), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (430), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople (553), Constantinople (680), and Nicea (787).
At a meeting in Brooklyn, New York, in 1995, all of the bishops of the Ecumenical Communion consecrated each other, and subsequent newly affiliating bishops are free to mingle lines of apostolic succession with all members of the communion. At a meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in 1996, ECCAC members accepted a set of protocols or agreements by which the communion is governed. All members of the communion are considered to be in communion with all the other members. Intercommunion does not require members of the communion to accept all doctrinal opinions, sacramental devotions, or liturgical practices of the other, but each accepts the others as holding to all the essentials of the Christian faith.
Members of the ECCAC in 1998 were the American Old Catholic Church, the American Catholic Orthodox Church, Saint Matthew American Catholic Church, the Anglican Church of the United States, the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, the Ecumenical Catholic Church, the Free Catholic Communion, and the Diocese of St. Paul the Apostle.
Ecumenical Communion of Catholic and Apostolic Churches.
Barrett, David B. World Christian Encyclopedia. New York: Oxford, 1982.
PO Box 6903, Glendale, CA 91205
The Independent Catholic Clergy Association is a fellowship of clergy from various Independent and Old Catholic jurisdictions. It was founded in 1986 to promote the spread of Christianity, to provide fellowship, to establish a forum for discussion of present issues, and to advance the cause of the Independent Orthodox and Old Catholic tradition. Among its first accomplishments was the attainment of television air time for one of its members during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Los Angeles, California, in 1987.
The association holds monthly meetings in Southern California and promotes the formation of similar gatherings in other parts of the United States.
c/o Bp. Michael Nesmith, 181 Baywood Ln., Monticello, AR 71655
Bp. David Kocka, PO Box 6542, Louisville, KY 40206-0542
The Old Catholic Communion in North America was formed in the first decade of the twenty-first century as a coalition of several small Old Catholic dioceses and churches. Affiliating dioceses share the common history of the Old Catholic Movement beginning in the 1870s and the common stance of Old Catholicism centered in pre–Vatican I beliefs and practices. Since their break with the Roman Catholic Church, Old Catholics have moved to vernacular worship and have accepted women and married people into the ordained ministry. The churches of the Old Catholic Communion are opposed to abortion, but have welcomed into active membership people who are divorced.
Bishops who affiliate with the Communion are asked to sign a concordat based upon the 1931 Bonn Agreement, by which the European Old Catholics came into a relationship with the Anglican Communion, and must be able to show that they exist as more than paper organizations. The concordant requires the signing bishops to recognize the legitimacy and independence of the other bishops and their dioceses. It also calls for some tolerance of variant liturgies and rites. Member groups agree not to ordain homosexuals, not to allow priests to officiate in same-sex unions, not to reject any parts of the Nicene Creed, and not to use the rites of non-Christian religions.
At present, the Old Catholic Communion is built around two dioceses, the Diocese of the Holy Spirit headed by Bp. Michael Nesmith of Monticello, Arkansas, and the Ecumenical Catholic Church + USA headed by Bp. David Kocka of Louisville, Kentucky. Both bishops possess multiple lineages of apostolic succession. Bishop Nesmith was originally consecrated by Most Rev. Paul Combs of the Old Catholic Church of North America. The Ecumenical Catholic Church operates the Vilatte Theological Seminary, a distance-learning school.
In 2008 the Diocese of the Holy Spirit included five parishes, and the Ecumenical Catholic Church had six parishes and missions.
Vilatte Theological Seminary, O’Fallon, Missouri.
Old Catholic Communion in North America. www.oldcatholicchurch.net/.
c/o The Rt. Rev. Bill Peckenpaugh, OSFL, 135 Fiske St., Silverton, OR 97381-2012
Most Rev. Diana Dale, Presiding Bishop, ACOC, 2311 Fountainview, No. 64, Houston, TX 77057.
The Union of Independent Catholic Churches of the North American Old Catholic Church (UICC) is a cooperative fellowship established in the fall of 1993. Its existence was formalized by a Concordat of Intercommunion between the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church, the Agape of Jesus Independent Catholic Church (now the Independent Catholic Church of America (ICCA)), and the Apostolic Independent Catholic Church. The union attempts to strengthen its members in their unity of service to Christ, while allowing each to keep its separate identity. It promotes the sharing of resources (such as liturgical, educational, and pastoral materials and opportunities) and responsibilities for some projects (such as chaplaincy training and clinical pastoral education training) among members.
Each of the bishops, representing their own jurisdictions, have also affirmed mutual intercommunion among their churches. The specifics of this affirmation follow the form published by the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, as follows:
- Each Communion (jurisdiction) recognizes the catholicity and independence of the others and maintains its own.
- Each jurisdiction agrees to admit members of the other signing jurisdictions to participate in the sacraments.
- Intercommunion does not require from the jurisdictions the acceptance of all doctrinal, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practices characteristic of the others, but implies that each believes the others to hold all the essentials of the apostolic Christian faith.
In 1997 the union included the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church, the Independent Catholic Church of America, the Apostolic Independent Catholic Church, the United Catholic Church (UCC), and several independent Catholic and Orthodox bishops as members.
1718 Moseley Dr., Hopkinsville, KY 42240
The Union of Traditional Apostolic Churches was founded in 2001 by Archbishop Maximilian-Anthony (Gregory Godsey, b. 1979), presiding bishop of the Continuing Apostolic United States Episcopacy. His goal was to unite all Old Catholics, Continuing Anglicans, and Orthodox groups to teach and preach the undivided faith, which includes affirmation of the teaching of the seven historic ecumenical councils; Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist (though the exact formulation of that presence is left open); apostolic succession; and a priesthood exercised exclusively by heterosexual males (meaning that women and gay and lesbian people are excluded).
All jurisdictional members must give their adherence to the Old and New Testaments as the Revealed will of God; The Three Ecumenical Creeds; The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed (with or without the Filoque Clause), The Athanasian Creed, The Historic Episcopate; and the Liturgical Forms of Public Worship which are shared in common.
Original signatories to the Union’s charter were Archbishop Maximilian-Anthony, Most Rev. Brendan-Michael Hammacher of the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, Most Rev. Pauli Pereira of the Vetro-Catholic Church in Brazil, and Rev. Oscar Joseph Rivest of the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross.
Leadership in the union is divided between the House of Bishops and a Council of Bishops. The House of Bishops consists of the presiding bishops of each participating jurisdiction. All matters concerning the UTAC must pass through this house. The Council of Bishops is made up of the other bishops in the participating jurisdictions who advise the house on all matters before it.
Union of Traditional Apostolic Churches. www.forministry.com/USNYNONDEUOTAC/
5017 Bellflower Ct., Melbourne, FL 32940
Despite what its name might suggest, the United Catholic Church is not a new denomination. A free association of denominations, various interchurch fellowships, independent churches, and individuals, it does not form new parishes or ordain ministers. Rather, it maintains a clearinghouse for the exchange of worship materials, liturgies, music, newsletters, press releases, and so on; provides assistance to churches by arranging clergy exchanges; directs travelers to churches in the areas they are visiting; and facilitates contact between member groups.
The genesis of the United Catholic Church can be traced to 1996 and the consecration to the bishopric of Robert M. Bowman, after his long and varied career as a United States Air Force officer, space industry executive, and churchman. He was consecrated by five bishops including William Donovan and John Reeves, through whom he received various lines of apostolic succession now available in the independent Catholic world.
At about the same time, a group of independent Catholic bishops from different jurisdictions meeting in synod asked Bowman to create a prospectus for their common life around the concept of inclusivity. They asked him to deal with a range of questions such as: What is it that makes us Catholic? What are our core beliefs? How can unity be expressed given the differences of the various jurisdictions? How can unity exist without uniformity? The result was a lengthy paper, “What Does It Mean to Be Catholic? (A Call to Unity),” which spelled out such essentials as the authority of Scripture, faith in Jesus Christ, apostolic succession, the unity of the church, and the Great Commandment to love God and to love one’s neighbor. He also cited a number of nonessentials, including beliefs about such issues as the Virgin Mary, abortion, praying to the saints, birth control, and homosexuality. Bowman concluded that, though these may be important issues, they do not hold salvation in the balance. Thus, he argued, concerning such nonessentials diversity should be allowed, and charity should operate in all matters.
The fellowship is open to Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, independent Catholics, Orthodox Catholics, Anglican Catholics, and Protestant Catholics. The United Catholic Church ordains without regard to gender, sexual orientation, or marital status; however, it does not tolerate pedophiles or promiscuous and abusive clergy.
The church reports fifteen affiliated churches and ministries (including one each in Canada and American Samoa) and a number of additional churches and ministers. It considers as sister organizations the Ecumenical Communion of Catholic and Apostolic Churches, the American Association of Independent Catholic Bishops, and the Old Catholic Church of Canada.
The church recommends two seminaries for ministerial training: Sanctus Theological Institute in Mesa, Arizona; and St. Willibrord’s Seminary in Ontario, Canada.
United Catholic Church. www.rmbowman.com/catholic/.
339 State St., PO Box 2302, Springfield, MA 01101
The World Bishops Council, formed in 1997, describes itself as the “Largest Ecumenical Council of Christian Bishops Contending for Unity in the Faith.” It was formed both to serve as a forum through which Christian bishops globally could meet together and share their experiences and as a structure for the dissemination of information on primary issues of education, governmental affairs, ecclesiastical endorsements, and educational, theological, and humanitarian efforts.
The council is led by its Holy Synod, the council’s presidents, and the Executive College of Bishops with its seven standing committees: the Executive Committee, the Humanitarian Committee, the Governmental Affairs Committee, the Education Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Ecclesiastical Endorsement, and the Program Committee. The synod includes representatives from all the member churches.
The council has brought together bishops both from churches that lay claim to a formal apostolic succession and from churches that have episcopal leadership, but no apostolic success (including many Pentecostal churches). The president of the council is His Beatitude Timothy Paul Baymon, metropolitan archbishop of the International Communion of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church. Baymon is assisted by two vice-presidents: Abp. Peter Paul Brennan—primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion—and Bp. Michel Milner of the International Free Catholic Communion.
In 2002 the World Bishops Council formed the World Federation of Churches (WFC) to address the needs of small and independent congregations, specifically to distinguish legitimate small churches from those deemed less than legitimate. The WFC investigates small churches when they apply for membership, and upon accepting them into membership issues to them a “certificate of authenticity.” At present, Bp. William P. Brown is founder and chief pastor of Mt. Zion Full Gospel Cathedral, located in Stafford, Virginia, and the founder and primate of the Fellowship of Independent and Global Churches and Ministries, Inc.
In 2008 the Council drew membership from 37 churches, most based in the United States, but with representative in more than 20 other countries. It claims to represent more than 23 million Christians worldwide.
World Bishops Council. www.worldbishopscouncil.org/.