Non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy

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Non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy


Afro-American Orthodox Church


The Afro-American Orthodox Church was a small liturgical church founded in the late 1930s by Bishop George A. Brooks, who had been consecrated by Reginald Grant Barrow of the African Orthodox Church of New York and Massachusetts. It was similar in faith and practice with the African Orthodox Church. In the 1930s, the church was superseded by the Holy African Church which in the 1960s merged into the African Orthodox Church.


Trela, Jonathan. A History of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. Scranton, PA: The Author, 1979.


Ancient Church of the East

2064 Fifth St.
San Fernando, CA 91340

Alternate Address: International Headquarters: c/o Mar Addai, Catholicos Patriarch, PO Box 2363, Baghdad, Iraq.

In the 1970s, the schism of the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East split when the Iraqi government recognized Mar Addai as patriarch of the church. The larger faction, led by Mar Dinkha, known in the United States as the Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, North American Diocese, is recognized by the Vatican. The smaller faction, the Ancient Church of the East, continues with the present government's blessing. The two factions of the church are identical in faith and practice, the differences being purely administrative.

In the United States, a diocese of the Ancient Church of the East which acknowledges Mar Addai was formed among America believers in the 1970s.

Membership: Not reported.


Orthodxy. Regensburg: Ostkirchliches Institute, 1996.


Antiochian Catholic Church in America

Box 1061
Campton, KY 41301

The Antiochian Catholic Church in America was founded in 1991 when the former Diocese of Lexington (Kentucky) of the Church of Antioch was granted autocephaly as an independent self-governing jurisdiction. The diocese had been under the leadership of H. Gordon Hurlburt, who was consecrated in 1981 by Abp. Herman Adrian Spruit, Primate of the Church of Antioch. Through the 1980s Hurlburt led his clergy away from the Church of Antiochs theological perspective toward a more Orthodox position, modeled after the Syrian (Jacobite) Church (the principle source of their orders). Following the granting of independence on mutually agreeable terms, Hurlburt was elected the churchs Metropolitan-Primate and took the ecclesiastical name Mar Peter. Metropolitan Gordon Mar Peter is assisted in administrative matters by his Vicar General, Bishop Victor Mar Michael Herron.

In liturgical and theological matters the church generally resembles other churches of the Syro-Antiochene tradition, but prefers the term "Ephesine" to describe their christology over the more controversial term "monophysite" (as defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE). Several of the clergy are engaged in Aramaic biblical and liturgical research and scholarship. The church departs from this Eastern pattern principally in the areas of ecclesiology and womens ordination. Married priests are not barred from the episcopate. The church also actively recruits former Roman Catholic priests, and allows the use of the Tridentine Mass where there is an obvious pastoral need.

All available clergy meet annually with the metropolitan to discuss issues, advise the metropolitan, establish pastoral goals and guidelines, and renew the bonds of fellowship. Clergy are typically bi-vocational.

Membership: The church reports approximately 100 regular communicants in small parishes found in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, and South Carolina. There is one missionary priest who itinerates through several states in the southeast.

Periodicals: Chrism, 4250 Bent Rd., Kodak, TN 37764.


Ward, Gary L. Independent Bishops: An International Directory. Detroit, MI: Apogee Books, 1990. 524 pp.


Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, North American Diocese

℅ Mar Aprim Khamis
North American Diocese
8908 Birch Ave.
Morton Grove, IL 60053

Alternate Address: His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch, Box 3257, Sadoun, Baghdad, Iraq.

Victims of Turkish expansion, the Church of the East was dispursed in the late nineteenth century and its headquarters in northern Kurdistan was abandoned. Scattered members of the church began to arrive in America in the 1890s, but for many years were without organization. Early in this century, there were several visitations by the bishops. They found a flock served by an insufficient number of priests and deacons meeting whenever space was available. All of this changed in 1940 when Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, the 119th patriarch of the church, moved his headquarters to Chicago. A church-reorganization program was initiated. Priests and deacons were ordained; churches were purchased and built; administration was put in efficient order; and a publishing program, including a new periodical, was begun. The progress of the church has continued under the present patriarch, who has reestablished the international headquarters in Iraq.

Membership: In 1989, the diocese reported 22 churches, 120,000 members, and 109 clergy.

Periodicals: Voice from the East. Send orders to Box 25264, Chicago, IL 60626.


The Liturgy of the Holy Apostles Adai and Mari. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1893.

O'Dishoo, Mar. The Book of Marganita (The Pearl) on the Truth of Christianity. Kerala, India: Mar Themotheus Memorial Printing & Publishing House, 1965.

Rules Collected from the Sunhados of the Church of the East & Patriarchial Decrees. San Francisco: Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, 1960.

Yulpana M'Shikhay D'eta Qaddishta Washlikhayta O'Qathuliqi D'Mathnkha. Messianic Teachings. Kerala, India: Mar Themotheus Memorial Printing & Publishing House, 1962.


Apostolic Orthodox Church (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

℅ Rt. Rev. James H. Hess
2410 Derry St.
Harrisburg, PA 17111-1141

The Apostolic Orthodox Church was founded in 1997 by Bp. James H. Hess. Bishop Hess was consecrated in 1984 by Bp. Brian G. Turkington, then affiliated with the Free Anglican Church in North America. He headed the Arian Apostolic Church (later renamed Nestorian Apostolic Church), superseded by the Apostolic Orthodox Church. The church is a traditional non-Chalcedonian jurisdiction most closely resembling the other Monophysite churches from Armenia, Egypt, and Ethiopia.

The church accepts the authority of Scripture (including the Apocrypha) and Tradition with particular reference to some of the early Christian writings (Didache, Apostolic Constitutions, the letters of Ignatius, the letters of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermes, Barnabas, and the Martyrdom of Polycarp), the pre-Chalcedonian liturgical books, and the three creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian). The Filioque clause in the creeds (which affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son) is accepted. It affirms the two natures (divine and human) of Jesus recognized inseparately (rather than separately as taught at Chalcedon).

The church practices the traditional seven sacraments including the Unction for the Sick. It affirms the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The church rejects homosexuality and abortion and does not ordain women to the priesthood. It also believes that the post-Chalcedonian Roman papacy is the Beast of Revelation, that Protestantism is the image of the Beast, that the church in union with the papacy is the whore of Babylon, that Evangelicalism is the false prophet of Revelation, and that the seven trumpets and vials represent the seven heresies of Sabellianism, Arianism, Macedonianism, Aopollinarianism, Nestorianism, Diophysitism, and Iconoclasm. The phenomena of contemporary miracles and signs (including Marian apparitions and charismatic occurrences) are rejected. It is believed that the signs of the apostolic age were discontinued after the death of the last apostle.

Membership: The church has one congregation.


Armenian Apostolic Church of America

138 E. 39th St.
New York, NY 10016

In 1933, the Armenian Church in America split along political lines as a result of the Soviet dominance of Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church of America preserves the church that began to form in the 1890s among Armenian-Americans and whose members were most commited to a free and independent Armenia. This church existed without official sanction until 1957 when Zareh I, the newly elected catholicos of the See of Cilicia, took it under his jurisdiction. Located in Sis, the capital of Lesser Armenia since the fifteenth century, the See of Cilicia moved to Lebanon in the twentieth century.

The Eastern Prelacy of the United States is located in New York City and is under the leadership of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan. The Western Prelacy is located in Los Angeles, California, and is under the leadership of Moushegh Mardirossian. The Canadian Prelacy is under Khajag Hagopian.

Membership: In 2002, the church reported 400,000 members in 37 churches with 42 priests in the United States. There were five churches in Canada. Affiliated congregations under the see of Cilicia were located in 10 countries with a reported worldwide membership of 900,000.

Educational Facilities: Armenian Theological Seminary, Bikfaya, Lebanon.

Periodicals: The Outreach.


Sarkissian, Karekin. "Armenian Church in Contemporary Times" In The Church in the Middle East, edited by A. J. Arberry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

——. The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian Church. New York: Armenian Church Prelacy, 1965.

——. The Witness of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Antelias, Lebanon: The Author, 1970.


Catholic Apostolic Church at Davis

℅ Gates of Praise Center
921 W. 8th St.
Davis, CA 95616

The Catholic Orthodox Church at Davis was founded in 1972 by Albert Ronald Coady. Coady was ordained in May 1972 by Archbishop John Marion Stanley of the Orthodox Church of the East. In June 1972 Stanley consecrated Coady at a service in Trichur, India. That consecration was confirmed in July 1972 in a service of enthronement conducted by Archbishops Walter A. Propheta, John A. Christian, Lawrence Pierre, and C. Clark, all of the American Orthodox Catholic Church (Propheta). Stanley also participated in that ceremony. Originally known as the Christian Orthodox Church, it became the Eastern Catholic Church Syro-Chaldean Rite before taking its present name in the mid-1980s.

The church is Eastern in its liturgy and accepts the Nicene Creed like the Orthodox Church of the East. It is also charismatic in that it accepts the current manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12) in its worship life.

Membership: Not reported.


Coptic Orthodox Church

℅ Gabriel Abdelsayed
427 W. Side Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07304

Since World War II, an increasing number of Copts have left Egypt because of Moslem discrimination. Many of these have come to the United States. In 1962, the Coptic Association of America was formed to serve the Coptic Eqyptians in New York City and vicinity and to work for the establishment of regular pastoral care. The following year Bishop Samuel, bishop of public, ecumenical, and social services, was delegated to come to the United States by Pope Kyrillos VI to meet with the Coptic Association and implement pastoral care. In 1965 Fr. Marcos Abdel-Messiah was ordained in Cairo and sent as a priest to Toronto to establish the Diocese of North America. In 1967 Fr. Dr. Rafael Younan arrived in Montreal. By 1974 there were nine priests serving four churches in New York, plus other churches in Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Jersey City, St. Paul, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, and several smaller centers. There are fewer than 2,000 adult Copts in North America. An English translation of The Coptic Orthodox Mass and the Liturgy of St. Basil has been produced and educational literature has been initiated by Fr. Marcus Beshai of Chicago.

Membership: Nor reported.


The Agprya. Brooklyn, Abdelsayed, "The Coptic-American: A Current African Cultural Contribution in the United States of America." Migration Today 19 (1975): 17-19.

Ishak, Fayek M. A Complete Translation of the Coptic Orthodox Mass and Liturgy of St. Basil. Toronto: Coptic Orthodox Church, Diocese of North America, 1973.

Isichei, Elizabeth. A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

St. Mark and the Coptic Church. Cairo: Coptic Orthodox Partriarchate, 1968.


Coptic Orthodox Church Apostolic


The Coptic Orthodox Church Apostolic was chartered in New York City in 1942 by John Hickerson (also spelled Hickersayon). Hickerson, an African American, had one of the more interesting careers in American religion. Little is known of his origin. He first emerged as a preacher in a Pentecostal church in Boston, Massachusetts, shortly after the turn of the century. Then around 1908 he associated himself with Samuel Morris, the leader of a small African-American movement in Baltimore, Maryland. Morris had proclaimed himself God and taken the name Father Jehovia. He was assisted by one George Baker, known as the Messenger, later to reappear as Father Divine.

Around 1911, the team split up. Hickerson had challenged Morris' leadership by arguing that the Spirit of God resided in everyone. Hence all could claim some godhood. Hickerson went to New York and founded a congregation called the Church of the Living God, located on 41st Street. He offered what appeared to be a mixture of Pentecostalism and New Thought. He believed that God lived in everyone and hence none could die. However, the church seems to have disintegrated into a chaotic situation.

Hickerson was also an early advocate of Ethiopianism, the idea that Africans were the true Jews and that Jesus was an African. He is credited with preparing the way for the emergence of Ethiopianism among Blacks in the 1920s in New York City.

In any case, Hickerson was consecrated in 1938 by Bp. Edwin Macmillan Jack, known as Bishop Yakob, head of the Episcopal Orthodox Church (Greek Communion), a small, independent Eastern orthodox jurisdiction with orders from the African Orthodox Church. He had founded his church in 1921 in Cuba and been consecrated a bishop two years later. Bishop Yakob had moved to New York in 1938.

Hickerson incorporated the Coptic Orthodox Church Apostolic in 1942. He seems to have corresponded with His Holiness Abuna Basilios, the head of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church, but was never received into communion.

Among Hickerson's actions as head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Apostolic was the consecration of Mar Lukos (Denison Quartey Arthur) in 1947. Mar Lukos operated primarily in the Caribbean area but was responsible for passing along Hickerson's apostolic order to several independent Old Catholic bishops, including Primate Hugh George de Willmott Newman (Mar Georgius), who subsequently passed them to a number of others.


Anson, Peter. Bishops at Large. London: Faber and Faber, 1964.

Harris, Sara. Father Divine. New York: Collier, 1971.

Newman, Richard. Black Bishops: Some African-American Old Catholic's and Their Churches. New York: The Author, 1992.


Coptic Orthodox Church (Western Hemisphere)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is a small African American Orthodox jurisdiction founded in the late 1970s by Samuel Theophilus Garner. Garner had been associated with the American Catholic Church, Archdiocese of New York, whose archbishop, James Francis Augustine Lashley, consecrated Garner in 1976. Garner founded the Coptic Orthodox Church a short time later. The church follows Coptic belief and liturgy, but is not connected with the Coptic Church in either Egypt or Ethiopia.

Membership: Not reported.


Ward, Gary L. Independent Bishops: An International Directory. Detroit, MI: Apogee Books, 1990. 524 pp.


Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

℅ Khajag Barsamian
630 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10016

Alternate Address: International headquarters: The Holy See of Etchmiadzin, Etchmiadzin, Armenia.

The Armenian Church of America is the American branch of the Armenian Church. It is under the jurisdiction of the See of Etch-miadzin in the Republic of Armenia. It is headed by Abp. Khajag Barsamian, with a western diocese under the leadership of Abp. Vatche Housepian, and a Canadian dioceses led by Abp. Hovnan Derderian.

Membership: In 1994, the church reported 66 churches, 61 clergy, and 600,000 members. There are approximately 100,000 members and 10 priests in Canada.

Educational Facilities: St. Nersess Seminary, New Rochelle, NY 10804.

Periodicals: The Armenian Church.


Gulesserian, Papken. The Armenian Church. New York: Diocese of the Armenian Church in America, 1966.

Gurlekian, Hogop. Christ's Religion in Every Branch of Life and the Armenians Really Alive. Chicago: The Author, 1974.

The Handbook on the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church. Boston: Baikar, 1931.

Manoogian, Sion. The Armenian Church and Her Teachings. The Author, n.d.


Eastern Catholic Archdioses (Chaldean-Syrian)

PO Box 3337
Daly City, CA 94015

Formerly known as the Holy Apostolic-Catholic Church of the East (Chaldean-Syrian), the archdioses traces its history to the Aramaic-speaking segment of the Christian Church which emerged immediately after the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost. It has also been known as the Eastern Catholic Church, Coptic, Syriac, and Syro-Chaldean Rites and the Eastern Catholic Archdiocese (Chaldean-Syriac Rite). The Apostles who founded the church were St. Peter, St. Thomas, and St. Jude Thaddeus during the first century C.E. in what is present-day Iran and India. It survived through the centuries that included periods of great expansion and subsequent periods of persecution that saw its almost complete destruction.

In 1934, the Eastern Catholic Church came to the United States in the person of Mar David of Edessa (Stanislaus, Graf von Czernowitz), who served as its first metropolitan. The present metropolitan of the church is Metropolitan Mar Mikhael of Edessa (Heinrich XXVI, Prinz Reuss von Plauen-Brankovic).

The belief and practice of the church is Orthodox. Like the Church of the East, it holds to the doctrines of the first two Ecumenical Councils, affirms the virgin birth of Jesus, His incarnation and sacrificial atonements, and the Holy Trinity. It holds fast to the three original Creeds of the Church (Athanasian, the Apostles, and the Nicene Creeds). The Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, combined with the Oral and Sacred Traditions of the Church and the Ancient Synodus, are the authorities under which the church operates. The Peshitta, the Bible version translated directly from the ancient Aramaic texts, is utilized. The jurisdiction differs from some other Eastern Christian and other Orthodox churches: 1) it entered into the charismatic renewal in 1947 continues to believe and to teach that the gifts the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12) are meant for today and 2) since the seventh century, the canon laws of the church permitted its priests to marry either before or after ordination to the priesthood.

Membership: In 2001, the church reported 145 parishes, missionary stations, nursing stations, monasteries, and two homes for AIDS babies and toddlers. There are three in-patient hospices for the terminally ill. The ecclesiastical province, which includes North, Central, and South America; Australia; New Zealand; and Korea; as well as a vicar-diocese in Germany. The second official census was taken in 2001 with a membership of 1.2 million.

Educational Facilities: Holy Trinity Seminary holds state accreditation and is affiliated with the German University System (Consortium).

Remarks: The Old Catholic Sourcebook (Garland, 1983), authored by J. Gordon Melton and Karl Pruter, incorrectly identified Mar Mikhael with Michael A. Itkin, a bishop since deceased who also resided in the San Francisco Bay area, who had taken the same ecclesiastical name. Itkin, however, headed a church that is openly identified with the homosexual community (The Community of Love). This practice is in direct opposition to the beliefs and practices of the Holy Apostolic-Catholic Church of the East and Metropolitan Mar Mikhael.


Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the United States of America

140-142 W. 176th St.
Bronx, NY 10453

Alternate Address: ℅ His Holiness Abuna Tekle Haimanot, Box 1283, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

From its beginning, the Ethiopian Church was affiliated with the See of St. Mark at Alexandria, Egypt. After the death of Frumentius, the first bishop of Ethiopia, Egyptian bishops were appointed to head the Ethiopian church. This practice continued into the twentieth century. However, the changes wrought by the new century, including a new feeling of indepedendency aroused by the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie, made it desirable to have native bishops. Negotiations began in 1926 and step by step the church moved toward an autonomous status. In 1929, for the first time, native bishops were consecrated, though they were not assigned to specific dioceses and not allowed to perform further consecrations. In 1944 the Emperor established the Theological College in Addis Ababa. Immediately after World War II, in 1948, the Statue of Independence of the Ethiopian Church from the Egyptian Coptic Church was promulgated. That same year the Ethiopian Church joined the World Council of Churches. In 1959, the Ethiopian Church was granted full independence, though it remains in canonical union with the Coptic church. In 1971, the See of Addis Ababa was raised to patriarchal status and Abuna Theophilus was elevated to Patriarch of Addis Ababa.

The 1970s and 1980s have been difficult times for the Ethiopian Church. In 1974, Haile Selassie was overthrown and an atheist Marxist regime came to power. In 1975, the church-state separation was declared and the church placed on its own. In 1976, Abuna Theophilus was removed from office and arrested. He disappeared and was never seen again. The pattern of systematic persecution by the government has only recently been eased. The current Patriarch is Abune Teklte Haimanot.

In 1959, the same year the Ethiopian Church attained independence, Laike Mandefro joined a small group of Ethiopian priests studying in the United States. The group was originally sponsored by Abuna Gabre Kristos Mikael of the Ethiopian Coptic church of North and South America. However, they soon removed themselves from that jurisdiction and placed themselves under Abuna Theophilus, then Archbishop of Harar Provice in Ethiopia. Mandefro gathered an initial congregation in Brooklyn, New York, and soon afterward led in the formation of churches in Trinidad and Guyana. As his efforts bore fruit, he was raised to the rank of archimandrite. In 1970 he moved to Jamaica and over the next seven years established the church in a number of locations across the island.

In 1972, the diocese of the Western Hemisphere was created and Mandefro consecrated as its first bishop. He was elevated to archbishop on 1983. The church, through its international headquarters in Ethiopia, is a member of the World Council of Churches. In Jamaica it is a member of the Jamaica Council of Churches and the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Branch churches of the archdiocese are located in the United States, Guyana, South Africa, and a number of the Caribbean Islands. It is currently led by His Eminence Archbishop Yesehaq.

Membership: In 1992, the archdiocese reported 100,000 communicant members and 75 ordained priests and deacons. Congregations in the United States are located in New York City and the Bronx, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; and Fresno, Oakland, and Los Angeles, California.

Periodicals: Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the United States of America Monthly Bulletin.


Bessil-Watson, Lisa, comp. Handbook of Churches in the Caribbean. Bridgetown, Barbados: Cedar Press, 1982.

Molnar, Enrico S. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Pasadena, CA: Bloy House Theological School, 1969.

Simon, K. M. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, n.d.

Yesehaq, Archbishop. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: An Intergrally African Church. New York: Vantage Press, n.d.


Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church, Diocese of North and South America

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church, Diocese of North and South America, was formed by Most Rev. Abuna Gabre Kristos Mikael, an Ethiopian-American who established his jurisdiction under the authority of the Archbishop Walter A. Propheta of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. In 1959, he traveled to Ethiopia, was ordained, and then elevated to the rank of Chorepistopas by Abuna Basilios. late patriarch of Ethiopia. He then served as sponsor for a group of three priests and five deacons sent by Abuna Basilios to the United States for advanced study and to develop an American branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. However, the priests, led by Fr. Laike Mandefro, broke relations with Mikael and centered their efforts on a parish in Brooklyn, New York, later relocated to the Bronx, which was directly under the authority of the Patriarch in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church remains in communion with the American Orthodox Catholic Church, from which some of the clergy were drawn.

In the few years of its existance it has established churches in Trinidad, Mexico, and Pennsylvania; in Brooklyn there are two churches, one with a Latin and one with a Coptic Ethiopian rite, the rite commonly followed by the church. The worship is in English. The priests are both celibate and married, and all bishops are celibate, the common Eastern church practice. Most of the members and clergy are black, but the church made news in 1972 by elevating a white man to the episcopate as bishop of Brooklyn.

Friction has developed between the two "Ethiopian" churches, each questioning the legitimacy of the other.

Membership: Not reported. It is estimated that several hundred members can be found in the three parishes in New York and Pennsylvania.


Holy Apostolic Catholic Church, Syro-Chaldean Diocese of Santa Barbara and Central California


The Holy Apostolic Catholic Church, Syro-Chaldean Diocese of Santa Barbara and Central California was founded by Michael Djorde Milan d'Obrenovic (d. 1986). In 1971, d'Obrenovic became the head of a small group in Cornville, Arizona, consisting of former Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, and Serbian Orthodox. Having been chosen the group's pastor, he sought ordination from Christ Catholic Church. The attempt was unsuccessful, and he was later ordained by Archbishop Gerret Munnik of the Liberal Catholic Church, Province of the United States. After a few years he left the Liberal Catholics and was consecrated by Bishops John Marion Stanley, of the Orthodox Church of the East, and Elijah Coady, of the Christian Orthodox Church (now the Catholic Apostolic Church at Davis) in 1977. The Holy Apostolic Catholic Church follows the practice and belief of the Church of the East, without the charismatic-pentecostal emphasis introduced by Stanley and accepted by Coady.

Quite apart from his ecclesiastical career, d'Obrenovic developed a second identity under his birth name, George Hunt Williamson. D'Obrenovic claimed to be a descendent of the Yugoslavian royal family of d'Obrenovic (the last member of which was supposed to have been assassinated in 1903) and he used the name Williamson because it was easier for Americans to pronounce. As George Hunt Williamson, he became one of the first people in the early 1950s to claim direct contact with the entities inhabiting flying saucers. He was present when George Adamski made his initial contact with the Venusian in the California Desert, and eventually as Brother Philip, founded the Brotherhood of the Seven Rays.

Membership: The church had only one parish located in Santa Barbara, California. No evidence of that parish has been found since d'Obrenovic's death in 1986.


Philip, Brother [George Hunt Williamson]. The Brotherhood of the Seven Rays. Clarksburg, WV: Saucerian Books, 1961.

Williamson, George Hunt. Other Tongues–Other Flesh. Amherst, WI: Amherst Press, 1953.

——. Road in the Sky. London: Neville Spearman, 1959.

——. The Saucers Speak. London: Neville Spearman, 1963.

——. Secret Places of the Lion. London: Neville Spearman, 1959.


Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic (HOCC) was established in the 1970s by Mar Apriam (Richard B. Morrill) formerly a bishop of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. He was enthroned as Metropolitan by Patriarch Christian I (John A. Christian or Chiasson) and also named Deputy Patriarch of the American Orthodox Catholic Church (AOCC).

In July 1974, Mar Apriam resigned as Deputy Patriarch of the AOCC and on December 23, 1974. He moved to Nigeria, where the AOCC had some work, and assumed leadership of the Nigerian AOCC. In 1976 (following some internal turmoil in the AOCC), following consultation with the AOCC's new Patriarch Lawrence Pierre, Mar Apriam renounced any claim to a position in the AOCC and founded the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic.

In 1977 Mar Apriam merged the HOCC with the North American Orthodox Catholic Church under the direction of Mar Markus I (Mark I. Miller). He assumed the ecclesiastical name Patriarch James VI as head of the merged church. The merger lasted only two years as disagreements arose over the charismatic nature of Mar Apriam's ministry. He was deposed and excommunicated, but left to reestablish the HOCC. In 1984 Mar Apriam and Mar Markus I again reunited their work as the Byzantine Catholic Church. In June of that year he reconsecrated Mar Markus I sub conditione.

After only a few months, Mar Apriam and Mar Markus I again went their separate ways. On Christmas Day 1984, Patriarch Christian I died. In the wake of his passing, Mar Apriam reasserted his role as "Apostolic Administrator" of the AOCC and assumed the role of Metropolitan and Primate of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, Holy Synod of the Americas with headquarters in Sacramento, California. He died there in 1991 and the present status of his jurisdiction is unknown.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Orthodox Academy of Education, Tarzana, California.

Periodicals: Maranatha.


International Alliance of Web-Based Churches

c/o Rev. David M. Ford
4202 Windsor Spring Rd., No. 131
Hephzibah, GA 30815

International Alliance of Web-Based Churches a fellowship association of online churches associated together in cyberspace. Membership is through mutual agreement and consent, and is open to any Internet church regardless of denomination preference. Members share a commitment to bring the Word of God to all the nations by utilizing the potential of Internet. Founder and coordinator of the alliance is Rev. David M. Ford who also founded the First International Church of the Web.

Member churches, as of 2001, come from a variety of conservative Protestant perspectives.

Membership: In 2001 there were approximately 20 member churches/ministries.


International Alliance of Web-Based Churches. 12 April 2002.


Malankara Orthodox (Syrian) Church

1114 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14209

The Malankara Orthodox (Syrian) Church dates itself to the arrival of St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, in India in 52 C.E. St. Thomas worked in southern India and was martyred on St. Thomas Mount, Madras. After existing independently for many centuries, the church developed a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in 1599 at the synod of Daimper. That relationship ended in 1653 in what is frequently referred to as the "Coonan Cross incident." In dramatic action, church members grasping a rope which symbolically tied them to a cross erected at Mattancherry, Cochin, renounced the Roman Catholic faith and the authority of the pope both for themselves and succeeding generations.

The Malankara Church soon affiliated with the Syrian Church of Antioch. After separating from the Church, it was left without a bishop. In 1665 Archdeacon Thomas of Mar Thoma VI who was consecrated bishop in 1761 was made Metropolitan by the name Mar Dionysius I. A century later, the head of the Indian Church found himself engaged in a quarrel with another bishop claiming authority over the Indian Christians. He asked the Syrian patriarch, who had consecrated the rival, to assist him. In 1875 Patriarch Mar Peter came to India, excommunicated the rival, and reorganized the Indian Church into seven dioceses, each headed by a bishop subject to him.

The following decades were spent asserting the independent position of the church from both the Syrian patriarch (who tried to assume title to church property) and the followers of the excommunicated rival. Two decisive events ended the controversy: first, in 1912, the Syrian Patriarch cooperated in the creation of the East Catholicate by declaring the defunct Catholicate of Edessa (Syria) reestablished in India. Second, the last lawsuit was settled in 1958 when the Indian courts recognized the authority of the Indian Catholics in all matters of church administration. In 1995, the Indian Supreme Court by a judgement reconfirmed the above decision.

The Malankara Orthodox Church was brought to the United States in the late 1960s by immigrants from southern India. A diocese was created in the 1979, and Thomas Mar Markarios was installed as the first Dioceasan Metropolitan and in 1980 the first church building, St. George's Orthodox Church, Staten Island, New York, was purchased and dedicated.

The church is similar in faith and practice to the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Syrian Orthodox Church of Malabar. The church was a charter member of the World Council of Churches. The present patriarch of the church is His Holiness Moran Mar Basilius Mar Thomas Mathews II, whose chair is located at the Catholicate Palace at Kottayam, Kerala.

Membership: In 2002 the church reported 6,000 families in 75 congregations in the United States and four in Canada. Included were two missions for non-Indians in Spokane, Washington, and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.


Attwater, Donald. The Christian Churches of the East. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1962.

Brown, Leslie. The Indian Christians of St. Thomas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956.

Mathews Mar Barnabas, Metropolitan. Handbook for the Malankara Orthodox. Bellerose: Privately published, 1997.

Pamban, Kadavil Paul. The Orthodox Syrian Church, Its Religion and Philosophy. Vadayampady, Puthencruz, India: K.V. Pathrose, 1973.


Orthodox Catholic Synod of the Syro-Chaldean Rite

℅ Bashir Ahmed
100 Los Banos Ave.
Daly City, CA 94014

The Orthodox Catholic Synod of the Syro-Chaldean Rite was formed in 1970 by Bishop Bashif Ahmed and is one of several bodies to continue the tradition of Mar Jacobus (Ulric Vernon Herford), who brought the Syro-Caldean Church to the West in 1902. Raised a Unitarian, Herford journeyed to the Orient on a quest to find a means of uniting East and West. In 1902 he was consecrated by Mar Basilius Soares, Bishop of Trichur, and head of a small body of Indian Christians called the Mellusians. Mar Basilius had been ordained to the priesthood by Julius Alvarez (who had consecrated Joseph Rene Vilatte) and consecrated to the episcopacy by Mar Antonius Abd-Ishu of the Nestorian linage. Upon his return to England, Herford founded the Evangelical Catholic Communion.

The Orthodox Catholic Synod of the Syro-Chaldean Rite derives from a schism of the Evangelical Catholic Communion, an American church founded by Michael A. Itkin. Itkin had led his orgainzation to take a positive activist stance in support of homosexuals. Rejecting Itkin's leadership, Ahmed founded an independent jurisdiction within the same tradition.

Membership: Not reported.


Orthodox Church of the East

Current address not obtained for this edition.

History. The Orthodox Church of the East (also known as the Church of the East in America) was founded in 1959 by Bishop John Marion Stanley, and is one of several churches claiming affiliation with the ancient Church of the East through the lineage of its episcopal orders. Stanley was consecrated to the bishopric in 1959 by Charles D. Boltwood of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church as Bishop of Washington. Boltwood also granted Stanley a mandate for an autocephalous body under Boltwood's guidance. Boltwood was originally consecrated by Archbishop William Hall, whom he succeeded as head of the church, but was later consecrated subconditione by Hugh George de Willmott Newman of the Catholicate of the West. Newman passed to Boltwood the lineage of Mar Basilius Soares, head of a small body of Indian Christians who have their orders from the Church of the East.

In 1963, Boltwood withdrew from the Catholicate of the West, but remained in communion with Stanley. During this period, Stanley was elevated to metropolitan of the United States by Newman, who gave him the ecclesiastical title of Mar Yokhannan (Aramaic for "Bishop John"). Stanley then experienced the pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. He in turn led his jurisdiction into the acceptance of the pentecostal experience and the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in I Corinthians 12. He also became a popular speaker at the interdenominational Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International conferences.

Also in 1963, Stanley became concerned over the report on Newman in Peter Anson's study of independent bishops, Bishops at Large. Under the direction of Metropolitan Archbishop Howard of Portland and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, Stanley, as Mar Yokhannan entered into dialogue with Rome. For five years cathedrals throughout the world were opened to him to celebrate the Eastern rite.

In 1970, in the Catholic Church of the Holy Resurrection in New York City, Patriarch Woldymyr I (Walter A. Propheta) (1912-1972), founder of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, performed an Economia so Stanley could serve as his apostolic delegate for foreign missions. In 1971, Propheta appointed Stanley as exarch plenepotentiary to carry full authority from the patriarch in dealing with problems in church leadership oversees. Stanley's church and clergy remained in his jurisdiction, and he continued in the Church of the East Rite.

Bishop Stanley remained with the American Orthodox Catholic Church until October 24, 1977, when Patriarch Mar Apriam I (Richard B. Morrill) of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic, gave his patriarchial blessing and letter to return the Orthodox Church of the East to an autonomous and autocephalous independent status. Some of the prelates and clergy in Stanley's jurisdiction had previously been under Mar Apriam I. Since that time, the Orthodox Church of the East has remained autonomous, though in dialogue, with the Church of the East in Iraq and the Church of the East in India. It also remains in open communion with the Free Protestant Episcopal Church.

Beliefs. The Orthodox Church of the East in America is Orthodox in faith and practice and accepts the Nicene Creed, using the Eastern text. It follows the Syro-Chaldean (Aramaic) liturgy of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, but uses an English text based upon the archbishop of Canterbury's committee's translation of Kirbana Kadisha (Holy Eurcharist), the shortened form approved by the Metropolitan of India in 1976 during his visit to Santa Barbara, California. It also follows the Church of the East's Hebraic standards of no statues or pictures in the sanctuary, but does not emphasize the malka, i.e., the tradition of dough kept since the Last Supper from which the eucharist is prepared. Members make room for praising in tongues (speaking-in-tongues) following the ancient liturgy's words, "We make new harps in our mouths, and speak a new tongue with lips of fire."

Organization. The Orthodox Church of the East follows an episcopal polity. It keeps the biblical practice of bishops being the husbands of one wife (which the patriarch of the Church of the East reinstated). Women are not admitted to the priesthood but many serve as deaconesses up to the rank of archdeaconess. There is no restriction as to their ministering in the gifts of the Spirit whenever it is appropriate and necessary.

Bishop Stanley also founded the Messianic Believer's Trust, a parachurch organization promoting charismatic (pentecostal) renewal. It cooperates with the Believers Charismatic Fellowship, a similar organization, in the publication of the The Messianic Messenger. Another organization under the church is the World Alliance for Peace, which promotes peace amoung the people of God, primarily by developing bridges among Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Recent efforts have included an Israeli Children's tennis match for peace before the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, and the preparation for a Pacific Peace Conference that will include representatives from Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The church has a bible school and hospital under its direction in India. A mission work in Pakistan cooperates with other churches in relief programs for Afghan refugees and goodwill within the Muslim government. It is also working to develop an accredited graduate school in Pakistan.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Suviseshapuram Bible and Technical School, Kerala, India.

Periodicals: The Messianic Messenger. • Messiah Letter.


Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch (Patriarchal Vicariates of the United States and Canada) (Jacobite)

℅ Eastern U.S. Vicariate
260 Elm Ave.
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Alternate Address: Western U.S. Vicariate, 417 Fairmont Rd., Burbank, CA 91501; Canadian Vicariate, 4375 Henri Bourassa Quest, St. Laurent, PQ, Canada H4L 1A5.

The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch (Patriarchal Vicariates of the United States and Canada) dates itself to the beginnings of Christianity in Antioch as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, but has been greatly affected by two events. In the fifth century, the church refused to accept the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon concerning the Person of Christ and as a result developed a doctrinal position identical to that of the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Armenian churches. In the following century, the church experienced a marked revival of spiritual life under St. Jacob Baradaeus (500–578), and in recognition of his work, has frequently been referred to as the Syrian Jacobite Church.

The church came to the United States through the migration of members in the late nineteenth century. In 1907, the first priest was ordained and sent to work in America. Abp. Mar Athanasius Y. Samuel moved to America in 1949 and was soon appointed patriarchal vicar. The archdiocese was formally created in 1957. Archbishop Samuel received some fame in the 1950s as a result of his having purchased the first of what were to become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Samuel died in 1965 and was buried in the Netherlands.

In 1995, the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch divided the Archdiocese of North America into three separate Patriarchal Vicariates, each under a hierarch of the church.

The church adheres to the faith of the first three ecumenical councils. It accepts the Nicene Creed but not the Chalcedonian formula and its teaching on the two natures of Christ. There are seven sacraments: baptism, chrismation, the Eucharist, confession (and penitence), marriage, holy orders, and the anointment of the sick.

The Patriarchal Vicariates are an integral part of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, whose headquarters are located in Damascus, Syria. The church is currently headed by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. The Patriarchate is a member of the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches. The Patriarchal Vicariates of the United States are a member of the National Council of Churches. There is an annual convention of the Patriarchal Vicariates.

Membership: In 2002, Patriarchal Vicariates reported 20,000 members in North America divided between 19 parishes in the United States and six parishes in Canada. There were 26 priests. Worldwide, more than three million believers were related to the Patriarchate.

Periodicals: SOAYO Speaks and Voice of the Archdiocese. • Tebeh.


Anaphora. Hackensack, NJ: Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, 1967.

Ephrem, Mar Ignatious, I. The Syrian Church of Antioch, Its Name and History. Hackensack, NJ: Archdiocese of the Syrian Church of Antioch in the United States and Canada, n.d.

Ephrem Barsoun, Mar Severius. The Golden Key to Divine Worship. West New York, NJ, 1951.

Kiraz, George, and Thomas Joseph. The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch: A Brief Overview. Burbank, CA: Syriac Heritage Committee of the Syriac Orthodox Church, 2000.

Ramban, Kadavil Paul. The Orthodox Syrian Church, Its Religion and Philosophy. Vadatampady, Puthencruz, India: K.V. Pathrose, 1973.

Samuel, Athanasius Yeshue. Treasure of Oumran. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1966.


Syrian Orthodox Church of Malabar

Union Theological Seminary
Broadway and 120th St.
New York, NY 10027

From the time of the ancient church, there has existed on the southwest Malabar coast of India a people who by legend were first evangelized by the Apostle Thomas. Relations with the Roman See were established in the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century when the Portugeuse began to colonize the Malabar coast, they attempted to Latinize the church, and after a period of tension most of the church withdrew from papal jurisdiction in 1653. In 1665 the Syrian Jacobites sent their representative to the Malabar coast and eventually many of the Malabar Christians were brought under the Syrian patriarch of Antioch. A Malabar bishop was consecrated in 1772 and there are approximately 1,500,000 Christians in his jurisdiction today.

The Syrian Orthodox Church of Malabar has established a mission in New York directly under the patriarch of Antioch. There is only one congregation (as of 1967) which meets at Union Theological Seminary every Sunday and on holidays. Its approximate 150 members are drawn from students, diplomatic personnel, and permanent residents. Periodic services are also held in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Chicago. Dr. K. M. Simon is the vicar-in-charge.

Membership: Not reported.


An English Translation of the Order of the Holy Ourbana of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar. Madras, India: Diocesan Press, 1947.

Kaniamparampil, Kurian Corepiscopa. The Syrian Orthodox Church of India and its Apostolic Faith. Tiruvalla, n.p., 1989.

Madey, Johannes. "Background and History of the Present Schism in the Malankara Church." In Oriens Christanus. 60 (1976): 95-112.

Paul, Daniel Babu. The Syrian Orthodox Christians of St. Thomas. Ernakulam, Cochin, 1968.

Ramban, Kadavil Paul. The Orthodox Syrian Church, Its Religion and Philosophy. Vadayampady, Puthencrez, India: K. V. Pathrose, 1973.


Western Orthodox Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Western Orthodox Church is one of several small jurisdictions which grew out of the ministry of Most Rev. David Stanns (Mar David), an independent bishop who founded the American Coptic Orthodox Church. That church was continued by Archbishop Richard B. Morrill (Mar Apriam) of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern and Apostolic. Joseph Russell Morse established the Western Orthodox Church and its Diocese of the Pacific Coast in 1972. In 1973 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to archbishop in 1974.

The Western Orthodox Church is described as Western because it uses the English language in its worship. It is Coptic in that Archbishop Morrill, who succeeded Archbishop Stanns, gave permission for the establishment of the church with an English-speaking Coptic liturgy. It is charismatic in that the gifts of the spirit are recognized and used in the worship of the church. It is orthodox and acknowledges the Nicene Creed.

Membership: Not reported.