Notice: Fraudulent misrepresentation of the Apostolic Episcopal Church

The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes to advise the public that the website at https://aecorcny2.weebly.com (and previously at https://apostolicepiscopalchurchocr.weebly.com which is defunct at the time of writing) is fraudulent and has not been authorized by the Apostolic Episcopal Church. In addition, Rodney Rickard, who is responsible for this imposture, is not and never has been a member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

The website makes a number of wholly inaccurate statements concerning the faith and position of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the AEC wishes to formally dissociate itself from these. All relevant information about the faith and nature of the AEC is provided on its official website at www.apostolicepiscopalchurch.org Furthermore, Rickard’s website copies sections of this official website verbatim and without acknowledgement, violating our copyright and demonstrating a high degree of intellectual dishonesty.

This statement has been issued only after the failure of discussions with Rickard, who has been contacted privately by senior clergy both of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and of other churches in attempts to make him desist from this course of action. It has been made clear to him that there will inevitably be legal consequences from his imposture and in addition he is likely to do considerable damage to his own reputation.

On 15 December 1995, the AEC and the Order of Corporate Reunion in New York, which were at that time united under a single administration, authorized the formation of a corporation in the State of New York called The Apostolic Episcopal Church – Order of Corporate Reunion, Inc. The incorporators were the Most Revd. Donald Hugh, then Archbishop of the Province of the West in the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and the Most Revd. Francis C. Spataro, then Archbishop of the Province of the East in the Apostolic Episcopal Church. In 1998, Archbishop Hugh was suspended a divinis from membership of the Apostolic Episcopal Church by then-Primate Archbishop Bertil Persson, and Archbishop Spataro resigned from membership of the corporation. At this point, authority was withdrawn from the corporation by the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

Dr Hugh continued to maintain this corporation and a schismatic representation of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Order of Corporate Reunion for some years afterwards. As AEC Primate from 1998-2015, Dr Spataro decided not to act on the matter and this was also the policy that Dr Kersey pursued after succeeding as AEC Primate in 2015. The view that was taken was that there was some sympathy for Dr Hugh’s past differences with Dr Persson, that his schism was small and had attracted few if any followers, and that Dr Hugh was advanced in years and his false representation of our church would likely die with him. In the past decade there was some contact between Dr Hugh and Archbishop Brennan of the OCR and this contributed towards a thawing of relations, even if reunion was not to be achieved.

It was therefore with dismay that the Apostolic Episcopal Church learned earlier this year that Dr Hugh’s New York corporation had recently been purchased by Rodney Rickard, who has never been a member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Rickard represented to us that he was interested in working with us to re-establish the Order of Corporate Reunion, of which he had previously been a member, on a sounder footing in the USA. These efforts were supported by us, but it was never discussed or made clear to us by Rickard that he would also be making false claims regarding the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Indeed, when the implications of his actions were made clear to him initially, he gave an undertaking “We are NOT AND WILL NOT be using AEC-OCR as an acronym for these two ecclesial entities.” This was a lie, as is proven by Rickard’s current website.

There are loosely-constituted church movements such as Pentecostalism and some schools of the Baptist Church in which any person may claim the authority to lead and teach. The Apostolic Episcopal Church is definitively not of this classification. Since its inception, it has been a canonical and hierarchically-organized church, and during its earlier years had provision for synodical governance. It has never been a free-for-all or a body in which mere ownership of a corporation would give an individual any rights within it. The present constitution of the AEC is dependent upon the Primate and Presiding Bishop as a church nonprofit Corporation Sole in the State of Hawaii and upon the canons of the church which are the bylaws of that corporation. Canon IV:12 states

No person may incorporate any corporation, or establish any non-profit or other entity using the name “Apostolic Episcopal Church” without first having received the consent of Metropolitan Synod, nor may any website be maintained that uses the name and distinctive emblems of the Apostolic Episcopal Church without receiving the consent of the Primate.

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has today initiated primary legal action against Rickard with the aim of ending his fraudulent misrepresentation of our church. It has also taken the step of declaring that he and any persons who may join his schism are to be regarded as vitandus by this Church. We pray that they may yet repent of their actions and cease their wrongdoing.