Synod of the Byelorussian Patriarchate, December 2020

The Synod of the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle took place between 18-20 December at the Cathedral of St George and St Sebastian of the Patriarchate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The convenor of the Synod, representing H.S.H. the Prince of Miensk and Ecclesiast, was the Most Revd. Dom Nagui Zayat, Exarch of the Patriarchate. On the final day of the Synod, two new bishops were consecrated for the Patriarchate.

 

Notice: Fraudulent use of the name of the Apostolic Episcopal Church by “The Apostolic Episcopal Church in India”

The Apostolic Episcopal Church, founded in 1925 in New York, USA, is a worldwide communion with unbroken succession from its foundation. Its name is particular, not generic, and while there are many churches that have similar names, it is not conceivable to us that any reasonable enquirer could fail to be aware of our web presence and our distinctive history and mission. The official URL of the Apostolic Episcopal Church is www.apostolicepiscopalchurch.org, which domain now redirects to this website.

The only past mission that the AEC has been associated with in India was when the Catholicate of the West, with which the AEC was and is united, was incorporated in India under the Societies Act of 1860 during 1950. This period came to an end when Mar Petros, who was responsible for the Catholicate in India, died in 1954. No church activity in India has been authorized since that time, although there was briefly a mission in Pakistan during the 1990s. By contrast, today there are good relations between our communion and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in India, and it would be the wish of the Apostolic Episcopal Church to support the important work of our Malankaran brethren there rather than set up any form of competition.

An entity has recently appeared on Facebook calling itself “The Apostolic Episcopal Church in India”, apparently based in Secunderabad and claiming links with “Dayspring Christian University” This, according to information received, is a continuation of the imposture of Gary Barkman. The Apostolic Episcopal Church issued an Ad Clerum concerning Gary Barkman and his associates on 23 February 2013 and the salient points of this document are repeated below,

The Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church (AEC), has recently expressed its concern at the actions of one Dr Gary Barkman and those clergy associated with him. Dr Barkman has established a website at http://drgbarkman.tripod.com on which he holds himself out to be “Patriarch” of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and other clergy of his body to be likewise clergy of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. This is a baseless, fraudulent and impertinent imposture. For some time, text and images belonging to an official AEC website were reproduced on Dr Barkman’s website verbatim and without acknowledgement. After receiving representations from Metropolitan Synod to cease and desist from these actions, these materials have now been removed. However, there continue to be unauthorized references to the AEC on the website and the revised name of Dr Barkman’s group, viz. “Episcopal Apostolic Church” is close enough to that of the AEC to cause needless confusion.

For the purposes of clarity, it is therefore made explicit that:

  • Dr Gary Barkman, Dr Titus MacMillan and other clergy associated with them are not, and never have been, members of clergy of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
  • The Apostolic Episcopal Church has had no office of “Patriarch” since the 1990s.
  • Any claim by these men to represent the Apostolic Episcopal Church is unauthorized and without warrant of Metropolitan Synod of the AEC.
  • Any assertion by these men that the AEC is or has become a Pentecostal body is false and baseless. The AEC continues to abide by its Statement of Faith as recorded inter alia on p 561 of “Religious Bodies, 1936: pt. 1. Denominations, A to J : statistics, history” by Timothy Francis Murphy, United States Bureau of the Census, 1936.

A list of the members of Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church is provided here. No other bishop, whether their church is in intercommunion with the Apostolic Episcopal Church or not, is recognized as a member of Metropolitan Synod. No person who derives their authority from Gary Barkman is recognized as a member, let alone as clergy, of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Lastly, the Apostolic Episcopal Church has no clergy and no missions in India at present.

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 webpages on this website. 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. On 23 June 1996, Archbishop Hugh was suspended a divinis from membership of the Apostolic Episcopal Church by then-Primate Archbishop Bertil Persson, and Archbishop Spataro subsequently resigned from membership of the corporation. As of 23 June 1996, authority was therefore 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.

Mgr. Vilatte writes to Prince Guy de Lusignan, 1893

The Abbey-Principality has recently been sent a copy of an important letter of Mgr. Joseph-René Vilatte (1854-1929) (who would become Prince-Abbot Joseph III of San Luigi in 1899). The letter is dated 29 December 1893 and is addressed to Prince Guy de Lusignan (1831-1906), a Patron of the Order of the Crown of Thorns.

At the time of writing, Vilatte had been Grand Master of the Order of the Crown of Thorns for just six months, having succeeded the Rev. Gaston Fercken. The Order was the first Western-style order of chivalry to be established under the Orthodox Church rather than Rome, when in 1891 the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV approved the refoundation under Fercken of the former medieval Order of the Crown of Thorns. In 1899, it would unite with the separate branch of the Order that had been founded in 1883 by the first Prince-Abbot of San Luigi. Vilatte was consecrated Metropolitan for the Old Catholics of America by the Syrian Orthodox Church in 1892.

The letter makes it clear that problems had arisen in the Order under Fercken. According to Vilatte, Fercken had appointed as members of the Order several Parisian journalists. Mutual jealousies ensued and the Order found itself the victim of  controversy and outright falsehood in the Parisian press. These developments had clearly occasioned Prince Guy’s concern and prompted him to write to Vilatte, who was at that time at his American missions in Wisconsin.

In writing, Vilatte directs a few barbs towards Rome which in his view had departed from Catholic faith and tradition in the First Vatican Council (1870) of still-recent memory. He speaks of the Order “refusing the infallible Pope’s blessing”, referring to the doctrine of Papal infallibility which had been central to the decrees of the First Vatican Council and which he did not accept. He then makes it clear that the Order of the Crown of Thorns is a Catholic order without being either Roman or Papist, since it had turned to Orthodox authority in the place of a fallen Rome.

A full transcript of the text of the letter follows:

Monseigneur,

Je suis profondement chagriné de voir les mensonges qui sont publiés dans les journeaux de Paris, au sujet de notre Saint Ordre.

Mais je puis vous assurer que depuis que j’ai l’honneur d’être le grand Maître de l’Ordre de la Couronne d’Epines, pas un seul français a été reçu dans l’ordre par moi. Les personnes qui ont demandés leur admission depuis 6 mois ont étés refuses elles étaient tous de Paris.

Si quelques personnes sont indiqués de notre Ordre la faute retourne sur mon predecesseur le Rev. Fercken. Qui malheureusement a reçu des journalistes qui sont jaloux les uns des autres. De là les mensonges etc etc.

Pour le future je puis vous assurer que l’ordre marchera dans le progrets et pour la défense de Jesus crucifié.

La France est un pays romain, soumise au Pape de Rome, il suffit pour notre ordre de la couronne d’Epines de refuser la benediction du Pape infaillible pour que les journaux français soient en harmonie avec le Pape de Rome pour maudire et mépriser les Ordres religieux qui sont Catholiques sans être romains ou papiste.

Dans l’espérance que vous comprendre la situation de notre St. Ordre. J’ai l’honneur de vous informer que pas un seul français a merité l’honneur depuis 6 mois d’être reçu par moi dans l’Ordre, et que personne a Paris pas selon que dans les autres pays n’a le droit ou l’autorité de conferer les brevets.

Dans l’espérance Monseigneur, que Dieu et la très St Mère vous combleront de benedictions pour cette nouvelle année.

J’ai l’honneur de vous saluir

+J R Vilatte

Archevêque
Duvall
Kewaunee Co.
Wisconsin

This is translated into English as follows:

December 29, 1893 United States

To His Royal Highness
Mgr. Guy de Lusignan,
Paris – Neuilly
France

Monseigneur,

I am deeply saddened to see the lies that are published in the newspapers of Paris, about our Holy Order.

But I can assure you that since I have the honour of being the Grand Master of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, not a single Frenchman has been received in the order by me. The people who applied for admission in the past 6 months were refused; they were all from Paris.

If some people are indicated to be in our Order the fault goes to my predecessor the Rev. Fercken. Who unfortunately received some journalists who are jealous of each other. From them come the lies etc etc.

For the future I can assure you that the order will work for the benefit and for the defense of Jesus crucified.

France is a Roman country, subject to the Pope of Rome, it suffices for our order of the Crown of Thorns to refuse the infallible Pope’s blessing, for the French newspapers to be in harmony with the Pope of Rome to curse and despise Religious Orders which are Catholic without being Roman or Papist.

In the hope that you will understand the situation of our Holy Order. I have the honour to inform you that for 6 months not a single Frenchman has deserved the honour of being received by me in the Order, and that no one in Paris, nor in other countries, has the right or authority to grant its brevets.

In the hope, Monseigneur, that God and the Blessed Mother may fill you with blessings for this new year.

I have the honour to greet you

+ J R Vilatte

Archbishop
Duvall
Kewaunee Co.
Wisconsin

OSMTH in Brazil

The Grand Priory of Brazil of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem) has recently launched its new website at https://www.osmthbrasil.org The website contains many informative texts and video presentations on subjects of interest.

The OSMTH is in treaty partnership with the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi and the Grand Priory of Brazil includes a description of the Abbey-Principality in its website.

In Brazil, the Grand Priory of the OSMTH has built a Templar Complex dedicated to the Spiritual Cavalry of St John the Baptist, located in Santa Maria, Carangola, Minas Gerais. It is built of stone following the medieval model and consists of three parts: (1) the Temple of Saint John the Baptist, built in the shape of an octagon, like the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, where the Order was born. This is where private meetings take place; (2) the Candle Room of Arms of Grandmaster Dom Fernando Campello Pinto Pereira de Souza Fontes, where the postulants are received for the first time, before their initiation; and (3) the Chapel of Santa Maria Madalena, built in the shape of a cross (like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Gothic Cathedrals built in Europe by the Order), which is where the Public Ceremonies are held. Everyone is welcome at the complex, regardless of their religious beliefs.

 

Death of Archbishop Paul Lorentzen

Archbishop Lorentzen (left) with Archbishop Paget Mack of the AEC at his consecration at St Lucy’s Cathedral in New York in 2014

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has been informed of the death of the Most Revd. Paul Lorentzen, who served as Archbishop of the Province of the East in the Apostolic Episcopal Church between 2015 and 2019. He died of cancer on 5 July at the age of 71.

Paul Lorentzen was a graduate of McKee High School and following his Associate of Science degree earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and a Master of Divinity degree from Faith Evangelical College and Seminary, Tacoma, Washington. He followed this with a PhD in Christian Counseling for substance abuse.

His secular career ended with the position of plant superintendent of The South Beach Psychiatric Center, from which he retired in 2001. Thereafter he pursued his religious vocation and was ordained priest in the North American Lutheran Church. He pastored various Lutheran churches in New York, including St Paul’s Lutheran, Brooklyn, Immanuel Lutheran, and Eltingville Lutheran Church, Staten Island.

He came to know the late Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan of the Order of Corporate Reunion, who was in communion with the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Archbishop Brennan duly ordained him deacon and priest and he joined the OCR. In addition to his other ministerial responsibilities he served as a deacon in the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches (which was also in communion with the AEC) at St George’s Astoria. During this period he was also supply clergy for the Episcopal Church on Staten Island. On June 20, 2014, he was consecrated bishop by bishop Alan Stanford, assisted by bishops Gregory Raeppel and George Jachimczyk. Bishop Stanford was consecrated by Archbishop Maxey, formerly Primate of the AEC.

In 2014, Archbishop Francis Spataro announced his retirement as Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Paul Lorentzen was admitted to the Apostolic Episcopal Church and conditionally consecrated bishop by Archbishop Spataro assisted by Archbishop Brennan and Archbishop Paget Mack of the AEC at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral on 30 December 2014. He was appointed Provincial of the East when Archbishop Spataro retired on 5 February 2015, served as a Deputy to the Primate, and received the honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology from the AEC. As a result of Archbishop Brennan’s efforts, he was also appointed a Delegate at the United Nations to represent the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II.

During 2015, Archbishop Lorentzen accepted the Lutheran pastorate of Transfiguration Church on Staten Island, New York, where he also ran a men’s ministry called Transfiguration Life Together. It was further intended that an Evangelical Catholic mission for the AEC should develop there, but this unfortunately did not happen. Archbishop Lorentzen also wished to extend his existing work in the Episcopal Church by becoming certified with them so that he could go on their regular call roster for Staten Island, but again this came to nothing.

The death of Archbishop Brennan in 2016 seems to have marked a turning-point in Archbishop Lorentzen’s ministry. Archbishop Lorentzen was in attendance upon him during his last days and gave him Holy Communion on his deathbed, Most of the former ecumenical activity that had been associated with the OCR, and with which the AEC had also been closely involved, came to an end. When the AEC reasserted its own representation of the Order of Corporate Reunion in 2017, Archbishop Lorentzen was supportive of this action, but it was difficult to escape the impression that his priorities were now elsewhere.

By February 2019, Archbishop Lorentzen’s ministry had developed to the extent that it was now wholly centred upon the Lutheran Church, giving rise to concerns that while he continued to hold senior office in the AEC, this had now become purely a nominal appointment. It was clearly not in the best interests of anyone that this situation should continue, and accordingly he resigned from the AEC and the OCR and thereafter devoted himself to the Lutheran ministry.

He was past master of Tompkins Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons No. 471, and Lodge No. 66, and a member of Nansen Lodge Sons of Norway on Staten Island.

He was passionate about rescued Pit Bull dogs, and they were his constant companions.

Memory Eternal!