In this History, bishops who hold the Eastern title Mar are referred to by that title after their consecration, so Mar John Emmanuel = Archbishop Arthur W. Brooks, Mar Haroldus = Archbishop Harold F.A. Jarvis, etc. This History is based on the archives of the Apostolic Episcopal Church as well as the research and publications of members of clergy of our communion.
Part 1 – Earliest years 1922-41 – Establishment of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Primacy of Mar John Emmanuel (Brooks)
The Apostolic Episcopal Church grew out of a missionary movement by some churchmen in the State of New York to provide spiritual ministrations for the scattered adherents of the Near Eastern churches. The movement began in 1922, but it was not until 1924 that a group succeeded in forming The Anglican Universal Church of Christ in the United States of America (Chaldean). Canonical authority for the body came through Mar Antoine Lefberne [Lefebvre] (1862-1953) in his capacity of special commissary in USA. He had been appointed to that office by Maran Mar Yosif Emmanuel II Thoma, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church (pictured right), a Uniate Eastern-rite church, allied with The Holy See through the Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus. In 1917, the Patriarch consecrated Mar Antoine.
The Apostolic Episcopal Church (The Holy Eastern Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church) was canonically organised in New York City by the Most Revd. Arthur Wolfort Brooks (Mar John Emmanuel) (1888-1948). Brooks was a priest of the Episcopal Church, a seminary professor and journalist with Walt Whitman’s renowned Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. He was born in Uniontown, Kentucky, and gained early experience as a student pastor in mission churches. He studied at Vanderbilt Theological School and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1910, and in 1911 graduated from the Theological Seminary of the University of Kentucky at Louisville. The following year, he married Virginia McKinley, from whom he was divorced in 1922.
He was ordained deacon and priest by Charles Woodcock, Bishop of Kentucky, on May 27 1915 at Grace Church, Louisville, and January 11, 1916 at Grace Church, Paducah, respectively. Thereafter he served successively at St Paul’s, Jeffersonville, Indiana (rector, May 13 1916-1917); Christ Church Catholic, Louisville, Kentucky (priest in charge, 1917); St Thomas, New York City (junior curate, 1917-18; he was also working with the YMCA); Church of the Redeemer, Cairo, Illinois (locum tenens, April-September 1919); Church of the Messiah, Brooklyn, New York (assistant minister, 1919-21); St George’s, Astoria, Long Island (priest in charge, 1921-23) and St Chrysostom’s Chapel, Trinity Parish, New York (assistant minister, 1923-February 10 1924).
In 1917 he undertook further studies at the General Theological Seminary, New York, and in 1924 received the honorary degrees of Bachelor and Doctor of Divinity conferred by the Episcopate of the Eastern Church (Alexandria) in recognition of studies in the arts and sciences. In 1918, he founded the Church Personnel Bureau in New York, and served as its secretary until 1920. Between 1921 and 1923 he was professor in English Bible Interpretation and Secretary at St Athanasius Greek Theological Seminary, Astoria.
In 1924, Brooks, who was a member of the Astrologers Guild of New York, founded the Epiphany Guild (Institute for Mundane Astrology). This year saw him begin to work with Dr George Winslow Plummer (1976-1944) (pictured right) in a church known as the Anglican Universal Church of Christ in the United States (Chaldean), which was the first canonical organisation of the church that would eventually become the AEC. The two men also founded the Seminary of Biblical Research, New York City, where Brooks taught as Professor of Eastern Studies and served as an administrator. Between 1924 and 1926 Brooks was also Educational Secretary of the Lord’s Day Alliance of New York State.
Brooks’ contact with other groups of Christians in New York, and his clearly apparent pastoral gifts, meant that he was sought out by those groups to establish mission churches that would cater for their specific ministries. On May 1, 1925, Brooks was accepted for episcopal consecration by The Universal Kirk of Scotland of the Old Original Catholic Sees of St. Andrews and Glasgow whose world primate was at the time Cardinal Mercier of Malines. However, he decided instead to accept the offer of consecration from the Chaldean Catholic Church, which had particular need of his abilities in dealing with the increasing numbers of Chaldean refugees in the United States.
Brooks had been received into the Eastern Church by the Titular Archbishop of Iconium and Apostolic Delegate of Canada and the New World (appointed 1918), Pietro di Maria (1865-1938), and the Titular Archbishop of Tarsus (appointed 1924), Alexis Cardinal Lépicier (1863-1936), both acting on behalf of the Holy See. They both confirmed the canonical position of Brooks in a letter of 1 May. Consent for the episcopal consecration of Brooks was obtained from the Protestant Episcopal bishop of New York, William Thomas Manning (1866-1949), who was Brooks’ ordinary. Accordingly, on May 4, 1925, at his house Chapel of the Redeemer at 22 E. 38th St, New York, Brooks was consecrated as Mar John Emmanuel by commission of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch by Antoine Lefebvre [Lefberne] (Mar Antoine), who was Delegate and Special Commissary in the USA of the Chaldean Catholic Church, assisted by Mar James, C.M. (Fernand Portal) (1855-1926) (pictured right) and Mar Evodius (Edward Robert Smith) who were both semi-clandestine bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Mar James, in particular, was a tireless ecumenist, well-known for his work with Viscount Halifax, and of whom the Abbé Hemmer would write, “Perhaps one should say about Fr. Portal C.M. that he changed something in the religious atmosphere of the world.” From June 1926, Mar John Emmanuel was elected Titular Bishop of Sardis with jurisdiction under the authority of The Anglican Universal Church of Christ in the United States (Chaldean). His consecration was recognized by the Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus, firstly through Giovanni, Cardinal Tacci Porcelli, and then in 1930 by Luigi, Cardinal Sincero, and again by Eugene, Cardinal Tisserant.
Mar John Emmanuel was still a clergy member of the Episcopal Church, and did not leave that body until November 18 1926, when he resigned from it of his own accord. There is evidence that he continued to have good relations with the Episcopalians afterwards, and he would eventually enter a private agreement of intercommunion with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1947.
On 18 April 1927, Mar John Emmanuel married Jane Nagle, and around this time he left his work with Plummer, with whom he had had increasing differences of approach, in order to become pastor of an ecumenical congregation in Queens, New York, associated with the Brooklyn Federation of Churches. This was Christ’s Church By The Sea, Broad Channel Island (pictured at right with AEC Archbishops Persson, Spataro and Mack standing in front of it), which became the embryonic Apostolic-Episcopal Universal Church. In 1930, this joined with a second parish, the Lord’s Evangelical Church of Ridgewood Plateau, New York, to form the Apostolic Episcopal Church (Holy Eastern Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church), in which Mar John Emmanuel was enthroned as Presiding Bishop on 9 November. Soon afterwards, they were joined by a predominantly black congregation in Manhattan led by John More-Moreno (d. 1958), and the Epiphany Guild was also absorbed within the AEC in 1931. As a result of negotiations by Fr. David Leonarides of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, who worked with Mar John Emmanuel in New York, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Damianos I, authorized Mar John Emmanuel to appoint John More-Moreno to have charge of some congregations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. In time, the black mission led by Cyrus Augustine Starkey (who would later become a bishop of the African Orthodox Church) joined the AEC. The AEC was officially incorporated in the State of New York in 1932.
Mar John Emmanuel was formally recognised by the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Elisha I (Eghishe I Tourian) in 1929. The Patriarch asked Mar John Emmanuel to ordain two Armenian priests, and on Whit Sunday 1929, clergy of the Armenian church participated at an ecumenical service with members of the AEC at St Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, 221 E. 27th St., New York.
In 1930, Mar John Emmanuel was recognized by the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate through Archbishop Damaskinos (pictured left), then acting as the ambassador in the United States of Photios II, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Patriarch Photios had been among the bishops to whom Mar John Emmanuel had sent notice of his consecration in 1925. In addition, Mar John Emmanuel established working ecumenical relations with the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (through Bishop John Taylor Hamilton), The Methodist Episcopal Church, The Reformed Episcopal Church, The Liberal Catholic Church, and various Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian congregations.
On May 19, 1929, as an act of ecumenical union, Mar John Emmanuel accepted consecration sub conditione from William Montgomery Brown (1855-1937) (pictured right), Bishop of the Old Catholic Church in America, who had previously been Bishop of Arkansas in the Episcopal Church but had been excommunicated by that church on account of his Communist political views. In 1930, he was consecrated sub conditione by Cornelius Nicholas A. Smit, who then joined the AEC as a bishop. In 1932 Mar John Emmanuel was similarly conditionally consecrated by the incardinating Hungarian bishop Count Victor de Kubinyi.
Mar John Emmanuel determined that some of the most divisive elements within Christianity stemmed from the early Councils of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, and that if the followers of Christ could envision the possibility of one vine with many branches as envisioned by some of the earliest leaders of the Church, many obstacles to unity could be eliminated. Out of this vision of peace and unity was born the Apostolic Episcopal Church. In 1929, as a public demonstration of the ability of Christian love to triumph over doctrinal differences, Mar John Emmanuel co-ordinated a united Holy Communion service at Christ’s-Church-By-The-Sea with clergy representing ten separate communions participating in one accord.
In 1933, Mar John Emmanuel consecrated William Henry DuBois for the AEC, whom he had ordained priest on 31 May 1931. DuBois led the Lord’s Evangelical Church, which was a parish of the AEC. In July 1933, an agreement of intercommunion was signed between the AEC and the Society of Clerks Secular of St Basil under their Superior Bishop Ignatius (William Albert Nichols) (1877-1947) (pictured left). Bishop Ignatius was a bishop of The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America (THEOCACNA), which was a mission within the North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Mar John Emmanuel had been a member of the Society of Clerks Secular of St Basil since 1932. On October 7 1933, Mar John Emmanuel and Bishop Ignatius exchanged consecrations sub conditione.
On March 1 1934, Mar John Emmanuel founded St John’s Society for Welfare and Social Service as an auxiliary of the AEC. On September 16 of that year, he raised two of his priests, Fr. Charles W. Keller and Fr. Harold F. Augustus Jarvis (who led a mission called The Visiting Church founded by him in 1933 that had since been absorbed into the AEC) to the rank of Archpresbyter, and on 16 November consecrated them both as chorepiscopi. In November 1934, he founded the Order of St James the Apostle, on 16 May 1937 was accepted as a member of the Archbishop John Carroll Original Synod, and on 9 April 1939 became a member of the Evangelical Catholic Communion. In 1941, to meet the AEC’s need for training for its ministers, Mar John Emmanuel founded the Holy Apostles Glastonbury Biblical Seminary of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.