Part 3 – 1948-86

The years of division

When Mar John Emmanuel died prematurely of hepatitis at the age of 59 on 7 July 1948, Mar David succeeded him in the united primacy of the Ancient Christian Fellowship and the Apostolic Episcopal Church under the terms of the 1947 Concordat, becoming additionally AEC Presiding Bishop and Ecclesiastical Administrator. Mar Carolus (Charles W. Keller) succeeded Mar John Emmanuel as Rector of Christ’s-Church-by-the-Sea. In 1947, the AEC had reported a total of 7,086 members.

Schism between the Provinces of the East and the West

Unfortunately, Mar David was not able to unify the AEC’s clergy. From having at one point been a sincere Communist, he had developed pro-German political views which he would later come to recant comprehensively (he had been invited to Germany in 1946 by Bishop Erwin Kreutzer of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, for discussions, and reported that most of the Utrecht Union bishops he had met there had been Nazi sympathisers); some clergy expressed concerns at his homosexuality; there was also some dissent at the closeness of the arrangements with Mar Georgius, who was not universally liked. At that point, there were good ecumenical relations and active arrangements of co-operation with the Episcopalians, the Methodists, and the Armenians in place in New York, and the New York clergy believed that Mar David’s primacy would jeopardize all this. The New York clergy accordingly met two days after the death of Mar John Emmanuel on 9 July 1948 – but deliberately avoided inviting Mar David or any of the Western Province clergy. Led by Mar Carolus, their meeting purported to repudiate the concordat of 1947 and depose Mar David from the Primacy, appointing Mar Carolus as “Primate of the East” and Mar Chrysostomos (More-Moreno) as his deputy. This action was clearly invalid canonically, but it did mark the beginning of a serious schism within the AEC that would mar the following decades.

As of Easter 1949, Mar David continued to acknowledge Mar Carolus as Rector of Christ’s Church-by-the-Sea, but stated that “all other official acts must be decided when the General Synod next meets.” At this point, Mar David unilaterally appointed Mar Philippus (Abbinga) as AEC Archbishop of Continental Europe and Regionary Administrator.

Mar Georgius had written in 1949 that “it had always been understood that [Mar Georgius’s] jurisdiction covered the British Empire, whilst that of the AEC extended over the USA and South America,” and he complained, “I suppose the next thing I shall find is a branch of the Apostolic Episcopal Church established here right on my doorstep.” In fact, this understanding was erroneous. In practice, the AEC had been international in scope from its foundation, and the changed direction and character of Mar Georgius’s mission in the ensuing decades would inevitably bring about conflicting priorities between the two jurisdictions. On 24 May 1949 Mar David authorized a mission of the AEC in Australia under a former Anglican lay-reader, Herbert William Edgerton, who had established an Anglo-Catholic chapel in Sydney with a following of some thirty souls. It was only after logistical difficulties had prevented Edgerton’s ordination that the mission was transferred to Mar Georgius in 1952, although this association did not prosper.

Mar David resigns

Mar David endured a number of difficulties both on account of the situation within the AEC and in his personal affairs; his business interests were not prospering and he lost a number of possessions in a house fire in March 1949. Soon afterwards, Mar David received the offer of the salaried pastorate of the First Universalist Church of Los Angeles. While not Universalist in his personal beliefs, he was sufficiently liberally-minded to find such a role rewarding, offering as it did “a larger field to work in” compared to the smaller communions, and the security of a regular wage was certainly welcomed. On 23 August 1949, acting autonomously given the divided position of the AEC, he resigned his office as AEC Provincial of the West in favour of Mar Matthew (Nelson), retaining, however, his office as AEC Primate, membership of AEC Metropolitan Synod and office of Patriarch of Malaga in the Catholicate of the West.

In April 1951, Mar Matthew in turn resigned his offices in the AEC, and Mar David, acting as AEC Primate, appointed Lowell Paul Wadle (Mar Paulos) (1900-65) (pictured right) to succeed Mar Matthew as AEC Provincial of the West, installing him in that office on 7 April and at the same time relinquishing the Patriarchate of Malaga in the Catholicate of the West in Mar Paulos’ favour. Mar Paulos was the Primate of the American Catholic Church at its Cathedral of St Francis-by-the-Sea, Laguna Beach, and had previously received conditional consecration from Mar David. In a letter to Mar Georgius of 19 April 1951, Mar Paulos lamented that this was the fourth such office his church had absorbed without an increase of membership. As part of the arrangements agreed, both Mar David and Mar Matthew retained the personal rank of Archbishop in the Catholicate of the West.

The Ancient Christian Fellowship had been absorbed through merger with the AEC on the death of Mar John Emmanuel, but on Easter Day 1949, Mar David re-established it as an ecclesiastical chivalric and religious order under the patronage of St John-the-Divine, with membership consisting of ten degrees reflecting the religious and secular aspects of its work. Despite the changes of the 1950s, Mar David retained ownership of the corporation of the ACF and its headship, although it would be inactive for some time to come.

Developments in the Province of the East

In the East, Mar Carolus, too, experienced unrest among his clergy, who included black men such as Mar Chrystostomos (More-Moreno), when it became known that he had recently become a member of the Ku Klux Klan; the clergy consequently denounced him. The New York clergy had elected Chorepiscopus Harold F.A. Jarvis and Canon Perry N. Cedarholm to the full episcopate in their meeting of 9 May 1948, but Mar Carolus, who had been elected to perform the consecrations, withdrew, not least because of the deterioration of relations between Jarvis and himself. It was Mar Chrysostomos who duly consecrated Jarvis as Mar Haroldus, Titular Bishop of Sardis, on 30 October 1949 and Cedarholm as Mar Nikolaus, Titular Bishop of Ephesus and Bishop of Brooklyn and Staten Island, on 6 December 1949. As of October 1949, Mar Carolus resigned the Eastern Primacy; the resulting clergy meeting rejected Mar Haroldus as his successor in favour of Mar Chrysostomos, who appointed himself Ruling Bishop. Mar Carolus continued as Rector of Christ’s Church-by-the-Sea, assisted by Mar Haroldus and Mar Nikolaus, until 1950, when he joined the Episcopal Church in which he is reported to have functioned as a priest.

On 14 April 1951, Mar Chrysostomos left the AEC when he incorporated a new church body (as a fusion of his earlier ministries), The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America. The majority of the AEC’s Eastern laity and some of the clergy joined him in this new endeavour, leaving only Mar Haroldus and Mar Nikolaus as the remaining clergy of the Eastern AEC. Yet this would soon change again, for Mar Nikolaus relocated permanently to Sweden, the homeland of his ancestors, on 24 April. This and the effective cessation of the ministry of the Province of the West earlier that same month meant that Mar Haroldus was soon the only active clergyman of the AEC in the United States, and he designated himself Patriarch in recognition of that situation.

Ministry of Mar Haroldus

Isolated he may have been, but Mar Haroldus was far from inactive during the ensuing years. Indeed, he was responsible for changing the emphasis of the AEC at this time from ecumenical outreach to energetic missionary activity to the disenfranchised, infirm, and unchurched. Establishing an active Church Mission Headquarters on Shelter Island, New York, Mar Haroldus, other clergy, and lay leaders endeavored to visit homes, hospitals and places of business in order to address the needs of the sick and discouraged. Prayer, guidance, and consolation were offered abundantly to all in need.

The archive records of this ministry, including Mar Haroldus’s long-running publication The Apostolic News, indicate that Mar Haroldus and his staff were responsible for visiting thousands of individuals in an effort to enrich their lives through a better understanding of the Christian experience. Mar Haroldus conducted regular and well attended services throughout his administrative tenure with the AEC at The Little Church on the Heights, Shelter Island, New York, and the chapel of St Stephen at Rockville Center, New York. Under the far-sighted direction of Mar Haroldus, the mission of the AEC expanded to include assisting individuals with an understanding of the inner message of scripture, and to invite them back into the flock of Christ with new insight and a peace-centered life. The character of the outreach was not merely Protestant and Catholic but also included a mission to the Jews. There was a strong emphasis on abstention from alcohol and tobacco, which had previously been a source of conflict between Mar Haroldus and other AEC clergy.

Mar Nikolaus and the AEC in Scandinavia; Mar Philippus and the OAEK in Holland

In Sweden, Mar Nikolaus’s episcopal orders were recognized by the Church of Sweden, the state church there, on 15 July 1951. Mar Nikolaus’ diary records that, knowing of his Swedish origins, Mar John Emmanuel asked Mar Nikolaus to establish a diocese of the AEC if he should someday return to his homeland. In 1952 Mar Nikolaus was contacted by Mar Philippus (Abbinga) who was based in Holland. Mar Philippus had resigned from the Catholicate of the West on 14 January 1952 “in an oecumenical and most brotherly spirit”, citing “many differences of opinion about clerical matters”. Mar Georgius accepted this resignation and granted Mar Philippus a release, at which point several of Mar Philippus’s priests left him and remained with the Catholicate of the West.

(L to R) Mar Nikolaus and Mar Philippus, with Fr. Gunnar Rosendal of the OAEK and the Church of Sweden. The photograph was taken at Osby, Sweden, during a Sunday in May 1953, around the time that Mar Philippus conditionally consecrated Mar Nikolaus.

Originally a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church, Mar Philippus’s theology tended towards a Theosophical interpretation and was very different from the more conventional Orthodoxy of Mar Nikolaus. Since 1946, Mar Philippus had used the designation Oosters Apostolisch Episcopale Kerk (OAEK) (Eastern Apostolic Episcopal Church) for his mission, and after his release from the Catholicate of the West he constituted this church as an independent body and appointed himself as Primate. During that year, he was visited by Mar Paulos (Wadle). In August 1952 the OAEK entered into full communion with the Evangelical Catholic Communion under Bishop William Eaton Jeffery (Mar Iohannes), a former bishop of the Catholicate of the West, and also with the Oratorian Brotherhood under Fr. George F. Tull OB, then a priest of the ECC.

Mar Nikolaus received conditional consecration from Mar Philippus on 31 May 1953 at Oslo, and was on that occasion enthroned as Archbishop of Scandinavia in the OAEK. Mar Nikolaus became a Swedish citizen in 1958.

Mar Philippus at home with one of his priests and members of his family

On 29 November 1964 Mar Nikolaus assisted by Mar Philippus consecrated as his Auxiliary Bishop Dag Giverholt (Mar Markus) (1920-92), a Norwegian journalist. Giverholt had been a priest initially under Mar Philippus (from 1952), and had published the monthly newsletter “Ekumenisk Hilsen” (Ecumenical Greetings). Mar Nikolaus decided to retire from church activities on 4 August 1966.

Shortly before Mar Philippus’ death in 1968 he wrote to Mar Haroldus in New York appointing him Patriarch of the OAEK; Mar Haroldus’s response to this was that he had been a Patriarch since the death of Mar John Emmanuel and that Mar Philippus could therefore give him nothing he did not already have. Mar Markus therefore succeeeded Mar Philippus as Archbishop of Europe in the OAEK.

Following Mar Philippus’s death, Mar Nikolaus decided to come out of retirement and resume his ministry, though now distancing himself from the ministry of Mar Philippus, which he believed had deviated too far from the original vision of the AEC. He designated himself initially Bishop of Sweden, Denmark and Finland on 1 January 1969. Mar Markus acknowledged Mar Nikolaus’s authority in Scandinavia. However, further problems were soon to become apparent, and following the involvement of Nils Bertil Persson (see below) these differences led to a breakdown of relations between the two prelates.

Mar Markus did not conduct any external ministry, and other than the private activities of his immediate circle remained a member of the Church of Norway. On 1 December 1970, in response to the situation, Mar Nikolaus redesignated his office as Archbishop of Scandinavia in the AEC and made a permanent break with the OAEK. A document issued by Mar Nikolaus on 5 January 1970 affirms the identity of the AEC under him as the direct continuation of the AEC under Mar John Emmanuel. The Scandinavian representation of the AEC was designated the Svea Synod.

Nils Bertil Persson had since 1962 been a pastor in the Church of Sweden. In 1965 he was also appointed a pastor in the Moravian Church. He was ordained deacon and priest in the OAEK by Mar Markus in February 1969 and then consecrated bishop by Mar Nikolaus in the AEC on 12 December 1971 as Mar Alexander, Titular Bishop of Smyrna. On 29 July 1974, Mar Alexander (by commission of Mar Nikolaus) consecrated Fr. Daniel Moody as AEC Bishop of Norway and Iceland. On 22 July 1977 Mar Nikolaus retired finally from all church duties in favour of Mar Alexander.

The Province of the East merges with the Svea Synod

In the early 1970s, Mar Haroldus was offered a further appointment as a Patriarch in the Old Roman Catholic Church from Patriarch Claudius (Guy Claude Hamel) of Canada, but repudiated this offer in definite terms. Hamel was the successor of Archbishop Earl A. James (Mar Laurentius), sometime Archbishop and Primate of Acadia and Exarch of the Canadas in the Catholicate of the West. In a letter of 17 August 1972, Mar Haroldus appointed Mar Alexander to take over all church work from him, meaning that the AEC Province of the East, USA then became officially merged within the Svea Synod. Mar Haroldus continued some ministerial work until 1976 when he retired completely. He met with Mar Alexander on two occasions during his retirement in Florida.

Mar David during the 1960s

After leaving the First Universalist Church of Los Angeles in 1954 and then establishing a Universalist home chapel, Mar David had spent much of the following decade engaged in a publishing business. A man of high intelligence and progressive opinions, he became a member of the Mattachine Society, arguing for the civil rights of homosexuals, and published a number of articles that predated by some years the calls for sexual liberalization that would become mainstream in the 1960s. In 1958, he founded the periodical Sex and Censorship which published work by, among others, Henry Miller, Albert Ellis and Lawrence Lipton. That year also saw his book Man Is A Sexual Being: An Existential Approach to the Subject. He continued to lecture for the Mattachine Society and with his colleague Sanford Aday challenged the law on literary censorship in a series of obscenity trials throughout the USA. A key feature of the works made available through the Aday/Maxey imprint Fabian Books was that they did not only include works of an academic nature, but also featured vernacular “pulp” fiction, often with gay and lesbian themes, designed to appeal to the working classes. It was this above all that incurred the wrath of the censors. In 1967, the Supreme Court quashed the punitive convictions of Aday and Maxey for obscenity; the times had changed and free expression was victorious.

Mar David retired from secular employment around 1969. In 1976, by which time his active church ministry was many years behind him, he was contacted by Bishop Ronald R. Ramm, who viewed Mar David as an important figure in the Free Catholic movement and was interested to learn about that movement’s forefathers from Mar David’s first-hand recollections. Other California clergy also made contact and began to talk not only about the old days but about their current ministries and plans. Their inquiries caused Mar David to investigate the current position of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Catholicate of the West.

The re-activation of the Province of the West and the Patriarchate of Malaga

Concerning the AEC, the position was straightforward. Mar David had been the legal Primate since the death of Mar John Emmanuel. Only a vote of Metropolitan Synod could have deprived him of that dignity, and the full Metropolitan Synod of the AEC had never met after Mar John Emmanuel’s death. As for Mar Matthew (Nelson) and Mar Paulos (Wadle), his autonomously-appointed successors in the Province of the West, both were now dead and Mar Paulos had named no successor. Moreover, in respect of Mar David’s retirement, this had simply been an autonomous act and could thus be reversed by him as easily as it had been accomplished.

Mar David consequently took the view that he had never ceased to be Primate of the AEC and that he still held that dignity. All other claimants to the Primacy were without merit because their actions had been autonomous, and without the support of Metropolitan Synod were uncanonical.

The position regarding the Catholicate of the West was more complex and controversial. Following Mar Georgius’s attempted dissolution of the Catholicate of the West in 1953, he had established a new church, the United Orthodox Catholicate, which was intended to provide a “fresh start” and a break from the legal problems that had affected the Catholicate in India. This body asserted that it had transferred various privileges of the Catholicate of the West to itself and in turn re-adopted the title Catholicate of the West in 1959. Furthermore Bishop Emmet Neil Enochs was appointed by Mar Georgius as Patriarch of Los Angeles and Regionary Bishop of the (second) Catholicate of the West in July 1964. However, following a movement towards reform and simplification, this second Catholicate was once more dissolved by Mar Georgius on 1 January 1968. So far as Mar Georgius was concerned, Mar David was a retired prelate of the former Catholicate with the dignity of archbishop; one of his publications from 1961 cited Mar David as being “placed on the Retired List owing to his personal circumstances, and is the only one [of the twelve original prelates of the Catholicate] still in communion with the Catholicate of the West.” (Marianno Gervase, A Notable Episode in Church History, Patriarchal Press (Catholic Apostolic Church), 1961, p 10).

Mar David, however, having reviewed his archival documentation and the detailed description of the Catholicate in Peter Anson’s critical study Bishops at Large (which had been based on information provided by Mar Georgius), concluded as follows:

I am convinced the Catholicate in America which was and is an autocephalous church body is not in any manner affected by Mar Georgius’ act in dissolving the [Catholicate] in England and other countries in Europe. The Catholicate in America was never notified of his act so without consultation with the Primate, duly commissioned to establish a Catholicate in America, and officially registered as such before witnesses at the American Embassy in London, Mar Georgius’ acts in England have nothing to do with us in the USA…The best and justifying evidence is the document of my consecration. There is no word of submission to Mar Georgius as all work in the USA was and is an autocephalous endeavor.
Mar David, letter to Robert R. Ramm, 30 October 1977

One significant point of difference between Mar David and Mar Georgius was that the latter asserted in an Encyclical of October 1976 that Mar David I had never been empowered to consecrate bishops without an Apostolic Mandate from Mar Georgius. Mar David’s view was that as an Apostolic Primate who had never executed an oath of canonical obedience to Mar Georgius, who was his equal within the structure of the Catholicate of the West, he was empowered – as his Instrument of Consecration stated – “with plenary jurisdiction” as the Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas. Mar David therefore could not have been dismissed from membership of the Catholicate of the West, as Mar Georgius now asserted, on the basis of his failure to sign the Glastonbury Confession in 1953 – a matter concerning which Mar David said that he was unaware until his review of events in 1976 – and indeed the previous statement that Mar David was still regarded by Mar Georgius as being in communion with him as of 1961 would appear to render such a view moot.

This resolution provided the impetus for a number of significant events. On 8 August 1976, Mar David before two independent witnesses consecrated Ramm as Mar David II, investing him in “all Titles, Ranks and Episcopate Offices held by me” and specifically in the corporate rights to the Ancient Christian Fellowship, held by Mar David since 1944. However, the two Mar Davids appear to have quarrelled seriously soon afterwards, and Mar David I retained the handwritten instrument of consecration as well as denying that he had consecrated Mar David II. Absent any written evidence of what had taken place on 8 August, Mar David II created an instrument of consecration that was based on Mar David I’s own documentation from 1946, but without Mar David I’s signature or seal. Mar David II made a number of attempts in writing and by telephone to contact Mar Georgius and the bishops of his jurisdiction in order to secure his recognition by them, but the only response produced by his self-created document was his denunciation by Mar Georgius as an imposter.

Just as the two Mar Davids had quarrelled, so they in due course reconciled, and on 9 November 1976 Mar David I confirmed that the consecration of 8 August had indeed taken place and gave the authentic instrument of consecration to Mar David II. This was not enough to allay the inevitable doubt that had been raised, however, and so on 23 October 1977, a second consecration and installation service took place to elevate Mar David II to the Patriarchate of Malaga in the Catholicate of the West, before bishop witnesses Paul G.W. Schultz (in whose chapel the service was held), Carroll Lowery and Edwin W. Tomlinson. Prior to this, on 6 August 1977, Mar Davids I and II met as the constituted Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West and established the corporate basis of their mission, uniting the headship of the Catholicate of the West with that of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. On 5 February 1978 a further installation took place when Mar David I installed Mar David II as President of the Ancient Christian Fellowship and its associated Divinity School of Divine Science Universal. Within the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Mar David I was designated Emeritus Patriarch and Mar David II Patriarch.

Mar David II (left) with Archbishop Forest E. Barber of the AEC

Several problems were now to become apparent. The first was that not all the California clergy who sought Mar David I out were benign in their intentions. On 11 December 1978, Mar David I executed a power of attorney in favour of Mar David II to secure the return of all his documents currently in the possession of Donald Pierce Weeks and Eugene Kopp. In later writings, Weeks, whose activities had repeatedly come to the attention of the police, sought to further his feud against his perceived rivals Mar David II and Archbishop Robert Alioto (Thaddeus Bernard Joseph), and to defame Mar David I by presenting him inaccurately as a violent drunk. Despite his claims, Weeks’ only legitimate authority within the AEC was to be a brief period as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of California-Nevada in 1997-98, which ended with his suspension a divinis.

The second problem was that the corporation of the AEC Province of the West had been acquired on 26 April 1978 by Archbishop George A.E. Lyman, who was the seventh Prince-Abbot of San Luigi under the title Edmond II and asserted that as owner of the corporation he held the exclusive rights to its name. Since the conflict between the Mar Davids and Edmond II was not resolved at this time, the Province of the West under Mar David II adopted the name Apostolic Episcopal Catholic Church.

Lastly, Mar Georgius himself had issued a Patriarchal Bull in October 1966 which sought to claim the Primacy of the AEC for himself and his successors. This was based on his seniority of standing within the AEC (as the only surviving Deputy appointed by Mar John Emmanuel) and predicated on no canonical provision having been made for the appointment of a Primate. This premise, however, was mistaken; the only Primate to have been appointed canonically to succeed Mar John Emmanuel was Mar David, who was still alive, and the only body that could have deposed Mar David or canonically accepted his retirement was the Metropolitan Synod of the AEC, not another bishop of the AEC acting autonomously.

Revival in Sweden

By the 1970s, the AEC in Scandinavia was gaining in prominence and, unlike much of the activity in the USA, was strongly visible in its ministerial witness under Mar Alexander. Mar Alexander’s ecumenical work had resulted in renewed contact with the larger Orthodox churches, and between 1974-77 he served as a consultant to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

One important ecumenical contact during the 1970s came when Mar Alexander visited the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Maran Mar Paul II Cheikho. In several meetings, the Patriarch discussed the circumstances of the consecration of Mar Antoine (Lefberne). At the Patriarch’s direction, Dr Yousef Habbi, a priest of the Chaldean Catholic Church, showed Mar Alexander the church in Mosul where Mar Antoine had been consecrated.

On 3 February 1980, the Svea Synod formally reactivated the Province of the East, USA, under the New York-based priest Fr. Francis Spataro, who had had responsibilities within the Province since 4 December 1978 and was now elected to the episcopate. On 2 August 1981 a Constitution for the Province of the East was adopted and approved.

On 31 March 1983 Diederik D. J. Quatannens was appointed AEC Archbishop of Europe. Archbishop Quatannens was a member of several of the clandestine communions to which Mar John Emmanuel had belonged, as well as asserting that he was Universal Primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion; he would serve the AEC until his retirement in 1995. Also in 1983, Count Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki was consecrated as AEC bishop for the British Isles with a specialist ministry to Polish-speaking people.

>>Continue to part 4 – The years of reunion (1986-present)