Charismatic Episcopal Church Congregation and Clergy to be Received into Holy Orthodoxy

The following newsstory gives details of a congregation being received into the Antiochian Archdiocese from the Charismatic Episcopal Church, a Pentecostal denomination with many former Episcopalians, clergy and lay among their membership.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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28 responses to “Charismatic Episcopal Church Congregation and Clergy to be Received into Holy Orthodoxy”

  1. fatherstephen Avatar

    This story, sent to me by my wife, seemed to be an excellent companion piece to the post just below it.

  2. Alice C. Linsley Avatar
    Alice C. Linsley

    I know of a new church plant in the Tri-State area that would be very interested in this.

  3. Alice C. Linsley Avatar
    Alice C. Linsley

    Tri-State as in OH, KY and WV. The priests both come out of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

  4. Eric John Avatar

    May God be magnified!

  5. Barnabas Powell Avatar

    I was with the men who started the Charismatic Episciopal Church in 1992 at a meeting called The Fellowship of St. Barnabas meeting in Tulsa, OK. I was then just beginning my journey to Orthodoxy with a group of men who were still in the old Evangelical Orthodox Church.

    I remember these men as being convinced they could mix charismatic experiences with ancienbt liturgy. I thought at the time that might be possible too, but I learned the underlying theology behind between both theological systems were not compatible.

    I still have some friends in the CEC and I pray for them as this young denomination goes through their present crisis.


  6. fatherstephen Avatar

    I have thought that if they would consistently read the Fathers and good theological material, they would find themselves in Orthodoxy.

  7. Death Bredon Avatar

    I once heard the perhaps insightful view from an Orthodox Bishop that God allowed Pentecostals special Gifts of the Spirit because they were deprived of the more central sacraments (mysteries). Thus, it does not surprise me that, once Pentecostals do receive the Holy Mysteries and experience the inherently Spirit-Filled Liturgy, their former lesser “gifts,” subside. Having found what is truly needful, the precursors of the permanently indwelling Spirit retire, having down their job.

  8. fatherstephen Avatar

    Though a very kind thought, it would be a case of the Father giving a stone instead of a fish. I disagree with the analogy. I am contending with fear and trembling that much of what goes on there is delusional. God does not give His Church delusion.

  9. Barnabas Powell Avatar


    I have to agree with your assessment. When I have been asked about my former “speaking in tongues” I had to confess that it was much more a psychological need to fit in with a sub culture than some supernatural experience. I believe that most of these experiences can be attributed to that motivation.

    I would describe these estatic experiences as “intoxication” and anyone leaving these movements should be ready for either a 12 step program or prepare for a sometimes traumatic “detox.”

    It is a level of addiction that cannot produce spiritual maturity, but at least serves as a stark display of the general weakness of modern theology.


  10. David_Bryan Avatar

    From the article:

    “Wallace, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, said he started Holy Trinity in 1996 as a Charismatic Episcopal Church. He said he disagreed with the denomination’s bishop over doctrinal matters.”

    Well, my goodness; a fellow alum! And how interesting that Barnabas should also mention Tulsa; I was an attendee for a few months at St. Patrick’s Celtic Church (a member of the ceec, if I remember correctly) which met in a Lutheran parish there in T-town. It was a brief stopover (my first, obviously) on my way from being “Bapticostal” to Orthodox.

    It’s interesting…our in-laws (who are currently visiting their new granddaughter in the living room as I type) are charismatic ministers who do a lot of work in India–specifically “inner healing” ministries which deals a lot with demonic manifestations and exorcisms, along with subsequent repentance, baptism, and discipleship. Very…awkward, I guess, to hear all this and not go one way or another in terms of passing judgment on validity or delusion.

    I consider myself to be deluded enough–the Church has to keep working on me, yet!

  11. healtheland Avatar

    Barnabas Powell: “When I have been asked about my former “speaking in tongues” I had to confess that it was much more a psychological need to fit in with a sub culture than some supernatural experience. I believe that most of these experiences can be attributed to that motivation. I would describe these estatic experiences as “intoxication” and anyone leaving these movements should be ready for either a 12 step program or prepare for a sometimes traumatic “detox.” It is a level of addiction that cannot produce spiritual maturity, but at least serves as a stark display of the general weakness of modern theology.”

    So, does the fact that God miraculously, instantly healed my asthma, acute bronchial infection, and kidney disease (all of this medically verifiable by checking my medical records) and also freed me from my Internet pornography addiction count as intoxication and weak modern theology from which I need detoxification from? I am not trying to be obstinate, but rather an attempt to seek honest dialogue with someone from a different religious tradition. Incidentally note that I do have a link to The Anglican 39 Articles of The Christian Faith prominently displayed on my weblog, so perhaps that should provide evidence of the sincerity of my motivation. email hidden; JavaScript is required

  12. Fatherstephen Avatar

    I would not want to argue that there are not miracles in many places. Indeed one of the reasons Orthodoxy tends to be fairly quiet about miracles is that we think they are normal and should be normative for a world governed by a gracious God.

    I was not as specific in criticism as Barnabas, in some ways the criteria for making those judgments were never very clear for me. Delusion, as I said, is a very difficult issue and extremely common in the spiritual life. Perhaps I could say that historically, Pentecostalism has not concerned itself enough with delusion.

    I applaud the Charismatic Episcopal Church’s looking towards tradition. I think that frequently that tradition is appropriated too easily, which actually indicates that the tradition may not be well understood. I remain concerned at the role played by “Spiritual Gifts”, i.e. prophecy mixed with hierarchy.

    But as we all seek Christ I pray that He will use His winnowing fan for the good of us all. I have plenty of beams in my eyes still. Forgive me for discussing anyone else’s motes.

  13. healtheland Avatar

    Fatherstephen: My emotions are entertaining happy thoughts concerning what would happen were these charismatic Episcopals to get mixed up with Bishop Akinola and Martyn Minns’ CANA outfit. In any event, I am no longer Pentecostal because I became disenchanted with my movement’s refusal to stand against the many deceivers in the charismatic movement. Still, my experiences are real and line up with scripture, and the same is true for many other charismatics. Though I am Arminian (and I use a term whose meaning I am not fully acquainted with, as my knowledge of theology is woefully subpar), let us consider Calvinism with reference to the charismatic movement. It is certainly true from scripture that God deals these gifts of the Holy Spirit solely to whom He sees fit solely for His own reasons and to His own pleasure and glory. So, could it be that God in his Divine Providence sent those whom He elected and predestined to receive these gifts to the charismatic movement? After all, I was born to parents that attended a charismatic church. It was a false church, unfortunately, but I did learn of the existence of gifts of the Holy Spirit from it. Though that false church did inflict considerable spiritual damage to myself, my family, and lots of other people … had I grown up under a different doctrinal system, would I be a cessationist? If so, would I have ever been healed of my asthma? Points to consider. Thank you.

  14. David_Bryan Avatar

    “Though that false church did inflict considerable spiritual damage to myself, my family, and lots of other people … had I grown up under a different doctrinal system, would I be a cessationist? If so, would I have ever been healed of my asthma?”

    If I could…do you think it to be a good trade for someone to be healed of a physical ailment while having to endure an avoidable spiritual one? Which, truly, is the greater disease?

    God will heal whom he will heal, and can be glorified even through the most despicable of human beings (i.e., even Judas helped to bring about God’s glory). Yet it would be unthinkable to remain outside the life-giving Vine–where the Spirit runs deep and slow to carve love into our hearts–for the sake of some lesser gifts…such as, I would say, healing of the body.

    Forgive me.

  15. healtheland Avatar


    “If I could…do you think it to be a good trade for someone to be healed of a physical ailment while having to endure an avoidable spiritual one? Which, truly, is the greater disease?”

    Well, false teachers – and people who follow after them – are inevitable, correct? And charisma is far from the only Christian movement that has produced a multitude of falsehoods. Therefore, the entire notion that anything was traded in exchange for my healing is a faulty premise to begin with. Quite the contrary, my experiences of coming out of a false spiritual movement to be saved and healed 1) gives me a testimony to share to the world and 2) has made me quite zealous at researching, exposing, and warning people concerning devil’s doctrines. Who better to give the message that the law cannot save and that God’s grace wipes all sin than a Jew among Jews that persecuted the church like Paul? By the same token, who better to identify and warn people against false movements than one who grew up in it and came out of it? As many negative things as I have had to endure in my short life, I wouldn’t change a thing if given the chance for fear that were any least jot or tittle of my unfortunate background to be “changed for the better”, I cannot be certain that my miseries would have reached the point where I acknowledged and repented of my sins before God and begged Him to save me from the eternal flame that I so deserved. Every bad thing that ever happened to me in my life I praise God for it, because the result was God being ever more glorified through His saving me.

  16. Barnabas Powell Avatar

    I have to agree with David. God heals Whom He wills and we can rejoice in that, but I am often amazed by the record of Jesus healing the little girl in the Gospels and then telling her parents to tell no one.

    The (perhaps) subtle difference between Orthodoxy and the Pentecostal view of the miraculous is that miracles, far from being rare, are common place in the Church, but the emphasis can never be on the miracle but on the Lord Himself.

    This was not my expereince as a Pentecostal pastor. Any miracle, whether real or perceived, was shouted from the housetops, and touted as proof we were in the Lord’s will. The miracles became the point.

    And at that point they became idols and temptations to authentic faith.

  17. David_Bryan Avatar

    “Well, false teachers – and people who follow after them – are inevitable, correct?”

    Correct–equally inevitable, however, is the persistence of sound doctrine in the Church. While it certainly is something significant that you were healed of your physical ailments because of your openness to the power of the Holy Spirit, one need not expose themselves to what we would call spiritually harmful practices (like speaking in tongues and ecstatic worship services where false prophecy is given out) in order to receive this. Nor is receiving or not receiving any particular gift from God even the point, but rather experiencing and cultivating the abiding presence of God Himself.

    Forgive me.

  18. healtheland Avatar

    David Bryan and Barnabas Powell:

    I was healed while praying at home with my family.

  19. fatherstephen Avatar


    Orthodox are not cessationists. We do not believe anything stopped, though we observe that the frequency stopped. We do not disallow any of these things. However, we’re just sober about it, that’s all, somewhat careful, and we never think their presence is a message from God telling us to do something new. Ecclesiologically, people who accept the authority of the early Church should ask themselves why they are not in union with that Church, but instead seek to start new things. I rejoice in your healing. God is indeed good.

  20. Barnabas Powell Avatar


    May God bless you in your healing and your continued journey in Him.


  21. David_Bryan Avatar


    Thanks be to God.

  22. healtheland Avatar

    fatherstephen: Thank you for the clarification. As you can tell, I am still learning about Christianity, and have a great deal indeed to learn.

    Barnabas Powell and David_Bryan: Yes, praise be to God, who did it for His own glory and His own reason. But though my healing from kidney disease and asthma were great blessings, what I actually tend to speak of more when I present my testimony is how God delivered me from pornography and other forms of sexual immorality, which began when I took one of those “comprehensive sex education” courses in my public elementary school (which by the way did absolutely nothing to curb our extremely high teenage pregnancy rate … abstinence education may be a failure, but comprehensive sex education failed first). The asthma and the kidney disease (my kidneys were damaged by the asthma medicine) was not my doing and not something that I was going to have to stand before God in judgment for. The sexual immorality was. So to me, that was the greater healing and deliverance, and how the grace, mercy, power, and sovereignty of God were most made manifest in me. I use my story of healing and deliverance not to glorify myself or the flesh, but only to promote among unbelievers that God is real and among believers that Bible – based charisma is real and can be used to glorify and serve God: to further the cause of evangelism and edification. The latter, my primary target is actually people currently in the charismatic movement: I endeavor to contrast the charismatic practices of my family, which we strive to remain in keeping with I Corinthians and Acts, with the unbiblical practices. Letting more Orthodox and traditional Christians know that Bible – based charismatics such as my family do in fact exist is more of a secondary goal. Well, thank you, brothers in Jesus Christ, for this useful exchange, and may we all persevere in the faith, endure to the end, and serve and glorify God out of the measure that He has seen fit to deal to us.

  23. Mark Wallace Avatar
    Mark Wallace

    Thanks for all of your comments regarding my experience of “CEC Congregation and clergy being received into Holy Orthodox.” I came into the Charismatic Episcopal Church a mere two years into its existence (1994). During our seminary training, we were given the impression that our church was “a bridge” into the Ancient Church. We clearly were being wooed towards Orthodoxy, yet it was easier to get a “valid, but irregular” Apostolic Succession through a former Roman Diocese in Brazil; now known as The Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil.

    Our theological grid and mantra was “We believe in the faith of the Undivided Church of the first millennium.” It took over a year and a half of wrestling with alleged sexual and financial improprieties of the upper echelon of leadership to get many of us to realize that no longer did the CEC consider herself to be “a bridge” but instead she was proudly declaring herself to be “the destination.” This forced me to ask the question, “If that’s what we believe, then why are we not submitting ourselves to the authority of that “undivided Church” which is still on the earth today?”

    The answer?

    “That Church doesn’t exist any more. Rather, the One, True, Undivided Church exists only in the mind of God. The True Church is invisible.” The CEC has now reverted to a very Protestant understanding regarding the nature of the Church.

    My wife and extended family have spent all of this year “in the womb” of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church [Oklahoma City]. A few months ago, when my wife and I were visiting with His Grace, Bishop BASIL, we told him that we love the Orthodox Church and know it to be the True faith. And we also told him, “We love the Byzantine Rite, but we also love the Western Rite. We know you hear from God. Which direction does He want us to go?” With only a moment’s pause, he said “Go Western Rite.”

    What the article you referenced did not say, is that with Bishop BASIL’s blessing, I am leading our congregation in Sunday morning Matins, using the Western Rite (St. Tikhon) in the chapel at the same time that St. Elijah is doing the Divine Liturgy. God-willing, we will be chrismated by Advent of this year.

    The Priest
    [formerly known as Father Mark]

  24. fatherstephen Avatar

    Fr. Mark,

    Thank you for your posting and the information in it – it made sense of a number of things for me – including what seemed to be a drift in the self-understanding of the CEC over a matter of years (I was on the mailing list and read their materials with interest). I give thanks for the mercies of God that have brought you where you are and pray that others may follow. The doctrine of the invisible church is a pernicious piece of theology, allowing the justification of darned near anything.

  25. Cecil A. Kline Avatar
    Cecil A. Kline

    Fr. Stephen: Please pass this on to Fr. Mark. He and his family have been on my heart for sometime. I want to wish him well and know that he will be happy in Holy Orthodoxy. We had several conversations about the Orthodox church.

    God Bless; Cecil A. Kline
    Mesa, AZ.

  26. Mary Lowell Avatar

    Dear Fr. Stephen,

    Charismatics are serious Christians with very little to go on. Hopefully, more will find the True Faith. But strictly Charismatic Pentecostal congregations are not really looking for Her because their own invention is quite satisfying with no hierarchy to lead them into Hell like the poor Episcopalians. Yes, you are correct, Father, the delusion of charismatics, disorderly ones and orderly ones like Charismatic Episcopalians, is still delusion.

    Still, I am convinced young hipsters in the 60s and early 70s, like myself, were given food (maybe just crumbs, but not a stone) to sustain us on our journey HOME. It was a very turbulent and confusing time and hippies would hardly have presented at the doors of mainline congregations! And who knew from Orthodoxy? (Was it Judaism or those domes, was it Muslim? Certainly, I never met an Orthodox Christian anywhere in the 60’s). Perhaps, God took to the streets to find us. I learned a lot in my sojourn with the neo-Pentecostals, such as, God IS! But I quickly tired of the same emotional diet and tongue worship. I longed for the Beauty of True Worship. Within a year of my conversion to Charismania in 1970, I sought out all I could find of the historical Church. Being totally ignorant of Her, having been raised as a Baptist by very Christian parents, I grafted myself to the Episcopal Church for 14 years.

    Just when it began to dawn on me that what I had really found in the Episcopal Church was “pretty worship,” there She was: the Holy, Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Church, planted as mission on the very grounds of the Episcopal Church I was attending. This was in 1983, before the fruit of the Episcopal misery had fully blossomed. I am thankful it was Truth and Beauty that drew me to Orthodoxy, with my whole family, and not recent politics and heresy within in the Episcopal Church that drove me out.

    I rejoice for this news from Oklahoma City. The Harvest of God will winnow out all delusion, and the food is great (just a little aside in honor of my six half-Arab grandchildren)! Very exciting!

    Mary Lowell

  27. frjkc3 Avatar

    In 1999 our small CEC mission was received into Orthodoxy as a Western Rite Mission in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. We left because we believed there was more and that this fullness was in Orthodoxy. Alas, our little mission didn’t make it but all the members made it, one way or another, to Orthodoxy and I recently attended the wedding of a young lady I had baptized when we were St. Timothy’s CEC. What a joy!

    I am grateful for those early days in the CEC (I was in attendance when Fr. Randolph Sly became Bishop Randolph Sly) and I sometimes wonder where Fr. Barry Ritter ended up. But I am glad I came to Orthodoxy and had the chance to speak with the newly untitled but happily Catholic Randolph Sly as he pursues life in that Church. I guess the CEC was a bridge but a bridge needs a destination and for us Orthodoxy was that place.

  28. Mark Wallace Avatar
    Mark Wallace

    I just thought I’d post an update on our journey from the CEC into The Holy Orthodox Church. On Jan. 13, 2008, our group will be chrismated at St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City. On Jan. 19, I will be ordained a Reader and Subdeacon. Another former CEC priest, Barry Thibodeaux, will be ordained up to the office of Deacon that same day. On Jan. 20, Barry will be priested and I will be made a deacon. Then on Jan. 21, I will become a priest. There is a podcast of my story which can be found here…. I will greatly appreciate your prayers during those days! Yours in Christ, Mark Wallace

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