Evangelical Orthodox Church
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|Orthodoxy in the Americas|
The Evangelical Orthodox Church is an Eastern Orthodox Christian movement with its origins in the Jesus People cult movement, particularly as an amalgam of Jack Sparks' 'Christian World Liberation Front' and a sheep-stolen component of Watchman Nee's 'Local Church' stolen by 'J.R.' Ballew and Jon Braun, that came to embrace an Eastern tradition of Christianity.
Together with the Campus Crusade missionary Peter E. Gillquist (1938-2012) who established in 1973 in Chicago a network of house churches throughout the United States, aiming to restore a primitive form of Christianity. Peter Gillquist, Jack Sparks, Jon Braun, and 'J.R.' Ballew stood in a circle and self-ordained each other while creating an entity which was called the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO).
Researching the historical basis of the Christian faith, Gillquist and his colleagues found sources for this restoration in the writings of the early Church Fathers. This led the group to practice a more liturgical form of worship than in their previous evangelical background. In 1977 initial contact with the Eastern Orthodox Church was initiated through Orthodox seminarian and former Berkeley - Christian World Liberation Front member (Karl) John Bartke, who introduced them to Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. In 1979, the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) was organized. Some of the member clergy and communities of the NCAO left prior to its transition to the EOC, including those communities which now form the Alliance for Renewal Churches, and former Apostle Elbert Spriggs, who founded the Twelve Tribes communities.
The belief of needing apostolic succession led most members of the EOC to join the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987 after first shopping the Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, Greek Archdiocese, OCA, and the Melkite Archdiocese. The EOC first traveled to Istanbul to meet with the Patriarch of Constantinople but were unable to complete any substantial progress toward their goal. They next reunited with an old friend, Fr. John Bartke, who opened the door for them to meet Ignatius IV of Antioch, the Patriarch of Antioch, during his historic visit to Los Angeles. Fr. Bartke then served for the next year as the primary intermediary with the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and served as host for the initial set of chrismations and ordinations of the EOC at St. Michael's Church in Van Nuys, California. The group of 20 parishes became known as the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission, which subsequently issued a statement to Metropolitan Philip stating that they knew what Orthodoxy was. This group was lead by the actual leader 'J.R.' Ballew, who surrounded himself with charismatic individuals like Gillquist. This lasted until 1995 when it was disbanded and the parishes put under the standard diocesan framework of the Archdiocese. Some parishes which did not join the Antiochians eventually joined the Orthodox Church in America, while a few remain independent and still use the EOC name. Outside the continuing EOC, there are other independent clergy and communities with origins in the EOC, most notably Holy Trinity Fellowship, Fort Collins, Colorado, led by (former EOC priest) Fr Jordan Bajis.
Currently, Bishop Jerold Gliege serves as the presiding bishop of the EOC, which has a religious order and congregations which spread across the United States (IA, IL, IN), Canada (SK), Sweden, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi.
- Gillquist, Rev. Peter E. Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1989. (ISBN 0-9622713-3-0)
- The Evangelical Orthodox Church, official Communion homepage
- About the Evangelical Orthodox Church, a site by former members
- The Chicago Call
- , history of the ARC, a communion with roots in the NCAO
- , community founded by former NCAO apostle, Elbert Spriggs
- , history of Spriggs' community, mentioning his time with the NCAO
- , website of Holy Trinity Fellowship, Fort Collins, CO, led by former EOC priest, Fr Jordan Bajis