Free Protestant Episcopal Church
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The Free Protestant Episcopal Church - FPEC, now called The Anglican Free Communion, was formed in England, on November 2, 1897, from the merger of three smaller churches; others were to join later. The ordination of bishops from within the apostolic succession was of major importance to this group, as also was having the church recognized as a lawfully constituted Religious denomination. The latter event occurred, at least tacitly, when an archdeacon from the group was exempted from World War I conscription in 1917 due to his clergy status, which would not have been permitted had the group not been considered a lawfully constituted denomination.
In 1890 Bishop Leon Chechemian, who had been a priest in the Armenian Catholic Church and later emigrated to England where he was consecrated as a Bishop, created the Free Protestant Church of England. In 1897 his church united with two other churches; the Ancient British Church and the Nazarene Episcopal Church to create the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England with Dr. Chechemian as its first Primus.
The church had traditionally been quite small. There are various reasons for this, but one of them seems to be that clergy had tended to pass through it as a church in which to be ordained by bishops from the historic apostolic succession before moving on to other, larger church bodies. More recently, the communion has evolved and grown, at present having twenty five (25) provinces in different USA states and countries.
The FPEC has known internal dissension, some based on theological disputes and some on personalities. After a schism (circa 1978) in the communion, one of the factions led by Dr. Horst Block was renamed "The International Free Protestant Episcopal Church (TIFPEC)"(1). On 12 February 2008 Dr. Block died and Bishop Peter Leers succeeded him as the Primus of TIFPEC. In February 2011 Leers dissolved that schismatic jurisdiction, ending the division. The original organization survived with Dr. Edwin Duane Follick becoming its Primus in 1994 until the present.
During the Bishops' Synod of 2012, in Bolivia, the organization was renamed "The Anglican Free Communion".
Other names that have been used during the church's history include "Episcopal Apostolic Church of England" and "Ecumenical Church Foundation".
Currently, after the solution of the schism, the Anglican Free Communion has been restructuring and advancing worldwide, continuing its centennial history now covering many nation and many USA states. The Free Protestant Episcopal Church (The Anglican Free Communion) is present in England, Spain, U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Tanzania, Gabon, Kenia, Cameroon, Liberia, Burundi, Pakistan and India. Coming soon are provinces in Mexico and Venezuela.
The Free Protestant Episcopal Church (The Anglican Free Communion) is one of the oldest Anglican Communions in existence and is constituted by a large group of Anglicans of all varieties of churchmanship from Anglo-Catholic (High Church), Evangelical (Low Church), Latitudinarian (Broad Church), Charismatic and Liberal. All of the Provinces of the Communion are autonomous, comprising self-governing churches and families of churches around the world. This Communion was established in England on 2 November 1897 by a union of several small British episcopates established in the 1870s, independent of the Church of England. The Most Revd Leon Chechemian (1848 to 1920), an Armenian bishop had moved to Britain and became an Anglican and served as the first Primate of the new Church.
As of 2014, the year of its 117 anniversary, the Archbishop Primus of the Communion is Dr. Edwin D. Follick (California) and the Chancellor and Secretary General is Archbishop Dr. Samuel Sostre (Florida). Dr. Follick will be retiring in 2015 and will be replaced by Archbishop Richard Arthur Palmer from London, UK. The seat of the denomination will return to its place of origin.
Richard Arthur Palmer was consecrated in the Liberal Catholic Church in 1997. He has subsequently been involved in the Reformed Liberal Catholic Church (Old Catholic), the Society for Independent Christian Ministry, the Open Episcopal Church and the United Episcopal Church. He was one of the founders of the Open Episcopal Church and for a five year term he was its primate.
The Free Protestant Episcopal Church is a communion of free Anglican churches around the world, living an Anglican reconciliation and unity.
The church claims valid apostolic succession derived from the Armenian Catholic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church of England (through the Reformed Episcopal Church of the United States of America). These lines were in the jurisdictions that united in 1897 to found the Free Protestant Episcopal Church.
Succession of primuses
- Leon Chechemian ("Mar Leon") (lived 1848- 1920) served as primus of FPEC from the formation of FPEC on 2 November 1897 until 30 December 1900
- Charles Isaac Stevens ("Mar Theophilus I") (second patriarch of the Ancient British Church, from 1889 onwards) (lived 1835-1917) served as primus of FPEC from 30 December 1900 until his death on 2 February 1917
- James Martin ("Mar Jacobus I Antipas") (third patriarch of the Ancient British Church) (lived 1843-1919) served as primus of FPEC from 1917 until his death on 29 October 1919
- Andrew Charles Albert McLagan ("Mar Andries I") (fourth patriarch of the Ancient British Church) (lived 1851-1928) served as primus of FPEC from 1919 until his death on 16 October 1928
- Herbert James Monzani-Heard ("Mar Jacobus II") (fifth patriarch of the Ancient British Church)(lived 1861-1947) served as primus of FPEC from 1930 until 18 May 1939 (continued as patriarch of the Ancient British Church until 29 January 1945)
- William Hall (lived 1890-1959) served from 18 May 1945 until his death on 9 October 1959
- Charles Dennis Boltwood (lived 1889-1985) had been elected (1954) to succeed Wm Hall. Boltwood became primus of FPEC on 9 October 1959, serving until 17 October 1978
- Albert John Fuge (Snr) (lived 1911-1982) served from 1978 until his death on 30 April 1982 (Note: Horst Block led as schismatic group from circa 1978 until his death in 2008; Peter Lees then led this group until the schism was healed in 2011)
- Charles Kennedy Moffatt (lived 1907-1989) served from 7 July 1982 until his death on 7 November 1989
- Edwin Duane Follick (born 1935) has served from circa 1989 and is due to retire during 2015
- Richard Arthur Palmer - primus elect (due to serve from 2015)
- The Anglican Free Communion - Official Website
- Free Protestant Episcopal Church - General History
- Free Protestant Episcopal Church - Canada
- Free Protestant Episcopal Church - Additional History
- Nazarene Episcopal Ecclesia
- Old Protestant Episcopal Church
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