History and Development of the Evangelical Episcopal Communion
The Evangelical Episcopal Communion has its roots in the great Charismatic Renewal that swept the earth during the 1960’s and 70’s. During that time, God began to bring people of different Christian backgrounds, traditions and cultures together through a common experience of encountering the Holy Spirit. Individuals, as well as whole church groups, which had previously been at odds with one another were now able to find unity and develop an appreciation for the diverse traditions and worship styles within the Christian Church universal.
Throughout history, Christian worship has been expressed through three major streams or traditions: the Sacramental, the Evangelical and the Charismatic. As a diamond has many facets, so each stream of worship reflects one facet of the beauty and nature of the triune God. The Liturgical/Sacramental stream emphasizes authority, tradition, and the Fatherhood of God. The Evangelical stream focuses on the study of scripture and knowledge of the written and Living Word, Jesus, Son of God. The Charismatic stream calls attention to the gifting, calling, healing and power of the Holy Spirit of God. With the advent of the Charismatic Renewal, a movement began to seek an understanding and appreciation for how God has revealed Himself through each of these traditions.
Our Patriarch and Presiding Bishop, Archbishop Russell McClanahan, was deeply involved in the Charismatic Renewal. Prior to that time, he began his ministry in the Methodist Church in 1964 where he served for 12 years. Impacted by the Charismatic Renewal, he caught a vision for the convergence of the three great traditions of the church universal, accomplished as the strengths of each are drawn upon and all are held in balance with one another. Passionate about his vision, Abp McClanahan left the Methodist Church and from 1976-1995, he pioneered many church plants which developed into a network of churches and ministries. Under his oversight, these groups continued to grow in their understanding and experience of converging the three historical streams of worship.
Providentially, in 1994, Abp McClanahan met with a group of leaders of another developing organization which shared his vision for convergence. After seeking the heart and mind of God, they determined that the two groups should link arms. Abp McClanahan was unanimously elected by the founding leadership of the Evangelical Episcopal Church International to be its first Bishop in historic Apostolic succession. He was consecrated on October 3, 1995 by the Right Reverend Michael Owen (Chief Consecrator), The Most Reverend Owen Augustine, and The Most Reverend Daniel C. Gincig at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Fredericksburg, VA. During that same ceremony, one other Bishop was consecrated and 25 priests, as well as 7 deacons, were ordained.
Included among the Priest was the now Bishop Dr. Bruce Wright as well as his son "Jake" who was ordained as a Deacon and is currently Priest/Pastor of LifeSpring Community Church.
Within one week of that service, Bishop Michael Owen was received as the 3rd Bishop in the Evangelical Episcopal Church and served as Presiding Bishop. Within a year, Wayne Boosahda was consecrated a Bishop, and Bishop Russ McClanahan became the 2nd Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Episcopal Church.
Due to its international growth and development, the EEC was restructured and the name was changed to The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches with Robert Wise being consecrated into the newly formed CEEC. In 1999, Bishop Russ McClanahan was elected Archbishop of the Province of St. Peter within the Communion and in 2003 became its 3rd Presiding Bishop (following Bishops Michael Owen and Wayne Boosahda).
Over the next 12 years The Province of St. Peter found great favor from the hand of God in seeing growth and expansion around the world. On five different continents over 5,000 churches were either planted or found their home within the Province of St. Peter. New Bishops were consecrated that included Dr. Bruce Wright, Kevin Higgins, James Hampton, Rex Harmon (Australia), Joseph Weswa and Dan Masake (Kenya). It was also during this period that a new conviction gripped our hearts concerning the need for racial reconciliation and experiencing the reality of the justice of God throughout the nations. Leaders in the African-American Church such as Dr. Henry Roberts, Dr. Sterling Lands II and Dr. Robert Wilson each became Archbishops within our Province. They in turn had raised up men and women under their leadership who had a burning desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Together we have become passionate about not only drawing the best from the great traditions of the church but also that we are truly one in Christ and long to see the fullness of that reality manifest in the church and the world.
In the winter of 2015 the Archbishop’s Council of the Province of St. Peter unanimously decided to discontinue its relationship of full communion with the CEEC due to functional and philosophical changes concerning the authority of the Provinces within the CEEC. On January 10, 2016, the Province came under the corporation of the Evangelical Episcopal Communion, thus reflecting a return to the original vision of the Evangelical Episcopal Church. During the Synod meeting of January 2016 Reinhard C. Shekar of India was received as our Archbishop in India where he oversees over 1,500 local churches.
As we look to our future we know that Jesus Christ is our center, He is our all and all. He has given great gifts to His Church to empower and enable us to reach the myriad of people groups around the world. By drawing from the 3 historic streams of church worship, the Gospel is able to be contextualized into various and diverse cultures while at the same time promoting unity and breaking down the barriers that exist within the body of Christ, thus fulfilling the vision “To Know Christ and Make Him Known to the Ends of the Earth.”