BEGINNINGS TO 1922
As most church historians know, the first group
of episcopal governed Anglicans to separate from the Church of England were
the Non-jurors who existed from 1689 to 1805 when the last of their bishops
died without a successor. These very devout people initially left the mother
church over maintaining their allegiance to the Royal House of Stuart after
the Glorious Revolution of 1688. They were traditional High Churchmen, but
over time became interested in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and adopted
several practices of those churches. Indeed, towards the end of the
Non-jurors existence they had started to refer to themselves as 'the remant
of the Ancient British Church' or 'the Orthodox British Church'.
On 6 June 1866 a former French Roman Catholic
missionary priest, Raymond Ferrette (1828 to 1904), was consecrated a bishop,
with the religious name of 'Mar Julius', under the authority of the Syrian
Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and was sent to England to initiate an
indigenous and autonomous Orthodox Church as a step towards reunion between
western and eastern Christians. On 6 March 1874 at Marholm, Northants,
England he consecrated the Rev'd Richard Williams Morgan (1815 to 1899), a
clergyman in the Church of England, as the native British bishop in this
plan. Bishop Morgan, taking the religous name of 'Mar Pelagius I',
re-established the Ancient British Church, while continuing his duties as an
Anglican clergyman and as a historian of note. Exactly five years later, on 6
March 1879 he consecrated his successor as head of this church, the Rev'd
Charles Isaac Stevens (1835 to 1917), a former presbyter of the Reformed
Episcopal Church of the UK. Bishop Stevens took the religious name of 'Mar
Theophilus I'. It is interesting to note that Bishop Stevens' co-consecrators
were bishops in the Order of Corporate Reunion - a body of independent clergy
who wanted the Church of England to reunite with the Roman Catholic Church!
One of the co-consecrators was Dr. Frederick George Lee, who was a literal
descendant of the Non-juroring bishop Dr. Timothy Newmarsh who had been
consecrated in 1726. This Ancient British Church was to revive the high church
and liturgical principles of the former Non-jurors in opposition to the
Anglo-Catholicism that was sparked within the Church of England by the
beginnings of the Oxford Movement in 1833.
Meantime, in 1888 the Nazarene Episcopal Church
was founded by the Rev'd James Martin (1843 to 1919) who established his
headquarters at Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, London, S.E.5. On 11
April 1888 it received episcopal succession when Bishop Alfred Spencer
Richardson of the Reformed Episcopal Church of the UK consecrated Dr. Martin.
In 1890 Bishop Martin founded Nazarene College to serve as the seminary of
In 1885, while he served as a priest for the
Armenian Catholic Church community - a church body in union with the Roman
Catholic Church - in Constantinople (from 1881 to 1885), Bishop Leon
Checkemian (1848 to 1920) through contacts with Anglicans, converted to
Reform Protestantism and resolved to emigrate to England. Dr. Checkemian had
earlier served as an assistant bishop (from 1878 to 1881) for his ethnic
group in Malatia (his birthplace), Asia Minor, having received consecration
on 23 April 1878 from Armenian Catholic Archbishop Leon Korkorunian (1822 to
1897). As a newcomer he at first found work as a common labourer in order to
survive and studied at New College, a Presbyterian seminary. By 1889 his
command of English was such that he obtained employment in Belfast, Ireland
through the Presbyterian Church and became a noted lecturer and preacher in
the Protestant churches in that city. In order to bring his fellow British
Armenian refugees into a non-papal church, Dr. Checkemian established the
United Armenian Catholic Church in the British Isles on 15 August 1889.
The following year, Dr. Checkemian created the
Free Protestant Church of England as a common meeting place for all types of
Protestant christians - Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.
On 4 May 1890, in order to remove any doubts as to his episcopal status, he
received consecration from the above mentioned Bishops Charles Isaac Stevens
and Alfred Spencer Richardson.
Dr. Checkemian came to the attention of the Most
Rev'd and the Rt. Honble Dr. William C. Plunket (1828 to 1897), the fourth
Baron Plunket, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of the Church of Ireland. Archbishop
Plunket hated the creeping Anglo-Catholicism within the Anglican Communion
which he viewed as an trojan horse for Papal re-establishment over the Church
of England. He dreamt as a counter measure of establishing Reformed Episcopal
churches in spheres of Roman Catholic influence. He saw Dr. Checkemian's idea
of the United Armenian Catholic Church as part of the above plan and endorsed
it by giving Dr. Checkemian a license to officiate as an clergyman within the
Church of Ireland. It was Lord Plunket's hope that eventually this church
would be established within the Armenian homeland as an replacement for the
Armenian Uniate Church. In 1894 he was able to help establish the Spanish
Reformed Episcopal Church by consecrating its founder, a former Roman Catholic
priest, the Rev'd Juan Bautista Cabrera (1837 to 1916), as its first bishop.
Unfortunately, on 1 April 1897 Lord Plunket died before he could help Dr.
Checkemian expand the United Armenian Catholic Church back to Turkey.
In the meantime, Bishop Checkemian had moved to
London, where he was in close contact with the above mentioned independent
bishops. They realised that they could be a better witness for evangelical
Anglicanism if they could merge their resources together as one church body.
On 2 November 1897 the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England was formed
with the union of the Free Protestant Church, the Ancient British Church, and
the Nazarene Episcopal Church, with Dr. Checkemian as its first Primus. Dr.
Checkemian retained the headship of the United Armenian Catholic Church as an
separate organisation from this union. The FPEC was inaugurated on the above
date in St. Stephen's Church, East Ham, London when Dr. Checkemian, Dr.
Stevens, and Dr. James Martin first consecrated George W.L. Maeers (for the
Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church) and Frederick W. Boucher to the episcopal
bench. These five bishops in turn then consecrated Andrew Charles Albert
McLaglen (1851 to 1928). The 1878 Constitution and Canons of the Reformed
Episcopal Church of the UK was adopted for use in the new FPEC.
In December 1900 Dr. Checkemian retired as Primus
of the FPEC and Archbishop of the United Armenian Catholic Church and was
succeeded by Dr. Stevens as head of both church bodies. On 2 February 1917
Dr. Stevens died and Dr. Martin became the third head of the Church. Two
years later on 20 October 1919 Dr. Martin died and was succeeded as Primus by
Dr. McLaglen. On 3 December 1920 Dr. Checkemian died.
The high point of the FPEC was when it obtained
recognition by the British Government as a legally constiuted denomination.
This fact was established in early 1917 when the Venerable Ernest Albert
Asquith, Ph.D. (1884 to 1942), 26 Speldhurst Rd., London, the Archdeacon of
the Church, was a test case under the Military Service Act of 1916. Clergymen
could obtain an exemption from military service under the terms of this Act.
The officiating magistrate gave his decision that the Ven. Dr. Asquith was a
lawfully ordained minister of a legally constituted Episcopal Church, and
therefore a man in Holy Orders within the meaning of the Act. His Worship
arrived at this conclusion after investigating the origin of the Orders of
the Church and the services used for ordinations and consecrations which are
based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
In early 1922 Primus McLaglen decided to appoint
his successors as the head of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church, the
Ancient British Church, and the United Armenian Catholic Church. On 4 June
1922 in St. Andrew's Church, Retreat Place, London, he consecrated Francis
George Widdows (1850 to 1936) and Herbert James Monzani Heard (1866 to 1947)
to the episcopate. Bishop Widdows, a former Roman Catholic Franciscan monk,
in 1886 had become a non-conformist minister at the Church of Martin Luther
congregation at 26 Speldhurst Road, South Hackney. In 1909 this church became
affiliated with the FPEC. +Widdows was given the title of Ignatius, Bishop of
Hackney and was to become the new Primus of the FPEC at a later date. Bishop
Monzani Heard, who was the then headmaster of Raleigh College in Brixton,
South London, was immediately made the head of the Ancient British and United
Armenian Catholic churches. By that time these three jurisdictions were
"paper churches" as there were no formal congregations for any of
them; however, the FPEC had canons to organise parishes (the hope) and to
allow for independent congregations to be under its bishops oversight (the
reality). +Widdows had a chequered history of being in prison on morals
charges (he was a known homosexual in an age when it was illegal in the UK to
be so) and on the other hand ministering for many years to his extremely
loyal congregation. Primus McLaglen apparently had second thoughts about him
being his successor as head of the FPEC and within the year had him removed
from that succession and had any mention of +Widdows stricken from the
official records of the Church. There is some dispute that +Widdows was ever
consecrated, but the oral tradition amongst later FPEC bishops plus the
writings of other historians state that it was so. FPEC clergy, rather than
having explicit FPEC parishes, served as nonconformist ministers in other
denominations and public institutions such as hospitals, gaols, and college
1922 to 2011
On 16 October 1928 Dr. McLaglen died and the
office of Primus went to Dr. Monzani Heard, who began his episcopal functions
in April 1930 after he retired from his teaching profession. On 18 May 1939
he retired as the Primus of the FPEC when he consecrated as his successor Dr.
William Hall (1890 to 1959), long time chaplain to Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke
Newington, Stamford Hill. On 30 September 1944 the primacy of the United
Armenian Catholic Church and then on 29 January 1945 the headship of the
Ancient British Church were turned over by Dr. Monzani Heard to Bishop Hugh
George de Willmott Newman who merged them into his Catholicate of the West
jurisdiction. Bishop Monzani Heard died on 15 August 1947 at the age of 81.
On 17 September (not 17 November as commonly
reported in various accounts) 1944 at St. Paul's Evangelical Church of
England, Outwood, Bishop Benjamin Charles Harris, assisted by Bishop Hugh
George de Willmott Newman, consecrated Gordon Pinder (Primus), Charles Leslie
Saul, and Joseph K.C. Pillai into the Historic Episcopal Succession. These
were the then bishops for the Evangelical Church of England, which had up
till then only consecration of its original bishops by presbyters. Dr.
Harris, long time nonconformist chaplain at a mental hospital in Abbots
Langley, had been consecrated FPEC bishop for Essex on 25 July 1916 by Dr.
Martin. One result of this consecration was that Bishop Pillai (1901 to
1970), who was the ECC bishop for India, eventually moved to the USA and in
1968 became the first bishop of the American Episcopal Church now known as
the Anglican Province of America. On 23 August 1997 the Protestant Episcopal
Reformed Church, the name by which the Evangelical Church of England was
lastly known by, was formally dissolved, its last Primus Dr. Saul (1947 to
1991) having died on 7 June 1991 at the age of 85.
Primus Hall continued the practice of
consecrating bishops who did not serve in the FPEC. In 1952 he consecrated
the Rev'd John Leslie Baines (born 1883) and in 1959 he consecrated the Rev'd
Terence Hope Davenport (born 1900). Both Bishops Baines and Davenport were
non-parocial Anglican priests at the time of their respective consecrations.
They did not establish their own denominations because for the rest of their
lives they remained ministers in good standing within the Church of England.
It appears they just wanted to quietly hold independent episcopal rank
without functioning as a bishop - a not uncommon practice amongst ordinary
Dr. Charles Dennis Boltwood (1889 to 1985) sets
the next, and in a sense the final, stage in the history of the FPEC. A noted
spiritualist in the 1930s and 1940s, sometime between 1946 and 1949 he had
been cons. a bishop in the Catholicate of the West by +De Willmott Newman. On
25 December 1950, while on business in North America for the Catholicate, he
was cons. by +Earl Anglin Lawrence James of the Old Roman Catholic Church in
Canada. On 3 May 1951 he was ordained sub conditione a presbyter by Primus
Hall when in addition he joined the FPEC. Dr. Boltwood was cons. on Palm
Sunday (6 April) 1952 by Primus Hall as a bishop in the FPEC. A week later,
on Easter Sunday (13 April) 1952, +Boltwood received a second cons. from +De
Willmott Newman. On 25 March (Lady Day) 1954 Dr. Boltwood was elected to be
the successor of Dr. Hall as Primus of the FPEC. Dr. Boltwood on 6 July 1956
received a third cons. from +De Willmott Newman and on 19 September 1958 was
also cons. by +Konstantin Jaroshevich of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ.
On 9 October 1959 Primus Hall died and Dr. Boltwood became Primus.
In 1957 Bishop Boltwood, with the blessings of
Primus Hall, decided to expand the FPEC outside of the United Kingdom when he
cons. Emmet Neil Enochs of California as Archbishop of the FPEC in the USA.
In 1958 followed consecrations of bishops for West Africa and for Canada. Dr.
Boltwood in the meantime (October 1960) quit his membership in the
Catholicate of the West in order to concentrate on his FPEC work. Unfortunately,
+Boltwood allowed his bishops and clergy such a free hand in their ministries
that the original purpose of the FPEC was forgotten about and most of them
viewed the FPEC as a 'starter church' and quickly founded/joined other
Anglican/Independent Catholic or Orthodox jurisdictions. (Dr. Boltwood's
continuing practice of theosophy in addition to presenting himself as an old
fashion evangelical Anglican did not help matters also.)
On 16 October 1966 +Boltwood cons. Albert John
Fuge, Sr. (1911 to 1982), a Lutheran pastor, of New York City as the new
bishop of the FPEC in New York State. On 8 September 1968 Dr. Fuge became
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of the USA in the place of Dr. Enochs
who in the meantime had become an Old Roman Catholic bishop. +Fuge's
headquarters was in the Boltwood Chapel, which was located at 177 West
Broadway, New York City. Dr. Boltwood decided at the age of 89 years to
retire as the Primus of the FPEC. He nominated Dr. Fuge to succeed him in
this office and the English speaking bishops accepted this. At a ceremony
held in the Park Road Methodist Church, New York City, Dr. Boltwood handed
over the Deed of Succession to the Office of Bishop Primus to Dr. Fuge on 17
October 1978. Official witnesses to the change over were the Rt. Rev'd Dr.
Ernest P. Parris (assistant FPEC bishop of New York) and the Rev'd Dr. Samuel
Lewis (chaplain to Dr. Fuge). +Horst K.F. Block (1936 to 2008), missionary
FPEC bishop for Germany and France, and +Emmanuel Samuel Yekorogha (died
1983) FPEC archbishop of West Africa, did not agree with this and the both of
them elected Dr. Block to become International Primus of a schismatic FPEC
which existed for some 22 years. On 7 October 2001 it became known as the
International Free Protestant Episcopal Church.
On 30 April 1982 Dr. Fuge died and the FPEC
bishop for Texas, the Rt. Rev'd Robert Randolph Rivette (1916 to 2004)
succeeded him as FPEC Archbishop of the USA. +Rivette, a lawyer and retired
USAF officer, had been cons. on 19 October 1971 in the Boltwood Chapel (which
was officially dedicated several years later on 27 October 1974) by Dr. Fuge
as chief consecrator, assisted by Dr. Boltwood, and bishops Benjamin C.
Eckardt, William C. Thompson, and Ernest P. Parris. This consecration
occurred at the end of a Convocation of the FPEC in which the International
Church passed a new Constitution and adopted policies for greater
co-ordination between the work of the USA and Canadian branches of the
Church. Dr. Boltwood and his wife Mrs. Connie Boltwood were the guests of
honour at this Convocation. Dr. Charles K.S.S. Moffatt (1907 to 1989), FPEC
Archbishop of Canada became the new International Primus, again at the
nomination of Dr. Boltwood, on 7 July 1982. It was at this time that Dr.
Boltwood directed the Rt. Rev'd Dr. Francis Thomas, D.Th. (cons. by +Boltwood
in 1961) of London to wind down the operations of the FPEC in the United
Kingdom, sending its original church records to Dr. Moffatt in Canada. On 7
November 1989 Dr. Moffatt died without designating a successor as Primus. In
1994 it was determined that by default, Bishop Dr. Follick, being the senior
most cleric in the FPEC since July 1958, had been the legal Primus since
On 19 April 1991 +Rivette cons. (sola) the Rev'd
Melvin Frederick Larson (born 1920) of Lynnwood, WA as FPEC Archbishop of the
Pacific NW. +Larson had earlier been ordained a deacon and priest by +Walter
Hollis Adams (1907 to 1991) of the Anglican Episcopal Church of North America
before joining the FPEC. Since about 1997 +Rivette had been suffering with
Alzheimer's Disease, leaving +Larson, +Dr. John Marion Stanley (born 1923) of
Port Orchard, WA, +Dr. Harry Kenneth Means (born 1919) of Port Charlotte, FL,
+Dr. Edwin Duane Follick (born 1935) of Woodland Hills, CA, +Dr. James
Nicholas Meola (born 1938) of Tom's River, NJ, and +Dr. Ernest Percival
Parris (born 1920) of Saint Albans, NY as the only FPEC bishops in the USA.
+Stanley had been cons. on 3 May 1959 in London by +Boltwood, assisted by
+James B. Noble and +Reginald Benjamin Millard. +Means had been cons. on 16
August 1964 in London by +Boltwood, assisted by +Francis Thomas and Old
Catholic bishop +Albert Dunstan Bell of the USA. +Follick had been cons. on
28 August 1968 in London by +Boltwood (sola). +Meola had been cons. on 13
March 1988 by +John Allen Rifenbury (chief consecrator) and +Robert R.
Bishop Troy Arnold Kaichen of Virginia is listed
in some histories as one of Meola's consecrators but he only gave his consent
to the consecration and was not present at it.
+Parris had been cons. in the spring of 1970 by
+Fuge (sola). The only Canadian FPEC bishop is +Matthew John Carles Tuz (born
1951) of London, ON, Archbishop of Canada, who had been cons. on 3 July 1993
by +Rivette. On 8 March 2003 one of the last of the English ministers of the
old FPEC, the Rev'd Cecil G. Cobran, B.Th., of London, England, died at the
age of 88 years. + Means passed away on 19 April 2004; + Rivette died on 25
April 2004; + Parris on 24 Sept. 2008.
From 27 July 2001 to 5 January 2006 the Rt. Rev'd
Aaron Robin Orr (1940 to 2010) of Hamilton, ON had been the bishop for all of
Canada under Dr. Block's International Free Protestant Episcopal Church. (He
had been consecrated by +Block on 19 August 2001.) In January 2006 he and
most of +Block's bishops left his jurisdiction and formed the Christian
Missionary Anglican Communion. Other former TIPEC bishops that left +Block
included: Preston Bradley Carey (cons. 1 Aug. 1999 by + Robert George
Montanus who was cons. 15 Dec. 1982 by +John M. Stanley), Joseph Spyridon
Christopher Chaskos (cons. 15 Nov. 2004 by +Block), and Muhammad Wolfgang
Schmidt (cons. 20 March 2005 by +Block). On 26 Nov. 2005 both +Block and
+Schmidt had cons. Peter Leers at +Leers home chapel in Dusseldorf as Bishop
for Germany. On 10 Aug. 2007 +Block and +Leers cons. Francesco Reale, a
Lutheran pastor, as Bishop of Spain. On 12 February 2008 +Block died and
+Leers succeeded him as the Primus of TIFPEC. In February of 2011 +Peers
dissolved that jurisdiction, ending the schism.
The Free Protestant Episcopal Church continues
advancing worldwide. Since 2012 the FPEC returned, after many years, to the
place of its birth in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, with a bishop to lead the province and with assistant clergy. It was
at the time of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee that the Church became
established in England, and in the year of the present Queen's Diamond
Jubilee the jurisdiction has returned with The Most Rev Dr Richard Arthur
Palmer, M.A as the Archbishop. In a real sense the FPEC has returned home.
History Part 2
See also :
FPEC - Canada
Nazarene Episcopal Ecclesia
Old Protestant Episcopal Church Inc.
The International Free Protestant Episcopal Church