History of the Church
THE EVANGELICAL ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH – A NEW JURISDICTION ESTABLISHED BY APOSTOLIC MANDATE
On October 22nd, 1945, His Eminence, The Most Reverend Msgr. Carmel Henry Carfora, S.T.D., Archbishop Metropolitan of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, established by apostolic mandate the Western States Regionary Diocese. This original diocese included the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Arizona and Washington.
Under this Apostolic Mandate of establishment, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Frederick Littler Pyman, S.T.D. was appointed as the 1st Regionary Bishop for this diocese. Archbishop Carfora further went to the unusual lengths of further declaring that: His Excellency, Bishop Pyman was the ONLY representative of the Church in those states so named and was to report directly to the Metropolitan on his progress and labors in behalf of the Church.
Upon returning to California after his consecration on August 15, 1943, Bishop Pyman found that the name of: The North American Old Roman Catholic Church had already been incorporated by those who wished to represent the Church here in the western states but had never obtained authority from the Synod of the Church or its Primate, Archbishop-Metropolitan Carfora. Bishop Pyman labored hard to bring the Church together under one authority but could not. Frankly, the church name, corporately speaking, was already beyond and out of, control legally speaking and as is so often the case, the liberal incorporation laws in this country had further served to splinter the Church and its work.
It was at this time, that Bishop Pyman, his clergy and faithful petitioned Archbishop Metropolitan Carfora and the Bishops of The North American Old Roman Catholic [i.e. representing the Old Catholic Church heritage of the United States] to establish by Apostolic Mandate a new charter of establishment for the Church/Jurisdiction in the Western States, for the canonical clergy and those who wished to remain loyal to the Old Catholic/Orthodox positions and establishment as represented by the Union of Archbishop Matthew in England with Eastern Orthodoxy as represented by the intercommunions signed with Alexandria and Antioch [1911 and 1912] and at the same time would remain and official intercommunion with The North American Old Roman Catholic Church and its Primate, Archbishop Carfora.
In answer to this petition by Bishop Pyman, Archbishop Metropolitan Carfora issued the Apostolic Mandate for the formation of a legel, Corporate and Canonical Church/Jurisdiction to be formed. This Church/Jurisdiction would be autonomous and not in organic unity with the Western States Regionary Diocese of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church nor with the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. That is, This new Church/Jurisdiction in no way was to be considered any part of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. This new Church/Jurisdiction will be knowns as The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America as of November 7, 1948.
During this period, for all intents and purposes, the Diocese of the Western States of: The North American Old Roman Catholic Church was to become dormant due to the existing circumstances in the Western States area.
Bishop Pyman and Archbishop Carfora remained in closed contact during and after those first difficult years of establishment, Archbishop Carfora continued serving as “First Prelate”/Archbishop of: The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America until his death. Upon the death of Archbishop Carfora, Bishop Pyman became “First Prelate”/Archbishop of: The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America.
Both Bishop Pyman and Archbishop Carfora and the clergy and faithful prayed that The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America would eventually become the bridge church between the independent Old Catholics and Orthodox, a truly American expression of Catholic Orthodoxy, an expression of Western Orthodoxy; a Church that would combine the Evangelism of the early Church, the Apostolic Faith and continuity of the Catholic and Orthodox separated branches of the church and a church that would meet the needs of the people in America. A Church that would preserve the traditional Faith of the undivided Apostolic Church, with a new evangelical zeal and outreach. A church wrapped in the Eucharistic celebration of the Divine Eucharistic Liturgy.
During the years that followed, The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America continued its outreach and establishment quietly, but aggressively in behalf of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In June of 1973, The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America and its Archbishop, the Most Reverend Frederick Littler Pyman, was approached by The Most Reverend Karl Johann Polivka of The Orthodox Church of the Hussites of Czechoslovakia in Exile. Bishop Polivka had been forced to leave his native country of Czechoslovakia when the Russians had invaded and taken control.
He had arrived at an age in his life where he feared that he would end his life before being able to return and restore the Episcopate to the oppressed Church in Czechoslovakia and knew that the Church in his home country would die out without Bishops to continue their work. He asked Archbishop Pyman to become “First Prelate” of the Czechoslovakian Church in Exile. On June 17th, 1973 that Concordat and Union was completed and accomplished, under official and canonical letters of Union and Intercommunion.
In July of 1974, Bishop Polivka traveled behind the iron curtain to visit with the clergy and faithful of the Church in Czechoslovakia. There he held meetings with the clergy and faithful to adopt the new relationship formally.
At this same meeting, The Bohemian Old Catholic Church of the Hussites of Czechoslovakia [i.e. Ceska Staro-Katolicka Cirkev Husitska] was also accepted into the Church here in America. In January of 1976 just before a crushing government crack down, there were a combined total between the two Czechoslovakian Churches received into union with: The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America, 245 congregations of various sizes and locations throughout the country, which included both Moravia and Slovakia.
During this same time frame, in 1973, a long standing friendship and mutual ties of co-operation between the former Old Catholic Archbishop of Hungary, now in exile in Montreal, Quebec, Canada – The Most Reverend Msgr. Thomas J. Fehervary, D.D. also flowered into full intercommunion and union with: The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America. Archbishop Thomas had escaped the Communist invasion of Hungary and had immigrated to Canada. There he established on the North American continent in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: The Traditional Christian Catholic Church in Europe And North America.
The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America was continuing its charter of union and re-union of the independent Old Catholic and Orthodox Churches in America, Canada, and Europe.
In January of 1974, Archbishop Pyman, now in his advancing years, requested that a successor be elected to succeed him in the event of his illness or passing. On May 5th of 1974, as the result of synodical election by the clergy and faith, and an official “Protocol of Election” having been issued, the Very Reverend Perry Ronald (Joseph Benedict) Sills, C.S.A., S.T.D. was elected to succeed Archbishop Pyman. On June 29th, 1974 [i.e. the Feast day of Saint Peter and Paul] The Very Reverend Perry R. (Joseph Benedict) Sills, C.S.A., S.T.D. was consecrated to the Episcopate in Saint Michael’s Church, Sunnyvale, California by Archbishop Pyman. On June 30th, 1974 Bishop Sills was enthroned in St. Monica’s Pro-Cathedral San Jose, California as the 2nd “First Prelate” of: The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America.
With The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America now secure for many years, and in his retirement from The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America, Bishop Pyman who was still active as the head of the Society of Augustinian Restorationists, transferred the dormant Western States Regionary Diocese of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church he had held for many years back to the Old Roman Catholic Church of North America in 1989 to help preserve and restore unity.
Sadly, Archbishop Pyman passed on to be with our Lord on: January 22, 1993. He is loved and missed by many, including all those within The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America that he led and guided as Primate for so many years. Rest in Peace, beloved Father in God.