What is the ECC?
What is the ECC? ECC is an abbreviation for The Ecumenical Catholic Communion. All Souls, and many other parishes are part of this denomination. Our Presiding Bishop is The Right Rev. Peter Hickman. The Right Rev. Dr. Rick Hollingsworth, is the Suffragan Bishop for Anglican Affairs and provides episcopal oversight for our parish.
The Ecumenical Catholic Communion is a relatively new denomination with roots going back to the early church. The ECC traces its apostolic lineage from the Old Catholic Church as well as other catholic jurisdictions. Our Clergy participate in the same historic apostolic succession as the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Communion Churches.
Despite being outside Rome’s jurisdiction, the Old Catholic Church has valid apostolic succession according to the Roman Catholic Church. The Old Catholic Church separated from Rome over the decision of Vatican 1. This separation was primarily due to the declaration of the infallibility of the Pope. The Old Catholic Church of Utrecht has been in communion with the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church (US).
Claims of Old Catholic heritage does not grant the ECC recognition by the Union of Utrecht. But, our denomination is the largest independent denomination of Old Catholic heritage. Our constitution and canons affirm the Declaration of Utrecht as set out in 1889.
What is the ECC?
Or, Why a Communion and not a Church?
Made of up of a “communion of communities,” the ECC is a “communion” rather than a church. We are a “coming together” of various strands of independent catholic churches under a spirit of unity and cooperation. No one “owns” an ECC parish; not the Bishop nor the denomination. The desire to follow the ECC’s common mission and goal is what maintains its membership.
The ECC seeks fuller unity with other catholic denominations who share a common theology. We are in full communion with other independent catholic jurisdictions: The Apostolic Catholic Church; The American Catholic Church, Diocese of California and the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America, just to name a few.
What are our traditions?
Many of our parishes share worship space with other churches and regularly participate in interfaith worship services. Several of our parishes regularly worship with their Lutheran and Episcopal counterparts. The ECC have even attended the Episcopal Church’s synod as an official observer and special guest.
The ECC is a member of the Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops. It worked with the Rev. Bjorn Marcusson, an Episcopal priest and Old Catholic Church theologian. Fr. Marcusson helped the denomination to understand the important characteristics of a true apostolic church and helped create its governance and structure for the future.
The ECC changed from a “regional model,” with Vicars appointed by the presiding bishop, into a church of dioceses with elected bishops. The ECC has continued to grow even while many independent Catholic denominations shrank. With parishes in Belgium, Poland, Austria, and Lithuania the ECC is an international denomination.
The Ecumenical Catholic Communion shares a common theology and liturgical tradition with the Roman Catholic Church. Allowances are made for liturgical adaptations, but most of the ECC parishes follow the RCC. We encourage a broader understanding of what it means to be “catholic.”
How is the ECC governed?
The ECC follows a synodal governance structure. The same structure the Old Catholic Church used for its first four hundred years. A bicameral voting structure, consisting of a House of Laity and a House of Pastors, is used. Bishops serve on the Episcopal Council. This framework eliminates administrative authority, instead providing pastoral and spiritual guidance for those we serve. Voters elect Bishops who serve as a pastors, preachers, and teachers of their own parish. Bishops may call for legislation to be introduced, but they do not enact legislation unilaterally.
Without prejudice for gender, race, or ethnicity the ECC lifts up all people called to be clergy. However, licensure by the Bishop requires being attached to a recognized parish or ministry. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion expects equal return on its investment.
A Statement by Bishop Peter Hickman
The Presiding Bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Although the Roman Church can be properly called a Catholic Church it is one among many. Historically, there have been many Christian churches that have identified themselves as “Catholic” for nearly two millennia that are not in union with Rome. The various Eastern Orthodox Christians, the Coptic Christians of Egypt, the Syriac and Armenian Christians of the East, as well as the Old Catholics to name but a few.The original term “catholic” by ancient churches meant that a so designated faith community was Trinitarian, apostolic, creedal, and sacramental. It would be more precise to say that “only those faith communities that are in union with the Roman Pope can properly be called “Roman Catholic.” Catholic is too general a term to be applied to only one church exclusively especially since many Christians use that term in reference to themselves. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all church leaders who use the term catholic in their name to employ a modifier such as the Roman, Syrian, Old, or Ecumenical to avoid confusion among the faithful.
-Bishop Peter Elder Hickman.