“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” -Acts 2:1-4
Presiding Archbishop Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
“And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love
Presiding Archbishop Brian Ernest Brown, OSH has been involved with the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM) since 1997. Prior to that, while growing up and as a young adult, he experienced several different Christian denominations and studied a variety of religious faiths, ultimately following a Wiccan path until his ultimate return to the love story of Christ. When he finally returned to the Christian Church we was baptized and confirmed within the Episcopal Church and the great Anglo-Catholic tradition that goes along with it. His spiritual journey is a circular one really and one that, in a round about way, brought him back home to a little stone chapel in the Ozark Mountains just a few miles from the home of his youth but not without allowing him to wander a bit first. However, as has been suggested before, not all who wander are lost.
In Bishop Brian’s own words: “I feel inextricably drawn to the love of Christ and to preach that gospel message of radical love everywhere I go. I celebrate inclusivity, compassion, grace, diversity, justice, peace, and love -the greatest of which is love. Since my earliest memories I have felt a calling toward care-giving, hospice, religious freedom, social justice, diversity, animal rights, compassion, peace, poetry, literature, music, and art. I’m an avid and vociferous supporter of LGBTQIAPP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersexual, asexual, pansexual, polyamorous) rights. They are, after all, simply human rights, rights for every one of us to be who God created us to be and love whom we choose, how we choose.
Spiritually, I continue to be drawn to the Free Catholic Movement and the Celtic expression of the Christian faith but I also has deep roots in Wicca and a love of the earth based religions. I’m very ecumenical and can find the seeds of truth and beauty in many different religious paths, but for me, the one that whispers to my heart and soothes my soul is the story about Jesus and his band of misfits. It’s because of Jesus and his example that I practice radical inclusivity, compassion, and hospitality in all areas of my life.”
Being drawn to Celtic Christianity he began his ministry in the ISM with the Celtic Catholic Church Diocese of Saint Brendan. He was tonsured within the Celtic Catholic Church and sent out to form a mission for the people of the Ozarks. Shortly after his tonsure, on an Easter morning many years ago he started a mission that continues to thrive here in the Ozarks to this day, Saint Melangell’s Celtic Catholic Mission. It was during this time that he also took vows in an ecumenical religious order sponsored by the Celtic Catholic Church, the Community of the Companions of God. For several years he shared ministry within this jurisdiction studying, learning, and putting his faith into practice.
At some point a difference in vision became clear and Br. Brian left the Celtic Catholic Church but not his love of Celtic Christianity nor his deep love of the folks of that jurisdiction. A local community had formed within the religious order, the Companions of God, in the Ozarks over the years and it was decided that this “home grown” community or family would stay together seeking sponsorship and charter elsewhere but continue to follow the same rule, practice the very same liturgies they had for years, and continue to be the “Companions of God” they had always been.
It was during this time that Br. Brian happened upon an Old Catholic ministry also in the Ozarks, that of Christ Catholic Church headquartered in Highlandville Missouri at the “World’s Smallest Cathedral,” the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace. He felt a kindred spirit in Bishop Karl Prüter, the Presiding Archbishop of Christ Catholic Church and they became fast friends. It became apparent that while they shared ministry, worship, and often lunch, there were some differences of opinions as to theology, particularly in the acceptance of women in leadership positions throughout the church and in offering all of the sacraments to GLBT people. Fr. Karl was a little more conservative and Br. Brian not so much.
However, even with their differences they shared a great deal of commonality, a deep love and commitment to the Prince of Peace and the peace movement, a particular interest in mysticism and experiential theology, a dedication to prayer and reflection, a love of the Eucharist and liturgy, a love of monasticism, a quizzical curiosity in all things pertaining to the Christian Church and its history, and a love of printing and the spread of knowledge. They also shared a mutual affection towards one another and a respect of one another’s differences. While Br. Brian chose not to affiliate the Companions of God canonically with Christ Catholic Church, at the time, he personally accepted an official appointment by Bishop Prüter to serve as the Chaplain to the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace and to serve on the Cathedral Chapter. From that point on Br. Brian held dual affiliation with Christ Catholic Church. Fr. Karl had become his mentor and role model as much as he had become his friend.
Seeking a more inclusive church body Br. Brian happened upon the United Catholic Church and made his home there. The United Catholic Church offered him autonomy to be who he felt God had called him to be and yet also the UCC offered a loose structure and a family unit or tribe of sorts, something very important to Celts. They were a church of peace, inclusivity, honesty, and love. It seemed a match made in heaven. Bishop Lawrence Michael Cameron OAC, a bishop in the United Catholic Church and the Abbot of the Order of the Anamcara, was asked to serve as the Episcopal Visitor for the newly chartered CCG and accepted the position.
Br. Brian had been elected by the CCG during the General Chapter of the previous year to serve as an interim abbot and spokes person for the Companions until a charter could go into effect, after which time the Companions would reconvene and officially elect an abbot to head up the Community. The UCC accepted the charter as did the Companions of God, Br. Brian was officially elected as abbot to the Community and on October 16, 2004 on the Feast of Saint Gall, Br. Brian was ordained to the Holy Order of Deacons and given the abbatial blessing by Bishop Lawrence Michael Cameron to serve the Community of the Companions of God as a mitred abbot.
Deacon Brian was later ordained to the Holy Priesthood on May 27, 2005, the Feast of Saint Melangell, the patron saint of his original ministry. The ordination took place at Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church surrounded by friends, family, and Companions from the four corners of the country.
In the late fall of 2005 seeking to better define who and what they were and to avoid any confusion with the original Community, the group, with the encouragement of the abbot, decided to change their name and broaden their focus and the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart was birthed.
Just prior to this, on the Feast of Saint Willibrord, November 7, 2005 a group of folks within the United Catholic Church gathered together in Springfield Missouri to form a new diocese, the Diocese of Saint Willibrord in the Ozarks, so named in recognition of their close association with Christ Catholic Church and Archbishop Karl Prüter and in celebration of their shared Old Catholic roots. Fr. Abbot Brian was elected to serve as the newly formed Diocese’s Bishop and appointed by Archbishop Robert Bowman as the Apostolic Administrator until such time as a proper consecration could take place. The proposed consecration was subsequently approved overwhelmingly by the House of Bishops, House of Laity, and House of Clergy within the United Catholic Church.
Possessing a little different vision and approach to being church, the diocese and its members left the United Catholic Church in the spring of 2006 seeking God’s will in their ministry. In early summer of 2006 on the Feast of Saint Kevin Fr. Abbot Brian, with the consent, support, and prayers of Bishop Larry Cameron and Archbishop Karl Prüter, was consecrated to the Office of Bishop. A unique an ecumenical communion was formed by the Chapter Members of the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace, the Ecumenical Free Catholic Communion, which had a unique emphasis of and focus on the unity of the Free Catholic Movement which Archbishop Karl Prüter had participated in during the later years of his Congregational ministry.
Bishop Brian was consecrated sub-conditionally by Bishop Karl Prüter of blessed memory, the Presiding Archbishop of Christ Catholic Church, on the Feast of St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, September 9, 2007 at the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace in Highlandville Missouri. Bishop Prüter had himself been consecrated by Bishop Peter Zurawetsky on the Feast of St. Willibrord, November 7, 1967. Bishop Prüter then turned over his ministry at the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace, “The World’s Smallest Cathedral” and the episcopal protection of Christ Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of the Prince of Peace to Bishop Brian’s care and continued episcopal oversight.
Honoring the relationship that the Ecumenical Free Catholic Communion had with Bishop Brian and Bishop Karl and in a strong acknowledgement of the chartering body of Christ Catholic Church Archdiocese of the Prince of Peace, the EFCC, on April 22, 2010 unanimously agreed to alter its name to that of Christ’s Catholic Church: An Ecumenical Free Catholic Communion (CCC-EFCC). The new designation celebrated its heritage, acknowledging its founder, Archbishop Brian Ernest Brown and honoring the memory and ministry of one of the great bishops of the Free Catholic Movement in North America, Archbishop Karl Prüter.
Christ Catholic Church Archdiocese of the Prince of Peace continues to carry on much of Bishop Prüter’s actual work and ministry under the servant leadership of Bishop Brian. The jurisdiction also serves as the caretaker of much of the physical historicity of the church as well as Bishop Prüter’s personal journals, writings, artifacts, vestments, and relics.
Upon his installment to the patriarchal cathedral, Bishop Brian was given the original antimension gifted to Bishop Prüter himself by Bishop Peter A. Zurawetzky upon his own consecration to the episcopacy. Bishop Brian, at Bishop Prüter’s request, also assumed day to day operation and leadership of St. Willibrord Press which continues to hold the rights to publish Prüter’s numerous books and pamphlets related to mysticism, Old Catholicism, Congregationalism, and theology, as well as other selected works on religious topics.
Christ Catholic Church Archdiocese of the Prince of Peace is currently composed of a handful of parishes and a religious order with clergy and ministries throughout North America. It operates St. Willibrord Press, Whithorn School of Theology and St. Martin’s Institute of Compassionate Presence (a peace studies program Karl Prüter helped to found and form), and Radio Free Catholic Broadcasting along with parishes, prison ministries, chaplaincies, and various other outreach programs. Christ Catholic Church also continues to faithfully support Bishop Karl Prüter’s clarion call to non-violence and peace through its work in the greater peace movement and social justice causes.
Bishop Brian is honored to follow in the footsteps and share in the legacy of Bishop Karl Prüter’s ministry in Christ Catholic Church Archdiocese of the Prince of Peace as his chosen successor. Out of his deep love of Celtic Christianity he continues to shepherd a group of like minded Celts in the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart and out of that same love of Celtic Christianity helps guide Whithorn School of Theology in the training of women and men in the ancient ways of the Celtic Catholic monks of long ago.
Following a God given vision that has been tested time and time again over the years he continues to love to share his vision, faith, and hope with fellow seekers and often offers, “while I know our destination is the Kingdom of Heaven, I’m not sure how we’re going to get there but just the same, I would love to share the journey with you!”
“Moreover, if there be any bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the apostolic age, so that they might seem to have been handed down by the Apostles because they were from the time of the Apostles, we can say to them: let them show the origins of their Churches, let them unroll the order of their bishops, running down in succession from the beginning, so that their first bishop shall have for author and predecessor some of one of the Apostles or of the apostolic men who continued steadfast with the Apostles.” -Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics, A.D. 200
Apostolic Succession in Christian theology is the doctrine asserting that the chosen successors of the Apostles enjoyed through God’s grace the same authority, power, and responsibility as was conferred upon the Apostles by Jesus through the laying of of hands. This same practice from Jesus to the Apostles was then conferred by Bishop to Bishop throughout the ages by the same laying on of hands in an unbroken historic succession.
Therefore present-day bishops, as the successors of previous bishops, going back to the Apostles, have this authority by virtue of this unbroken tactile chain. For the apostolic, liturgical, and sacramental churches like the Independent and Old Catholic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Celtic Catholic, Free Catholic, and Anglican churches, this link with the Apostles is what offers them their surety of validity within the spiritual administration of the sacraments.
The debate on the validity of autocephalous sacramental or Free Catholic or Independent Old Catholic holy orders is long standing and often offers nothing but confusion and suspicion. It is a belief of Christ Catholic Church that validity is most assuredly found through ministry within the community one is called to serve. So that, it is the very act of service that assures us of God’s grace, blessing, and authority to answer the call to ministry. It is through the natural connection of that kind of relationship, shepherd to sheep, that validity and authority are realized and made real to the world in which we live.
Christ Catholic Church does participate in and uphold the doctrine of Apostolic Succession and as such, all of its clergy have been validly ordained by the laying on of hands through bishops within the historic Apostolic Succession, which we hold dear.
Read more about the validity of Old Catholic ordinations/consecrations from a Roman Catholic perspective: Are Old Catholic Orders Valid?
The Most Rev. Brian Ernest Brown, Presiding Archbishop of Christ Catholic Church, possesses a valid Apostolic Succession through several different historic lines and can provide that information upon request.
Bishop Brian was consecrated sub-conditionally by Bishop Karl Prüter of blessed memory, the Presiding Archbishop of Christ Catholic Church, on the Feast of St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, September 9, 2007 at the Cathedral of the Prince of Peace in Highlandville Missouri. Bishop Prüter had been consecrated by Bishop Peter Zurawetsky on the Feast of St. Willibrord, November 7, 1967. Bishop Prüter then entrusted his ministry to Bishop Brian’s care and continued episcopal oversight.
Below is the apostolic succession of Bishop Brian Ernest Brown shared through Bishop Karl Prüter but it is not the only succession Bishop Brian holds.
1. Andrew, the Apostle of our Lord. Founded 38
2. Stachys, the Disciple, one of the 70 Apostles. 38 – 54
3. Onesimos 54 – 68
4. Polykarpos 69 – 89
5. Ploutarchos 89 – 105
6. Sedekion 105 – 114
7. Diogenes 114 – 129
8. Eleftherios 129 – 136
9. Felix 136 – 141
10. Polykarpos II 141 – 144
11. Athenodoros 144 – 148
12. Euzoios 148 – 154
13. Laurentios 154 – 166
14. Alypios 166 – 169
15. Pertinax 169 – 187
16. Olympianos 187 – 198
17. Markos I 198 – 211
18. Philadelphos 211 – 214
19. Kyriakos I 214 – 230
20. Kastinos 230 – 237
21. Eugenios I 237 – 242
22. Titos 242 – 272
23. Dometios 272 – 303
24. Roufinos 303
25. Provos 303 – 315
26. Metrophanes I 315 – 325
27. Alexandros 325 – 340
28. Paulos I, the Confessor 340 – 41, 342 – 34, 348 – 50
29. Eusebios 341 – 342
30. Makedonios I 344 – 348, 350 – 360
31. Eudoxios 360 – 369
32. Demophilos 369 – 379
33. Evagrios 379
34. Maximos I 380
35. Gregory, the Theologian 379 – 381
36. Nectarios 381 – 397
37. John I, the Chrysostom 398 – 404
38. Arsakios 404 – 405
39. Attikos 406 – 425
40. Sisinios I 425 – 427
41. Nestorios 428 – 431
42. Maximianos 431 – 434
43. Proklos 434 – 447
44. Flavianos 447 – 449
45. Anatolios 449 – 458
46. Gennadios I 458 – 471
47. Akakios 471 – 489
48. Favritas (Fravitas) 489 – 490
49. Euphemios 490 – 496
50. Makedonios II 496 – 511
51. Timotheos I 511 – 518
52. John II, the Cappadocian 518 – 520
53. Epiphanios 520 – 536
54. Anthimos 535 – 536
55. Menas 536 – 552
56. Eutychios I 552 – 565, 577 – 582
57. John III 566 – 577
58. Eutychios II 577 – 582
59. John IV, the Faster 582 – 595
60. Kyriakos II 595 – 607
61. Thomas I 607 – 610
62. Sergios I 610 – 638
63. Pyrros I (later returned as Pyrros II) 638 – 641
64. Paulos II 641 – 652
65. Pyrros II [same as Pyrros I] 652 or 654
66. Petros 652 – 664
67. Thomas II 665 – 668
68. John V 668 – 674
69. Constantine I 674 – 676
70. Theodoros I 676 – 678, 683 – 686
71. Georgios I 678 – 683
72. Paulos III 686 – 693
73. Kallinikos I 693 – 705
74. Kyros 705 – 711
75. John VI 711 – 715
76. Germanos I, the Confessor 715 – 730
77. Anastasios 730 – 751
78. Constantine II 754 – 766
79. Niketas, the Slav 766 – 780
80. Paulos IV 780 – 784
81. Tarasios 784 – 806
82. Nikephoros I 806 – 815
83. Theodotos, Melissenos 815 – 821
84. Antonios I, Kasymatas 821 – 826
85. John VII the Grammatikos 826 – 842
86. Methodios I, the Confessor 842 – 846
87. Ignatios I, the Prince 846 – 857, 867 – 878
88. Photios I 857 – 867, 878 – 886
89. Stephanos I, the Prince 886 – 893
90. Antonios II, Kavleas 893 – 895
91. Nikolaos I, the Mystic 895 – 906, 911 – 925
92. Euthymios I 906 – 911
93. Stephanos II 925 – 928
94. Tryphon 928 – 931
95. Theophylctos, Lakapenos, the Princeling 933 – 956
96. Polyeuctos 956 – 970
97. Vasilios I, Skamandrenos 970 – 974
98. Antonios III, Skandalios, also Stoudites 974 – 980
99. Nikolaos II, Chrysoverges 984 – 995
100. Michael, the Syrian 990
101. Leontius 993
102. John 1015
103. Theopemptus 1037
104. Hilarion 1051
105. George 1072
106. John II 1080
107. John III 1089
108. Ephraim 1096
109. Nicholas 1098
110. Nicephorus 1108
111. Nicetas 1124
112. Michael II 1127
113. Clement 1197
114. Constantine 1136
115. Theodore 1160
116. John IV 1164
117. Constantine II 1167
118. Nicephorus II 1185
119. Matthew 1201
120. Kyrill I 1205
121. Joseph 1240
122. Kyrill II 1250
123. Maximus 1283
124. Peter 1308
125. Theognostes 1328
126. Alexis 1353
127. Cyprian 1380
128. Photius 1410
129. Isidore 1432
130. Jonah 1448
131. Theodosius 1462
132. Philip I 1467
133. Gerontius 1472
134. Zosimus 1491
135. Simon 1496
136. Barlaam 1511
137. Daniel 1522
138. Joasaph 1539
139. Macarius 1542
140. Athanasius 1564
141. Philip 1565
142. Cyrill III 1568
143. Anthony 1572
144. Dionysius 1582
145. Job 1587
146. Hermogenes 1606.
147. Philaret 1620
148. Joasaph I 1631
149. Joseph 1642
150. Nikon 1653
151. Joasaph II 1667
152. Pitirim 1672
153. Joachim 1673
154. Adrian 1690
155. Metropolitan Stephen (Yavorsky), of Rostov, 1701
156. The Most Holy Synod 1721 – 1918
157. Patriarch Bishop Tikhon – October 19, 1897
158. Josef Kedrovsky / Kedroffsky – 1923
159. Josef Klimovicz – 1935
160. Peter A. Zurawetsky – October 15, 1950
161. Karl Hugo Prüter – Novemeber 7, 1967
162. Brian Ernest Brown – September 9, 2007