What We Believe
Click here for The Catechism of the Charismatic Episcopal Church
The Charismatic Episcopal Church stands squarely on the historic undisputed teaching of orthodox Christianity as taught by Jesus, spread by the apostles, defined by the patriarchs of the early church, expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds, and exemplified by the undivided Church during the first millennia of its existence.
We believe that these things, taken together with Jesus first, contain the substantial deposit of Christian faith and practice!
We stand alongside the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, The Orthodox Churches, and many Protestant and Pentecostal Churches in that we stand firmly against the practice of abortion and believe in the sanctity of human life at all stages. We also affirm that Holy Matrimony is the sacramental bond of marriage between one man and one woman only.
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, the Creeds to be the authoritative summary of the Scriptural teaching, the power of the Holy Spirit as necessary for the life of the Christian, and the Sacraments as gifts and vehicles of God's grace as taught by the Church since its very beginning.
The Charismatic Episcopal Church is a unique and separate denomination. It is not now, and has never been, a part of or affiliated with The Episcopal Church USA. We are Anglican and catholic in expression, evangelical and Spirit-filled in worship.
ABOUT THE ICCEC (also known as the Charismatic Episcopal Church, CEC )
The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC) started with only one bishop and three parishes in 1992 and now reporting about 1000 churches in 30 countries.
We are men and women of faith gathered from diverse backgrounds seeking an expression of the church that is fully sacramental-liturgical, evangelical, and charismatic; a church that is submitted to the authority of scripture, as interpreted by the continuing witness of the ancient church, and governed by consensus. Our worship is biblical, liturgical and Spirit filled, ancient and contemporary, holy and joyful. We are committed to advancing God's kingdom by proclaiming the Gospel to the least, the lost, and the lonely.
The ICCEC occupies a position within the crucible of historic faith through both Anglican and Catholic [i.e., Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil] lines; receiving its apostolic succession through pure lines of undisputed orthodox Christianity. While rooted in the ancient we also believe that the ICCEC has been raised by God to be a new jurisdiction with pillars in the historic, apostolic churches as well as the charismatic and evangelical movements of our own generation. In this respect the ICCEC exists as a "convergence of streams" -- a unifier of the liturgical/sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic tributaries of the Church Universal, which flow into the one river, whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells" (Psalm 46:4).
The seeds of this convergence movement were planted in May, 1977, when a group of evangelical leaders came together to issue a powerful call to all evangelicals to rediscover their roots in historic Christianity. "The Chicago Call," as it came to be known, was signed by such people as Peter Gilquist, Thomas Howard, Robert Webber, and Jon Braun. Their message--a recovery of our common and apostolic roots for the faithful transmission of the Gospel--became the catalyst and heartbeat for our church.
Uniquely, the ICCEC is not a schism or splinter group from another denomination. It was a unique work of God borne into the hearts of dedicated and faithful clergy from a number of denominations (Pentecostals, Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Independent Charismatics, Wesleyans, etc.) who studied, prayed over, and witnessed this need for a house of convergence. They were burdened for a church that not only exercised apostolic authority within a liturgical framework but operated under the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit. On June 26, 1992, Father Randolph Adler was consecrated as the church's first Bishop and Primate.
Today, clergy and laymen of the ICCEC, traveling from their heritage in Evangelical, Pentecostal/Charismatic, Anglican, Roman, and Eastern Orthodox expressions, now have the common vision of making the Kingdom of God visible to the nations of the world. The founding vision of the ICCEC states: We seek to bring the rich sacramental and liturgical life of the early church to searching evangelicals and charismatics as well as carrying the power of Pentecost to our brothers and sisters in the historical churches, all the while providing a home for all Christians who seek an expression of faith that is equally liturgical/sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic.
The ICCEC stands squarely on the historic, undisputed teachings of orthodox Christianity as taught by Jesus, spread by the Apostles, defended by the Patriarchs of the Early Church, expressed in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, and exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first millennium of its existence. We believe that these things taken together, with Jesus first, contain the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order delivered to the Church.
Theologically we stand in union with all churches who profess the necessary tenets of Faith as outlined in our San Clemente Declaration of 1999*. The ICCEC is a church that was founded in the pro-life movement of California. We believe that all life is sacred from conception to natural death. We also believe in the sanctity of holy matrimony represented in the life long union of one man and one woman. Additionally, we maintain the validity of God's grace imparted through the seven traditional sacraments of the Church (i.e., Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Confession & Reconciliation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Healing/Unction).
Since the ICCEC occupies a unique place between the protestant and catholic formulations of faith, our basic beliefs hold in common the essentials of orthodoxy (i.e., "that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all") found in Eastern Orthodoxy, Western Catholicism, and the Reformed traditions. Accordingly, we cannot walk in fellowship with those who deny the essentials of faith; those who would "move an ancient boundary stone" (Proverbs 22:28). Among those beliefs we would underscore and commend the following:
The Holy Bible is the Word of God. We believe Holy Scripture and affirm the critical importance of preaching, public reading of the Word, and personal Bible study;
- The Sacraments impart the grace of God, particularly baptism and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist;
- A high view of the Church in affirming Cyprian's claim that, "he who has not the Church for his mother, has not God for his Father;"
- The doctrine of saving grace by faith as reinforced by both the Reformers and the Council of Trent;
- The real and present work of the Holy Spirit through gifts and signs as imparted to believers for service and witness as rediscovered during this century by the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements.
In this sense the ICCEC is wholly orthodox, wholly evangelical, wholly sacramental, and wholly charismatic.
PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS
In general, members of the ICCEC are expected to be of the highest moral, ethical, and religious character, expressing in their words and behavior the mind of Christ that dwells within every true Christian. All practices should find their basis in Holy Scripture, and accountability for conduct is emphasized through nurturing relationships with other like-minded believers.
With regard to religious life, members are to seek regular, weekly opportunities for Sabbath worship that includes receiving the Eucharist. Corporate worship is the norm since a love for the Church (the Body of Christ) is the natural expression of a committed love of Christ.
Corporate worship also walks hand-in-hand with individual growth and maturation of personal spirituality. Members are highly encouraged to engage in a structured pattern of devotional study especially the Offices of Daily Prayer, reading, and prayer along with a healthy view of the other ancient spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting, intercession, stewardship, silence, service, etc.).
Tithing a tenth of all income is taught in our churches as the minimum biblical standard for the financial support of the local parish.
The ICCEC is an episcopal communion; meaning, its government is overseen by bishops. We believe that a valid, apostolic episcopacy is not an option but rather an essential part of the New Testament definition of the Church. However, ICCEC bishops are not simply administrative overseers; they are chiefly pastoral. By Canon Law, bishops must be rectors of their own local parish.
Along with a governing episcopate, it is a founding principle of the ICCEC that government occurs by consensus under the direction of the Holy Spirit. On the International level, the Patriarch's Council and the International College of Archbishops confer on denominational matters chiefly through prayer; seeking the unity described in Acts 15 at the Council of Jerusalem. This same consensus process occurs within each international territory or national church, each province under the authority of its archbishop, each diocese under the authority of its bishop, and within each parish under the authority of its rector and his rector's council. The denomination, as a whole, is governed by The Canon Law of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
While subscribing to the traditional and biblical understanding of ordained ministry by the imposition of hands for the consecrating of episkopoi (bishops), presbuteroi (pastor/priest), and diakonoi (deacons), we also recognize the recovery, within the charismatic movement, of the fivefold understanding of ministry expressed in Ephesians 4:11-13. That is, we believe that the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher were designed for the edification of Christ's Church until His coming again, and we anticipate these ministries, as well as other Gifts of the Holy Spirit, to be in operation--whether in the clergy or laity--in every healthy parish.
ROLE OF MINISTERS: BISHOPS, PRIESTS & DEACONS
According to the Canon Law, the clergy of the Church is comprised of the ordained ministries of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons serving in Apostolic Succession under the spiritual headship of Jesus Christ. Other offices of commissioned ministries are recognized, and the priesthood of all believers is to be exercised within the whole Church.
Our ordained clergy are responsible for the liturgical, sacramental, and teaching ministries of the Church. ICCEC clergy are called chiefly to equip and lead the Church, which is the royal and priestly company who offer to God the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving through the stewardship of time, energy, money, and spiritual gifts. In this sense, our clergy are expected to serve as biblical-pastoral counselors, teachers, and trainers who have been given by God to His people in order to raise up the laity for works of service.
Worship is so intrinsically bound to the role of our clergy that if it does not flow into or out of the altar, it is not an essential element of ordained ministry.
Worship is the heartbeat of the ICCEC as it blends together "treasures old and new" (Matthew 13:52) through a "convergence" of the three main streams of faith.
As our starting point, the ICCEC roots itself back into the Anglican/Celtic tradition (or English Orthodoxy), which traces its beginnings to the third century. This Anglican approach allows for tremendous flexibility in local expression without compromising the essentials of faith. This historic tradition can allow for a simple order of worship as well as worship resplendent with pageantry, processions, incense, and chant.
Two vital keys to worship in the ICCEC are that local congregations be open to the Holy Spirit's activity and that they follow the "shape of the liturgy" that has been received from both Holy Scripture and the first centuries of the Church.
OPENNESS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: A distinguishing mark of the ICCEC is its openness to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is given latitude to "have His way" in worship. Accordingly, our worship is more than liturgical, it is also very sensitive to what God seeks to accomplish in the midst of His people. We not only "allow" but eagerly "anticipate" the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence to us through the biblical gifts and ministries of the Spirit.
THE SHAPE OF THE LITURGY: Our liturgy is grounded in the ancient church of the apostles and predates the canonization of the New Testament. Its roots are in the Judaic worship of the temple and synagogue combined with the eucharistic services of the early Christians. Through our liturgy we not only join in the eternal shape of worship in heaven, but we enter into the historic worship of the ages. Through a full and authentic liturgy we can express religious truth, denounce heresy, and offer a complete expression of worship to the Trinity.
Though varying in the degree of pageantry, churches in the ICCEC observe the Church Year, follow the lectionary cycle of Scripture readings, and follow the ancient shape of worship in their principal Sunday services. The following elements are prescribed for our worship:
- An Opening Hymn or Chorus (as an entrance before God's Throne)
- A Collect (A short prayer recognizing an attribute of God and asking His favor)
- A Time of Worship and Praise
- The Liturgy of the Word - Scripture readings, Sermon, and Prayers
- Lessons (lectionary readings appointed for the day and season)
- The Sermon
- The Nicene Creed (ancient and orthodox Statement of Faith)
- The Prayers of the People (for the Church, nation, needy, etc.)
- Confession of Sin and Absolution (in preparation for receiving the Eucharist, done here or at the very beginning of the liturgy)
- The Peace (greeting one another in the name of the Lord)
- The Lord's Supper - Holy Eucharist
- The Offertory (presenting our tithes and offerings to the Lord) "Lift up your hearts" (Sursum Corda--ancient call to worship Christ)
- "Holy, Holy, Holy" (Sanctus--the words Isaiah and John heard in heaven)
- Words of Institution (Repeating the story of the Last Supper)
- Epiclesis (inviting the Holy Spirit to infuse and minister through the sacraments)
- The Lord's Prayer
- The Fraction (breaking of the bread)
- Distribution of the Bread and Wine
- A Prayer of Thanksgiving
- The Blessing and Dismissal
The ICCEC has provisionally adopted the Book of Common Prayer (1979) as our standard of worship. The CEC in the United States recommends use of the Northeast Sacramentary, available from Patriarch's See, The Cathedral Church of the Intercessor in Malverne, New York. Both resources capture and retain these ancient patterns enjoyed by the Church universal both in heaven and on earth. The ICCEC also recognizes for use the Book of Common Prayer (1928) and the Anglican Service Book. Other liturgies of Historic Jurisdictions Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox are allowed with the approval of the diocesan bishop.
In addition to following this shape of liturgy, we ask our priests and deacons to wear attire suitable to an occasion of high praise. As a minimal standard, ordained priests are to wear cassock alb and stole; ordained deacons, cassock alb and deacon stole. The principle celebrant of Communion will also wear a chasuble.
There are no restrictions placed on the decision of members to serve in the Armed Forces. We believe that to be a matter of personal conscience for the member in prayerful communion with God. Equally there are no restrictions placed on holding public office, serving in law enforcement, or engaging in public trade or interest. We do, however, strongly discourage membership in secret societies or organizations and restrict such membership for ordained clergy. We balance our public life with the knowledge that while we are in the world we are not "of the world" (John 17:15-16).
Concerning the general move of many churches and denominations toward ecumenism, the following must be mentioned:
The ICCEC does not ordain women to the diaconate or priesthood. We believe such practices to be contrary to both Scripture and tradition as the early church knew nothing of a Christian priestess. However, women in the ICCEC do serve the church in a variety of ministry roles as "commissioned ministers."
Our clergy are not permitted to concelebrate the Eucharist with an ordained female minister or priest, nor with any clergy who deny the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Bread and Cup or who are not ordained in Apostolic Succession.
We hold to a high view of the Eucharist in that we believe the Real Presence of Christ is made manifest in the Bread and Wine through the power of the Holy Spirit. In short, the Eucharist is NOT a memorial meal.
The Eucharist is intrinsic to our worship services. Indeed, biblical worship must include sacrifice. However, this does not preclude our clergy (e.g., ICCEC priests serving as military chaplains) from conducting a "Protestant" service in interdenominational settings. Such a service would be charismatic in nature and generally include singing, general confession, Scripture, a sermon, the Creed, and prayers. While this "ante communion" service is permissible in a setting that necessitates its requirement, all ICCEC clergy are still expected to offer the sacrifice of the Eucharist at least once a week as their chief and principal labor before God.
Our clergy and laity may enter into joint/ecumenical worship services or Bible study groups where the Eucharist is not served. In joint services where the Eucharist is served (e.g., ecumenical community Thanksgiving services), notice must first be made to the celebrant to determine whether the sacrament is offered as the "Real Presence" of Christ.
We practice a limited "open communion" in our worship services and offer the Eucharist to all baptized believers who were brought into faith through the Trinitarian formula of baptism, who accept the shed blood of Christ as the payment for their sins, and who acknowledge the Real Presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.