History of OCCA

Previous The African Orthodox Church

The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America

George Augustine Hyde had formed, with a deposed Bishop John of the Church of Greece who had immigrated to the Atlanta area in the early 1940s, the Eucharistic Catholic Church, growing out of their joint work to provide a church home and sacraments for gay men and lesbians denied communion at local parishes. This is regarded as the first such LGBT church in the United States. When Hyde, who had been ordained priest by Bishop John, moved to the Washington, D.C. area, he continued the work, and in 1950 met Archbishop Sherwood, who took his theological education in hand. After his own consecration in 1957, he continued to support independent churches, in particular those who served marginal communities like his own.

Bishop Hyde succeeded Sherwood as chief hierarch in 1970. He retired in 1983 and was succeeded by Alfred Lankenau, whom he had consecrated as Bishop of Indianapolis and Chicago in 1980. Metropolitan Alfred oversaw the dramatic step of admitting women to ordination. He ordained the first woman (in our jurisdiction) to the priesthood, Barbara Martzall, on January 15, 1995.


Archbishop Alfred Louis Lankenau

This step was not universally welcomed. Retired Archbishop Hyde left the jurisdiction and kept a small number of priests who were not willing to accept the ordination of women. According to Archbishop Alfred, one of the concessions made for the ordination of women had been that no woman would be elected as a bishop. This satisfied some of the members of the Synod who would otherwise not have voted in favor of the ordination of women to the priesthood. It was a step in the right direction towards full inclusion, but it was only a step. At Archbishop Alfred's retirement in 1999 E. Paul Brian Carsten was elected Archbishop and in 2000 he was consecrated by Archbishop Alfred.


Archbishop "Skip" E. Brian Carsten

During Archbishop Brian's administration, the Holy Synod agreed that women would be allowed to serve as bishops in the OCCA and the inclusion that Archbishop Alfred had wanted was finally brought to its fullness. The first woman consecrated to the episcopate was Elizabeth (Lynn Walker) on May 2, 2009. Her consecrators were Archbishop Lankenau, Bishop Vincent Cuestas, Bishop Robert Zahrt, Bishop Jerry Hegarty, Bishop Douglas Wright of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America and Bishop Timothy M. Cravens from the Independent Catholic Christian Church. After Archbishop Brian's untimely death, Archbishop Alfred came out of retirement to serve as locum tenens and supervised the synod in its election of Fr. Robert Zahrt, who was consecrated in 2009 as Metropolitan Archbishop with the name Peter, by Archbishop Alfred.


Archbishop Peter (Robert Zahrt)

In the summer of 2016 Archbishop Peter announced his retirement as Archbishop. The Synod met in Indianapolis and elected Bishop Paul (Ken Waibel) of Lexington to be the next Archbishop of OCCA.


Archbishop Paul (Ken Waibel)