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Episcopalian Minister and Congregation Convert

Fr. James Hamrick ordained to the Holy Priesthood as His Grace, Bishop THOMAS looks on

It appears the fruits of St. John of San Francisco's labors have paid off. After a year of instruction and a prayer, an Episcopalian clergymen and many from his congregation entered the Orthodox Church. While the members of the congregation were chrismated in April, their former minister was ordained to the Holy Priesthood a little over a week ago.

The now Fr. James Hamrick is pastor of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Frederick, MD. He was a minister in the United Methodist Church for years, but as he was looking for ancient faith, he found himself in the Charismatic Episcopal Church for a few years. At least until now. The CEC underwent a major rupture, causing the bishop who ordained Fr. Hamrick to question the notion of Protestantism altogether. He said, he "believed that God's authority was not only found in the Scriptures, as he felt Protestant churches emphasized, but also in the apostolic succession and sacred traditions." This invariably led him to Orthodoxy.

In keeping with the authentic, ancient liturgical and spiritual traditions of the Orthodox West, the new converts opted to be Western Orthodox. What does that look like? It resembles what an old Tridentine Roman Catholic Liturgy would look like, but in English. There are many variations to how Western Orthodox celebrate their liturgy (in many WO churches, they use the term 'Mass'). For example, there is the Divine Liturgy of St. Ambrose which some use, as well as the Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great (which resembles the ancient Pre-Vatican II Catholic Liturgy, but in English) and the Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon, which is similar to the Anglican Book of Common prayer.

All of these have been slightly modified to conform to Orthodox doctrine, such as deleting the Filioque clause from the Creed and commemorating Orthodox Bishops. These Western Orthodox Christians keep to the same spiritual heritage as was seen in the West before the Schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. Will his conversion influence other Protestant clergy to bring their flocks to the historic Church? Time will tell.

It will be interesting to see if disillusioned Episcopalians, Methodists and Lutherans convert en masse to Orthodoxy, given the fact that both denominations now support homosexual clergy (with the United Methodist Church pursuing full communion with the Episcopalians, who passed similar measures recently), after an agreement of full communion was signed between the two last week.

The parishioners of St. John the Baptist have remodeled an old church to make it acceptable for Western Orthodox worship. A total of 26 people were received into the Orthodox Church, with other Orthodox supporting them. Today, Fr. Hamrick celebrated his first liturgy as an Orthodox priest. May God grant him and his parishioners many years!

Source: Frederick News-Post and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocesan Website and a link about Western Orthodoxy.


  • Stephen 5 years ago

    Christianity is the perfect example of "market segmentation". With over 30,000 varieties of Christian organizations and denominations. There truly is something for everyone.

    But, in the odd chance that one of the 30,000 options don't "tickle your fancy", start your own.

    Or if you really want to bring in the sheaves, become a tele-evangelist. Smile for the camera, cry on cue, and watch those donations roll in over the internet or your own 800 number. Plus you get much better threads than those ugly evening gowns Orthodox priests wear.

  • Richard T. Nolan 5 years ago

    It is interesting that in the USA, large percentages (sometimes 100%) of parishes unhappy with The Episcopal Church follow their rectors' varied desires - which may say something about the immature dependency factor of many churchgoers.

  • Stephen Hawkins 5 years ago

    This priest was not an Episcopalian, he was a Charismatic Episcopalian. The Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) has not ever been affiliated with The Episcopal Church (TEC). The CEC is Conservative in its theology and practice, Evangelical, open to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Sacramental,Liturgical, and has an all male priesthood. Obviously, it is very different in many ways from TEC. I hope this man and his 26 followers will stay put in this branch of the Orthodox Church. By my count the last three churches he was affiliated with didn't suit him. (Methodist, CEC, whatever he was after leaving the CEC, and now Orthodox.

  • Jeff 5 years ago

    Once upon a time, I worshipped at Fr. Hamrick's father's Methodist church.

    I became Orthodox about 7 years ago. It was fascinating for me to hear of this story a couple weeks ago. I haven't thought of the Hamricks in years.

  • Jerry 5 years ago

    Stephen, As a parishoner at St John The Baptist Orthodox Church, I can attest that Father James and I have been on the same path of spiritual development. Rasied a Methodist, fed and educated in the Episcopal church, I was ultimately disappointed as that body moved away from the true faith. I believe that led both of us to ask that simple but all important question..where is the true faith? Each person must answer that for themself, but I pray that unlike me, those with a desire to see if Orthodoxy is where the Lord is leading them will not wait five years before experiencing its' richness. There is a great difference between a spiritual journey, and the church shopping that you imply. Father James has walked the path many others will take. He is well suited to help bring Orthodoxy to America, and America to Orthodoxy.