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Author Topic: Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church  (Read 1169 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 01, 2012, 02:01:44 AM »

Silly?  Or sad? Or Orthodox?

Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church

It sounds goofy, but then we read that they are claiming an actual Orthodox Patriarch in their recent lineage.  Depending on how Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of Antioch and the East actually fits into the equasion could this be an actual Orthodox Church?  It seems that the 116th Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch was, in fact, Ignatius Peter IV (also called Peter III without counting St. Peter the first Patriarch).  If the wiki source is correct about the use of III/IV then, this Ignatius Peter was Patriarch from 1872 to 1894 and the Coltrain Church indicates that their "church" came, indirectly, from the actions of this Patriarch.

So... what are we to make of this?
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2012, 02:18:08 AM »

first orthodox church to allow saxophone in the liturgy??? maybe??
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2012, 02:38:50 AM »

If  I remember correctly, this is a schismatic and heretical group that technically has some truth in claiming to be related to the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2012, 04:23:12 AM »

Yawn.
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2012, 07:46:42 AM »

If I'm not mistaken, I wrote quite a bit about Archbishop George Alexander McGuire and the African Orthodox Church some years ago, either here or at ByzCath - I'd have to go hunting. McGuire did indeed receive episcopal orders from Joseph Rene Vilatte, who had his own orders from the Syriac Orthodox.

Vilatte is near the base of the episcopal family tree of most every vagante bishop to be found who claims to head a 'Church' that is of the so-called 'independent' Catholic/Orthodox, or both persuasion.

As to whether there is any validity to the episcopal orders (or even the presbyteral orders) that he conferred - it comes down to whether the Cyprianic or Augustinian view is held by the Church being queried on the point.

Historically, the Eastern Orthodox view - the Cyprianic theory - would accord no sacramental grace to the orders that he conferred. The Catholic view - the Augustinian theory to which it long held, but from which it now seems to be backing away - would have accorded sacramental grace to at least Vilatte's conferral of such. Most Oriental Orthodox, otoh, have traditionally been less rigid on the matter than either the Eastern Orthodox or the Catholics and have gone both ways on the issue.

My recollection is that, in a discussion between Phil/Mor Ephrem and myself, some years ago, he suggested that Vilatte's own orders were generally viewed to be valid by his Church, but he was less sure what view was taken toward those on whom he subsequently conferred orders.

If anyone really wants to delve into Vilatte or McGuire, I'll go digging, but I think it's all been said before.

Many years,

Neil
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2012, 10:07:16 AM »

This is the remnant a briefly much larger group. The non-American contingent was received into canonical Orthodoxy.

From Wikipedia:
Quote
The African Orthodox church originally attracted mostly Anglican West Indian immigrants. It spread to the South in 1925 when McGuire started a parish in West Palm Beach, Florida. Two years later he consecrated an African as Metropolitan William Daniel Alexander of South Africa and central and southern Africa. At this time McGuire was elected as Patriarch with the title of Alexander I. The church then spread to Uganda where it grew to about 10,000. Its greatest strength, however, was in New York City where on Nov 8, 1931, McGuire dedicated Holy Cross Pro-Cathedral, a remodeled house purchased by McGuire from funds obtained by mortgaging his own home.

In 1932 a bishop of the Church went to Uganda and ordained Ruben Spartus Mukasa and one of his associates there priests of the African Orthodox Church. However a few years later, Mukasa and his followers decided to align with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Mukasa went to Alexandria and was ordained by the Patriarch there, while the African Orthodox Church lost its connection in Uganda.[2]
The bolded portion is an afternote to what Neil wrote earlier -- it's obvious the canonical African Church did not regard the orders of the AOC to be anything other than manufactured.

I suspect the American contingent survives because of our long history of religious individualism, and a commitment to Orthodoxy in name only (after all, they started out as Episcopalians). If you combine all of their membership, they only have enough members to make up a large church in one city.
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2012, 11:31:05 AM »

Silly?  Or sad? Or Orthodox?

Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church

It sounds goofy, but then we read that they are claiming an actual Orthodox Patriarch in their recent lineage.  Depending on how Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of Antioch and the East actually fits into the equasion could this be an actual Orthodox Church?  It seems that the 116th Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch was, in fact, Ignatius Peter IV (also called Peter III without counting St. Peter the first Patriarch).  If the wiki source is correct about the use of III/IV then, this Ignatius Peter was Patriarch from 1872 to 1894 and the Coltrain Church indicates that their "church" came, indirectly, from the actions of this Patriarch.

So... what are we to make of this?
I think the "Will-I-Am" part is a very recent addition to the name, playing off of John Coltrane's real middle-name, and the rapper William James Adams, Jr., also known as "will.i.am" of the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas.
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2012, 11:33:59 AM »

If I'm not mistaken, I wrote quite a bit about Archbishop George Alexander McGuire and the African Orthodox Church some years ago, either here or at ByzCath - I'd have to go hunting. McGuire did indeed receive episcopal orders from Joseph Rene Vilatte, who had his own orders from the Syriac Orthodox.

Vilatte is near the base of the episcopal family tree of most every vagante bishop to be found who claims to head a 'Church' that is of the so-called 'independent' Catholic/Orthodox, or both persuasion.

As to whether there is any validity to the episcopal orders (or even the presbyteral orders) that he conferred - it comes down to whether the Cyprianic or Augustinian view is held by the Church being queried on the point.

Historically, the Eastern Orthodox view - the Cyprianic theory - would accord no sacramental grace to the orders that he conferred. The Catholic view - the Augustinian theory to which it long held, but from which it now seems to be backing away - would have accorded sacramental grace to at least Vilatte's conferral of such. Most Oriental Orthodox, otoh, have traditionally been less rigid on the matter than either the Eastern Orthodox or the Catholics and have gone both ways on the issue.

My recollection is that, in a discussion between Phil/Mor Ephrem and myself, some years ago, he suggested that Vilatte's own orders were generally viewed to be valid by his Church, but he was less sure what view was taken toward those on whom he subsequently conferred orders.

If anyone really wants to delve into Vilatte or McGuire, I'll go digging, but I think it's all been said before.

Many years,

Neil


saved some time: http://www.coltranechurch.org/african2011.html
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 12:06:35 PM »

From their website:

Quote
Communion Sunday is every first Sunday of each month. Mass consists of Confession, the Coltrane Liturgy, Scripture readings, Hymns and Spirituals, and preaching.

Every Sunday, Ohnedaruth provides the rhythm section and lead horns which support the Voices of Compassion (choir), as together they seek to invoke the Spirit of God through sound praise. The sound praise consists of the Coltrane Liturgy, which combines the Divine Liturgy of the African Orthodox Church, and the Twenty-third Psalm, with the melodies, harmonies and rhythms of Saint John Coltrane's masterpiece: A Love Supreme.

Any lingering notion that these folks are somehow Orthodox should be out the window.
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2012, 01:16:14 PM »

Most of these "churches" start because somebody had a Bible and a personal opinion that he was able to convince a few people about.  It's interesting to consider that for THIS group there is actually a kernal of validity at least to their founding.  Obviously, however, they have gone way off the rails.
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2012, 01:25:19 PM »

From their website:

Quote
Communion Sunday is every first Sunday of each month. Mass consists of Confession, the Coltrane Liturgy, Scripture readings, Hymns and Spirituals, and preaching.

Every Sunday, Ohnedaruth provides the rhythm section and lead horns which support the Voices of Compassion (choir), as together they seek to invoke the Spirit of God through sound praise. The sound praise consists of the Coltrane Liturgy, which combines the Divine Liturgy of the African Orthodox Church, and the Twenty-third Psalm, with the melodies, harmonies and rhythms of Saint John Coltrane's masterpiece: A Love Supreme.

Any lingering notion that these folks are somehow Orthodox should be out the window.

I wasn't suggesting that at all, just providing a historical note. Where they are today is their problem and it certainly isn't ours....
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2012, 02:56:04 PM »


"The ascension of St. John Coltrane into one-ness with God is what we refer to as the Risen Trane. In dealing with the Saint, John Coltrane, we are not dealing with St. John the man but St. John the sound and St. John the Evangelist and Sound Baptist, who attained union with God through sound."

It's like a parody.
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2012, 03:06:34 PM »

Alice Coltrane, his wife, would later become a Hindu swami, Swamini Turiyasangitananda.
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2012, 02:35:53 AM »

ok, here's a detailed post on the subject that I wrote a couple of years back, in response to a query here:

CR,

The obvious history of Eastern Christianity in Africa is that of the Christianization effected by the Coptic Church, its Ethiopian and Eritrean daughter Churches, and Greek Orthodox, Armenians, and Melkites, all of which were focused in North Africa, the area geographically most proximate to Christianity's origins.  In the mid and southern reaches of the continent, Latin Catholic and Protestant missionaries had been a much more visible presence until the Orthodox missions of the past century.  

Notably, such missions have not been spearheaded by the Eastern Churches of African origin (Copt, Ethiopian, or Eritrean), but chiefly by the Greeks.  Anecdotally, it has been speculated that among the factors contributing to this have been a sense of superiority on the part of  North African Christians toward their sub-Saharan brethren, as well as a distrust among the latter of other Africans.  The distrust being part and parcel of the internecine warfare and tribalism that has marked the continent for centuries.

Interestingly, some of the earliest Eastern Christian activity of an "Orthodox" nature in the sub-Saharan regions was initially home-grown and incubated by a mix of vagante and non-canonical/independent "Orthodox" Churches having their immediate origins in the US. Marcus Garvey, an African-American best remembered for Black political activism in the early 20th century, was also involved with the ecclesiastical entity styled "The African Orthodox Church of America", which is the forerunner of the church about which you asked.  

The AOCA was originally headquartered in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood and one of its parishes, St. James, was still situated there, only a block from my grammar school, until the 1960s.  A classmate (who was Orthodox) and I, consumed by curiousity (him by the sign that said "Orthodox", though his parents said it wasn't  Huh  ; me by the fact that it was surmounted by a cross in an era when common wisdom said that only Catholic churches were  Huh  ), snuck inside in the early 50s. We were certain that we were doomed to Hell  Shocked  - although we weren't sure whether it would be the same Hell       Grin  .  

Inside, I got my first glimpse of what I would later understand was a rather rudimentary/primitive iconostasis, depicting solely Black images.  My friend, with all the wisdom of a 3rd grader, opined that the lingering scent of incense didn't "smell right", therefore, the church wasn't really Orthodox  Tongue     .  We escaped without further ado, sure that if we were caught, we'd be marched up the street to Father (with whom we knew the AOCA priest was friendly) or to Sister Superior, both of whom loomed as a far more immediate and dire threat than Hell's fires   Roll Eyes  .

Joseph Rene Vilatte, whose name is listed somewhere in the episcopal lineage of virtually every vagante and independent "Catholic", "Orthodox", "Anglican/Episcopal" and "Lutheran" Church in North America factored into the AOCA as well, consecrating a Garvey follower, George McGuire, as its first hierarch.  A group of African native clergy, with backgrounds principally in the Latin, Anglican, and Methodist Churches, as well as the Ethiopian Catholic Church in Zion (an early African independent church), sought and obtained hierarchical consecration from McGuire for Daniel Alexander, their leader.  The resultant body flourished, ultimately more so than did its American step-parent (which still exists, but in extremely small numbers).  Many of its clergy and faithful, as well as those of some of its offshoots, were inspired decades later to seek canonicity from various Orthodox Churches, including the Copts, Ethiopians, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Ultimately, some of these formed the nuclei of the Orthodox missions that are presently underway in Africa.  

There are also some historical ties among these bodies, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox community in Jamaica that arose initially from a cult-like fascination with Emperor Haile Selassie.

Some of the history of these bodies can be read at:

African Orthodox Church Archives  

Orthodox Mission In Tropical Africa

History of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church
  
African Greek Orthodox Autonomous Church  

Imperial Coptic Ethiopian Church of Ethiopia

A Sketch of Rastafarian History  

As regards the AOCA, it's numbers had decreased dramatically over the years in North America and, only a few years ago, it had few surviving temples. One is St Philip's in Sydney, NS, Canada - the sole church of the denomination in Canada. (It is or, until recently, was a viable congregation; the current Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, Honourable Mayann Francis, is a congregant and her father was formerly its pastor). You can see interior photos of the church here and here.

It reflects the Church's mixed heritage, with touches of both Western and Ethiopian influences. Other than the 3 barred crosses on the exterior though, (which can be seen in photos on pages 8 and 9 of a history of Black Churches in Nova Scotia located here (slow to load, be patient), there is not much immediately reminiscent of the Church's early efforts to forge an Orthodox identity.

Details regarding the successor of the original entity can be seen at its website - which is sparse. And the reality of it may be less than what is depicted there, as I see it still lists St James in Roxbury, which I believe no longer exists. Ah, I see there is an updated version here.

There is, however, also the African Orthodox Church of Africa, which claims to be the legitimate successor to the church founded by Daniel Alexander, whom I referenced above. Its website can be viewed here.

Back to focusing on mainstream Churches, GO Metropolitan Makarios of Kenya compiled a detailed Chronology of Christianity in Africa. Metropolitan Makarios is a prolific writer and links to many articles by him, significant numbers of which relate to Orthodoxy in Africa, can be found at ORI.

There's also an interesting interview with Fr. Theotimos (Tsalas), an Orthodox priest in the Congolese Republic on an ROC site. An article on Orthodoxy in Uganda, from ONE magazine, can be read at at the CNEWA site.

Many years,

Neil

I haven't checked to see if all the links are still extant.

Many years,

Neil

Addendum:
I do see that the Nova Scotiam liinks don't work - here is another to an exterior view and some detail about the structure, which is an historical site: St Phillip's, Sydney, NS  and an updated link to the site on which I believe the interior photos display is here
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 02:47:46 AM by Irish Melkite » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2012, 01:44:49 PM »

Wow.  Thank you for finding and reposting that very detailed information.   Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2012, 01:59:04 PM »

i'd love to visit someday to see what its all about...
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2012, 05:16:26 PM »

So when does Chris Rock and Ray Charles get canonized?  Roll Eyes

PP
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2012, 05:36:17 PM »

So when does Chris Rock and Ray Charles get canonized?  Roll Eyes

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Yeah, 'cause they're all black! Get the connection! BLACK!!!!!!
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2012, 05:31:47 PM »

Have to say, you fellows seem like racists. This is one of the reasons I prefer the OCA jurisdiction compared to the cliche Greek or Russian Churches where everyone who is not ethnically a Russian or Greek is excluded or looked down upon. I'm not saying all of them are like this, but I will say that from what I have noticed, it is very common, and if you are going to attack this Church, then attack it for its lack of validity and doctrine rather than the fact that its founder and congregation is mostly made up of Black people. You are all a part of the true Church so start acting like it; lest, you become like Pharisees and the heretical Church puts you all to shame.

Lord have mercy
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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2012, 05:45:23 PM »

I'm not saying all of them are like this, but I will say that from what I have noticed, it is very common, and if you are going to attack this Church, then attack it for its lack of validity and doctrine rather than the fact that its founder and congregation is mostly made up of Black people. You are all a part of the true Church so start acting like it; lest, you become like Pharisees and the heretical Church puts you all to shame.

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