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History of Emmaus ECC

Our history begins with individuals searching for another way to be Catholic;individuals who were growing more dissatisfied with the direction that the Roman Catholic Church is taking toward a “smaller more orthodox” church.  The struggle of the Roman Catholic community of Corpus Christi in Rochester NY caught people’s attention, especially when that community chose to transform itself into Spiritus Christi, and ordained a woman as priest.   At about the same time people discovered Bishop Peter Hickman and St. Matthew’s Ecumenical Catholic Church in Orange, CA. 

A few of these individuals invited Mary Ramerman and James Callen of Spiritus Christi, and Bishop Peter and Mirella Hickman of St Matthew’s, and members of their faith communities, to visit the Puget Sound area as part of a retreat at the Seabeck Christian Retreat Center on the Hood Canal. At the retreat, these guests told their stories of finding themselves called to a new, more inclusive way to be Catholic.

On Labor Day weekend, September 2003, about 30 residents of this area attended that retreat to hear the stories of Spiritus Christi Catholic Community, and St. Matthew’s Ecumenical Catholic Church.  About ten people found themselves so moved by that experience that we continued to meet on a regular basis to discern what our experience meant, and what further actions we were being called to undertake.

When we met, we prayed a lay-led eucharistic prayer and shared reflective conversations about what concerns we had with the current Roman Catholic institution. We shared what we wanted to see in a Catholic community.  We came up with a values list that described what we desired, and we followed some Quaker models of discernment that led us to a sense sometime in the fall of 2004 to "be church."

We continued to wonder what "being church" meant.  While we wondered we met monthly for reflection and Eucharistic prayer. Some married Roman Catholic priests from the CORPUS community supported our efforts and at Pentecost 2005, we gathered with various Catholics from small alternative Catholic communities sprinkled throughout the Puget Sound area to celebrate the Holy Spirit's life in us and work among us. 

Planners of that event, held at the Wayside Church of Christ in Federal Way, were challenged to take the Pentecost energy we had experienced and bring it close to home. That step brought into being the ECC Explorers, drawing participants primarily from Seattle and the Eastside area.

Jim Callen and Mary Rammerman returned and spent time with us in 2004, and Bishop Peter Hickman and his spouse, Mirella, returned and spent time in September 2005, discerning with us our next steps. This discernment included visits by the bishop to the South Sound, Eastside, and Olympic Peninsula.  At a subsequent meeting, twelve of approximately 20 people who registered as "participants" in our local group agreed to step forth and serve as a leadership body.  A few months later, one of those twelve stepped aside from  leadership, leaving 11 leaders. That departing person left us as a legacy the name that we now choose for our community.

On January 21, 2006, at a gathering of prayer and conversation among nine of those eleven leaders, a decision was reached to move from the status of being explorers to becoming a formal faith community incorporated in the State of Washington. In early February 2006 we signed a letter of intent to affiliate with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, incorporated in Washington State, and  chose the name Spiritus Dei Ecumenical Catholic Community (Spirit of God).

 

In Pentecost of 2007 a group of people who live in the South Sound region of Washington State decided it was time to start gathering in that area.  It takes quite a while to drive all the way up to the Seattle, and we knew that more people would join us if we had a location in our own area.  And so we started another community under the umbrella of Spiritus Dei ECC.  A couple of the members searched out possible meeting places and decided on the Lacey Women's Club House.  Our community was made welcome by the members of the Lacey Women's Club and we have been meeting there since our first Sunday.  

We began by meeting once a month, on the first Sundays, but after a couple of months we decided to begin meeting more often and changed to twice a month.  We also like to celebrate the special feast days, and so we gather on those days, too.  We look forward to the day when we will be meeting every Sunday.  

 

As we approached Pentecost 2008 several of the members realized it was now time to recognize that we had become a unique community, with our own identity.  The search for a name began.  Naming ourselves was not easy.  At last there came the Sunday when the Gospel was from Luke 24, and we heard once again the story of the "Road to Emmaus."  There was unnanimous identification of our community with this story, and all the members agreed that Emmaus ECC suited us very well.  

 

On September 6, 2008 we invited Bishop Peter to join us for a time of prayer and discernment about our future direction as a community.  

 

In December of 2009 David Gerardot was incardinated into the Ecumenical Catholic Communion and became our priest.  We incorporated with the State of Washington in March of 2010, and opened our bank account.  In July of 2010 Kedda Keough was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Peter.  The celebration of Kedda's ordination to the presbyterate (Priest) took place on March 5th, 2011 at St. John's Episcopal Church in Olympia. There were just under 100 people present for this liturgy. See pictures here.

 

The Emmaus community had been meeting in the Lacey Women's Club House since its beginning on Pentecost 2007, but in 2011 we decided to move to a new location. First Christian Church (a Disciples of Christ Church) in Olympia opened up space for us. The blessing of this Sacred Space occurred on March 27th and our first mass in the new location was celebrated on April 3rd, 2011. This move opened up many new possibilities for us. For example, in April of 2011 we shared the Triduum feast with First Christian.  

 

On April 8th, 2012, Easter Sunday, we celebrated baptisms with two people. These were the first baptisms for our Emmaus ECC Community. These two people went through an RCIA process and were both received into full communion with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, celebrating baptism, confirmation and reception of First Eucharist. They were the first entries in our Book of Records.

 

The Pacific Northwest Region, with three active communities of Emmaus ECC, St. Ignatius and St. Clare began to discuss the possibility of forming the Diocese of Washington some time in 2013.  Fr. David Gerardot asked to take time to consider forming a new community of the Good Shepherd in the Pierce County region in June of 2014, while still serving as a priest-minister for Emmaus ECC.  In 2014 we also became official members of Interfaith Works of Olympia due to Father David's efforts.  

 

On June 29th, 2014, Bishop Peter Hickman, the Presiding Bishop for ECC ordained our first deacon, Deacon John "CJ" Boylan. Deacon John serves as the deacon for our liturgies as he prepares for ordination to the priesthood.  His ordination to the priesthood is scheduled for February 14th, 2015.

 

On July 27th, 2014 the Emmaus community commissioned Father David to establish a mission of our community to be called the Community of the Good Shepherd, located in the Tacoma area.  This community is under the wing of Emmaus ECC until they are able to stand on their own.  On November 30th, the First Sunday of Advent, Father David presided at the first mass for the new community.  They contracted with Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma to use their Chapel for mass each Sunday at 2:00 PM.

 

In Sepctember of 2014 the ECC communities of the Pacific Northwest Region, made up of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, elected Fr. Tom Altepeter to be a suffragan bishop.  As such he is accountable to the Presiding Bishop, and is not a Diocesan Bishop.  We decided we were not ready to be a diocese at this time.  Fr. Tom's election was affirmed at the October 2014 Holy Synod.  He will be consecrated as bishop in January of 2015.  At the Synod the ECC also elected and consecrated as bishop our next Presiding Bishop, Bishop Francis Krebs.  Bishop Francis Krebs served as the House of Pastors President prior to Mother Kedda's term of office as HOP president, from 2008 to 2010.  Mother Kedda served the HOP as vice president from 2010 to 2012, and as president from 2012 to 2014.  

 

 

 

 

 

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