My article for Imaginative Conservative this week explores the delightfully weird world of wandering bishops or episcopi vagantes.
One area of eccentricity that never ceases to interest and delight are the “episcopi vagantes” or wandering bishops. These schismatics are often quaintly bizarre. On the fringes of lunacy, they set themselves up as bishops, archbishops, popes, patriarchs, eparchs, and abbots.
The first wandering bishop I met was the late Right Rev. James Parker Dees. A former Episcopal priest, Dees established the Anglican Orthodox Church which had a parish in Greenville, South Carolina. We students at Bob Jones University were allowed to attend Evensong there on Sunday nights.
Bishop Dees was like a character out of Tennessee Williams play. An ecclesiastical Big Daddy, Dees drove a lumbering Lincoln Continental and collected wealthy Southern Episcopal ladies who were disenchanted with the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church. On his visits to the little church he would try to recruit starry-eyed young men to attend his seminary in North Carolina like me. For a fee.
The Anglicans are especially prone to schism and have accumulated a full basket of alternative churches and wandering bishops. For those who are interested in a pleasant afternoon rummaging through grandma church’s attic, they might like to go to this website which lists about eighty Anglican breakaway churches with their wandering bishops. Some are ultra conservative. Some are ultra liberal. All are ultra unusual.
Read the whole article here.