Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church in America
Inclusive Eastern Christianity
All are welcome here, no matter your beliefs. We believe that the experiential truth and wisdom of this ancient spiritual path is for everyone. We believe that Divine Grace, the energies of God, are available to everyone and the image and spirit of God is present in everyone. Therefore our Eucharist and the other Holy Mysteries of the Church are open to all who seek communion with their Creator. No matter who you are or where you come from you are welcome in this sacred place.
On the first Sunday of each month we offer the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chyrsostom in the St. Francis Chapel at St. Francis of the Woods. This ancient eucharistic service was compiled by the Archbishop of Constantinople around 400 CE from even earlier sources dating to the time of the Apostles.
In Orthodoxy, prayer and worship are psychosomatic, involving both the mind and the body. Therefore, the Divine Liturgy invokes all the senses. The bright colors of the icons, the smell of incense, the sound of music, the taste of bread and wine are all designed to remind the worshiper that our whole self: body, mind, and spirit, are mystically participating in the eternal reconciling of God and Creation. In Eucharist we break bread and share wine, as the early Church did, to participate in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The Eucharist reminds us that we are all united as one human family, one people, the Body of Christ.
O Lord our God, Your power is incomparable. Your glory is incomprehensible. Your mercy is immeasurable. Your love for us is inexpressible. Look upon us and upon this holy house, and impart the riches of Your mercy and compassion to us and to those who pray with us.
We aren't your average Church. We aren't Evangelical. We aren't even Protestant. But we aren't Roman Catholic either. The history of our church has roots all the way back to Jesus and the Apostles. Our particular branch grows out of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.
+Aidan, bishop of the prairie
Fr. Aidan's life has been marked by several awakenings, each opening his mind and heart to the transcendent love of God. The first was in 2000 when he attended an Orthodox Church for the first time. Having grown up Southern Baptist, the icons, chanting, incense, and candles were all very foreign. Yet the ancient worship of Orthodoxy called out to his soul in a unique way. This began a lifelong study of church history, historical theology, and the mysticism of Eastern Christianity. In 2004, while traveling with a ministry group, Fr. Aidan read the Gospels straight through for the first time. The Jesus he saw was one of compassion, love, and mercy, who cared most deeply about the poor and the oppressed; a revolutionary who spoke out against conservative religious leaders and their laws and traditions that put up walls between people and God. That year he began the process of formally converting to Orthodox Christianity. However, after two confirmation classes and much individual study, Fr. Aidan was unable to endorse the theology of Orthodoxy as the “one true Church” and that of closed communion. Despite a strong call to ministry, he attended law school rather than seminary. While in law school, and as a practicing attorney, he became involved in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman. The Episcopal Church maintained a broad theological umbrella which could include Orthodox theology and mysticism without the exclusionary theology of the “canonical” Orthodox Churches. In 2009, he committed himself as a life member of the Oakerhater Community, a religious community of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, named for St. David Pendelton Oakerhater. In 2012, while on pilgrimage in Egypt and Turkey, Fr. Aidan visited the desert monasteries of St. Anthony and Wadi El Natrun, Hagia Sophia, and the Patriarchal Church of St. George. Upon return to the United States he was deeply grieved in spirit and sought spiritual counsel. His Abbot, Fr. Dwight Helt, recommended a retreat at St. Francis of the Woods, a spiritual renewal center with deep roots in American Orthodoxy, and the center where the Oakerhater Community was formed. After a weekend retreat it was another two years before Fr. Aidan would visit again. In 2014, while looking up directions to a court hearing in Pawnee, Fr. Aidan heard a voice telling him to stop by and ask if he could help out at St. Francis of the Woods. When he arrived he was met with the news that they were in search of a new director. He was hired three months later. After training with Bishop Dismas Markel, he was ordained as a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America in 2015. He took the name Columba at his ordination in honor of St. Columba of Iona. In 2019, at the request of Bishop Dismas and the Board of Directors, Fr. Aidan was consecrated as Bishop Aidan, in honor of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, for St. Francis of the Woods. Fr. Aidan has practiced hesychasm, the mystical contemplative prayer of Eastern Christianity for over fifteen years. His theology is deeply Orthodox, and non-dualistic in the tradition of St. Gregory Palamas. In recent years, he has been influenced heavily by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr, the Sufi poetry of Hafiz and Rumi, and by the Upanishads of the Hindu tradition.