Honoring Randolph Adler

Father David Epps's picture

Scripture says to “give honor to whom honor is due.” When I first met Randolph Adler in 1995 he was the founding bishop of a fledgling denomination called The Charismatic Episcopal Church. I met him at a conference somewhere and listened to his teaching on “Signs and Symbols.”

The CEC was an effort to bring all of the “three major streams” of Christianity back into “one river,” the three streams being sacramental/liturgical, evangelical and charismatic. It was called “convergence worship.” Adler said that if only 10 CEC churches were formed by the turn of the century, he would be satisfied.

By September of 1996, I had, after some 18 months of study and struggle, left my former denomination, where life was good, prosperous and secure, and chose to be ordained a priest in the new, vibrant, fragile communion. I was 45 years old with 25 years of ministry under my belt.

Over the years, Archbishop Adler was in my pioneer church numerous times and I was privileged to speak at a gathering of his clergy in California. I always found him to be gracious, encouraging, and visionary.

When my mother died, he treated me like a son and prayed for me in his office in San Clemente. Sometimes, he would call me across the country to offer a word of encouragement or to share what he felt the Lord had said to him about me or my church in prayer. I found few denominational officials in my past who would extend themselves in such a manner.

A few years ago, the Adler’s pregnant daughter and grandchild were killed in a tragic car accident. When I heard the news, I wept openly. I tried to write words of comfort but I knew that no one but God could ever comfort him and his dear wife, Betty.

What Adler did was to enter a season of prayer and fasting that lasted for months. I don’t know how I would have responded and I pray I never have to find out. I cannot even begin to imagine the pressure he felt in going through the grieving process while he was attempting to manage and lead a growing international communion. Later, he would suffer a couple of falls resulting in a shattered arm and a broken back. Still, he continued to pray, preach and minister.

Last month, Archbishop Randolph Adler retired as the patriarch and national primate of our denomination, The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He leaves a tremendous legacy.

Today, there are 1,500 churches in Africa, 40 churches in Brazil, more than 30 churches in the Philippines (I attended Sunday services three years ago at the Cathedral of the King in Manila and there were over 3,000 people present!), and there are churches in Canada, France, Spain, England, Portugal, Pakistan, Estonia, Germany, Hong Kong, around 100 congregations across the United States, and, in all, churches and missions in 23 countries in the world.

Quite a few more that just 10!

There are 25 CEC military chaplains serving the armed forces of the United States, a phenomenal number for a small, new denomination, with seven of those currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

While his name is not well-known in larger church circles, there are today hundreds of men around the world who are serving as deacons, priests, bishops, and archbishops because of a vision that was birthed in Randolph Adler and those who served the Lord with him. I am one of those men and I am grateful that our paths crossed.

My own church would never have started and would not exist without his influence. The same is true of the other three congregations that we have planted in Georgia and in Illinois. My eldest son would not be ordained today and serving faithfully had we never encountered Randolph Adler.

The Adlers and their family are in our prayers and our affections as a new chapter begins for them. The last few years have been difficult and it is probable that there is some healing and grieving that still needs to be accomplished. Still, I suspect that a few surprises await them.

Archbishop Adler is only 62. Moses didn’t even begin his ministry until he was 80. The journey continues.

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