Breakaway Catholics plan Baltimore ordination

December 07, 1990|By Patrick Ercolano | Patrick Ercolano,Evening Sun Staff

Bishop George Augustus Stallings, the priest who broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form the independent African-American Catholic Congregation, plans to ordain clergy for the first time this weekend in Baltimore.

The ordination of the first priests, deacon and deaconess of the AACC is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Palladium in West Baltimore, according to William Marshall Jr., a spokesman for Stallings' Washington-based congregation.

One of the two priesthood candidates is a Baltimorean, Eugene C. Dunn, formerly a permanent deacon with the local Roman Catholic archdiocese.

Reginald Clair Dance of Richmond, a former Baptist minister, also is to be ordained as a priest. Carlos E. Harvin of Washington, a former Roman Catholic seminarian who once headed the Washington archdiocese's Black Youth Ministry, and Rose M. Vernell of Neptune, N.J., a former nun with the Baltimore-based Oblate Sisters of Providence, are candidates for the diaconate, Marshall said.

Stallings, a former Washington parish priest who charged the Catholic hierarchy with racism, drew the ire of church officials when he began holding services at his self-styled Imani Temple in the summer of 1989. Early this year, he broke with the church and launched the AACC.

It has since expanded to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Norfolk. A total of about 3,000 people attend the four congregations. A fifth is scheduled to open in New Orleans later this month.

The Baltimore congregation opened last March. Services are held Sunday mornings at the Palladium and are attended by about 200 people, said Marshall.

The services here are led by the Rev. Charles E. Stephney, a native Baltimorean who had served as assistant to Stallings when he was pastor at Washington's St. Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church. Stephney followed Stallings into the AACC and is currently the pastor of the Imani Temple in Washington.

"We're holding the ordination in Baltimore because we want to spread the church's activities around the different cities," the spokesman said. "There may be future ordinations in one city, then something else in another city. We want to share the wealth."

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