Church

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John Kersey was baptised and raised as an Anglican, and as a member of the Anglican Continuum, continues to stand for the traditionalist, Anglo-Catholic and Western Orthodox strands within Anglicanism today. After leaving the Church of England, he pursued ministerial studies which culminated in the award of the degree of Doctor of Divinity by St Ephrem’s Institute of Eastern Church Studies, Scandinavia, in 2008, where he received a citation for “his outstanding works on Church history”. Upon his election as Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology honoris causa by the Apostolic Episcopal Church (under the degree-awarding powers granted to the Church by the State of New York in 1933) and the degree of Doctor of Letters by the Western Orthodox University, a division of the Apostolic Episcopal Church accredited by the Pontificia Accademia Tiberina, Rome. He is a Fellow of the Central School of Religion, USA/UK.

Professor Kersey was ordained deacon and priest, and subsequently consecrated bishop on 11 November 2006 by the late Archbishop Dom Phillip Robert Kemp OSB(csr) of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain (Independent Catholic Alliance). On 23 November 2008, he was conditionally consecrated for the purpose of additional commissioning by Archbishop Bertil Persson of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, assisted by Archbishop-Primate Phillip Lewis of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church of North and South America and Europe, and Archbishop Paget E.J. Mack of the Apostolic Episcopal Church (acting as Commissary for the Primate of the AEC, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro).

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Following twelve years of lay work within a number of Christian denominations, Professor Kersey received non-Apostolic ministerial commissioning in 2002 and subsequently served as a minister in South London with the Society for Free Christians and English Liberal Free Church (subsequently renamed The Liberal Rite), also being a member of the Religious Society of St Katharine which undertook educational work. In January 2008, he was charged with the continuation of the legacy of the late Archbishop Harold Nicholson of the Ancient Catholic Church, being elected Primate and Titular Archbishop of Karim as Mar Joannes III, and was endorsed in that position by the Apostolic Episcopal Church as the surviving remnant of the Catholicate of the West, which had chartered the Ancient Catholic Church in 1950. That same year, he co-founded the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church as the union of The Liberal Rite and the Ancient Catholic Church, and served as its first Metropolitan, retiring in 2009 after which point the Primacy of the Ancient Catholic Church continued as a personal prelacy under him. For a number of years while living in London he undertook a busy funeral ministry.

As successor of the late Archbishop George Boyer, Professor Kersey was enthroned as Archbishop of Great Britain in the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Rector Pro-Provincial of Canterbury in the Order of Corporate Reunion in November 2008. In 2010, he established the Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum, a manifestation of the inner church tradition (in which he has a particular interest), under charter from the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and continues to lead this body today under the designation Tau Eleutherius. He was elected by the Supreme Council of San Luigi as Archbishop and Prince-Abbot of San Luigi (as Edmond III) and Superior-General of the Order of Antioch in August 2011. Additional offices have included that of Prefect of Great Britain of the Confraternitas Oecumenica Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani (2012-) and, as successor of his consecrator, the late Archbishop Dom Phillip Kemp, Primate and Titular Archbishop of Elmham of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain (2012-). Having been appointed Co-Adjutor with right of succession to the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro, in July 2014, he succeeded as the fifth Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and as head of the Catholicate of the West and dependent communions, on Archbishop Spataro’s retirement on 5 February 2015. In March 2015 he succeeded his adoptive father, the late Prince-Archbishop Kermit William de Polanie-Patrikios, as Ecclesiast of All Byelorussia in the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle and head of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom.

Professor Kersey has served as principal consecrator for bishops Charles Mugleston and Alistair Bate, both on 15 August 2007. Bishop Mugleston continues to be in intercommunion, while Bishop Bate ceased to be in communion after 31 May 2011. In addition, Professor Kersey has assisted as a co-consecrator and given additional commissioning sub conditione to several bishops.

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Professor Kersey’s wide interests in the Church centre upon the history and ecclesiology of the smaller reactionary Orthodox and Catholic churches in the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries, and on issues of sacramental validity, Apostolic Succession, jurisdiction and canon law as these apply to the smaller communions. Several book publications and both published and unpublished research papers testify to his extensive engagement with these issues. He has responsibility for the custody of a major archive of documents and artefacts concerning the history of his and other related communions, including a number of unique and valuable items, and is regularly consulted by researchers and others seeking information on the independent sacramental movement. At the Vilatte Chapel, the private chapel in the grounds of his home, many historic items, including several once belonging to Archbishop Joseph-René Vilatte (1854-1929) continue in liturgical use today. He is also interested in the practical challenges of ministry, purpose and effective episcopal management within small, geographically disparate and theologically diffuse communions, and with ensuring that their representation in the wider world is not confined to the pejorative academic ghetto of  “new religious movements”.

Professor Kersey has always believed in a traditionally Anglican view of the Christian ministry, whereby the Orthodox and Catholic Faith is maintained alongside a broad and enquiring intellectual approach. He is strongly opposed to those currents that might be seen as narrowly ascetic or Puritanical, and for many years has taken an active interest in the development of the Western esoteric tradition and its reconciliation with expressions of Catholicism and Western Orthodoxy.

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