Presiding Bishop John Kersey (2015-)

Archbishop John Kersey (Mar Joannes Edmundus) (1972-) was educated at undergraduate and postgraduate level at the Royal College of Music, London, where he was subsequently a Junior Fellow, and pursued further graduate studies at Christ’s College, Cambridge. On 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, which is a division of the Apostolic Episcopal Church accredited by the Pontificia Accademia Tiberina, Rome. His prior ministerial education culminated in the award of the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 2008 by St Ephrem’s Institute of Eastern Church Studies, Scandinavia, where he received a citation for “his outstanding works on Church history”. He is a Fellow of the Central School of Religion, USA/UK.

Following a number of school, college and university teaching posts in the UK and overseas, he is today Chancellor of the Western Orthodox University (Commonwealth of Dominica) and Master of the Western Orthodox Academy (UK), and is also a Full Professor in the International Program of the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica among other honorary, consulting and research-based academic positions.

Archbishop Kersey is 114th in Apostolic Succession from the Apostle St Thomas through the Chaldean Catholic (Uniate) succession and 137th in Apostolic Succession from the Apostle St Peter through the Syrian-Orthodox Antiochian succession (263rd through the Petrine succession via the Roman Catholic Church). He is also in succession from the Apostles St James the Less, St Mark the Evangelist and St Andrew. He was ordained deacon on 10 June 2006, priest on 8 July 2006 and consecrated bishop on 29 July 2006, by Archbishop Illtyd Thomas, Primate of the Celtic Catholic Church (which was at that time in intercommunion with the Apostolic Episcopal Church) and formerly bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church of Ontario, Canada. As a result of concerns about the erratic behaviour of Archbishop Thomas, who was subsequently excommunicated by the Apostolic Episcopal Church, he underwent conditional reordination to the diaconate, priesthood and episcopate on 11 November 2006 at the hands of 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 further 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).

Following twelve years of lay work within a number of Christian denominations, Archbishop 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.

As successor of the late Archbishop George Boyer, he 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 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 and Prince of Miensk and Vilna, also inheriting several titles of nobility.

Archbishop 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, Archbishop Kersey has assisted as a co-consecrator and given additional commissioning sub conditione to several bishops.

His recent books, all of which are published by European-American University Press, include The University Outside State Control (2009), the first to address its controversial topic in depth, Arnold Harris Mathew and the Old Catholic Movement in England 1908-52 (2010), and Joseph-René Vilatte (1854-1929): Some Aspects of his Life, Work and Succession (2011). He is also an award-winning concert pianist, having recorded over one hundred CDs for his own record label Romantic Discoveries Recordings, including first recordings of works by Beethoven, Alkan, Mendelssohn and many others.

He is Grand Master of the San Luigi Orders (consisting of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross, and the Grand Prix Humanitaire de France et des Colonies), Grand Master of the Royal Byelorussian Orders, and head of the Nicholson Orders, comprising the Valiant Order of St. John the Baptist, the Order of Ave Maria and the Order of S. Teresa – The Little Flower. He serves as Protector and Prelate – Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Royal Byelorussian Protectorate of the Orthodox Order of St John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller. In the Royal Byelorussian Protectorate of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem he is Protector and Prelate Grand Cross of Justice.

In addition he has received the highest distinction of “Perpetuum” (Grand Cross) in the Ordinis Venerabilis Sodalicii Mariae Ss. Boni Consilii Mortis et Misericordiae, Città di Castello, Italy, which is probably the oldest religious brotherhood in continuous existence today. He has been awarded Knighthood in the Order of the Precious Blood in the Old Roman Catholic Church in America. In the Royal Order of St Stanislaus he has received the Gold Cross of Merit and Medal of the Wrocław Commandery. He has been awarded an Honorary Datuship from the Sultanate of Baloi, Philippines, the title of Datu Paduka from the Royal House of Maharaja Adinda Aranan, Mindanao, Philippines, and the title of Prince by the Royal Principality of the Upper Region of Hiran, Somalia.

He is a Privy Counsellor, Honorary Family Member, Noble and Peer of the Imperial Byzantine Amorian Dynasty, which dynasty was fully recognized by judgements of the Italian courts (under King Victor Emmanuel III) in 1945. As such, by right of family membership and the family laws of 1522, he is a Knight Grand Cross of Honour (thereby of Justice) in the Sacro Imperiale Ordine Costantiniano Nemagnico di Santo Stefano of the Imperial e Real Casa Capone Nemagna Paleologo, and Count Palatine (cf. judgement of 18 July 1945 (Luogotenenza del Regno), Tribunale Civile di Napoli, Quarta Sezione, filed on July 28, 1945 and registered in Naples, Office of Judicial Acts, on July 30, 1945: section 4).

From his cousin the Head of the Imperial House, he has received the Hereditary Grand Cross of the Ordine Internazionale delle Legion d’Onore dell’Immacolata, Hereditary Knight of Justice of the Serenissimo Militare (e Nobiliare) Ordine di San Marco, Hereditary Grand Cross of Justice with Collar of the Order of the Knights of St Catherine of Sinai, Hereditary Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacro Sovrano Imperiale Militare Ordine Costantiniano di San Giorgio della Milizia Aurata d’Oriente della Imperiale e Real Casa Lascaris Ventimiglia Valperga Sanmartino,  Hereditary Grand Collar of Justice of the Sovrano Costantiniano Ordine di San Giorgio, già detto Ordine Costantiniano-Amoriano dei Cavalieri Aurati d’Oriente (Dinastico d’ Amorio); Hereditary Grand Collar of Justice of the Ordine Militare et Ospitaliere di San Giovanni d’Acri e San Tommaso; Hereditary Grand Collar of Justice of the Ordine Militare e Ospedaliero di Santa Maria di Betlemme; Hereditary Grand Collar of Justice of the (Ordine del) Cingolo – alias Cingolo Militare (Dinastico d’Amorio), and Hereditary Grand Collar of Justice of the Ordre Équestre de Saint George de Bourgogne, together with numerous armigerous rights.

He received the honorary rank of Colonel in the Hungarian National Guard (1956), together with its highest award, the Hungarian National Guard Grand Star (awarded with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Defence) and the Medal of the Anniversary of the 1956 Revolution. He was admitted as a Knight Grand Cross of the Knightly Order of St George the Martyr (Hungary) in 2017 and in the same year was honoured by the Order of the Calamian Star of Peace (Coron Island, Philippines) with the title of Grand Commander. In 2012 he was awarded the Verdienstkreuz in Gold from the Confraternitas Oecumenica Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani, Bavaria, Germany, of which he is also an Honorary Brother, in recognition of his achievements in Alternative Education, Music and Theology and his humanitarian efforts for Africa. Subsequently he has received the Medal “Pro Probitas” in gold (Class I), the highest award of the Collegium Heraldicum Concordiae, Poland, the Jerusalem Cross and Medal of the Regent of the Union of the Polish Monarchists Association, and the Grosses Verdienstkreuz in Silber of the Freundeskreis Hoch- und Deutschmeister, Mannheim/Baden, Germany. He has received honours from Polish military and veterans’ societies, including the Cross of Merit of the Polish Society of War Veterans and Former Political Prisoners, and the Badge of Honor – Cross of Merit for organization of soldiers of the Home Army Uprising Special Forces “Jerzyki” (“Swifts”). He serves as Royal Protector and Member of Sovereign Council of the Regency of Lomar, an international humanitarian organisation.

He has been honoured by the Governors of four States of the United States of America, being a Colonel of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, an Admiral of the Great State of Nebraska, Lieutenant Colonel Aide de Camp Governor’s Staff of the State of Georgia and an Honorary Texan. In 2014, he received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Obama in recognition of his commitment to volunteer service. He holds several honorary doctorates, and honorary fellowships from music colleges and societies of musicians. A Freeman of the City of London and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Royal Geographical Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In 2016 he was appointed a Pontifical Academician, becoming an Honorary Academician of the Pontificia Accademia Tiberina in Rome, and in 2017 was elected an Academician of Honor of the Norman Academy, which is headquartered in Florida, USA, and recognized by the government of The Gambia. He has been awarded the distinction of Academic Knight of Verbano by the International Order “Greci-Marino” – Academic Order of Verbano, Italy.

His personal website at www.johnkersey.org gives further details of his publications and his work as a historian and musician.