Conclave 2017: Final Thoughts and Thanks

Conclave 2017 officially comes to a close.

We had a packed program of hands on spiritual workshops, pastoral care learning and explorations of Gnostic spirituality.

There hasn’t been a Conclave program that hasn’t impressed me but this year’s schedule was particularly timely with the many circumstances we face individually, spiritually, communally and globally.

Every attendee, in my opinion, came away with a diverse set of tools and learning that can propel them into new areas of exploration. Every attendee also brought a unique set of tools and experiences that they joyfully shared with their fellow travellers.

Through each and to each, an abundance of opportunity to enter more fully into our communities and identities as Gnostics and Johannites was opened- with many also completing and beginning new portions of their spiritual journey as well

Four Confirmands, two Minor Order ordinands, one Diaconate and two sets of religious vows- stellar people embarking on new legs of their spiritual journeys.

It was also a great joy to hear of the many people inspired to take on new roles, new possibilities and new tasks, energized by the presence and work of their fellow Johannites. I was particularly inspired by how many of our parishes were represented not only by their leaders but also by their long time members, who bring so much to our local communities and the AJC as a whole.

My deep thanks to our excellent teachers- Bishops Mar Thomas and Mar Timotheos, Msgr Scott Rassbach, Very Rev. Tony Silvia, Very Rev. Bray Weaver and Fr. Joseph McCauslin- to this fine list we add our featured speaker- Dr. John Spangler.

You have given all of us much to work on, contemplate and explore, drawing on your considerable expertise, exploration and experience.

Finally, an extra and special thanks goes to Sr. Karen Weaver- who worked tirelessly and without fanfare to ensure we were all comfortable, well fed, and in the right places at the right times- you are a force of nature. Please take the gratitude of all of us for making this past week possible.

I miss you all already.

Now, in the spirit of Pentecost which we celebrated in our liturgies, we return to embark upon further journeys and work, enriched by the love that each has brought, each has grown and each takes home. May the Divine Beloved richly bless each of you.

Next year- the pendulum will swing in the direction of esoteric exploration and learning, and already I’ve heard the excitement begin anew. So as I bid farewell to Conclave 2017, I also leave you with the first announcement for Conclave 2018- its location.

We’ll be seeing you all in Portland, Oregon for Conclave 2018.

In the meantime- Be good to one another.

+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch

The Johannite Divine Office

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce completion of the draft printing of the Johannite Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours

Written by Bishop Tim Mansfield and Deacon Michael Strojan, reviewed and edited by Bishop Tim Mansfield, Msgr. Scott Rassbach and Fr. Tony Silvia, and practice tested by Bro. Mark Donato and the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Stewart, a long awaited resource is now ready for use in the Apostolic Johannite Church.

While the Congregation of Liturgical Rites is currently reviewing formats for final printing, the text of the Divine Office is now available for use by the communities and members of the Apostolic Johannite Church.

New Parish: Co. Dublin – St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce the elevation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish under the leadership of the Rev. Deacon Matthew Backus.

Originally inaugurated as a Narthex in Chesterton, Indiana, the Parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux is now located in Co. Dublin, Ireland, and has begun regular meetings under its Rector. Services will include Pre-Sanctified Communion, as well as discussion and study meetups in the Co. Dublin area.

Rev. Matthew was confirmed in the Holy Gnostic Church in 2013 on The Feast of St. Michael the Archangel by Very Rev. Fr. Bray Weaver and was received into the Order of Acolyte during the Patriarchal Mass of the 2014 AJC Conclave.

He has an extensive resume of service and honors in Freemasonry. Rev. Matthew was awarded the Knights of York Cross of Honour in 2016. Having served 7 times as a Past Presiding Officer, a Grand Officer for the Grand Chapter RAM, and much more. He is an S.I. in L’Ordre Martiniste and has been initiated into other traditions including Orders of Knighthood.

On October 2nd, 2016, Rev. Matthew was ordained to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate by His Grace, the Most Reverend Mar Thomas, Primate of the United States of America.

You can learn more and see a schedule of upcoming events at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish at https://www.johannite.org/clairvaux/

New Narthex: McMinnville, Oregon – Our Lady of the Woods

The Apostolic Johannite Church and the Archdiocese of Wisconsin are pleased to announce the formation of a new Gnostic Christian community in McMinnville Oregon. Our Lady of the Woods Narthex of the Apostolic Johannite Church is forming under the leadership of Monsignor Scott Rassbach.

The first meeting will take place at 235 NE Third street, on the third floor, on June 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm. There will be a follow up meeting on Saturday, July 1, 2017, at the same location, at 2:30 pm. There are stairs in the front of the address, and an elevator in the back.

The first meetings will focus on what Gnosticism is, and how does the Apostolic Johannite Church teach and enact gnostic principles.

A Narthex is the Johannite community’s name for a study group and prayer fellowship. It takes its name from the technical term for the entrance to a church building. It is the area where those new to the congregation would meet before and after service to learn, talk, and discuss.

Our Lady of the Woods is the patron saint of Oregon. By taking this name for the community, we honor both the divine feminine within the Apostolic Johannite Church, our location in Oregon, and the Marian and Sophianic currents in the gnostic tradition.

The Apostolic Johannite Church is a global network of Johannite communities that focus on supporting individual and direct experience of the Divine through fellowship, meditation and prayer, service and ritual, lively discussion and study.

We have parishes and study groups across the USA, Canada, Spain, Australia and New Zealand and we welcome anyone who comes respectfully and openly to our service.

Come as you are, and stay as long or as little as you like and share your pilgrimage toward the Divine.

You can find videos, podcasts, and more at https://johannite.org

New Narthex: Calhoun, Georgia – St. John the Baptist Narthex

The Apostolic Johannite Church and the Archdiocese of Wisconsin are pleased to announce the formation of St. John the Baptist Narthex in Calhoun, Georgia under the leadership of Bro. Joseph Revels. 

Brother Joseph Revels has lived in the North Georgia area his whole life and attended secondary education at Berry College, graduating with a degree in Philosophy and Religion. Raised a Southern Baptist, Brother Joe felt a calling to ministry in his early twenties but a combination of factors both inside and outside the church prevented that calling from growing to fruition.

Despite pursuing a variety of far flung spiritual paths, Brother Joe still felt connected to his Christian past and constantly attempted (sometimes unsuccessfully) to use his spiritual studies to inform his Christian position. He came to the Apostolic Johannite Church to find an esoteric community that was compatible with his Christian faith. He currently lives with his wife, young daughter, and various feline familiars.

St. John the Baptist Narthex will be holding their inaugural meeting on July 18th. You can reach them at [email protected]

A Narthex is the Johannite community’s name for a study group and prayer fellowship. It takes its name from the technical term for the entrance to a church building. It is the area where those new to the congregation would meet before and after service to learn, talk, and discuss.

The Apostolic Johannite Church is a global network of Johannite communities that focus on supporting individual and direct experience of the Divine through fellowship, meditation and prayer, service and ritual, lively discussion and study.

We have parishes and study groups across the USA, Canada, Spain, Australia and New Zealand and we welcome anyone who comes respectfully and openly to our service. Come as you are, and stay as long or as little as you like and share your pilgrimage toward the Divine.

New Narthex: Plano, Texas – St. Hildegard Narthex

The Apostolic Johannite Church and the Archdiocese of Wisconsin are pleased to announce the formation St. Hildegard Narthex in Plano, Texas under the leadership of Bro. Bill Branch, OSE.

Bill Branch is a husband and father of four. He grew up in Arizona and learned to appreciate the mystery found in nature and its various processes. He discovered Gnosticism indirectly through the experience of the movie “The Matrix”. Upon following up on various internet links and books he clicked his way to the writings of ancient Gnostics and intuited a hidden undercurrent in art, literature and the movies. He eventually started a Gnostic oriented meetup group in Dallas to get together with others who shared an interest.

After a year and desiring to not merely talk ‘about’ the topic but walk the walk, he joined The Order of Saint Esclarmonde, a monastic lay order sponsored by both the Gnostic Church of Mary Magdalene and the Apostolic Johannite Church. He later attended a Johannite Conclave and was confirmed a member of that church. He looks forward to spending time continuing the Gnostic journey as well as sharing that path with fellow travelers.

St. Hildegard Narthex will meet the second Sunday of every every month at Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Plano at 7PM, 2875 E. Parker Rd, Plano, TX. They will also meet an extra time for various Holidays such as Christmas and Easter. St. Hildegard Narthex can be reached at [email protected]

A Narthex is the Johannite community’s name for a study group and prayer fellowship. It takes its name from the technical term for the entrance to a church building. It is the area where those new to the congregation would meet before and after service to learn, talk, and discuss.

The Apostolic Johannite Church is a global network of Johannite communities that focus on supporting individual and direct experience of the Divine through fellowship, meditation and prayer, service and ritual, lively discussion and study.

We have parishes and study groups across the USA, Canada, Spain, Australia and New Zealand and we welcome anyone who comes respectfully and openly to our service. Come as you are, and stay as long or as little as you like and share your pilgrimage toward the Divine.

 

Ordination to the Sacred Diaconate: Angela Palermo

The Apostolic Johannite Church and the Archdiocese of Wisconsin are pleased to announce the upcoming Ordination of Angela Palermo to the Sacred Diaconate at Conclave 2017 in Denver, Colorado at St. Mary Magdalene Parish AJC.

Angela Palermo was first attracted to Gnosticism and its history as a freshman at the University of Florida.  She received a B.A. in History from that institution in 1986.  She continued her studies there, earning a Master’s degree in the History of Science.  After a move to California, she began to exploring the possibilities of working in a social justice-oriented ministry.  Consequently, she attended the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, receiving her MST in 1996.  While at FST, Angela volunteered with the Oakland Catholic Worker and the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.  Shortly after graduating FST, Angela was named Director of Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango, Colorado, which has served the hungry and homeless of La Plata County since 1985.  On the move again, she settled in the Denver area in early 2000, working for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless before becoming a librarian.  

Following a gender transition, Angela has been active as a transgender advocate, writer, performer and librarian.  She co-coordinated the University of Colorado’s TRANSforming Gender conference for a number of years.  Presently, she is one of the volunteer producers with KGNU’s Outsources, Colorado’s only regularly scheduled LGBT-themed radio show.  She has interviewed many notable figures during her time with Outsources including film director Sean Baker, actress Jen Richards, NCTE Director Mara Keisling and Irish marriage equality icon Rory O’Neill/Panti Bliss, to name just a few.  Angela is also a published author with essays and poems appearing in Letters for My Sisters, Trans-Kin, Focus on the Fabulous, Transgender Tapestry and Main Street Free Press.  

Having grown up Roman Catholic, Angela attended her first AJC service at St. Mary Magdalene’s on Halloween 2010.  She felt right at home from the start.  Angela joined the Order of St. Esclarmonde in March 2011.  She matriculated through AJC minor orders in 2012, becoming an acolyte in September of that year.  In addition to the Johannite tradition, Angela is interested in Thomasine Christianity, ancient Alexandrian Gnosticism and the place of the Divine Feminine within Gnostic theology and practice.  She played an important role in the writing and development of St. Mary Magdalene’s once-monthly Divine Feminine liturgy.  Angela entered AJC Seminary in 2015.  She hopes to add an LGBT component to her AJC ministry in the coming months.  Angela is very proud to be a part of such an active and vibrant parish and, as a trans woman, is pleased to have a place within the AJC.  

Angela will be ordained to the Diaconate during Liturgy celebrated by the Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch of the Apostolic Johannite Church, with the Ordination being performed by His Grace, Mar Thomas, Primate of the United States

For more information on the Conclave schedule, please see https://www.johannite.org/conclave2017/

 

St. Sarah’s Parish: Announcing a Change in Leadership

Effective immediately, Father Tony Silvia will be the new Rector of St. Sarah’s Parish in Boston, MA.

Father Donald Donato will be shifting his focus to denominational work, where he continues to serve as Secretary to the Patriarch. In addition to this role, he will be turning his attention to a range of other projects; translation work, education and seminary mentorship, among other things.

Please join the whole of the Apostolic Johannite Church in thanking Father Donald for his many years of stalwart leadership to St. Sarah’s, where he has cemented a legacy of growth, service and education, and wish him luck in his new endeavors.

The Very Rev. Father Tony Silvia, Dean of the Eastern United States and Executive Producer at the Gnostic Wisdom Network, will be continuing in both those roles, as he undertakes his work with St. Sarah’s Parish.

Services at St. Sarah’s Parish will continue as planned, with the next Mass being on May 13th
at 5pm at the Theosophical Society, 21 Maple Street, Arlington, MA.

+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch

Easter Sunday: The Return of the Light

“Understand me then as the slaying of a Word, wound of a Word, hanging of a Word, suffering of a Word, fastening of a Word, death of a Word, resurrection of a Word, and defining this Word, I mean every man!” – The Acts of John.

In the story of Jesus in the canonical gospels, he returns to life but not as he once was- illuminating something truly immanent and transcendent.

So too are we reborn through our experience of the Divine- yet we are not as we once were.

The reading from the Acts of John identifies a central interpretation of the Holy Week story in Gnostic Christianity- that it is a mirror for our own paths and lives. Indeed, in central portion of our liturgy, the bread and the wine are shown to those present with the words – “I am a lamp to those that see me, but I am a mirror to those that understand me” which are also based on the Acts of John.

We do not enter, reach or journey to a new landscape, but rather see that which has always been here through new eyes, this is the true voyage of discovery as it has been said.

The promised land is not a place you can travel to, because you never left it in the first place.

The Magdalene encounters and sees the Risen Logos, not as Christ, but as the gardener- something I’ve always seen as a subtle reference to the scriptural character of Adam, the first man. Paradise returns, and the Kingdom of Heaven is made manifest and yet everything looks and appears the same.

But It is only when Jesus speaks that the Magdalene recognizes her teacher.

So it is, with the voice of the Divine- which has always been present- once a low murmur against the hum of electronics, shifting gears, and the popping of cash registers. Existing not in a new world but in a new understanding, we can hear that voice in every passing car, click of pebble on stone, rush of wind in trees, and like the end result of Jesus appearing as the stranger to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we can hear and see it in person of our sisters and brothers, stranger and friend alike, should we but listen and see things as they are, and not as we wish them to be.

A world where life itself becomes as the Eucharist in which one thing is seen and another understood, compelling us with the imperative to “Be what you see and receive what you are”.

“Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to the Father” says Jesus to the Magdalene, and transcending the images that we place over and in the way of the Sacred Flame and on each other, those images through which we create separation and shadow, we can become that voice to our fellow human beings.

Like Jesus’ instruction to the Magdalene, we can go forth and boldly proclaim the Resurrection, our Resurrection, not with evangelical zeal or the objectification of our fellow human beings as objects to be saved but with the example of our own lives.

+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch