The Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Order of Corporate Reunion have become aware of various statements and allegations made by Michael Kline of Sugar Creek, Missouri, on the internet. These statements are presumably a response to our previously stated position on the Order of Corporate Reunion which may be read on the website of the AEC, and also recall similar libellous comments made in recent years by Bertil Persson of Solna, Sweden, an excommunicate who was formerly a senior member of clergy of our Church and Order.
Michael Kline has never been a member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and he ceased to be in a relationship of intercommunion with our church in 2018. He has no authority whatsoever in or over the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Bertil Persson ceased to be a member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church in 2015 and remains excommunicated for cause.
We believe that churches and their clergy are to be judged by their actions. For our part, we are always careful to separate actions, of which we may be rightly and even strongly critical, from the persons responsible for those actions. It would be a profanation of our duty to our Church and to Christ as its Head to sink to the level of personal attacks and character assassination. For us, the decision not to engage in this mode of discourse is the direct outcome of our understanding of Christian conduct and the dignity that should attend relations between our Church and those who are not members of it. Even when others seek to drag us down to the level of the gutter, we are not minded to respond in kind or to do other than to remind them that as Christians there are standards governing our interpersonal and interdenominational conduct that are quite different from those commonly seen on the internet today.
Yet, to echo one of the past bishops of the AEC, “Satan is ever active in the midst of us and ready to seduce the hearts and minds of those whose love of self and contempt for honesty and truth has already sealed them as his servants.” The standards of conduct that have been exhibited by Michael Kline and Bertil Persson speak all too loudly for themselves. They suggest considerable mental instability and in Kline’s case, amount to an Internet vendetta pursued not only against members of the clergy but their families and children.
In his latest incoherent diatribe on Facebook, Kline asserts that he has registered in the State of Missouri, something which he describes as “the reclaimed AEC-OCR Apostolic Episcopal Church – Order of Corporate Reunion”. This is a wholly fraudulent act since Kline has never been a member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and has no right whatsoever to represent it or to form any corporation on its behalf. Any such act is void ab initio.
Kline claims as justification that Archbishop Kersey “abandoned the AEC about 2018”. This is a barefaced lie. Archbishop Kersey has continually served the AEC since his ordination without interruption. He was ordained deacon and priest, and consecrated bishop, by the British communion of the AEC in 2006. He was installed as Archbishop of Great Britain of the AEC and further as Bishop and Rector Pro-Provincial of Canterbury in the Order of Corporate Reunion in 2008. He was appointed Co-Adjutor with right of succession to the Primacy of the AEC in 2014 by the then-Primate, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro, and succeeded him as Primate and Presiding Bishop of the AEC when Archbishop Spataro retired from office on 5 February 2015.
“July 29 2014. To all concerned: By these presents I appoint Archbishop John Kersey to be my coadjutor and upon my death Primate of the AEC. Archbishop Kersey is directed to make this known and public. Given this day at World Mission Headquarters, +Francis Cajetan Spataro Primate, AEC.”
On 24 August 2014, Archbishop Spataro circulated a Newsletter to members of the AEC in which he wrote, “Dear brothers, This mail is to be certain that we are all on the same page as to our AEC. To repeat what we all should know. Dr. Kersey has been appointed My Coadjutor with rights of succession in the event of my death or retirement.”
On 26 January 2015, Archbishop Spataro circulated a further email to clergy of the AEC, “Dear Brothers: Recently the retired former Primate has issued a statement calling for the 2015 AEC Roster to not accept Archbishop John Kersey as my Successor, even though as my CoAdjutor he succeeds me upon my Retirement on Feb. 5, 2015. I am deeply hurt that the Rev. Dr. Bertil Persson has not respected my choice of successor. After all, he appointed John Kersey the successor of the late Dr. Boyer! How can he now attack and reject his own appointment? Archbishop Persson has defamed and calumniated John Kersey. As your duly respected Primate these 17 odd years I ask you all to disregard this call to schism.” The response of Bertil Persson was to resign from his offices the AEC, at which point he ceased to be a member of the AEC or to exercise any authority on its behalf.
At his retirement on 5 February 2015, Archbishop Spataro wrote in email to Archbishop Kersey, “I wish you the best as our New Primate. God’s blessings upon you and yours.” On 5 March 2015, following his retirement, Archbishop Spataro wrote in email to Archbishop Kersey, “I now realize why Bertil became so disrespectful when you Succeeded to the AEC Primacy. Pure jealousy! What a catch for the AEC to have you as it’s Primate.” There are many more emails in similar vein, sufficient to prove amply the facts at hand.
Since his succession as AEC Primate Archbishop Kersey has served in that office continuously, and he continues to serve as such today. The official website of the AEC continues to be maintained at www.apostolicepiscopalchurch.org
In the United States of America, the AEC is represented by The Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, A Corporation Sole, a religious corporation sole with perpetual succession under the laws of the State of Hawaii with file number 314114 D9. In the United Kingdom, The Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Ltd., is the nonprofit (limited by guarantee) company that represents the AEC and that functions similarly to the Corporation Sole in the USA. It is incorporated in England and Wales with number 13130888. Moreover, The Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West), the parent body of the AEC, is also incorporated in England and Wales as a nonprofit company limited by guarantee with number 12692691 and with exemption from using the “Limited” suffix. No other corporation is authorized to represent the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
The Order of Corporate Reunion is incorporated in England and Wales as a nonprofit company limited by guarantee with number 12692440 and with exemption from using the “Limited” suffix. The articles of association state that this is the sole legitimate representative of the 1874 foundation of the Order. It is both the only body today that carries out the Order’s original mission, and the body with the oldest provable jurisdictional succession from its foundation. All current members and officers of the Order hold their authority under this corporation.
Kline claims that others are involved in his fraudulent imposture. He names Samuel Guido, who was formerly in intercommunion with the AEC until his retirement from the Lutheran Orthodox Church. Guido has never been a member of clergy of the AEC, and his involvement in this fraud can only be seen to discredit his former ministry and his reputation as a Christian minister.
On 22 November 2018, Guido circulated an email to Archbishop Kersey and others in which he questioned Kline’s interference in the jurisdiction of the African Orthodox Church. He wrote, “My first question based on my understanding of your letter is this: What do we have to do with another jurisdiction such as our African orthodox brothers? What I mean is this: My episcopal jurisdiction is within the [Lutheran Orthodox Church], and that is as far as it extends with regard to what other ecclesiastical bodies do or how they worship. In other words, I have no say in matters of faith and practice in other church bodies. I may be wrong here, and perhaps misunderstanding the matter. But what do any of us have to do with other church bodies?”
How, then, does Guido now justify not merely his interference, but his blatant usurpation and imposture with regard to the Apostolic Episcopal Church?
Guido is said by Kline to have installed one Andrew Knight of Cockeysville, Maryland, as “Prime Bishop of the AEC”. Guido has no right to do anything of the kind, and his actions are merely nonsensical pretence designed to spread confusion and further Kline’s agenda of malice. Knight, likewise, has never been a member of the AEC.
Another accomplice of Kline is Victor-John Payne of St Mellons, Cardiff, Wales, a former Anglican clergyman who was briefly a bishop of the OCR under Archbishop Kersey and is now described modestly as “Archbishop of Wales and Canterbury” in Kline’s fantasy organization. The Apostolic Episcopal Church has always been studious in avoiding for its Sees those which would cause any confusion with bishops of the Anglican Communion. We shall see whether the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Wales are well-disposed towards those who usurp their titles. Payne has also fraudulently registered a company in England and Wales using the names of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Order of Corporate Reunion. This company has no authority or right whatsoever to represent the Apostolic Episcopal Church or the Order of Corporate Reunion.
An email from Payne to Archbishop Kersey of 6 February 2015, the date of the latter’s succession as AEC Primate, reads,
“Dear Archbishop Congratulations on becoming Primate. May The Most High God richly bless your ministry and your Church. Blessings +John”
On what basis then does Payne now claim to usurp Archbishop Kersey’s position and church?
Kline’s purported “registration” of the AEC in Missouri amounts to the adoption of a fictitious name by his existing corporation there. This, again, is a fraudulent act. The AEC has no current presence in Missouri. Between July 2018 and November 2019, the AEC was represented in Missouri under the Concordat then in force between the AEC and Archbishop Josephus Johannes Palumbo of the Order of Christ the King. Although the Concordat was withdrawn in November 2019, the AEC will continue informally to commend any enquirers in Missouri to the ministry of the Order of Christ the King at the Manse and Chapel of St Mary Magdalene in Exeter. It is not the intention of the AEC to set up any form of competing ministry in Missouri, which shows Kline’s actions to be all the more crass and insensitive.
In this behaviour, Kline proves himself a profligate usurper. Not content with his usurpation of the Order of Corporate Reunion, he has now proved himself a thief twice over in respect of his false claims to the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Clearly other clergy who have devoted their energies and service to building up their churches should beware lest Kline casts his avaricious eye upon their property next, and decides to invent further lies as a basis to steal it for his own. Again, we ask, what basis has such a man to describe himself as a Christian, let alone a bishop?
At the end of his notice, Kline reveals his base motivations openly. Clergy, he says, are welcome to be in communion with his “AEC-OCR” provided they pay a “tithe” of $50 for the privilege. The Apostolic Episcopal Church has never asked its clergy or laity to pay or tithe anything to belong to the church, nor do its clergy receive any form of stipend. Doubtless Kline sees his imposture as a way to persuade the gullible to put money into his pocket. We trust that having read this notice, and having verified the facts we have set out for themselves, the public will not be deceived by him and his accomplices. They may indeed choose to bring these activities to the attention of the proper authorities, for the soliciting of money under false pretences generally constitutes a criminal offence.