Beaver declared himself the archbishop of the new church after an investiture ceremony performed in Holloway Chapel at the University of London on December 18, 2003.
According to the spokesperson for the Church of Wales, however, the part-time Anglican priest from Wales who performed the ordination of Beaver had no authority to do so. “The Archbishop has asked me to stress that any alleged ordination undertaken by [Rev.] Lionel Fanthorpe would be invalid under the canon law of any Church and would not be recognized in any way by the Anglican Communion.”
Rev. Fanthorpe has since distanced himself from Interdenominational Church of the Holy Lands. “At the time of my Election,” he said, “I sincerely believed in its authenticity and validity. Logically, having been so elected, I then ordained into this Templar Church, as requested, certain other Templar Church colleagues who were brought before me for ordination.”
Bringing others into the Templar Church apparently angered Mr. Beaver, who allegedly expelled Fanthorpe from the new church.
According to the spokesperson for the Church of Wales, Fanthorpe has broken off all contact with the Interdenominational Templar Church of the Holy Lands and is no longer involved in any way with the group.
“We are very glad to hear that the Church of Wales has invalidated the ordination of Gary Beaver,” said Chevalier James Reese, the Grand Prior of the Scottish Knights Templar in the United States. “Under the canon law of the Anglican Communion, a priest cannot ordain another priest, or even a deacon. Only a bishop can perform ordinations.”
He said that members of his Scottish Order were invited to become high ranking clerics in the Templar Church. “We declined,” said Reese. “We were already serving the various Christian churches in our positions as knights and dames. But we knew that ordinary lay people had no business being vaulted into such offices as bishop and archbishop. Imagine being proclaimed an archbishop and never having to bother with attending a seminary!”
According to Reese, however, the Scottish Templars had bigger problems with the Templar Church.
“First of all,” said Reese, “we don’t consider it to be a church at all. We consider it to be a business run for the sole benefit of Gary Beaver. This so-called church has no church building and no congregation. It basically exists only on the Internet, and we believe that it exists for no other reason than to provide Beaver with an income, and an unearned income at that.”
Reese said that the Scottish Knights Templar were attacked because they spurned offers to join the Templar Church. “If you go to the Canadian Web site for this ‘church,’ you will find what I call ‘hate-speech’ directed against a former follower and against the members of our Order,” he said.
“The head of our Order and myself are accused of being cultists and Satanists, and the charges against a former follower amount to accusations of witchcraft,” said Reese. “Now, I ask you, what legitimate cleric or what legitimate church would post such outrageous ‘hate speech’ on an official church Web site and right next to a picture of Jesus Christ? There is absolutely nothing edifying or uplifting about this so-called church at all. This isn’t a church about reconciling people and bringing them closer to God, it’s a church about hurting people and appeasing the insatiable ego of Gary Beaver.”
According to Reese, members of the Scottish Knights Templar belong to all of the “mainstream” Christian churches, and to some non-denominational churches as well. “We encourage everyone to serve God in his or her own church, and our ‘Declaration of Atlanta’ states that we will never ask anyone to do anything that violates the law, the canon law of his or her church, or his or her conscience. Our knights and dames belong to all of the various churches. If that makes us a cult, then the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Baptist Church and all of the Christian churches are also cults.”
Reese stressed that Beaver and anyone else had a right to start a church.
“We’re not arguing that Beaver has no right to start a new church, or even a new religion, for that matter,” said Reese. “Beaver can call himself a pastor or priest or archbishop or whatever, but what he cannot call himself is a validly ordained cleric. With the pronouncement from the Church of Wales, his last shred of legitimacy is gone forever. Now he is just another ‘wannabe’ parading about in rented clerical vestments.”
When asked why Beaver would want to claim such a title for himself, Reese said that Beaver had a long history of seeking titles for himself.
“At various times,” said Reese, “he’s called himself Baron Richecourt, the Marquis of Aulnois, and Lord Newport. That last title got him in trouble with the Earl of Bradford, who had a writ issued against Beaver by a British court for allegedly misappropriating a family title. Now Beaver wants to be called an archbishop, which we feel is just absolutely ludicrous and completely unmerited. We’re just amazed that he didn’t go ahead and proclaim himself to be the ‘Templar Pope.’ Perhaps next week he will!”
Reese said that neither he nor the Scottish Knights Templar bore Beaver any ill will.
“What we have here is an individual with some enormous talents, but he has wasted them in his pursuit of honors and titles that he has not earned,” said Reese. “He could use his considerable computer talents to help a number of religious or charitable organizations, but he instead uses them to create venomous Web sites and to attack others. We hope that he will one day see the light and give up his pretensions. He should put his talents to use for a real church, instead of pretending to be an archbishop for a church that never was, isn’t now, and never will be.”
Asked if he had any final advice for anyone considering membership in the Templar Church, Reese said, “Yes. My advice is to completely forget about such a church, and to find a church in your local area where you can serve and be part of a Christian community. Forget about ‘Internet churches,’ because they won’t be there for you when you need to be supported and comforted. They are like the televangelists in that they exist for one reason, and one reason only—to take your money.”