The Christian Right, the OSJ, and the WPF: Some Overlaps

Independent Christian Churches International was founded in 1973 by the late Donald Ned Hicks,

to serve as an Ordaining body for men and women who felt a calling to the ministry. Over 8,000 ministers have been ordained since the inception of the Independent Christian Churches International.

The current head of the organisation is Archbishop Gregory Holley, and I’ve recently noticed that one of the “8,000 ministers” appears to be none other than Ted Baehr, of “Movieguide” fame (and one of Joseph Farah’s “favorite Christian cultural warriors”); according a profile at the website of the Lausanne Global Conversation:

I was ordained a Bishop in the Independent Christian Churches International in 1985. He was also ordained in the International Ministerial Fellowship in 2007.

(The switch from “I” to “He” seems to be an editing blip)

Holley also serves as  “Grand Prelate (United States)” for a chivalric order called the “Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Ecumenical Order (OSJ)”.  As I”ve blogged previously, the “Grand Chancellor” of the OSJ is Gen William “Jerry” Boykin, while the “Grand Master” is a businessman named Nicholas Papanicolaou; the evangelist Rick Joyner is a mere “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”, but he claims that his books are responsible for a “spiritual renewal” in the Order, and OSJ events have been held at the  Heritage Grand Hotel, which is controlled by Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill ( the building was formerly owned by Jim Bakker, and Joyner remains close to the disgraced televangelist). Another “Prelate” of the OSJ is Ardell Daniels, an evangelist based in Jacksonville.

The organisation is primarily involved with charity work, but it is also hostile to Islam: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was recently invested as a “Dame” of the OSJ at a ceremony in Rhodes, and Boykin and Papanicolaou co-signed a hostile statement on Islam on behalf of the OSJ in 2010 (“The Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security recently swore in two devout Muslims in senior posts…. Was it not ‘Devout Muslim men’ that flew planes into U.S. buildings 9 years ago?”). I looked at the historical claims of the OSJ here.

The OSJ is registered in Texas under Papanicolaou’s name as “The Hospitallers“, with the address “2104 Underwood Road, La Porte”. Holley also has several charities at the same address, and he founded a church there called the “New Life Christian Fellowship“. There is also some cross-over between the OSJ and Rick Joyner’s Christian Right “Oak Initiative” organisation: Papanicolaou, Boykin, and Daniels are all board members of the group, and its manager is Bill NeSmith of Harvest Light Ministries in South Carolina; NeSmith had “Ceremonial oversight” at the Grand Priory of The Carolinas’ “Solemn International Investiture” for 2011 at Fort Mill, and one of the OSJ’s websites is registered in his name.

However, another interesting – and rather surprising – link is with an organisation called the World Public Forum. The WFP promotes the “Dialogue of Civilizations”, and its international events regularly involve high-level politicians, academics, and religious leaders. Papanicolaou is a co-founder of the Forum, alongside Vladimir Yakunin, who runs Russia’s railways and who is described as a “confidant” of Vladimir Putin. WPF meetings on Rhodes have coincided with events held by the OSJ.

One would have thought that conservative evangelicals from the USA would be wary of such an urbane and multi-faith organisation: yet several of the above-mentioned figures have travelled to Rhodes to take part in WFP “Dialogue of Civilizations” Forums. Ardell Daniels was a “moderator” at a Forum event 2008; Rick Joyner and Gregory Holley took part in 2009 (alongside Lou Sheldon and Bob Weiner); Ted Baehr spoke in 2011.

Another link between the WPF and US conservatives is an association with the World Congress of Families – last summer, Yakunin’s wife (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program) joined Don Feder and Larry Jacobs at a WCF event in Moscow, and the WPF youth website carries an interview with Feder.