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The John Sebastian Marlow Ward Website

Churchill Sibley and the Orthodox Catholic Church

Home
About John Sebastian Marlow Ward
Early Life of J.S.M. Ward
Ward as a Medium & Spiritualist
Ward and Freemasonry
JSM Ward as a Historian
J.S.M. Ward as an Author
J.S.M. Ward and the Abbey of Christ the King
The Abbey Church in Barnet
The Folk Park
Ward and the Anglican Church
Ward and the Masonic Research Society
Churchill Sibley and the Orthodox Catholic Church
Ward and the Orthodox Catholic Church
The Abbey and the War
The Dorothy Lough Case
Mar Georgius and the Katholicate of the West
The Consecrations
The Consecration of Bishop Chamberlain
Ward driven from England.
The Community in Cyprus
Death of J.S.M. Ward
Ward's Work survives his Death
Key Associates of J.S.M. Ward
His Mystic partner, Jessie Ward
Life of John Churchill Sibley
Last of Ward's priests; Peter Gilbert Strong
Ward's son; John Reginald Cuffe
Other Individuals Associated with JSM Ward
The Spiritual Journey of J.S.M. Ward
Ward as a Mystic
Ward and the First Apocalypse
Other Key Apocalypses
Ward and the Return of Christ
The Legacy of J.S.M. Ward
The Basic Theology of J.S.M. Ward
WARD'S THEOLOGY; The Nature of God
WARD'S THEOLOGY: The Work of Salvation
WARD'S THEOLOGY; God's Great Plan
The Mystical Theology of J.S.M. Ward
Early Life of John Churchill Sibley

 

John was born on December 12th 1858, in Crewkerne, Somerset and became a pupil at the local School, where, from the age of 13 he played the school organ. One of his favourite reminiscences was the occasion when some of the boys at school robbed an orchard and when no-one would own up, the Headmaster threatened to cancel a half-holiday. Sibley hid the keys to the bell-tower, so that no-body could be summoned to school but the Head, suspecting him, waited till Sibley was taken to another church to play the organ. Then half-way through the service, said to him; ‘It’s Sunday so you must tell the truth. Who hid the keys to the tower?’ Sibley then owned up and told the Headmaster it was a protest against the unfair treatment of the boys for the orchard robbery.

 

Perhaps surprisingly the Headmaster did not condemn him for maintaining a principle that all should not suffer for the sake of one or two thieves an attitude that was typical of Sibley throughout his life.  He was a strong, principled character but perhaps too gentle with the less fortunate, a virtue that others sometimes used against him.

Musical Career

 

At 18 he became a teacher at Clifton Grammar School in Warwickshire, where he was also the organist. To avoid making a noise, he practiced on a small harmonium. without using the bellows and eventually gained his Doctor of Music degree in 1894. Later he was appointed to the position of Director of the Queen’s Music and became well-known as a composer of both sacred and secular music, and today there are references to him and several of his works on the Internet.

 

Sibley continued to work both as a conductor and composer but after the First World War he began to take a greater interest in spiritual matters and a common bond through music led to him accepting ordination as a priest from his good friend F.E.J. Lloyd in 1924, who had recently been elected Archbishop of what was then called the American Catholic Church.

 

 

The Orthodox Catholic Church

 

When Sibley retired in 1929, he determined to devote his declining years to the service of God, and after obtaining consecration in America from Lloyd, returned to England as Archbishop of what he renamed as the Orthodox Catholic Church in the British Empire.

 

Unfortunately in this new role he rapidly attracted enemies from the established Church who often employed agent provocateurs and the gutter press against him. Despite this persecution he was always the perfect gentleman, and there was a firm chin under his George V beard. Yet he was often deceived by people who appealed to his kindly nature and both he and his wife suffered greatly from treachery by those they sought to help. Eventually he was to admit, ‘One can be too easily accessible.’

 

One such attack came from a young woman reporter from the gutter press, who first sought his help and then launched a vicious attack through “John Bull” a gutter press magazine. The same woman later tried a similar trick with John Ward, but warned by the Archbishop, he was less easily duped.

 

In his ecclesiastical capacity Sibley wore a black suit, black spats, purple stock, and a wide-brimmed hat with a rosette.  He was a likeable old man with steady blue eyes behind his gold-rimmed glasses, very upright in stance and courteous in the extreme, yet underneath was a will of iron.

 

On a more personal note, Sibley suffered great pain from an enlarged prostate, and the many persecutions to which he was subjected, but struggled on. Wishing to establish a religious community he sought to purchase Minster Abbey on the Isle of Thanet in the River Thames, where once St Sexburga had been in charge, but he was attacked so vehemently in John Bull that the whole scheme fell through. Nevertheless, it was through this contact that some of the bones of St Sexburga came into possession of John Ward and the Abbey of Christ the King. They are still preserved at St Michael’s Church in Caboolture.

 

Sibley also established an Intercollegiate University, which offered degrees to clergymen from various denominations after appropriate studies. Lloyd had already set up a similar facility in America, supported by his wealthy wife, but Sibley had no such financial backer and eventually the British university, which never made a profit, closed down.

 

 

Death of Sibley

 

Eventually through his meeting with Ward and the subsequent admission of the Confraternity to the Orthodox Catholic Church, Sibley found some success even in this life, but the pressure of constant persecution told on his wife, who predeceased him.

 

Just after his 80th birthday, on December 15th 1938 John Churchill Sibley went to his well earned rest, and was buried in High Barnet cemetery during a raging snowstorm in a funeral arranged by John Ward and the Community. Soon afterwards, the Archbishop John Churchill Sibley was recognised as having been raised to the ranks of the Blessed Saints of God.

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For Further information
Contact:  Rt. Rev. John Cuffe
               St Cecelia's Orthdox Catholic Church
               Caboolture Qld 4510 Australia.
               email orthcathcab@yahoo.com.au
               Telephone  61 7 5495 3393
               web sites: http://Orthodoxcatholicnew.tripod.com