+Phillip A. Garver, Ep. Gn.
T. Vincent II, in ecclesia
From the very beginning of his involvement with the French Gnostic Tradition, T. Vincent II has distinguished himself as a respected international representative among clergy and initiates alike. An enthusiastic supporter of ''the Tradition", he has embarked upon a journey of preservation of this lesser-known French system of reintegration which combines initiation in the Masonic and Esoteric sense with that of the traditional sacraments. With a growing interest in the West, he spends much of his spare time translating texts of interest to the Tradition into English for a wider North American populace.
For his motto, he has chosen part of a scriptural passage from the Pentateuch: "Ego enim Dominus sanator tuus" -For I am the Lord, your healer. (Exodus 15:26). This shield is silver with a black chevron upon which is a gold fleur-de-lys - the arms of the Garver family. Reflected in his Episcopal arms by the serpent entwined about the fleur-de-lys is a reference to healing as mentioned in Numbers 21:8-9 where G-d told Moses to erect a brazen serpent upon a pole so that any who looked upon it would be healed.
"We are, each of us, called to follow the road best suited for us to be welcomed back into the folds of the Pleroma. Let us assume responsibility for our actions. Let us know that as we help one another, we also help ourselves. The path is there, we much choose to walk upon it."
Born May 31, 1971, in Dayton, Ohio, +Phillip is the son of John
and Carol Garver. He has one older sister. Growing up in the Midwestern
United States in a village of less than 5 thousand people, he was very
active in his parents' church, a congregational Protestant variety -
the United Church of Christ. Helping others became apparent at
an early age as her participated in many programs for advocacy - particularly
caring for adults who were mentally and/or physically challenged.
Although a shy youngster, he also enjoyed the more musical side of life,
participating in plays and musicals, choir and band, and a Christian
singing group for youth called 'Young Spirits.' His early education
was in a typical small town public school, but he proved to be a bright
pupil with much promise.
While still in high school, +Phillip attended a local community college, and when he graduated from Milton-Union High School in 1989, he had already earned nearly the equivalent of an Associate's degree as well as receiving membership in organizations such as the National Honor Society, Honors in Foreign Language Award, the John Philip Sousa Band Award and the National School Choral Award. Later that year, he began undergraduate studies at Wartburg College, in Waverly, Iowa. Once a seminary, Wartburg maintains a strong Lutheran influence and religious instruction is included in the core curriculum. While in attendance, he participated in the concert band and choir, as well as being involved with the student groups for Peace and Justice, and in the major-related groups of the student American Chemical Society, and Alpha Mu Gamma (foreign language honor society). In 1993, he earned a B.A. in French, having spent a year studying at university in France, including a secondary concentration in chemistry, with intentions to teach at the undergraduate level. Later, he would be admitted to Indiana University's graduate program in French linguistics - only one of two in the nation. However, he would not finish that program when the series of life events which led to his introduction to the French Gnostic Tradition abruptly complicated the situation. +Phillip's interests in foreign languages and cultures (particularly that of French) were apparently foreshadows of his role to come. At present, he has completed a second B.A. degree in Philosophy, and is in the process of completing a Master of Divinity degree in preparation for a formalized doctoral program in Theology.
Always active in religious and humanitarian activities, +Phillip had received the calling to vocation very early, even if his answer required a series of traumatic events to trigger action on his part. From his early experience with the advocacy program working with mentally challenged adults, he continued to assist those in need, offering himself as a tutor in both French and English as a Second Language during college, then as an Individual Options Home Health Care Provider for the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. He also served as a proctor for the Office of Disabled Students at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. During his brief period at Indiana University, he also served as a program aide for a group home catering to autistic children. Realizing his interest in healing and helping others, he began to study nontraditional therapies becoming an Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master-Teacher, a Karuna Reiki® Master-Teacher and has endeavored to become familiar with several other alternative and complementary techniques.
This interest in the "non-mainstream" had always been present, from helping a friend discover her Native American roots, to participating in Celtic reconstructionist organizations during his high school and early college years, but without any clear direction. Then, in October of 1994, he began to tread a path that would forever change his life. A meeting at a local Unitarian Universalist church had provided the opportunity to interact with many people of various beliefs, resulting in an invitation to a 'Gnostic Mass'. Not really knowing what to expect, he attended - the result was an experience that would certainly provide a catalyst for the direction of his future activities. While doing some research into the Gnostic, Theosophic, Templar and Esoteric revivals of late 19th and early 20th century Europe, an offhanded comment by a friend indicating that there was a 'French Gnostic Bishop' living in Illinois would begin a never-ending series of synchronicities. With that information in hand, he set out to make contact. The next major stone set in place was his meeting with the Most Reverend +John Cole, then a priest of the Eglise Gnostique Catholique Apostolique. Within a short period of time, +Phillip would be introduced to the world of French Gnosticism and has never looked back.
Having continued his discussions and instruction with +John Cole about this little-known tradition, +Phillip was invited to receive initiation into Martinism, and received Minor Orders within the French Gnostic Catholic Apostolic Church. A short time later, +John Cole would be consecrated a bishop at the hands of the presiding bishops of the Eglise Gnostique Catholique Apostolique - +Robert M. Cokinis; and of the Ecclesia Gnostica - +Stephan A. Hoeller, thus fusing together, for the first time, the French and English Gnostic Traditions. This gave +Phillip an opportunity to meet with those individuals who would later aid in his decision to pursue the lifelong commitment to service that is Holy Orders. Synchronistically, the presiding bishops learned of his ability to speak French and he was immediately put to use reading the official 'Bull of Election' - which in the Eglise Gnostique is traditionally composed in the language of the church - French. The following year, on 11 July 1999, the Most Reverend +John Cole, Auxiliary Bishop of the Midwest for the EGCA and Grand Master of the Ancient Martinist Order, ordained +Phillip to the Priesthood within the EGCA.
In June of 2000, +Phillip had the opportunity to travel to Barbados for a convention of the International College of Esoteric Studies, representing the EGCA on behalf of Bishops +Cole and +Cokinis. The Church of the Glorious Christ in Barbados had been a long-standing carrier of the Traditions of the Gnostic Church and Martinism - as well as some Chivalric traditions such as the Order of the Grail and the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. While there, he met with several members of the clergy and many initiates from all over the world. This would be the beginning of defining his future roles and responsibilities. He returned to his home in Indianapolis, Indiana where he continued working toward a greater understanding of the French Gnostic Tradition, and taking on the responsibility of searching for missing pieces which had either stayed in Europe, or fallen into dormancy. Then, on 11 November 2000, +Phillip was officially tasked with the roles of Apostolic Prefect (essentially an arch-priest) and International Legate for the Gnostic Church. Participating in the ceremony were Bishops +Robert M. Cokinis (Eglise Gnostique Catholique Apostolique) as the presiding bishop, +Stephan A. Hoeller (Ecclesia Gnostica), +Ronald V. Cappello (Old Templar Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church), +Carl Emmanuel (Gnostic Church of the Glorious Christ) and Tau Ignatius of Alexandria VII (Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Apostolica Latina).
Following his new appointment, +Phillip pursued contacts internationally in an effort to reestablish communications within the church which had decayed since the death of the Patriarch of the EGA(C) (Ambelain-Freire line) in the 70's and the death of her North American Primate in the 80's (Herard). Through letters, other contacts and many personal visits overseas, +Phillip was able to establish contact with the widow of the former Patriarch in Brazil, as well as several European Bishops - in France, Italy and England. His individual initiatory progress continued, reaching the highest degrees of Martinism, as well as being initiated into the Egyptian Rite (Ancient and Primitive Rite), having obtained at least the degree of Master Mason. He was also later received as a "regular" blue lodge Master Mason, as well as into the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, the York Rite (Masonic Knights Templar), the Knight Masons, and the Allied Masonic Degrees. Resulting from these contacts and frequent voyages, several other discoveries have been made. +Phillip hopes to see the development of the Tradition in North America in general, and in Indianpolis where he currently works at a local university.
In recognition of his devotion and hard work, a Bull of Election was prepared, electing +Phillip to the episcopate. His Bull was signed by the presiding bishop of the EGCA - +Robert Cokins (Tau Charles-Harmonius II), by +Anne Rose (Tau Teresa) of the Church of the Glorious Christ and Chapel of Saint Theresa in Barbados, and by one of the last Bishops, and the current head, of the original Gnostic Church of +Bricaud, +Chevillon and +Chambellant - Tau Gilbertus. (See this section in the history for more information). +Phillip was installed as the Bishop of Indianapolis, Suffragan Bishop of Michigan (and northwestern Ohio) and Auxiliary Bishop of the EGCA. The ceremony of consecration recognizing his episcopal powers was held in Villa Park, Illinois on November 10, 2002. The participating bishops were +Robert M.Cokinis (EGCA) as the principal consecrator, +Stephan A. Hoeller (Ecclesia Gnostica) as the co-consecrator, and +Piers A. Vaughan (Old Templar Church). On that same occasion, +Phillip received his "Licentiate of Divine Letters in Theology" from the Athenea Theologica International - the seminary of the EGCA. Bishop +Garver took on the additional responsibility of directing the Athenea Theologica International's masculine branch - the Conventuals of Saint Montségur, working closely with fellow Priest and Apostolic Vicar, Rev. Pamela Joy Giese - Mother Instructress of the feminine branch - the Order of the Holy Sophia. Also, he developed active ties with the G.E.R.M.E. (Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherches Martiniste et Esotérique - Martinist and Esoteric Studies Research Group) and the Association for the Study of Esotericism, and received the status of Knight Commander of the Order of the Grail, whose International College of Esoteric Studies has awarded him the degree of Master of Sacred Science.
At present, T. Vincent II has been directed to work as a separate jurisdiction in his capacity as a Bishop representing the +Bricaud - +Chevillon - +Chambellant line of the French Gnostic Tradition, which will actually utilize the rituals and liturgies developed by the Gnostic Church throughout the ages which are not being used by any of the other so-called gnostic groups, and which form the foundation of the Tradition which T. Vincent II has received through various consecrations, exchanges of consecrations, intitiations and concordat agreements. This community is ever striving to maintain the 'Tradition' as it developed principally in France and separating the historical facts of her development from the fantasies that have been created and espoused by some. Strong relations have also been developed with several legitimate heirs and scholars to various tradition, and T. Vincent II has received authorities in the Initiatory Schools affiliated with the 'Tradition'. He has now also been working as the International Grand Prior for the Ordo Cathari Miloyati, a lay order based upon th intermingling of the Cathars with the Langudocian nobility and, as oral tradition indicates, the Knights Templar, and is continuing to research the history and religion of the Cathars which have influenced our tradition. He is working at the developement of the North America Fellowship of Cathars as an expression of the Cathar movement in the 21st century for those individuals who are inclined toward that form of spirituality. On his most recent trip to Europe, he was knighted in the lineage of the kings of Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Armenia, as well as having recieved the honor of being appointed as the Knight Grand Cross of Merit of the Frères Aînés de la Rose+Croix (FAR+C) for both North and South America.
"Each individual pursues spirituality and religion in a unique way. Our Tradition is no different, but it is definitely unique. One of my own goals is to see that what remains of this French Gnostic Tradition survives. There is much to learn and much more to do. One of our long-term projects is to see as much of the work related to our Tradition translated into English as possible. Anyone who wishes to assist us in this work is encouraged to do so. We are all working towards reintegration, and with your help, the road will not seem so long."