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We are the Modern Knights Templar, an Ecumenical Christian and Chivalric charitable Order. We do not claim a direct lineage to the original Knights of the Temple, but we do seek to emulate their positive attributes in our daily lives today. We have adopted two of the original Templar missions of Protecting Christians at Risk particularly in the Holy Land and the Middle East and in Keeping the Road to Jerusalem open to all people as our own.

Affiliated with the International Order (OSMTH)





The conditions faced by the Christian population across the Middle East are important for caring Christians around the world to understand. Major media outlets too often provide us, however, with an incomplete (and sometimes inaccurate) account of events there and their causes. We present herewith a collection of well-written articles on the Christian situation to help broaden your understanding of this important subject. Articles reflect the authors’ research and opinions, not those of SMOTJ.

The Passing of Two Knights

Dear Knights and Dames,

With sadness I share with you the news of the recent passing of Chevalier Dexter Carl Pehle, GOTJ, of the Priory of the Holy Grail, and the Reverend COL John Peter Schmeling, PhD, GOTJ, of the Priory of St. Mother Theodore Guerin.

Pehle, Dexter C. age 85, of California, formerly of Apple Valley, MN died on February 16, 2021. Dexter was born in Minneapolis, MN on May 19, 1935 and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1953. He went on to serve his country in the United States Air Force, where he was a proud member of the Keesler AFB Male Choir. Dexter had a long career as a systems engineer with Sperry Univac. His affiliations with chivalrous organizations were numerous and the relationships and friendships he formed meant the world to him. He was invested in the order in 1999.

Dexter was a lifelong volunteer, always generous with his time and leadership. His last gift was a donation of his body to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest Program for medical research.

Dexter is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Muriel; children, Stephen (Debbie), Eric (Kim) and Karen; sister, Barbara Cross (Bill). He was preceded in death by his son, Kevin (Aimee), and daughter, Kimberly Sue, and his parents.

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The Rev. COL SIR John Peter Schmeling PhD, GOTJ. died March 26, 2021. John was born October 31, 1938, the first of four children to Mr. and Mrs. John F. W. (Marie Violet Weinreis) Schmeling of Golva, North Dakota . He graduated from Golva High School in 1956 and from Dickinson State University in 1961 with a B.S. in English and History plus a German minor. He did German graduate work with Stanford University. In 1970 he earned a M.S. in European History at Indiana State University and in 1977 a Ph.D. in European History with Management Concentrations.  

In high school and college he played basketball, football, and ran track while working first for his father on the ranch/farm, then Red Owl Grocers, and later the Dickinson Police Department. He coached high school basketball, track and football as far as the State Tournament for some from 1961 to 1964 while teaching German, and History. He had summer work as a National Park Ranger and managed a bible camp. He refereed basketball, football and track from college days through the end of seminary.

In 1964 he entered Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He graduated with a M.Div. in Theology in 1968. During his seminary years, he also taught German at Western Dubuque High School. He was fluent in German and Spanish, along with limited Arabic and French ability. He was commissioned as a Staff Specialist, 2LT while in seminary 13 October 1965. He served with HHC, 389th ENGR BN (C) (SRF) in Dubuque for Points Only while in seminary. His chaplaincy Internship was at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, preceded by two internship quarters at a mental hospital in Independence, Iowa.

He was ordained at Christ Lutheran Church, Terre Haute, Indiana on 26 May, 1968. John then began a mission congregation in Linton, Indiana and remained there until becoming Assistant Professor of Religion and European History (the area of his PhD) at Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana. After Desert Storm, he was Pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, both of Shelbyville, Illinois until retirement in 2004. Beginning in 2004 he was an Associate of Mission Support (Development) at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. While development work was not territorial, he assumed responsibilities in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, sharing some of these states with other Wartburg Development Associates.

He served as both part-time and full-time Interim Pastor for the synod of the ELCA in which he was rostered, the Central Southern Illinois Synod. He has also served as Interim in the Indiana – Kentucky Synod and the Central States Synod when appointed by the Synod Bishop.

His first direct Chaplain assignment was the 604th Military Police Battalion in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1968. In 1976 he became 4th Brigade Chaplain for the 70th Division (TRAINING) in Livonia, Michigan and was 70th Division Staff Chaplain from 1986-1989. In 1989 he became the Hospital Staff Chaplain for the 337th General Hospital, the 123rd ARCOM at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. In 1996 he was assigned to the Chief of Chaplains Office until his retirement in 1998.

From 1990 to 1996 he was the Command Staff Chaplain of the 416th Engineer Command in Chicago, Illinois. During Desert Storm, he was the Senior Engineer Theater Chaplain based in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but traveling throughout the war theatre. In that capacity, he supervised about 250 Chaplains in Combat. In 1991, he became the Theater Redeployment-Reunion Program Chief. The RRP Teams under his direction provided classes to 70% of the soldiers leaving the Gulf. He received the Bronze Star for combat action during the Gulf War and the Legion of Merit in 1995, among other awards. 

He was knighted in 2002 through the English Royal House at Windsor. In the United States he then became affiliated with SMOTJ. He continued to work for that goal with Palestinian Christians as they are threatened in the Holy Land. John was invested through the Priory of St. Clair. John was awarded the Long and Faithful Service Bronze Silver Medal in 2012, and the Meritorious Service Medal and Long and Faithful Service Silver Medal in 2013.

John was retired from Vincennes University. He served as Full Professor of Religion and History, Director of the VU Prison Education Program, Chair of the Social Science Division, became a full Professor and Vice President and Dean of the Faculty (Provost). As Provost he supervised about 400 full-time faculty and nearly 1,000 adjunct faculty at the then three sites of the university.  He served 22 years in the full-time parish calls of the now Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the former American Lutheran Church.   Pastor John could also preach and lead divine worship in the German language.

In 2010 he was appointed as a Knight Templar Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna , Austria then to Geneva, Switzerland . In Geneva he served on three UN committees: Environment, Human Rights, and Spirituality, Equality and Global Concerns. In 1987 he received the Chief Award (highest alumni award) from Dickinson State University in Dickinson North Dakota. In 2010 he received the Living Loehe Award (highest alumni award) from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa .

John served in the military in exercises LOGE 92, Fuentes Caminos in Panama, Bright Star in Egypt, and Eastern Castle in Egypt plus in Jordan as well as in other Middle East assignments, the last being in Israel.  While the 416th Engineer Command Staff Chaplain he coordinated with the Staff Chaplains of 2nd, 3rd and 8th U.S. Armies. He served on the U. S. House of Representatives 8th Congressional Indiana District Military Academies Selection Committee.

He served in an advisory capacity to 19th Illinois District Congressman John Shimkus. He served on three ARPERCEN Promotion Selection Boards and taught in numerous military seminars and schools. He served a US committee responsibility with the United Nations regarding The Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Impact of Religion and Faith in North America focusing upon strategies for peace with other Clergy from the Five Ancient Liturgical Christian denominations selected for that study. He has recruited and mentored many young pastors and chaplains beginning their careers.

Up until his death he served as the interim pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Princeton, IN and Zion Lutheran Church in Mt. Carmel, IL.  For all the places he traveled and the people he impacted, he was always most proud that he was a North Dakotan.

John was married to Susan Ellen Reinhart Schmeling. Surviving are his children, Linda McDonal (John), Erich Schmeling, Kim Schumacher (Keith), John Schmeling (Karen), Heather Schmeling, and Kirsten Schmeling (David); his brother Darrel Schmeling; sisters, Linda Huffman and Naomi Dolyniuk; grandchildren Natalie Schumacher, Erica Spears, Sarah Rodorigo, Harrison Schmeling, Beckett Schmeling, and Dexter Stead; great-grandchildren Scarlett Spears, Teagan Rodorigo, Alissa Rodorigo. Condolences may be sent to: Susan Schmeling, 7504 E. University Drive, Vincennes, IN 47591-9277.

In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection we ground our faith and place our trust in Christ. We commend to Almighty God the souls of Dexter and John.. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

I invite your prayers in the coming days for the families and friends and Dexter and John.

The Reverend Chvse Anne Fraley, SCTJ
Special Assistant Grand Chaplain, GPUSA

Memorial gifts may be made to the Jerusalem Mite in Dexter’s and John’s names through the SMOTJ website. 


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