What is the Church of the Force?
Back when everyone was in the rumour mill phase of The Force Awakens and when every little bit of information was placed under the magnifying glass of a thousand Star Wars fans, there was a piece of concept art that leaked that featured Max Von Sydow dressed in brown robes.
The art was called The Vicar and sent off many a wild rumour and speculation. Was he the new Obi-Wan Kenobi? At one point, we even wondered if he was Boba Fett or a cyborg robot kind of guy called Montrose!
It turns out the vicar was actually the priest known as Lor San Tekka, and he was a priest of the Church of the Force. So what is it? Is it a cult? Why does the Force need a church? Was its Jedi Council sanctioned?
The Church of the Force was an underground faith made up of loosely affiliated worshipers of the Jedi ideals. Members of the faith believed that the Jedi Order would not only one day return, but that its return was essential in bringing balance to the Force.
The Church of the Force existed as an underground movement during the Age of the Empire, when the Jedi Knights were hunted to near-extinction following the infamous Order 66 and worship in the supernatural was a violation of Imperial law.
One member of the faith was Lor San Tekka, an explorer who did not believe the Imperial description of the so-called Jedi betrayal of the Galactic Republic.
Tekka was was born in the waning years of the Galactic Republic. He became a believer in the ideals of the Jedi Order during the Clone Wars, despite not being Force-sensitive, and followed the underground faith of his church during the dark times of the Galactic Empire's rule over the galaxy
He spent years finding history of the Jedi that the Empire had tried to suppress, and eventually helped Luke Skywalker, in his own search for Jedi lore and the orginal Jedi Temple.
The Church of the Force first appeared in the The Force Awakens, not that viewers would have learned this. The Church of the Force was not official referenced until Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary was
|Illco Munica getting his last rites from Stormtroopers|
His back story suggested that after the Battle of Endor (that occured in Return of the Jedi), San Tekka helped Luke Skywalker recover secret Jedi lore that the Empire had tried to erase.
It is implied in his conversation with Kylo Ren that he is well aquanited with Princess Leia.
Following decades of adventure San Tekka had retired to live simply on Jakku, where he followed the dictates of the Church of the Force.
While it's never explained how, Kylo Ren learned he had the map, found him and killing him and other fellow Church of the Force followers, including Ilco Munica, the terrified Abednedo that briefly featured on screen)