The Church of the Force was a religious organization that arose from the ashes of the Jedi Order. Due to the outlawing of religious practices under the Galactic Empire, the Church was forced to remain underground. The organization desired the return of the Jedi in order to ensure the continual balance of the Force. As a symbol of this commitment, they adopted the insignia of the Jedi Order and surrounded it with the visage of a sun.
The Church of the Force was founded sometime following the downfall of the original Jedi Order. Practitioners kept alive the teachings and tenants of the Jedi, and hoped for their eventual return so that they may restore balance to the Force.
Post-Galactic Civil War
Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.
—Lor San Tekka
Thirty years after the Battle of Endor, a member of the Church, a man named Lor San Tekka, came into the possession of a fragmented map which lead to the location of the self-exiled Luke Skywalker. He was hunted to his home in Tuanul on the planet of Jakku by the First Order, due to his possession of the fragment, and was killed by Kylo Ren after he was unable to present the information to the dark sider.
Master, is that…?!"
"Yes. The sacred treasure of the Jedi. Didn't I tell you? Patience shall light our way."
"But what does it mean, Master?"
"It means, dear Claudius, that our fears have been confirmed.
—Claudius and Strophe discuss the imbalance in the Force
Some members of the Church gathered and studied on Tython nearby the Shrine of the Jedi. There, shortly after the Battle on Starkiller Base, the sacred treasure of the Jedi began to glow brilliantly—an indication of a monumental shift in the Force; the Force was out of balance again.
The Church of the Force's organizational structure was largely unknown and thought to be rather loose. However, a Force-sensitive man named Strophe was said to be the Church's master. It also seems to be advised by a body of beings known as the Elders.
- Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens (First appearance)