Sunday, Oct 08, 2006: “Anglicanism: Session 4”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Lecture Series Led By Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, October 8, 2006


Anglicanism, Session 4, notes


The first place in the Americas on which England focused was Virginia. The settlement on Roanoke Island (now part of North Carolina) was named “Virginia” in honor of Elizabeth, the “Virgin Queen.” In 1607 when the first lasting English settlement was established, it was called “Jamestown” in honor of James I who had chartered the Virginia Company to establish an English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. Religious practices were mandated by Parliament for the Virginia Company: they were to have daily Morning and Evening Prayer, Sunday morning worship, and Sunday afternoon catechism study; clergy were to preach on Sundays and Wednesdays.


Members from other groups in the Church of England soon followed. The Puritans who landed at Plymouth Rock were actually trying to sail to Virginia. Religious practices in the New World developed in different directions.

Because of their distance from England, the colonists made other changes. During the 1630s in Virginia, rectors, who previously had been appointed by legislatures, were now being chosen by vestries. They also developed a system by which vestries could work through the legislatures to dismiss a rector, when there were serious conflicts.


Under Charles I, many more religious groups emigrated to America, settling in what was the Massachusetts Bay colony, including what would become parts of Connecticut and New Hampshire. Other forms of “church” grew there, especially congregational structures.


Colonists coming to Virginia tended to come from England’s north and west, while those settling in New England were mostly from East Anglia. Each brought its own form of church to the colonies. Free from direct English control, the differences became magnified. Some Baptists, who disagreed both with the New England form of church and with the Virginia form of Church, moved to Rhode Island and settled there. At the same time, Charles issued a charter for Roman Catholics to settle in Maryland, although they remained a minority there.

After the Restoration, Charles II issued a proclamation granting a charter to William Penn, a Quaker, for Pennsylvania. Many Presbyterians emigrated to New York and New Jersey, where neither the Congregationalists nor the Episcopal party held influence.


In 1684, Charles II made Massachusetts a royal colony, putting it under direct royal control. James Stuart became the proprietor of New York; and, when he became James II, it too was under royal control. William and Mary made Maryland a royal colony as well. Among other effects of this designation was the fact that the monarchs then had greater control in establishing the place of the Church of England in those places. William and Mary were successful in working through governors to make the C of E the official church in Maryland and South Carolina, and they had limited success in New York. Later monarchs would accomplish the same thing in Georgia and North Carolina. There continued to be some dissatisfaction with this arrangement, especially in Georgia and North Carolina; some folks had moved there in the first place because of their dissatisfaction with the same arrangement in Virginia and South Carolina. Congregationalists, Presbyterians and other non-Anglicans prevented this situation from occurring in the colonies north of Maryland. Queen Anne did, however, use the resources at her disposal to establish the first Anglican churches in these colonies (cf. Prichard, p. 27).

The Commissary system: cf. Prichard, p. 27-28


The Congregational Church became the established church in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In 1706, clergy from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania petitioned Queen Anne (1702 – 1714) to appoint bishops for the colonies. She decided to grant their request, but died before any were actually appointed. George I (1714 – 1727) knew very little about the English Church, or even the English language, so he allowed his Prime Minister to appoint bishops and allowed Parliament to decide other religious issues. In 1718, clergy from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland petitioned the English bishops to appoint a bishop for the colonies. The church in Rhode Island worked through a visitor, the philosopher George Berkeley, in hopes of getting a bishop. None were successful.


English clergyman Thomas Bray helped establish 44 SPCK libraries in America, intending them to help educate the clergy and to help convince non-Anglicans of the reasonableness of Anglicanism. In 1701, he participated in establishing the SPG, which began to send missionaries to the colonies.


George Whitefield, along with John and Charles Wesley, led The Great Awakening (1740-1776). Other forms of church grew and prospered. Presbyterianism spread through the middle colonies. According to Pritchard, Anglicans came to oppose the Great Awakening (TGA), Baptists supported it, and Presbyterians and Congregationalists split into competing factions.


During the 1760s and 1770s, some Anglicans embraced a modified form of TGA. They continued to hold to apostolic succession and a set liturgy, but also began to preach in a sentimentalist style and to advocate adult conversion. The movement enhanced the role of women and of blacks in the church. It led also to a renewed call for an American bishop.


Those C of E churches that were influenced most by TGA were designed, or redesigned, to place a large pulpit in front, sometimes even obscuring the altar. They also began using recently composed hymns, such as those by the Wesleys. Other churches resisted these hymns and instead focused on biblical based texts and older canticles like the Te Deum. After the Revolution, the new Episcopal Church would gradually come to accept as a whole the singing of hymns. Conventions would authorize hymnals in 1789 (27 texts), 1808 (57 texts) and 1826 (212 texts. 14 of those in the 1826 Hymnal were by Charles Wesley.


Three organizations, formed in the mid-1700s, were critical in the formation of the Episcopal Church after the Revolution: a convocation of the clergy of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, a convocation of the clergy of the southern colonies, and the Society for the Relief of Orphans and Widows of Clergymen (formed by the clergy of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware).


By the 1770s, the effects and attitudes and the rhetoric of TGA had spilled over into political circles. In March 1775, the young nephew of an Anglican priest spoke to a gathering at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. His name was Patrick Henry. Quoting Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11, he proclaimed, ”Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Churches began to choose between one side and another. In general, the Anglican churches chose the wrong side. Charles Inglis, who would later become bishop for Nova Scotia, was one of the leaders of the loyalist cause. He proudly proclaimed that most Anglican clergy were opposed to the Revolution. This was true, especially in the north. By the end of the war, there were only four active clergymen in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire and none in Rhode Island. Connecticut, however, retained almost 20. In the south, there was more support for the revolutionaries. In Maryland 1/3 of the clergy supported the revolutionaries, and in South Carolina, ¾ did. In Virginia, vestries served as communications offices for the revolution, and most clergy supported the cause. About half of the clergy in North Carolina were supportive of the effort. The churches in Georgia, however, took a stance that was more like that in New England. In the middle colonies, loyalties varied.

Organization of the Episcopal Church following the Revolution:


The leadership came from the middle colonies, who were accustomed to religious pluralism. Especially influential were the two clergy conferences and the Society for Relief of Orphans and Widows of Clergymen. By 1783, the church in Maryland had adopted the name “the Protestant Episcopal Church”, distinguishing itself from the RC Church in Maryland and from those English churches which rejected the office of bishop. They planned a state convention that would exercise the authority for the church.


William White (b. 1748) was educated and ordained in England. He served as Assistant to the Rector at the United Parish of Christ Church and St. Peter’s in Philadelphia. After the Rector of the church departed with the British, the Continental Congress appointed White as Rector. He was related by marriage to some of the leading revolutionaries and served as Chaplain to the Continental Congress. On August 8, 1782, he published The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered. In it, he proposed that other states adopt Maryland’s practice of holding “general vestries” that would choose presiding clergy for the churches. They would perform many of the functions of bishops until the new nation had its own bishops. The presiding clergy and elected lay representatives would meet together on a district level and, every three years, on a national level. At all levels, presiding clergy, other clergy and lay representatives would participate together. Representatives from several of the states met in a General Convention in 1784, 1785 and 1786.


Clergy from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island objected to White’s plan, asserting that it did not give a sufficiently prominent role to bishops. Some of them met in 1783 and nominated two New York clergymen for the office of bishop. One of them declined. The other, Samuel Seabury, accepted. He had been a British loyalist during the War and had served as a chaplain to English forces. He sailed to England but was refused consecration because he could no longer take the oath of loyalty to the king.


Traveling north to Scotland, he was consecrated there on November 14, 1784, by three non-juring bishops. He signed a concordat with the Scottish Church, in which it recognized the Church in America and in which Samuel Seabury agreed to try to incorporate the Scottish rite into the Communion service. The consecration prayer in the new American Prayer Book would be based on the 1549 BCP rather than the 1552 which served as the basis for the English 1662 BCP. Returning to America, Seabury at first refused to attend the ongoing General Conventions in the south. Instead he called for clergy-alone convocations in the north. He began using the title “Bishop of All America.”


The Conventions in the south began to move toward greater similarity with the Protestant churches in the north. Seabury and those with him in the north headed in the opposite direction, seeking to distinguish themselves further from the Congregationalists and taking a higher-Church position.


Meanwhile, after the 1783 Treaty of Paris, John Wesley who had been a strong opponent of the War and a supporter of the loyalists, began calling together meetings of the Methodist supporters. They established their own ordinations, Prayer book etc.

By 1787, American Episcopalians had effectively established three denominations:

· a middle and southern states’ church with English lines of consecration and a representative convention of both clergy and lay delegates

· a New England Church, directed by a bishop with Scottish ordination and governed through a clergy-only convocation and

· a Methodist-Episcopal Church with a form of government drafted by John Wesley.


Reconciliation with the Methodist-Episcopal faction would never take place. The other two groups were hostile to each other and kept their distance. The leaders in the middle and southern states had supported the Revolution; those in Connecticut had been loyalists (Seabury not only had served as a chaplain to British forces, but drew maps for them and even now was receiving a pension from England.) The New England clergy disliked the southern clergy who had given lay people an equal role in making decisions for the church; and the southern clergy questioned whether the style of authority that Seabury used in New England was compatible with the new democracy.


From July through September of 1789, the first General Convention of the entire Episcopal Church met in Philadelphia. Bishop Samuel Provoost, a bitter enemy of Seabury’s, was unable to attend. (Provoost, along with William White, had been consecrated in England in 1786.) Provoost, from New Jersey, had been perhaps the only member of the clergy in his state to support the patriots. White used Provoost’s absence to make some concessions to Seabury in order to heal the division. There would be a separate House of Bishops which would have veto power; a 4/5 vote of the Deputies would be necessary to override the veto (in 1808, this was raised to a full veto). The participation of lay deputies was made optional. The Convention adopted the 1789 BCP.


1789 BCP


Following their Prayer Book of 1637, the Church in Scotland began in 1722 to publish a series of “Wee Bookies” which made modifications to the existing book. The day after Samuel Seabury was consecrated in 1784, he signed a concordat which included the words on Sydnor, page 56. When Seabury met with the clergy in Massachusetts and Connecticut, there is no evidence that he even mentioned the concordat. The people seemed to have wanted to keep the familiar 1662 Prayer Book, but with the changes made necessary by the new political situation.

In 1786, the southern states’ Convention adopted a Prayer Book which was basically the 1662, with some changes because of the new political situation and some at the request of the Latitudinarians. The one major change was a proposal to place the Collects, Epistles and Gospels after the Communion, a reflection of Scottish usage at the time. The book was not well-received.


A move in the south to accept the proposed northern book of Samuel Seabury was likewise rejected. Thomas Claggett, who was to become Bishop of Maryland, declared, “the people of this congregation (I mean ye Church’s real Friends, ye communicants) universally disapprove of ye new Book.”


The southern states met in Convention on July 28, 1789, and renounced any intention of using their new book. This opened the way for a reconciliation with the north. The first General Convention of the Protestant Church met in Philadelphia on September 29, 1789. There were two house: the House of Bishops (Seabury and White, because Provoost was absent) and the House of Deputies, including representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as the southern states. See description in Sydnor, pp. 60-61.

Negotiations on the new BCP continued for ten days. The major change from the 1662 book was in the Prayer of Consecration, which now reflected the Scottish usage. It bore the title The Book of Common Prayer, and the Administration of the Sacraments, and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the Psalter, or Psalms of David. (The 1979 book uses the same title, but omits the term “Protestant.”) The bishops of New York and New Jersey authorized special services for July 4, but these were not included in the Prayer Book. Events were too recent and still too divisive.


In 1790 James Madison (a cousin of the president by the same name, and President of William and Mary) was consecrated in England as Bishop of Virginia, bringing the number of English-consecrated bishops to three, along with Seabury. The combined English-heritage and Scottish-heritage bishops then continued consecrating new bishops for the new country.


The new nation now had an Anglican church, but that church was exhausted by the struggles of its birth. Its presence in North Carolina was weak; NC did not send a delegation to General Convention until 1817. In Georgia, only one congregation (Christ Church in Savannah) remained active; GA did not sent representatives to General Convention until 1823. The church was in great need of a new generation of leaders.