The Episcopal Church is a community of faith that honors its past, meets the needs of the present and works for the future. The Episcopal Church is descended from the Church of England.
The Christian Church was established in England by missionaries 6th Century Augustine came from Rome to found the Christian Church in southern England. He was the first archbishop of Canterbury.
With Norman Conquest, the English Church came under the full authority of the Pope at Rome 16th Century In 1534, Henry VIII broke ties with the Pope over the King’s proposed marriage to Anne Boleyn. The Church of England kept faith with original doctrine even though it was no longer controlled by Rome.
The Book of Common Prayer was first published.
The first permanent Church settlement was started in Jamestown Virginia
King’s Chapel was built in Boston, the first Anglican Church in New England.
William and Mary College was established in Williamsburg, Virginia. It stressed Anglican faith and study.
1695 – 1705
Expansion was rapid. Other Church settlements were organized in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, etc.
The American Revolution
A time of crisis for the Anglican Church.
Many Anglican clergymen left the country because at ordination they had sworn loyalty to the King. Church members who remained loyal to the King suffered persecution, imprisonment, banishment, etc. Church membership declined.
1782 – Principles Proposed
Mr. White published a pamphlet called “The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the U.S. Considered”. It was the first proposal for an American Episcopal Church, traditional, but separate from the Church of England. Many of White’s ideas were later incorporated into the Episcopal constitution.
1784 – Preliminary Steps
A group of Connecticut clergymen chose Dr. Seabury to be the first American bishop. He went to England to be ordained, but was refused because he wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the King. Finally, he was ordained in Scotland. In New Jersey, an assembly of clergy and laymen agreed on a preliminary declaration of principles and called for a larger convention to further organize the Church.
1785 – First General Convention
Church members from most states met in Philadelphia. They began to form a Church constitution and a revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but there were still many disagreements. This group urged English bishops, to ordain chosen American bishops.
1786 to 1787 – Ordinations
In 1786, an Act of Parliament was passed, allowing American bishops to be ordained without an oath of allegiance.
In 1787, Mr. White and Mr. Provoost were ordained in England. (In 1790, James Madison became the fourth American bishop to be ordained there.)
General Convention of 1789
Church members from all the states gathered in Philadelphia. They adopted a constitution that stressed flexibility. It provided for: church structure independent of foreign and civil authority; legislative general conventions that included laity; election of bishops; education of clergy; etc. Members ratified 17 Canons (Church laws) as foundations of Christian doctrine They authorized a revised, American Book of Common Prayer.
October 16, 1789
On October 16, 1789, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S. was officially established. The first independent Anglican Church organized outside Great Britain. (“Protestant” was dropped from the name in 1967.)