Anglican Essentials Class 1 (4 pages)

1400 years of Anglican history summarized

Early English Christianity

  • Celtic roots (Patrick, Columba, Aidan etc.).
  • Roman roots (Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to England in 596).
  • Roman practices (date of Easter, etc) established after Synod of Whitby in 663.

English Reformation

  1. Henry VIII (1509-1547), Act of Supremacy of 1534, continued Catholic Church in England under headship of the crown.
  2. Edward VI (1547-1553), Prayer Book of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1549, revised 1552)), required use in Church (Act of Uniformity), first Protestant reforms.
  3. Mary Tudor (1553-1558), attempted restoration of Roman Catholicism, martyrdom of Protestant bishops, including Cranmer.
  4. Elizabeth (1558-1603), toleration of Protestant and (English) Catholic elements in the Church, amidst continuing religious turmoil.

The “Elizabethan settlement” defines the essential character of early Anglicanism:

  • An established Church with bishops loyal to the crown.
  • Use of the Book of Common Prayer and the English Bible in worship.
  • Scripture as primary source of faith and practice, guided by reason and religious custom (“tradition”).
  • Stress on sacraments and common prayer in worship rather than preaching.
  • Human awe and wonder before the holiness of God (an aesthetic inclination).
  • “Creative tension” between Protestant and Catholic elements.

The Church in America

  • 1607, Church in Jamestown, later in Puritan New England.
  • No bishops and few clergy were present. At the start of the 18th century, there were 50 Church of England clergy in the colonies, 17 of which were in Maryland and 25 in Virginia.
  • Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent over 350 missionaries to the colonies prior to the American Revolution (primarily to New England, NY, NJ).
  • Many Churchmen were Tories in the Revolution; the church lost clergy and members.
  • Samuel Seabury elected Bishop of Connecticut (1783), consecrated in Scotland (1784).
  • William White (Christ Church, Philadelphia) advocates a national episcopal church. Comes to fruition in first General Convention of 1789, which set up present structure of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  Published new American Book of Common Prayer, a thorough revision of the 1662 English BCP.

The worldwide Anglican Communion develops

  • Anglican Christianity spreads around the globe in the 19th and 20th centuries, driven by settlers and missionaries, often accompanying the English colonial expansion.
  • 1867, first Lambeth Conference of all Anglican bishops from around the world (144 bishops invited, 76 were present at Lambeth Palace in London).

Note: “Bishop” is a translation of Greek episkopos, as in 1 Tim 3:1-3 (RSV), “The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop [episkope], he desires a noble task. Now a bishop [episkopos] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money.”       

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