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Two Streams Mingling: The American Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion

Abstract
Abstract

This article identifies and compares two ecclesiological ‘streams’ that coalesced when the Anglican Communion was definitively formed in 1867: the traditional western catholic ecclesiology of England and Ireland and the more democratic, egalitarian ecclesiology of the American Episcopal Church. These streams had already mingled in George Augustus Selwyn’s constitution for the New Zealand Church. Incorporation of laypeople into the Church of England’s synods represented further convergence. Nonetheless, different understandings of the role of bishops in church government are still reflected in attitudes to the respective roles in the Communion’s affairs of bishops and primates on the one hand and the more recent Anglican Consultative Council on the other. Differences between the two streams were noticeable at the 1867 Lambeth Conference. The efforts of Archbishops Davidson and Fisher, rooted in the work of Selwyn, to hold together what Selwyn called ‘the two branches of our beloved Church’ are praised.

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colin.podmore@c-of-e.org.uk
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1.

Dr Colin Podmore is a Cornishman who read history at Keble College, Oxford, completed a PGCE at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and later returned to Oxford to research for his DPhil in church history. He has served on the staff of the General Synod of the Church of England since 1988 and is currently Secretary of the House of Clergy and the Dioceses Commission. He writes here in a personal capacity.

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2. The official name of the church under discussion is ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America’. Since 1967 its Constitution has recognized the name ‘The Episcopal Church’ as ‘also designating’ it. In respect of events before 1967 that name would be anachronistic and, where the Scottish Episcopal Church is also mentioned, potentially confusing. The traditional informal designation ‘the American Episcopal Church’ is therefore used in this article.

3. Podmore C.J., Aspects of Anglican Identity (London: Church House Publishing, 2005), p. 36.

4. Stephenson A.M.G., The First Lambeth Conference 1867 (London: SPCK, 1967), pp. 173, 180–82.

5. Jacob W.M., The Making of the Anglican Church Worldwide (London: SPCK, 1997), pp. 163164; Stephenson, The First Lambeth Conference 1867, pp. 200, 220–221; C.H. Lyttkens, The Growth of Swedish-Anglican Intercommunion between 1833 and 1922 (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerups Förlag, 1970), pp. 61–63.

6. Evans J.H., Churchman Militant: George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and Lichfield (London: George Allen & Unwin; Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1964), pp. 58–59.

7. This section of the article is based on Podmore C.J., ‘A Tale of Two Churches: The Ecclesiologies of The Episcopal Church and the Church of England Compared’, Ecclesiastical Law Journal 10 (2008), pp. 3470, reprinted in International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church, 8 (2008), pp. 124–54.

8. Marshall P.V., One, Catholic, and Apostolic: Samuel Seabury and the Early Episcopal Church (New York: Church Publishing, 2004), p. 53 (chapter title: ‘The search for an American ecclesiology’).

9. Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p. 73.

10. Mills F.V., Bishops by Ballot: An Eighteenth-Century Ecclesiastical Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 283; E.A. White and J.A. Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as The Episcopal Church, adopted in General Conventions 1789–1979 (New York: Church Publishing, 1981), pp. 16, 90; D.L. Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1993), p. 59.

11. Podmore, ‘A Tale of Two Churches’, pp. 35–125.

12. The Church Representation Rules require the standing orders of each diocesan synod to enable the diocesan bishop both to require a vote by houses and to direct that the question ‘shall be deemed to have the assent of the house of bishops only if the majority of the members of that house who assent thereto includes the diocesan bishop’: Church Representation Rules (London: Church House Publishing, 2006), p. 38: rule 34(1)(e), 34(1)(g).

13. Synodical Government Measure 1969, section 4(4); Church Representation Rules, rule 34(1)(k).

14. For further information about the roles of diocesan synods and bishop’s councils in the Church of England, see Podmore C.J., The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion (GS Misc 910, 2009), pp. 3–4, Accessed at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/gensynod/agendas/feb09/gsmisc910.pdf

15. Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007, section 14.

16. Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p. 288.

17. Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, p. 57.

18. DeMille G.E., The Catholic Movement in the American Episcopal Church (Philadelphia: Church Historical Society, 2nd edn, 1950), p. 69.

19. See Yates T.E., ‘The Idea of a “Missionary Bishop” in the Spread of the Anglican Communion in the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Anglican Studies 2.1 (2004), pp. 5361 (53–54).

20. Churton E., Memoir of Joshua Watson (Oxford: Parker, 2nd edn, 1863), p. 137.

21. Bosher R., The American Church and the Formation of the Anglican Communion, 1823–1853 (Evanston, IL: Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 1962), p. 5.

22. Foreigners Consecration Act 1786 (26 Geo. 3 c. 84), section III, quoted in Podmore, Aspects of Anglican Identity, pp. 28–29.

23. Scottish Episcopal and Other Clergy Act (3 & 4 Vict. c. 33); Stephenson, The First Lambeth Conference 1867, p. 42.

24. Dix M. (ed.), A History of the Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York, Vol. 3 (New York: Putman, 1905), pp. 352353.

25. Hobart J.H., The United States of America Compared with Some European Countries, Particularly England: In a Discourse Delivered in Trinity Church, in the City of New York, October, 1825 (London: J. Miller, 2nd edn, 1828), pp. 2829.

26. Hobart, The United States of America Compared with Some European Countries, pp. 22–24 (cf. p. 18), p. 32.

27. Hobart, The United States of America Compared with Some European Countries, p. 28.

28. Gibson E., Synodus Anglicana: or, the Constitution and Proceedings of an English Convocation, Shown from the Acts and Registers Thereof to be Agreeable to the Principles of an Episcopal Church (London, 1702), ed. E. Cardwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1854), p. liii.

29. Gibson, Synodus Anglicana, p. 3.

30. Kemp E.W., Counsel and Consent: Aspects of the Government of the Church as Exemplified in the History of the English Provincial Synods (London: SPCK, 1961). Bishop Kemp died on 28 November 2009.

31. In 1874 the name needed to be changed following the separation of the Church of Ireland from the Church of England. The constitution prevented this, but the General Synod resolved that the New Zealand Church could be ‘referred to or designated as the Church of the Province of New Zealand commonly called the Church of England’: Clarke H.L., Constitutional Church Government in the Dominions Beyond the Seas and in Other Parts of the Anglican Communion (London: SPCK, 1924), p. 177.

32. Colonial Church Chronicle, 5 (1852), p. 161, quoted in Cox N., Church and State in the Post-Colonial Era: The Anglican Church and the Constitution in New Zealand (Auckland: Polygraphia, 2008), p. 94.

33. Jacob, The Making of the Anglican Church Worldwide, pp. 129, 135–36.

34. The Constitution of the Church of the Province of New Zealand (1857–1865), quoted in Evans, Churchman Militant, pp. 268–76, para. 5: ‘There shall be a Representative Governing Body for the management of the affairs of the Church, to be called the General Synod of the Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland, in the Colony of New Zealand, which shall consist of three distinct Orders, viz.: the Bishops, the Clergy and the Laity, the consent of all of which Orders shall be necessary to all acts binding upon the Synod, and upon all persons recognizing its authority’.

35. The Constitution of the Church of the Province of New Zealand (1857–1865), paras 7–9, 19.

36. The Constitution of the Church of the Province of New Zealand (1857–1865), paras 20–22; Evans, Churchman Militant, p. 152.

37. Clarke, Constitutional Church Government, p. 177.

38. White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p. 199; White, Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons: 1991 Supplement (New York: Church Publishing, 1991), pp. 2122.

39. White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, pp. 26–27; Addison J.T., The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1789–1931 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), p. 297.

40. Evans, Churchman Militant, p. 163; Cox, Church and State in the Post-Colonial Era, p. 144.

41. Clarke, Constitutional Church Government, pp. 348–52: Constitution, Article XXIV.4, Canons I, II.

42. Carpenter E., Archbishop Fisher: His Life and Times (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1991), pp. 500501.

43. For a history of synodical government in the Church of England, see C.J. Podmore, ‘Synodical Government in the Church of England: History and Principles’, in Podmore, Aspects of Anglican Identity.

44. Burns A., The Diocesan Revival in the Church of England, c. 1800–1870 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), p. 253.

45. Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919.

46. The Principles of Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2008), pp. 29–36, 39, especially Principle 22 (pp. 34–35).

47. For the role of the House of Bishops in the Church of England, see Podmore, The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, pp. 6–9.

48. The Pan-Anglican Congress of 1908 was a one-off event not repeated until 1954.

49. The Lambeth Conference 1948: The Encyclical Letter from the Bishops; together with Resolutions and Reports (London, 1948), pp. 88–90: resolution 80.

50. The Lambeth Conference 1958: The Encyclical Letter from the Bishops together with the Resolutions and Reports (London: SPCK; Greenwich, CT: Seabury Press, 1958), pp. 1.43–45: resolution 61. For further details of the history of this body, see Podmore, The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, pp. 14–15.

51. See Podmore, The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, pp. 14–15.

52. Chadwick W.O., Michael Ramsey: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 277278.

53. The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978 (London: CIO Publishing, 1978), pp. 116, 122–24; cf. Podmore, The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, pp. 15–16.

54. Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978, pp. 14, 41–42.

55. ‘The Virginia Report: The Report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission’ in The Official Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998 (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), pp. 15–68 (60–61).

56. Windsor Continuation Group, ‘Preliminary Observations: A Presentation at the Lambeth Conference’, p. [4], Accessed on October 24, 2008 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/windsor_continuation/docs/WCG%20Observations%20080724.pdf

57. The Principles of Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, pp. 32–33.

58. ‘An Anglican Covenant Draft prepared by the Covenant Design Group, Updated Version April 2007’, para. 6.5, Accessed on January 12, 2010 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/report/draft_text.cfm

59. ‘An Anglican Covenant — Draft Appendix: Framework Procedures for the Resolution of Covenant Disagreements’, para. 8.4, Accessed on January 12, 2010 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/st_andrews/appendix.cfm

60. ‘An Anglican Covenant — Commentary to the Ridley Cambridge Draft’, Accessed on January 12, 2010 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/ridley_cambridge/commentary.cfm

61. ‘An Anglican Covenant — The Third (Ridley Cambridge) Draft’, para. 4.2.4, Accessed on January 12, 2010 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/ridley_cambridge/draft_text.cfm

62. ‘The Anglican Communion Covenant: Commentary on Revisions to Section 4’, Accessed on January 12, 2010 at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/commentary.cfm

63. J.H. Hopkins to J.B. Sumner, 15 May 1851, quoted in Stephenson, The First Lambeth Conference 1867, p. 43.

64. Hebb R.N., ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, Anglican and Episcopal History 78 (2009), pp. 3066, 37.

65. Stephenson, The First Lambeth Conference 1867, pp. 85–86.

66. Stephenson, The First Lambeth Conference 1867, pp. 167–69.

67. Most recently in The Official Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998 (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), p. 421: Resolution V.6.

68. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, p. 43. The remainder of this section of the article draws extensively on Ross Hebb’s research.

69. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, p. 65.

70. Stephenson A.M.G., Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences (London: SPCK, 1978), pp. 36, 62, 79.

71. For the present Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to this sentence in his concluding remarks at the Cambridge symposium, see his article in this issue of the Journal of Anglican Studies.

72. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, p. 51.

73. J. Kemper to C.T. Longley, 17 August 1867: Lambeth Palace Library: Longley 6 (Lambeth Conference 1867), fol. 148–49 (fol. 148v); cf. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, pp. 37–38.

74. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, pp. 26–32; The Six Lambeth Conferences, 1867–1920 (London: SPCK, 2nd edn, 1929), p. 54.

75. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, pp. 53–58.

76. Hebb, ‘The Americans at Lambeth’, pp. 59–60.

77. Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, pp. 46, 54.

78. Curteis G.H., Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand, and of Lichfield: A Sketch of his Life and Work (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1889), p. 306.

79. Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, pp. 100–104; Bell G.K.A. Randall Davidson, London: Oxford University Press, 3rd edn, 1952), pp. 299302.

80. Bell, Randall Davidson, pp. 445–51.

81. T.M. Clark to R. Davidson, 20 May 1953: Bell, Randall Davidson, p. 442.

82. Quoted in Purcell W., Fisher of Lambeth: A Portrait from Life (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1969), p. 176.

83. Carpenter, Archbishop Fisher, p. 451.

84. In 1919 it was decided that future Presiding Bishops would be elected and would also chair the new National Council, but while the last Presiding Bishop by seniority was still in office an elected chairman of the House of Bishops chaired the National Council: DeMille G.E., The Episcopal Church Since 1900: A Brief History (New York: Morehouse-Gorham, 1955), pp. 2627.

85. Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, pp. 125, 150, 175, 189, 211.

86. Arthur Bryant (chairman of A.R. Mowbray), quoted in Purcell, Fisher of Lambeth, p. 194.

87. Quoted in Purcell, Fisher of Lambeth, p. 194.

88. For one part of the story, see Podmore C.J., ‘The Baptismal Revolution in the American Episcopal Church: Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Baptismal Covenant’, Ecclesiology 6 (2010), pp. 838.

1. Dr Colin Podmore is a Cornishman who read history at Keble College, Oxford, completed a PGCE at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and later returned to Oxford to research for his DPhil in church history. He has served on the staff of the General Synod of the Church of England since 1988 and is currently Secretary of the House of Clergy and the Dioceses Commission. He writes here in a personal capacity.

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