Low Church is the name applied to the party within the anglican communion in general, and the Church of England in particular, that interprets the book of common prayer in a wholly Protestant sense. This large body in the Church of England took its rise with the evangelicals of the 18th century. The Tractarians, with their lofty views on Catholic doctrine and sacerdotal nature of the priesthood, contrasted with the lower views of the evangelical tradition, and the two groups gradually became distinguished as High Church and Low Church. Both designations, however, had been used in the early 18th century. At that time the term Low Church was used as an alternative name for latitudinarianism. A small group of evangelical divines contemporary with the Tractarian Movement formed the Broad Church. Today the Low Church party within the Anglican Communion represents the Protestant party, in contrast to the Catholic tendencies of the High Church party.
Bibliography: g. r. balleine, A History of the Evangelical Party in the Church of England, (London 1933). k. hylson-smith, Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1734–1984 (Edinburgh 1988). c. j. cocksworth, Evangelical Eucharistic Thought in the Church of England (Cambridge, Eng. 1993). r. t. france and a.e. mcgrath, Evangelical Anglicans: Their Role and Influence in the world today (London 1993). r. steer, Church on Fire: The Story of Anglican Evangelicals (London 1998). g. carter, Anglican Evangelicals: Protestant Secessions from the Via Media, c. 1800–1850 (Oxford 2001).
Low Church: see England, Church of.