Chapter 3: Western Liturgical Family Part II: Anglicanism

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Chapter 3
Western Liturgical Family Part II: Anglicanism

Consult the "Contents" pages to locate the entries in Part III, the Directory Listings Sections, that comprise this family.

Christianity probably entered the British Isles in the second century, as there was an organized church among the Celtic tribes by the third century. In the fifth century, the Romans withdrew and the southern half of what became England was invaded by a Germanic people (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) who pushed the Celts westward. Though initially resistant, the Anglo-Saxon tribes were evangelized both by Celts under St. Aidan (Ireland and Wales had been Christianized in the fifth century) and Roman Catholics under St. Augustine. In the seventh century the British formalized its incorporation into Roman Catholicism.

The eastern shore was subject to Danish invasions through the eighth and ninth centuries, adding a new element into the church's membership. In the eleventh century a singularly new element was added to the mix with the conquest of England by the Norman forces under William the Conqueror. The coming of the Normans also strengthened British ties to the church in Rome. Over the next centuries, the British Church served as a unifying force among the various tribal strains significantly present in the emerging nation. However, there were also repeated controversies over the extent of papal authority and its intrusion into British affairs both secular and ecclesiastical.

Had the Continental Reformation under Martin Luther not occurred, there is reason to believe England would have continued as a branch of the Roman Church which, like the French, German, or American church, has its own characteristics. However, the challenges to church authority across northern Europe provided an environment in which England could challenge Rome's hegemony, though it moved in a very different direction from that articulated by the continental reformers.

England, of course, had its own prophets of reform. John Wycliffe challenged the church's abuse of wealth and power and he attacked the church's doctrine of transubstantiation, the idea that the elements in the Mass actually change substantively into the body and blood of Christ. He believed this kind of magical notion merely assisted the clergy in holding onto unscriptural authority. To back his arguments he translated, published, and preached from a new edition of the Scripture in the vernacular.

THE EMERGENCE OF INDEPENDENT ANGLICANISM. Under King Henry VIII (1509–1547), the Church of England came into open conflict with papal authority. They were not doctrinal problems, however. The pope had allowed Henry to marry his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, and in 1521 Henry had taken the time to author a refutation of one of Luther's writings. As a result of his volume, Assertion of the Seven Sacraments Against Luther, the pope awarded him the title "Defender of the Faith." But two issues of central importance to him as the king of England would undo his cordial relationship with Rome: his desire for a male heir and his financial needs.

Henry first moved against Catherine. She had born six children, only one of which, Mary, had survived. He asked for a divorce, an act that would call the papacy's relationships with Catherine's powerful relatives into question, and the pope refused. Eventually, the Church of England renounced allegiance to the pope and accepted Henry's supremacy over ecclesiastical law. They backed their position by withholding money that was traditionally paid annually to Rome. In 1533 he forced the selection of Thomas Cranmer as the new Archbishop of Canterbury (the most powerful office in the Church of England), and Cranmer in turn declared the marriage with Catherine null and void. Anne Boleyn became his new wife.

Though the pope threatened excommunication, the British Parliament passed a series of acts that finalized the independence of the Church of England. The initial measure forbade payment to Rome, denied appeals to Rome, and placed powers heretofore exercised by the pope into the hands of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The Act of Succession (1534) declared Mary illegitimate and named Elizabeth (Anne Boleyn's daughter) as heir. Later that year, the Act of Supremacy made it a crime punishable by death to not accept the Act of Succession or to fail to acknowledge the supremacy of the king.

Having already taken steps to separate from Rome, Henry also saw in the church, which possessed great wealth through its extensive land holdings, a means of supplementing his always tenuous treasury. Henry ordered the new Archbishop of Canterbury to survey the many monasteries across the countries. Cranmer reported that extensive corruption was founded, and in 1536 Henry closed most of them and pocketed the income from the sale of their lands.

Through the 1540s Henry married several more times, finally had a son, Edward, and ended his reign by moving against the Protestants who had begun to surface. While breaking with Rome under Henry, the Church of England retained its structure, with bishops, clergy, church buildings, and congregations, but it continued under the Archbishop of Canterbury rather than the pope. The church was also still completely Roman in doctrine, liturgy, and organization.

Under Edward VII, who ascended the throne at the age of ten, England began to align outwardly with the reformers. The Council of Regency, appointed to administer the country until Edward came of age, was dominated by people with Protestant leanings. Cranmer published a Protestant Prayer Book for use in all the churches, and Parliament passed a series of decrees that changed the face of the church over the next three years. Exponents of the Reformed Church were brought to England to teach and Cranmer authored a doctrinal statement, the "Forty-two Articles," that embodied the reformed position.

England might have come into the reformed camp at that point had it not been for the sickliness of Edward, who passed away before reaching adulthood. He was succeeded by his older sister Mary, a devout Roman Catholic with a memory of the indignities showed her mother. She married a Spaniard, abolished Cranmer's prayer book, and moved against the Protestant church leaders. The extensive nature of her persecutions earned her the label "Bloody Mary." The country was on the verge of revolution when Mary died after only five years on the throne.

Mary's death brought Elizabeth I to the throne. Her half-century of rule is remembered as one of the great eras in England's history. It was during this time that the distinctions of the Anglican tradition were developed. Seeking to create a strong and peaceful nation, she compromised the demands of the two warring factions. A new Prayer Book was issued and a set of Thirty-nine Articles, derived from the Forty-two Articles, promulgated. Some of the articles, which continued to embody the reformed theological perspective, condemned specific Roman Catholic practices. Purgatory, indulgences, venerating saints' relics, and celebrating the liturgy in any tongue other than the vernacular were among the Roman elements condemned. However, Elizabeth retained the traditional episcopal structure.

Elizabeth I, aware that Edward and Mary had strong support for their choices of religions, adopted a via media (middle way), blending Roman Catholic and Protestant elements.

Opposition to the compromises came from both sides, but Elizabeth was affected most by the objections of the Roman Catholics. In 1570 she was excommunicated by the pope. She uncovered several plots to have her assassinated and replaced with Mary Queen of Scots. She gradually gave up any hope of reconciling with the pope, who, in 1588 supported the building and launching of the Spanish Armada against England. The defeat of the Armada remains one of the crucial turning points of European history. In one of the final acts against Elizabeth, in 1596 the pope declared that Anglican episcopal orders were not valid.

Early in Elizabeth's reign, a number of Roman Catholic bishops had resigned. In response, Archbishop Matthew Parker moved to fill the vacant seats, which caused Rome to conclude that the Apostolic Succession had been lost. This action soured Anglican/ Roman Catholic relations into the twentieth century and has yet to be fully resolved. Steps at healing the Roman Anglican split have been taken in the atmosphere of good will generated by Vatican II.

The Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican liturgical book that replaced the Roman missal, has gone through several editions. The edition published during Elizabeth's reign is crucial: it makes concrete the distinctive character of Anglicanism that has continued to this day. That edition includes the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, creeds, a church calendar, and texts of liturgical services. Material on the sacraments in that edition is intentionally vague, to allow various interpretations of the Eucharist. Anglicans recognize only two sacraments–baptism and the Lord's Supper. Anglican doctrine on the church shifted from the Roman emphasis on the bishop to the Calvinist emphasis on the congregation. The Book of Common Prayer asserts that the church exists where the Word of God is preached, the sacraments are duly administered, and the faithful are gathered.

A certain Anglophilia characterizes the Church of England. When Rome commissioned St. Augustine to be a missionary in England in 597 c.e., he found Christians already in England. Over the centuries since the final break with Rome, many Anglicans have insisted that their church was not formed by Rome and that the Anglican Church in England predates the arrival of the Roman Catholic Church to the British Isles. Anglicanism is thus a tradition separated from Roman Catholicism by its liturgical differences, its condemnation of some Roman beliefs and practices, and its alignment with British tradition. With the expansion of England in the seventeenth century, the Anglican tradition spread throughout the world.

ENGLAND AFTER ELIZABETH. The development of the Church of England did not cease with the imposition of the via media, and Elizabeth's long reign and ability to triumph over her enemies did much to set it firmly in place. Elizabeth never married, and hence had no children to succeed her. She was succeeded by James I, the son of Mary Queen of Scots. During his two decades on the throne (1603–1625), his Catholic tendencies were stymied by the discovery of plots to assassinate him. Instead of giving in to the demands of his Roman Catholic subjects, he supported the new Puritan translation of the Bible, and a series of laws restricting Roman Catholic participation in various activities. He then tested the Puritan strength with a refusal to allow further revisions of the Prayer Book.

The reign of James's successor, Charles I, saw the rise to power of Archbishop William Laud. He was a champion of Anglicanism and initiated policies that infuriated the Puritans who were Protestants in the reformed tradition and who wished to further purify the Church of England of its Roman remnants and who controlled Parliament. Charles found himself in a contest of wills with Parliament. Matters came to a head when the Scots revolted. Parliament used the situation to assert its control. In the end, Parliament called for an assembly of Puritan clergy to meet at Westminster and advise the Parliament. They proceeded to write what were to become the defining documents of British Presbyterianism, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Directory of Worship, and the Catechism. In 1645 Parliament forbade the continued use of the Prayer Book and outlawed Anglicanism with its Catholic remnants.

The civil war that followed brought Oliver Cromwell to power. He articulated a policy of religious toleration (Roman Catholics and Anglicans excepted), and then through a Commission of Triers he began to systematically move the British church toward the austere reformed faith demanded by the Puritan leaders. But a number of his reforms went against the heart of popular exercise of faith. For example, he outlawed dancing and Christmas and other festivals. He also saw to the dismantling of numerous ornate church altar areas. Each act cost him valuable support. He was able to hold the country together while alive, but his son was driven from power and Charles II (1660–1685), a Roman Catholic, ascended the throne.

Under Charles II, the Anglican Church resumed its place as the national Church of England, a position it has not since relinquished, and the real struggle among the Christians of the British Isles shifted to finding some means of accommodating the many dissenting groups that were present in the culture. A major landmark was the Toleration Act of 1689, which granted liberty of worship to all except Roman Catholics and Unitarians (who did not affirm the Christian doctrine of the Trinity).

THE WORLDWIDE ANGLICAN COMMUNION. While Britons were trying to decide who would rule and what kind of government would direct the country, they were also pursuing an expansionist policy in regards to the New World across the Atlantic. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the British actively settled the east coast of the North American continent. Some Anglicans responded in 1649 by founding the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England. The society picked up the support of John Eliot, already in Massachusetts working among the Native Americans. Its efforts were supplemented by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), founded in 1698, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), founded in 1701. Most of the Anglican clergy operating in North America prior to the American Revolution were sent through the SPG.

The American Revolution had a marked effect on the spread of Anglicanism. The missionary societies withdrew from the new United States, and redirected their efforts elsewhere. By that time, England was establishing the first centers of what would become their vast colonial empire of the nineteenth century. Joined by the Church Missionary Society and the London Missionary Society, both founded in 1795, the SPG set to the tasks of providing church life for British colonists (and expatriates around the world in noncolonial settings) and evangelizing non-Christian populations that came under the hegemony of the British government.

The nineteenth century was the era of massive expansion of Christianity in all parts of the world, carried in large part by the European colonial enterprise. Anglicanism became a worldwide faith centered upon the colonists that responded to the efforts of the missionaries in setting up the Church of England everywhere the British erected settlements. Given the extensive nature of the British Empire, it is not surprising that by the beginning of the twentieth century Anglicanism had established itself throughout the Orient, across India and Africa, and to a lesser extent in South America.

Just as the previous two centuries had seen the vast expansion of the British colonial empire, the twentieth century saw a major change in England's relationships with colonial states, signaled in 1931 by the formation of the British Community (or Commonwealth) of Nations. Among the first acts of the Commonwealth was the reordering of relations through the granting of independence to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947, and during the next decade most of the former colonies also either gained independence through armed conflict or were granted it. Most recently changing status was Hong Kong, which in 1997 again became part of China. Many former colonies chose to remain part of the Commonwealth, but others went their own ways.

The dismantling of the empire was in some cases anticipated by the reordering of the relationships within the Church of England internationally. Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, church names began to change, for example the Church of England in Canada changed to the Anglican Church in Canada, which was later granted independent status and joined the worldwide Anglican Communion as a sister church. Such changes were most frequently accompanied by the development of an indigenous leadership, the organization of dioceses and archdioceses, and the naming of a primate (leading bishop) from among the country's citizens.

The Protestant Episcopal Church (now known simply as the Episcopal Church) in the Unites States was the first church granted recognition as an independent body, a decision made after and in light of the success of the American Revolution. The first Anglican bishop outside of the British Isles was named for Canada in 1787, Charles Inglis, Bishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through the next century, missions were established and grew into dioceses, but each diocese operated autonomously and reported directly to England. Finally in 1861 the first provincial synod for the Church of England in Canada met. That church continued to transform, and emerged in 1897 as an autonomous body.

Around the world the story of the emergence of the various independent jurisdictions that now comprise worldwide Anglicanism is distinct for each nation or region. The first to attain independent status was New Zealand (1957), but the overwhelming majority of the autonomous provinces were created after World War II. Many arose not only in the rush to end colonialism, but in the euphoria of the mid-twentieth century ecumenical movement. In a variety of countries where Christianity was a minority movement, Anglicans joined Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians to create national Protestant churches, the most prominent being the Church of North India, the Church of South India, the Church of Pakistan, and the Church of Bangladesh.

Of particular interest because of its intrusion into Anglican affairs in the last generation is the church in the Philippines. The Philippine Independent Church (PIC) emerged out of the Spanish American War in which the United States took over the island nation; the indigenous PIC created a schism between it and the Roman Catholic Church. The PIC founder led the church into unitarianism, a trend that was checked by his successor and in 1947 the church officially accepted a Trinitarian creed and was accepted by the Episcopal Church (in the United States) as a sister church. In the meantime, a Philippine Episcopal Church had been established in the common pattern to service British expatriates and missionize the indigenous population. Both churches continue to the present.

WOMEN AND ANGLICANISM. In the last decades of the twentieth century, possibly the most significant issue before Anglicanism worldwide was the admission of females to the ordained ministry–an issue squarely placed before the worldwide communion by the ordinations of women in Hong Kong in 1971 and in the American Episcopal Church in 1974. A few churches followed suit in the early 1980s and by the time of the meeting of the Lambeth Conference in 1988, it was the single most divisive issue before the international gathering of Anglican bishops. They established a commission to deal with any potential schisms due to the spreading acceptance of women.

By the next meeting of the Lambeth Conference in 1998, the issue had been largely settled. Not only have additional provinces around the world moved to ordain women, but in 1989 the American church consecrated its first female bishop, Barbara Harris (b.1930), an African American. There were 11 female bishops in attendance at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. They came from the United States (8), Canada (2), and New Zealand (1). The vote of the church in Korea that same year to ordain females meant that the majority of provinces now accepted them into ministry.

While the majority of the Anglican Communion has shifted in favor of ordination of females, it is by no means unanimous and in resulted in actions that have again raised fears of schism. In 2000, the bishops of Singapore and Rwanda consecrated Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers as bishops to lead what has been termed the Anglican Mission to America. The pair has been vigorous in setting up congregations and dioceses by drawing conservatives who oppose not only female ordination but other actions by a positions assumed by the Episcopal Church.

ANGLICANISM IN AMERICA. The Anglican tradition entered North America with the coming of the British explorers in the sixteenth century. Worship according to the Church of England was established at St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1583, where the Reverend Erasmus Stourton became the first Anglican minister to reside in North America. Anglican services were held for the first time in what is now the United States on August 13, 1587, at the ill-fated Roanoke colony in Virginia. They were permanently established in 1607 in Jamestown. The first minister at Jamestown was Robert Hunt, who died soon after his arrival in America. His efforts were followed by the more substantive career of Alexander Whitaker, who served the colony as pastor of Henrico, the second church in Virginia.

Throughout the 1600s, the Church of England spread through British North America, finally entering Puritan Boston in 1692. It was given a significant boost in 1701 by the establishment of the SPG as a foreign missionary arm for the Church of England, and by the arrival of society founder Thomas Bray. Appointed commissioner, with some of the powers of a bishop, Bray settled in Maryland and directed the missionary endeavor. The work in Canada expanded immensely in the late eighteenth century, following a series of events beginning with the British seizure of Quebec(1759) and the subsequent Treaty of Paris in 1763, which gave Canada to the British. The American Revolution then sent large numbers of British loyalists northward. The growth is no better symbolized than by the placing of Charles Inglis, a former parish priest from New York, in Halifax as the first bishop of the Church of England in Canada in 1787.

While aiding church growth in Canada, the American Revolution almost destroyed Anglicanism in the American colonies. Identified as antipatriotic by the public, the Church of England in America also lost its legal status, most of its priests (who returned to England), and its financial base. The church was virtually cut off from the homeland because the bishops in England initially refused to pass long episcopal orders. Samuel Seabury, elected bishop by the remaining priests in Connecticut, was consecrated by Scottish bishops in 1784. It was not until 1787, the same year a bishop was placed in Nova Scotia, that William White and Samuel Provost were consecrated in London and a working accord was reached between the new Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and the Church of England.

While the church in America grew as an independent body, the church in Canada prospered as a missionary branch of the Church of England and was officially designated as the Church of England in Canada; it changed its name to the Anglican Church in Canada in 1955.

TRADITIONALIST ANGLICANISM. The Protestant Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in Canada, the Reformed Episcopal Church (a nineteenth-century evangelical splinter group), and a few congregations of the Philippine Independent Church provided the main substance of the Anglican tradition for North America until the mid-1960s. There had been several smaller schisms, but not until the 1960s did the Episcopal Church suffer its first widespread losses from members withdrawing in protest over modernist changes in the church. It was primarily related to a shifting moral code (manifest in new attitudes toward sexuality), revisions of the Prayer Book, and the acceptance of females into the priesthood. The initial schism of 1964 and the subsequent formation of the Anglican Orthodox Church brought widespread unrest that heightened in 1976 after females had been ordained in both Canada and the United States.

The Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) and the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada (ACCC) are the two largest bodies of the 20 or more churches formed among dissenting Anglicans. As they were formed, each of the new jurisdictions faced the problem of apostolic succession. The Anglican Orthodox Church had accepted old Catholic and independent Orthodox orders. In the 1970s, ACC and ACCC leaders turned to the international Anglican Communion for support, and found it in the Philippine Independent Church.

Bishop Francisco Pagtakhan, the PIC missionary bishop whose jurisdiction covered North America, performed the initial consecrations. As additional new Anglican jurisdictions were established, Pagtakhan was joined by two colleagues, Bishops Sergio Mondala and Lupe Rosete, and together performed a series of consecrations during the early 1980s. As a result of these and other actions, Pagtakhan had severe disagreements with the church in the Philippines in the mid-1980s, and eventually left to form the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, which has now established parishes in North America.

The independent Anglicans who emerged in the 1970s have been the most conservative wing of Anglicanism. While most are concentrated in the few larger churches that grew out of the 1976 meeting in St. Louis (especially the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada), the number of new jurisdictions has continued to increase as the new century begins.

A new phase of the controversy was opened in 2000 when two conservative Anglican bishops, one from Rwanda and one from Singapore, consecrated two American Episcopalians, Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers, as bishops of new Anglican work in the United States. The act of setting up the Anglican Mission to America had severely strained relationships in the worldwide Anglican Communion with the invasion of personnel authorized by one bishop in the jurisdictions of another. Implicit in the action was the questioning of the legitimacy of the Episcopal Church by the leadership of other provinces. While the Mission has yet to draw the various jurisdictions founded since 1976 into it, it has that potential, as well as drawing conservative congregations still within the Episcopal Church.


Anglican historical studies are brought together by the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, PO Box 2247, Austin, TX 78768. In addition to the society's archives in Austin, other significant archival deposits are found at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale (New Haven, Connecticut), General Theological Seminary (New York City), and the Episcopal Church headquarters in New York City. The Historical Society publishes the quarterly journal Anglican and Episcopal History.

Church of England and the Worldwide Anglican Communion

Dart, J. L. C. The Old Religion. London: S.P.C.K., 1956. 210 pp.

Flindall, R. P., ed. The Church of England, 1815–1948. London: S.P.C.K., 1972. 497 pp.

Hardy, E. R., Jr., ed. Orthodox Statements on Anglican Orders. New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1946. 72 pp.

Holloway, Richard, ed. The Anglican Tradition. Wilton, CT: Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1984.

Neill, Stephen. Anglicanism. London: A. R. Mowbrays, 1977. 421 pp.

Wand, J. W. C. What the Church of England Stands For. London: A. R. Mowbray, 1951 131 pp.

Whale, John. The Anglican Church Today: The Future of Anglicanism. London: Mowbray, 1988. 102 pp.

Wingate, Andrew, et al. Anglicanism: A Global Communion. London: Mobray, 1998. 416 pp.

Anglicanism in North America

Addison, James Thayer. The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1789–1931. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951. 400 pp.

DeMille, George E. The Episcopal Church Since 1900. New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1955. 223 pp.

Herklots, H. G. G. The Church of England and the American Episcopal Church. London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., 1966. 183 pp.

Katerberg, William H. Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 1880–1950. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001.

Kew, Richard, and Roger J. White. New Millennium, New Church: Trends Shaping the Episcopal Church for the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1992. 177 pp.

Konolige, Kit and Frederica Konolige. The Power of Their Glory. New York: Wyden Books, 1978. 408 pp.

Lewis, Harold T. Yet with a Steady Beat: the African American Struggle in the Episcopal Church. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996. 253 pp.

Manross, William W. A History of the American Episcopal Church. New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1950. 415 pp.

Sydnor, William. Looking at the Episcopal Church. Wilton, CT: More-house-Barlow Co., 1980. 142 pp.

Sumner, David E. The Episcopal Church's History, 1945–1985. Wilton, CT: Morehouse Publishing, 1987. 221 pp.

Woolverton, John Frederick. Colonial Anglicanism in North America. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1984. 331 pp.

The New Anglicans

Armentrout, Donald S. Episcopal Splinter Groups. Sawanee, TN: The School of Theology, The University of the South, 1985.

Dibbert, Roderic B. The Roots of Traditional Anglicanism. Akron, OH: DeKoven Foundation of Ohio, 1984. 13 pp.

A Directory of Churches of the Continuing Anglican Tradition. Eureka Springs, AK: Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, 1983–84.

Joseph, Murray. Priests Forever. Valley Forge, PA: The Brotherhood of the Servants of the Lord, 1975. 16 pp.

Opening Addresses of the Church Congress at St. Louis, Missouri, 14–16 September 1977. Amherst, VA: Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, 1977.

A Retired Priest. The Broken Body. N.p.: The Author, 1980. 38 pp.

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Chapter 3: Western Liturgical Family Part II: Anglicanism

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Chapter 3: Western Liturgical Family Part II: Anglicanism