1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Protestant Episcopal Church

PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH, in the United States, a part of the Anglican Communion, organized after the War of Independence by the scattered parishes of the Church of England which survived the war. It inherits from the Church of England, with which it is in communion, its liturgy, polity and spiritual traditions, though it has entire independence in legislation. While the clergy of both Churches are cordially received in their respective countries, there is no formal connexion between them except in fellowship and in advisory council as at the Lambeth Conference. The Church in the United States is therefore an independent national Church which has adapted itself to the conditions of American life. With many likenesses, the Protestant Episcopal Church is different from the Church of England in its organization and representative form of government. It has the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons, and uses an almost identical liturgy; but it is a democratic institution in which the laity have practically as much power as the clergy, and they are represented in all legislative bodies. The constitution of the Church follows in many particulars the constitution of the United States. As the separate states of the Union are made up of different townships, so the diocese is composed of separate parishes; and as the nation is a union of the states, so the Church is a union of the dioceses. The American plan of representative government is consistently adhered to. The Church in America is thus a part of the Catholic Church of Christ, with its roots deep in the past and yet a living body with a life of its own, standing for the truth of the Christian religion in the great Republic. It is now firmly established in every state and Territory of the United States, and in all the dependencies, with also vigorous missions in foreign lands.

Services of the Church of England were held by the chaplains of exploring expeditions in various parts of North America before a settlement was established: on Hudson Bay, in 1578, and on the shores of the Pacific with Drake in 1579; but the first permanent foothold of the Church was in History.Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, when a colony was founded and a church built. This fact is recognized in the proposed preamble to the constitution, in which it is stated that this American Church was “first planted in Virginia in the year of Our Lord 1607, by representatives of the ancient Church of England.” Parishes were later founded in Maryland in 1676; in Massachusetts in 1686; in New York about 1693; in Connecticut in 1706; and in the other colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. The growth of these colonial churches was largely promoted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, founded in 1701, through the efforts of the Rev. Thomas Bray, a missionary in Maryland. These churches scattered throughout the different colonies up to the American War of Independence were missions of the Church of England. They were under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London, there being no bishop in America. The Bishop of London superintended these distant parishes by means of commissaries. Many of the clergy came from England; and when young men in America desired to be ordained, it was necessary for them to go to England for this purpose. The Church during the colonial period was incomplete in organization, and without the power of expansion. It was confined principally to the more settled parts of the country, though it had extended itself into all the colonies. During this period a few educational institutions were founded: the College of William and Mary in 1693, in Virginia; the Public Academy of Philadelphia, in 1749, now the university of Pennsylvania; and King's College, in 1754, in New York, now Columbia University. The clergy also frequently taught in parochial schools, and trained boys and girls in their homes.

When the war broke out and independence was declared, a number of the clergy went back to England, leaving their parishes vacant, but many, especially in the southern states, remained and upheld the American cause. A large majority of the laymen were patriots. Two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Episcopalians. The churches, having their support largely withdrawn by the Venerable Society, became very weak. In Massachusetts during the war only two churches were kept open.

After the war it was very soon recognized that if the Church was to survive, there must be organization and co-operation among the fragments left. Rev. William White (1748–1836) of Philadelphia, who had been chaplain of the Continental Congress, was a leader in the plan of organization. Rev. Samuel Seabury (1729–1796) of Connecticut was also an important factor in continuing the life of the Church. He was elected bishop by the clergy of Connecticut, and after being refused in England, was consecrated bishop of Connecticut by the Scotch non-juror bishops in Aberdeen on the 14th of November 1784. Later, William White of Pennsylvania and Samuel Provoost (1742–1815) of New York were consecrated bishops in the chapel at Lambeth Palace on the 4th of February 1787, by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and others. Rev. James Madison (1749–1812) of Virginia was also consecrated bishop in England, on the 19th of September 1790. An important meeting or general convention of laymen, clergy and bishops was held in 1784, and another in 1789, for the purpose of consolidating and uniting the Church. Certain fundamental principles were adopted which were the basis of organization: that the Episcopal Church be independent of all foreign authority; that it have full and exclusive power to regulate the concerns of its own communion; that the doctrines be maintained as in the Church of England; that bishops, priests and deacons be required; that the canons and laws be made by a more representative body of clergy and laity conjointly. At the general convention of 1789 a constitution and canons were finally adopted, and the book of Common Prayer was set forth.

The Church thus being fully organized, it was prepared to develop and extend. There was a long period, however, when little was done save retain what had already been gained. Owing in a measure to the popular prejudice against anything that savoured of England, and to the difficulty of adapting the newly formed institution to the conditions of American life, the Church hardly held its own from 1789 to 1811. The general convention of 1811 was attended by only five clergymen and four laymen more than that of 1789. The Church in Virginia especially suffered a decline, but in the North it maintained itself. After 1811 a new spirit manifested itself in the consecration of three important men to the episcopate. John Henry Hobart, a man of great zeal and devotion, became bishop of New York in 1811; Alexander Viets Griswold (1766–1843), a man of piety and force, became bishop of the eastbrn diocese of New England in 1811; and Richard Channing Moore (1762–1841), a strong preacher and vigorous personality, was consecrated bishop of Virginia in 1814. Both Hobart and Moore became interested in theological education; and their efforts to train clergymen resulted in the establishment of the General Theological Seminary in New York in 1819, and the Theological Seminary in Virginia, opened in Alexandria in 1824. The Churchman’s Magazine was started. Another evidence of expansion was the consecration in 1819 of Philander Chase (1775–1852), who became pioneer bishop of the West, first in Ohio where he laid the foundations (1824) of the “Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Ohio,” afterward called Kenyon College, at Gambier, and then in Illinois where he organized a church and founded Jubilee College. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society was started in 1821. This centralized the mission work, and became the great agency in the growth and extension of the Church. Bishop Jackson Kemper (1789–1870) in the North-west, and Bishop James Hervey Otey (1800–1863) in the South-west, did important pioneer work.

The period between 1835 and 1865 was characterized by further expansion of the episcopate and the formation of new dioceses. Bishop William Ingraham Kip (1811–1893) went to the miners of California in 1853. The dioceses of Oregon and Iowa were founded in 1854; and Bishop Henry- Benjamin Whipple (1822–1901) was sent to Minnesota in 1859. The Church found its way into Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska and Colorado. In 1835 there were 763 clergymen; in 1850 the number had increased to 1558; and even in 1865 there were 2450. The number of communicants also grew from 1835, when there were 36,000; to 1850, when there were 80,000; and to 1865, when there were 150,000. During this period some beautiful church buildings were erected, notably Trinity church and Grace church, New York. The services were richer; stained glass was used; stalls for the clergy and choir were introduced, and the lectern was substituted for the old-time reading-desk. Other educational institutions were founded: Nashotah, Wisconsin, in 1842; Bexley Hall at Gambier in 1839; Racine College, at Racine, Wisconsin; and Griswold College in Iowa. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 the Church in the South met and formed a separate organization called “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States,” but the Church in the North did not recognize the secession; at the meeting of the general convention in New York in 1862, the roll of the Southern dioceses was called, and though absent, they were still considered a part of the Church in the United States. This brotherliness was an important factor in bringing about a complete union between the Northern and Southern Churches after the Civil War; so the Church in the Confederate States had but a temporary existence.

Since the Civil War the Church has grown with the expansion of national life. It has become strong in great centres, and has reached out into every part of the United States and its dependencies, and has maintained missionary stations in foreign lands. There are bishops and missionary dioceses in Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, Porto Rico and Cuba; two bishops in China and two in Japan; and bishops in Liberia, Haiti, and Brazil. Institutions of learning, schools, colleges -and theological seminaries, have been founded. Prominent among the schools are St Paul’s, at Concord, New Hampshire; St Mark’s, at Southboro, Massachusetts; Groton School, at Groton, Massachusetts; St Mary’s, at Garden City, Long Island; St Agnes’s, at Albany, New York; St Mary’s, at Burlington, New Jersey; the Cathedral School, at Washington D.C.; and St. George’s School, at Newport, Rhode Island. In addition to the colleges already referred to, there should be included: Trinity College, at Hartford, Connecticut; St Stephen’s, at Annandale, New York; the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee; and Hobart College, at Geneva, New York. The theological seminaries, besides the general seminary in New York and the Virginia Seminary, are: the Divinity School, in Philadelphia; the Berkeley Divinity School, at Middletown, Connecticut; the Seabury Divinity School, at Faribault, Minnesota; Western Theological Seminary, in Chicago; Nashotah House, at Nashotah, Wisconsin; Bexley Hall, Gambier. Ohio; the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, San Mateo, California; and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cathedrals have been built or were in process of construction in 1910 in many cities. Among them are: All Saints Cathedral, Milwaukee; the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany; the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, Long Island; the Cathedral Church of St Luke, Portland, Maine; St John the Divine, New York; and also those in Dallas, Texas, Washington, D.C., Davenport, Iowa, and Cleveland, Ohio.

The institutional life of the Church is constantly increasing. Among the numerous organizations founded for distinct purposes are: the Woman’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions; the American Church Building Fund Commission; the American Church Missionary Society; the General Clergy Relief Fund; the Assyrian Mission Committee; the American Church Institute for Negroes; the Brotherhood of St Andrew; the Girls' Friendly Society; the Church Students Missionary Association; the Church Laymen’s Union; the Seabury Society of New York; the Church Mission to Deaf Mutes; the Conference of Church Workers among the Colored People; the Society for the Increase of the Ministry; the Church Association for the Advancement of the Interests of Labor; the Church Temperance Society; the Church Unity Society; the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament; the Guild of the Holy Cross; the Guild of St Barnabas for Nurses; the Church Congress in the United States. In addition there are Sunday School commissions and institutes in almost every diocese. Among the religious orders may be mentioned the Society of Mission Priests of St John the Evangelist; the Order of the Holy Cross: the Community of St Mary; the Sisterhood of St Margaret; the All Saints Sisters of the Poor; the Sisterhood of St John Baptist; and others. There are also training schools for deaconesses, including the New York Training School for Deaconesses; and the Church Training and Deaconess House of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States is governed according to the constitutions and canons adopted in 1789, and from time to time amended by the General Convention, which meets every three years. The General Convention consists of the House of Bishops, having asGovernment. members all the bishops of the Church, and a House of Deputies, composed of four presbyters and four laymen elected by each diocese in union with the Convention; also one clerical and one lay deputy from each missionary district within the boundaries of the United States, and one clerical and one lay deputy chosen by the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe. The voting is by both houses acting separately and concurring. In the House of Deputies the vote is taken by orders, the clerical and lay deputies voting separately; and they must concur for a resolution to pass. This representative body legislates for the whole Church. Each diocese also has its own constitution and canons, by which it regulates its internal affairs, having also an annual diocesan convention, in which the clergy and laity are represented. A bishop is elected by the diocese, subject to confirmation by a majority of the bishops and standing committees of the different dioceses. Missionary bishops are elected by the House of Bishops and confirmed by the House of Deputies if the General Convention is in session; if not in session, by a majority of the standing committees. The presiding bishop of the Church was the senior bishop in order of consecration, until 1910, when an amendment to the constitution was adopted providing for his election by the General Convention. A special feature of the government of the Church is the power given to the laymen. In the parishes they elect their own clergyman; and they have votes in the diocesan convention and in the General Convention, and are thus an integral part of the legislative machinery of the Church.

The worship of the Church is conducted in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer, set forth in 1789, but changed from time to time as need has arisen. The preface states that “this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential part of doctrine, discipline or worship, or further than local circumstances require.” This principle guided the Church in the early days, and continues in force. However, changes have been made in the direction of omission and addition. The Athanasian Creed is omitted, as well as all reference to the king and royal family. The Commination Service has been dropped. In the Te Deum, in place of “Thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb,” is substituted “Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a Virgin.” Many verbal changes have been made. “Our Father which art in Heaven” is changed to “Who art in Heaven”; “Them that trespass” is changed to “Those who trespass.” The Ornaments Rubric and the Black Rubric are omitted. The Communion Office is more like the Scottish office, having the Oblation and Invocation. Instead of the Commandments may be said our Lord's summary of the law. Special prayers and thanksgiving have been added, to be used upon several occasions. A form of the consecration of a church has been introduced, as well as an office for the institution of a minister and an office for the visitation of prisoners. The last revision of the American Prayer Book was in 1892; gospels for the Festival of the Transliguration and for the early celebration of the Holy Communion on 'Christmas Day and Easter Day were added; and a greater flexibility in the use of the Prayer Book was permitted. The statistics as reported by the General Convention of 1907 are as follows: the whole number of clergy, 5329; deacons ordained, 483 priests ordained, 471;candidates for holy orders, 469; postulants, 323; lay readers, 2464; baptisms, 197,203; persons confirmed, 158,931; cominumcants, 871,862; Sunday School officers and teachers, 47,871; pupils, 446,367; parishes and missions, 7615; church edifices, 7028; rectories, 2530; church hospitals, 72; orphan asylums, 57; homes, 84; academic institutions, 22; collegiate, 17; theological, 23; other institutions, 79; total contributions for all purposes, $52,257,519; episcopal fund, 83,499,838; hospitals and other institutions, $17,509,035

Authorities.—J. S. M. Anderson, History of the Church of England in the Colonies (3 vols., 2nd ed., London, 1856); Leighton Coleman, The Church in America (New York, 1895); A. L. Cross, The Anglican Episcopate and the American Colonies (New York, 1902); H. W. Foote, Annals of King's Chapel (2 vols., Boston, 1882–1887); George Hodges, Three Hundred Years of the Episcopal Church in America (Philadelphia, 1906); W. S. Perry, History of the American Episcopal Church, 1587–1883, with Monographs (2 vols., Boston, 1885); W. S. Perry, Historical Collections Relating to the Episcopal Colonial Church, covering Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and Delaware (4 vols., Hartford, 1870); S. D. McConnell, History of the American Episcopal Church (New York, 1890); D. D. Addison, The Episcopalians (New York, 1902); C. C. Tiffany, A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church (New York, 1905). (D. D. A.)