Friday, March 16, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury Resigns

"The archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to resign and return to academia as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Williams, 61, will leave at the end of December in time to start his new role next January.

His time in office has been marked by a slowly growing schism in the worldwide Anglican church, which he has failed to heal. Williams has been attacked by conservatives for his liberal views on homosexuality and by liberals for failing to live up to these principles."

Excerpted from The Guardian

The Church of England (Anglican Church) is the spiritual ancestor of the Episcopal Church in America.  Wikipedia gives us this history:
The Episcopal Church has its origins in the Church of England in the American colonies, and it stresses its continuity with the early universal Western church [aka The Roman Catholic Church]   and maintains apostolic succession. The first parish was founded in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 under the charter of the Virginia Company of London. [editor note: The Virginia Company was a Limited Company, (a corporation). All American colonies were corporate enterprises, and this is what led to the revolution as colonists found themselves being taxed with no representation or legal recourse in England, and were relegated to Banana Republic status by being required to purchase imported manufactured goods rather than producing them domestically. Corporate control of America in our modern era is an echo of our prior history. We've been through this before. Occupy protesters and the original Boston Tea Party have much in common.]
Although there was no American bishop in the colonial era, the Church of England had an official status in several colonies, which meant that tax money was paid to the local parish by the local government, and the parish handled some civic functions. The Church of England was designated the established church in Virginia in 1609, in New York in 1693, in Maryland in 1702, in South Carolina in 1706, in North Carolina in 1730, and in Georgia in 1758. From 1635, the vestries and the clergy were loosely under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of London. After 1702, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts began missionary activity throughout the colonies. On the eve of Revolution about 400 independent congregations were reported throughout the colonies.
Embracing the symbols of the British presence in the American colonies, such as the monarchy, the episcopate, and even the language of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England almost drove itself to extinction during the upheaval of the American Revolution.
More than any other denomination, the War of Independence internally divided both clergy and laity of the Church of England in America, and opinions covered a wide spectrum of political views: patriots, conciliators, and loyalists. On one hand, Patriots saw the Church of England as synonymous with "Tory" and "redcoat". On the other hand, about three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nominally Anglican laymen, including Thomas Jefferson, William Paca, and George Wythe. Of the approximately three hundred clergy in the Church of England in America between 1776 and 1783, over 80 percent in New England, New York, and New Jersey were loyalists.This is in contrast to the less than 23 percent loyalist clergy in the four southern colonies.
 Many Church of England clergy remained loyalists as they took their two ordination oaths very seriously. Anglican clergy were obliged to swear allegiance to the king as well as to pray for the king, the royal family, and the British Parliament. In general, loyalist clergy stayed by their oaths and prayed for the king or else suspended services. By the end of 1776, some Anglican churches were closing. Anglican priests held services in private homes or lay readers who were not bound by the oaths held morning and evening prayer. During 1775 and 1776, the Continental Congress had issued decrees ordering churches to fast and pray on behalf of the patriots. Starting July 4, 1776, Congress and several states passed laws making prayers for the king and British Parliament acts of treason. The patriot clergy in the South were quick to find reasons to transfer their oaths to the American cause and prayed for the success of the Revolution. One precedent was the transfer of oaths during the Glorious Revolution in England. Most of the patriot clergy in the south were able to keep their churches open and services continued.
Early nation: 1783–1800
In the wake of the Revolution, American Episcopalians faced the task of preserving a hierarchical church structure in a society infused with republican values. By 1786, the church had succeeded in translating episcopacy to America and in revising the Book of Common Prayer to reflect American political realities.  
The Flag of The US Episcopal Church maintains the emblems of the United Kingdom,
The Cross of St Andrew and the Cross of St. George.

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