Anglican becomes American

I’ve been posting pictures and synopses of the meaning behind stained glass windows at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Enid, Okla. These two panels depict the roots of the Episcopal Church in the United States, both in its historic and continuing connection to the Church of England and the development of its own Constitution and leadership.

Consecration of Seabury

The Consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury / Given to the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Laurence E. Noble (1904-1976) / By Gladys Farmer Noble

The panel begins the second series of three windows on the east wall of the nave depicting the history of church. This set of panels deals with the emergence of the Episcopal Church in the United States through to the founding of St. Matthew’s.

This panel portrays the consecration of Samuel Seabury of Connecticut as the first bishop for the new Episcopal Church in America. After the American Revolution there were no Anglican Bishops in America, and by law bishops in England would not consecrate Seabury or other American bishops due to their refusal to swear allegiance to the English Crown.

Seabury turned to the Episcopal Church in Scotland, which agreed to consecrate him on the condition he study the Scottish Rite of Holy Communion. Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus of Scotland, is pictured placing the bishop’s miter on Seabury’s head at his consecration in Aberdeen on November 14, 1784.

The cross of St. Andrew is pictured in the bottom right of the panel, signifying the Episcopal Church’s formational ties to the Scottish Church. After Seabury’s consecration Parliament, seeking to avoid a total schism from the American Church, made legal provisions for the consecration of foreign bishops. This paved the way for not only the continued communion between the English and American churches, but also for the birth and growth of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Constitutional Convention 1789

The Constitutional Convention of 1789 / Given to the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of David Jerauld Oven (1894-1955) / By Helen Champlin Oven

The center panel of the second set of windows on the east wall of the nave portrays the Constitutional Convention of the Episcopal Church, which met in Christ Church, Philadelphia, in the summer and fall of 1789, marking the beginning of the fully structured Episcopal Church in the United States.

Twenty-two clergy, including Bishops Seabury and William White, met in General Convention and adopted a Constitution consisting of nine articles. White, pictured in the foreground of this panel, was one of the principle architects of the Constitution and served as the new church’s first presiding bishop until October 3, 1789, and again from 1795 until his death in 1836. Seabury served as the second presiding bishop, from 1789 to 1795.

The convention also adopted the first American Book of Common Prayer, based on a previously proposed version from 1786 and the English BCP of 1662. Subsequent revisions to American BCP were approved in 1892, 1928, and 1979.

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