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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First American Bishop, 1784.

On this day in 1784 the first American bishop was ordained as bishop in Aberdeen, Scotland, in a quiet ceremony in the private chapel of Bishop John Skinner. In this way the episcopate was brought to America, and it was possible for Americans to organize an episcopal church, independent of the Church of England. The English bishops could not legally ordain an American bishop who would not swear allegiance to the English Crown, and for this reason Seabury had to go to Scotland for episcopal orders. Soon the English laws were modified to allow for the ordination of American bishops in the English succession.

Samuel Seabury of Connecticut was a controversial figure and hardly conformed to the traditional idea of a "saint." Unlike our other early bishops, White of Pennsylvania, Provoost of New York, and Madison of Virginia, Seabury opposed the American Revolution. For this, and because he was considered terribly "high church" for the times, he was not generally popular. Yet he performed an invaluable service for the American church in securing the episcopacy for it. Feelings ran high against bishops in those days, especially in New England. It took considerable courage and determination for Seabury to go to England and Scotland and then return to Connecticut as a bishop.

Grant that we may serve you diligently in our day. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

We give you thanks, O Lord our God, for your goodness in bestowing upon this Church the gift of the episcopate, which we celebrate in this remembrance of the consecration of Samuel Seabury; and we pray that, joined together in unity with our bishops, and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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