From Uniformity to Unity, 1662-1962

From Uniformity to Unity, 1662-1962

From Uniformity to Unity, 1662-1962

From Uniformity to Unity, 1662-1962

Excerpt

In 1957 a committee of representatives appointed by each of the Three Denominations (Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist) began to plan a volume of essays, to be published in 1962 as part of a commemoration of 1662. At almost the same moment, and independently, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge began to plan a volume of essays to commemorate the restoration of the Church of England and the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, in consultation with Dr Norman Sykes (who agreed to act as editor) and other members of the Publications Committee of the Church Historical Society. The two companies became aware of the overlap when each asked a writer of the other group to contribute an essay. In 1958 they determined to unite. This was approved by the committee of the Three Denominations and welcomed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the S.P.C.K. proposal had been made known when the bishops were considering preparations for marking the tercentenary. One editor was selected from each group, originally Dr Norman Sykes and Dr Geoffrey Nuttall. Before his premature death Dr Sykes was able to contribute much with Dr Nuttall to the general plan of the book and choice of contributors. This volume aims to study the reasons and circumstances of the religious separation of 1662, the consequent failure of plans to reunite or "comprehend" the divided bodies, and the subsequent changes in relationship between the Church of England and the Free Churches.

The title might well raise a smile, perhaps a satirical smile, in those who know what breaches of uniformity existed in 1662 and what painful disunity exists in 1962. The title must be taken rather as a symbol than as a literal description. Yet as a symbol it is meaningful. One of the notable changes in the English religious atmosphere since 1910 has been the growth of mutual understanding and the decline of mutual . . .

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