Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A History of the Episcopal Church - Third Revised Edition: Complete through the 78th General Convention

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A History of the Episcopal Church - Third Revised Edition: Complete through the 78th General Convention

Article excerpt

A History of the Episcopal Church - Third Revised Edition: Complete through the 78th General Convention. By Robert W. Prichard. (New York: Church Publishing, Morehouse Publishing, 2014. Pp. xv, 460. $40.00, paper.)

This revised and expanded version of Robert Pritchard's A History of the Episcopal Church is our first comprehensive history in the new millennium. Every chapter incorporates twenty-first century scholarship, much of it new material addressing the role of minorities (Native Americans, African Americans, women, GLBT folk) in the relevant time periods. The last chapter covers developments since the book was first published (1991; revised edition 1999). Of particular interest in the earlier chapters are the sections incorporating recent scholarship (much of it on slavery and servitude, and race, seriatim), reevaluating the colonial church (and explaining reasons for negative nineteenth and twentieth-century assessments of it (56-57), and rebutting ( 90) the eighteenth-century "characterization of the Church of England as wealthy" (n.57, 65).

Prichard covers roughly 430 years of church history in as many pages, and the book is bursting at the seams. The final two chapters, "A Reordered Church (1965-90)," and "A Leaner, More Nimble Church (1990-)," cover half a century. These chapters paint a paradoxical picture: while, statistically speaking, the church has been dwindling since the mid-twentieth century, the church has also been renewed and enriched in various ways- and, as of the 78th General Convention, it was contemplating reconfiguration.

Chapter 10 recounts a shift in membership in the mid-1960s to late 1980s: numerical decline, but greater participation on the part of members, increasing percentages of adults who came to the Episcopal Church from another tradition (or none). By 1981, estimates indicated that more than half the people in the pew had come from another tradition (322). In the same period, prayer book revision shifted the theology and language of worship, layfolk were increasingly included as leaders of worship, and women were ordained to the priesthood, appointed to leadership of the House of Deputies, and consecrated to the episcopacy. …

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