Item description for A History of the Episcopal Church Revised Edition by Robert W. Prichard...
Overview While updating this standard text to include major issues of the '90s (e.g., homosexuality, Presiding Bishop Browning, liturgical changes), Prichard clarifies who is significant in American church history, and how internal controversies and external pressures have shaped its ministry.
This insightful, all-encompassing chronicle spanning 400 years traces the fascinating rise of the Episcopal Church, founded in an age of fragmentation and molded by the powerful movements of American history: the Great Awakening; the American Revolution; the Civil War; two World Wars and the Depression; and the social upheavals of the post World War II years.
This revised edition of the now-classic text on the Episcopal Church brings the story up-to-date with a new chapter on the 1990 s. This new chapter pays special attention to the Church s renewal efforts, Presiding Bishop Browning s time in office, the issue of homosexuality, changing leadership dynamics, liturgical change, and Lambeth 1998. "
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Reviews - What do customers think about A History of the Episcopal Church?
Informative Jul 29, 2007
I found this to be a very good summary and overview of the history of the Episcopal Church. I learned more about how the church was formed and developed than from other history books of the Episcopal Church.
great book Nov 11, 2005
A great look at the history of the Episcopal Church, and one that provides the basis for delving deeper. I was handed this by my rector when I asked about the history of our church. Not too many years later, I found myself in seminary, on my way to becoming a priest. Add to that, my instructor was the author of this book!
A good introduction Jun 10, 2004
Robert Prichard's `History of the Episcopal Church' is one of the more accessible of church histories available on the official Anglican version of the church in the United States - the Episcopal Church, sometimes called ECUSA, whose official name, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, is a bit of a tongue-twister.
Despite the fact that many people came to the Americas for religious freedom (and one of the churches against which they were rebelling was the Anglican church), the Anglican church arrived on American shores very early, with the establishment of colonies on the southern coast of North America (Virginia, the Carolinas), which had official sanction by the Royal authority, and thus official ties to the official church. However, this was a strange situation for Anglicans to find themselves in - while still the official state religion and dominant group back home, they were outnumbered by other immigrants to North America by a significant margin, and this did not even count the numbers of Native Americans. Continuing immigration from non-Anglican parts of the British Isles (Scotland, Ireland, and non-Anglican English and Welsh) caused religious ambiguity in colonial social life and governance also in the New England settlements, which had prior Dutch Calvinist colonies already.
Prichard traces this beginning through the Great Awakening, which had Anglicans experiencing internal difficulties, and the Revolutionary War period, where many Anglicans were viewed with suspicion for their ties to the Royalist cause. One of the difficulties caused for Anglicans in America by the Revolutionary War was a suspension of formal ties to the Church of England, where bishops had to swear allegiance to the crown, something the newly independent Americans were not willing or able to do. The consecration of Seabury took place therefore under the auspices of the Anglican church in Scotland, who required as covenant for their transference of episcopal orders the acceptance by the new institution in America of certain liturgical forms, such as the prayer of consecration from 1549 rather than the more common 1552.
This also represented the period of the growth of Methodism, with the figure of John Wesley prominent in the activity - Prichard states that while the Methodist movement grew out of and had respect for the Anglican traditions and institution, the only Anglican clergyman whose authority they accepted over themselves was that of John Wesley. Prichard's discussion of the strands that came from earliest Anglicanism is interesting for the future development of various denominations in America, and shows how much common lineage the Christian community in America shares.
Prichard's text continues with discussion of the mission and expansion period of American growth, the Civil War period, the settlement of the West and looking toward foreign missions, the Depression and War periods, and finally the second half of the twentieth century with its period of institutional strength, shifting theologies, and prospects for renewal.
In each of these sections, Prichard draws upon a variety of historical resources. He does not confine himself to looking simply at events, institutions, or personalities, but weaves these together as they are necessary to achieve an overall narrative story. Liturgical and theological shifts are discussed but not fully developed (this is not a theology or a liturgy text); attendant events and developments in the general history of the United States are brought in both for context and for influence.
There is a generous assortment of illustrations - line art, wood cut and photographs - as well as tables of information (dioceses admitted to the church as states were admitted to the union, etc.). There are no maps, which might in a few instances have aided the discussion. There is a useful index. Each chapter has a series of endnotes immediately following the chapter, but there is no general bibliography or list of selected readings.
In general, this is a very good text for learning the history of the church in the United States. There are occasional mis-statements, and occasional omissions one might quibble about, but on the whole, it is accessible, readable, and useful for the general reader and student.
Just the facts, ma'am Mar 4, 2002
Oh my. The back cover of Prichard's *History* correctly says that "many people today are looking for a history of the Episcopal Church that is brief, comprehensive, easy to read, and inclusive." But the book lacks all of these qualities except possibly the first (depending on whether you consider a 300+ page book "brief").
To his credit, Prichard does try to cover the history of the church in America, taking us from the first years of colonization up to the election of Frank Griswold as Presiding Bishop. This is a formidable task, and Prichard is to be commended for giving it a go.
Having said that, however, three things about the book are troublesome. First, I'm afraid that it's written in the dryest style imaginable, bringing back unpleasant memories of standardized textbooks struggled through in high school.
Second, it's more of a rather breathless compendium than an integrated history. By that, I mean that the approach is rather positivistic: history is presented as little more than one fact after another arranged in chronological fashion. There's very little attempt to weave these facts into a broader context or to show interrelations between them. As a consequence, the social context of the church is all but ignored. Instead, Prichard focuses ad tedium on the institutional development of the church. This is obvious an important part of its history. But how informative or fruitful for the general layreader is a history of General Convention?
Finally, Prichard never makes any systematic effort to tie together theology and history. He focuses exclusively on the institutional church but ignores its spiritual progression. As a consequence, the account seems, at best, lopsided. To give but one example: on pp. 188-89 Prichard writes of William Porcher DuBose, arguably the greatest episcopalian theologian of the 19th century. But he mentions him primarily in reference to an historical debate about church structure, and throws in only a one-line aside about DuBose's incarnationalist theology. This refusal to weave spiritual and institutional history renders Prichard's work rather soulless, if I may use that word in this context.
The book is worthwhile as a quick reference for dates and events. But I'm afraid that a popular history of the Episcopal Church still remains to be written.
An excellent introduction and handy reference Oct 11, 2000
This book is a revised edition of Prichard's work originally published in 1991. According to its preface, the author particularly rewrote the tenth and eleventh chapters, adding sections discussing the development of the Episcopal Church in the last decade of the twentieth century. This update helped me enormously to understand the current situation of the Church as I read it just before the General Convention that the Episcopal Church held in Denver, Colorado, this summer.
This book is very readable. It contains many illustrations, which are quite helpful. Compared to David L. Holmes' _A Brief History of the Episcopal Church_ (1993), Prichard narrates the history mostly chronologically and not thematically. He discusses different theological trends that existed in the Church, and follows their interactions and developments. He talks of the changes in women's status in the Church. He neither leaves out the Church's works among ethnic minorities nor foreign missions. The author touches many other historical events as well as important figures. These facts makes the book an excellent introduction and handy reference to the history of the Episcopal Church.