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Yankee Bishops

Apostles in the New Republic, 1783 to 1873

Series:

Charles Henery

The office of bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States has long begged attention from historians. Yankee Bishops: Apostles in the New Republic, 1783 to 1873 is the first collective examination of the American episcopate and offers critical insight into the theory and practice of episcopal ministry in these formative years. In this period, one hundred men were elected and consecrated to the episcopal order and exercised oversight. These bishops firmly believed their office to mirror the primitive pattern of apostolic ministry. How this primitive ideal of episcopacy was understood and lived out in the new republic is the main focus of this study. Yankee Bishops is also the first book to scrutinize and analyze as a body the sermons preached at episcopal consecrations. These valuable texts are important for the image and role of the bishop they propagate and the theology of episcopacy expounded. The final portrait that emerges of the bishop in these years is chiefly that of a sacramental and missionary figure to whom the pastoral staff came to be bestowed as a fitting symbol of office. These bishops were truly apostolic pioneers who carved out a new, vigorous model of ministry in the Anglican Communion. Yankee Bishops will be a primary source in Anglican and ecumenical studies and of general interest to the reader of American religious and social history.
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Introduction

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The office of bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States has long begged attention from historians. Indeed, it is a startling fact that there has been no general consideration of the image and reality of episcopal government in the history of the American church. That attention previously paid to episcopacy has been restricted for the most part to individual biographies or diocesan histories. The present study is therefore the first detailed collective examination of the episcopal order in the United States, and is intended to shed light both on the theory and practice of episcopal ministry in the years between 1783 and 1873. This was the formative period in American Episcopalianism, as the church adapted to the new political order following the Revolution and advanced westward with the expansion of the country. In these ninety years the American episcopate came to maturity as one hundred men were consecrated to the order and exercised oversight. The influence of this office upon the progress of the church yielded a growing agitation for more bishops and smaller dioceses, so that the year 1872 can be argued to mark a watershed in the history of American episcopacy.

Like many religious bodies which breathed the democratic air of America, the Episcopal Church appealed to its primitive faith and order to legitimate its existence and identity.1 This primitivism was evoked in the sermons and literature of the period by church members of all persuasion and rank, but perhaps most prominently...

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