Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunday Worship

Below is a possible order for Sunday worship using the 1979 BCP.  The goal was to combine Morning Prayer, the Litany, and Communion into one service as in the old days.  The 1979 BCP provides several rubrics to facilitate this.  However, it does not provide for the combination of all three services (it provides guidelines for combining MP+HC, and Litany + HC but not MP + L + HC).  I have attempted to follow the guidelines and combine all three services.

Sunday Worship 

Morning Prayer

The Officiant begins the service with one or more of these sentences of
Scripture, or with the versicle "O Lord, open thou our lips" on page 42.


If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.    I John 1:8, 9

Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the
Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to
anger and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Joel 2:13

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and
am no more worthy to be called thy son."    Luke 15:18, 19

To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses,
though we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed
the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he
set before us.    Daniel 9:9, 10

Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."    Mark 8:34

Confession of Sin

The Officiant says to the people

Dearly beloved, we have come together in the presence of
Almighty God our heavenly Father, to render thanks for the
great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth
his most worthy praise, to hear this holy Word, and to ask, for
ourselves and on behalf of others, those things that are
necessary for our life and our salvation. And so that we may
prepare ourselves in heart and mind to worship him, let us
kneel in silence, and with penitent and obedient hearts
confess our sins, that we may obtain forgiveness by his
infinite goodness and mercy.

or this

Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
   own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
   have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to
   have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

The Priest alone stands and says

The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you absolution and
remission of all your sins, true repentance, amendment of
life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.

A deacon or lay person using the preceding form remains kneeling, and substitutes "us" for "you" and "our" for "your."

The Invitatory and Psalter

All stand

Officiant     O Lord, open thou our lips.
People        And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Officiant and People

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as
it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Then follows one of the Invitatory Psalms, Venite or Jubilate.

In Lent

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: O come, let us
adore him.

O come, let us sing unto the Lord; *
    let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, *
    and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth, *
    and the strength of the hills are his also.
The sea is his and he made it, *
    and his hands prepared the dry land.

O come, let us worship and fall down *
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the lord our God, *
    and we are the people of his pasture
    and the sheep of his hand.

Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts *
    as in the provocation,
    and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;
When your fathers tempted me, *
    proved me, and saw my works.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, *
    It is a people that do err in their hearts,
    for they have not known my ways.
Unto whom I sware in my wrath, *
    that they should not enter into my rest.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Psalm or Psalms Appointed

At the end of each Psalm is sung or said

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Lessons

One or two lessons, as appointed, are read, the Reader first saying

A Reading (Lesson) from _______________.

A citation giving chapter and verse may be added.

After each Lesson the Reader may say

Here endeth the Lesson (Reading).

Silence may be kept after each Reading. One of the following Canticles,
or one of those on pages 85-95 (Canticles 8-21), is sung or said after
each Reading. If three Lessons are used, the Lesson from the Gospel is
read after the second Canticle.

7     Te Deum laudamus

We praise thee, O God; we acknoledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud,
the Heavens and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry:
    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
    Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world
                              doth acknowledge thee,
    the Father, of an infinite majesty,
    thine adorable, true, and only Son,
    also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.
    We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
    Make them to be numbered with thy saints,
    in glory everlasting.

The Apostles' Creed

Officiant and People together, all standing

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.
   The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Prayers

The People stand or kneel

Officiant      The Lord be with you.
People        And also with you.
Officiant      Let us pray.

V.    O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
R.    And grant us thy salvation.
V.    Endue thy ministers with righteousness;
R.    And make thy chosen people joyful.
V.    Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R.    For only in thee can we live in safety.
V.    Lord, keep this nation under thy care;
R.    And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V.    Let thy way be known upon earth;
R.    Thy saving health among all nations.
V.    Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R.    Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V.    Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R.    And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

The Collect of the Day

A Collect for Peace

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in
knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service
is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all
assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy
defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through
the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.     Amen.

A Collect for Grace

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God,
who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day:
Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that
this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of
danger; but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may
do always what is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ
our Lord.     Amen.

The Great Litany

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses
of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins.
Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast
redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy
preserve us, for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts
and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory,
and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want
of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the
deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness
of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and
flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from
violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity
and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection
and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in
the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech the to hear us, O Lord God; and that
it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church
Universal in the right way,
We beesech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and
deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of thy
Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may
set it forth, and show it accordingly,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy
harvest, and to draw all mankind into thy kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace
to hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of
the Spirit,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such
as have erred, and are deceived,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear
thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants,
the President of the United States (or of this nation), and all
others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy,
and walk in the ways of truth,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to
bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners
and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are
desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the
bountiful fruits of the earth, so that in due time all may enjoy
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us, in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of
heart as thy servants, and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by
reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all
women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the
widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all
who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy
presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who
are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue
us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; to
comfort and help the weak-hearted; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed
eternal life and peace,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.

Lord, have mercy upon us;
Christ, have mercy upon us;
Lord, have mercy  upon us.

Holy Communion

The Peace

All stand. The Celebrant says to the people

                The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People        And with thy spirit.

Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the name of the

The Great Thanksgiving

The people remain standing. The Celebrant, whether bishop or priest,
faces them and sings or says

                The Lord be with you.
People        And with thy spirit.
Celebrant    Lift up your hearts.
People        We lift them up unto the Lord.
Celebrant    Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
People        It is meet and right so to do.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should
at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord,
holy Father, almighty, everlasting God.

Here a Proper Preface is sung or said on all Sundays, and on other
occasions as appointed.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the
company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious
Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,

Celebrant and People

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.

The people kneel.

Then the Celebrant continues

All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for
that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus
Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who
made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full,
perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for
the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy
Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that
his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again.

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it,
or lay a hand upon it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or
place a hand upon the cup and any other vessel containing wine to be

For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread;
and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given
for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

Likewise, after supper, he took the cup; and when he had
given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of this;
for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for
you, and for many, for the remission of sins. Do this, as oft as
ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me."

Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the
institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before
thy divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now
offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to
make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious
death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension;
rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable
benefits procured unto us by the same.

And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to
hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless
and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts
and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them
according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ's holy institution,
in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers
of his most blessed Body and Blood.

And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to
accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most
humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and
death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood,
we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our
sins, and all other benefits of his passion.

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves,
our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living
sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all
others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may
worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son
Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction,
and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and
we in him.

And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins,
to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept
this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits,
but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord;

By whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
all honor and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world
without end. AMEN.

And now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold
to say,

People and Celebrant

Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.

A period of silence is kept.

Then may be sung or said

[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]

In Lent, Alleluia is omitted, and may be omitted at other times except
during Easter Season.

The following or some other suitable anthem may be sung or said here

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
grant us thy peace.

The following prayer may be said. The People may join in saying
this prayer

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold
and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather
up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord
whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore,
gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us. Amen.

Facing the people, the Celebrant may say the following Invitation

The Gifts of God for the People of God.
and may add   Take them in remembrance that Christ died for
                   you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith,
                   with thanksgiving.

The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately
deliver it to the people

The Bread and the Cup are given to the communicants with these words

The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,
preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat
this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on
him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.

The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee,
preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in
remembrance that Christ's Blood was shed for thee, and be

During the ministration of Communion, hymns, psalms, or anthems may
be sung.

When necessary, the Celebrant consecrates additional bread and wine,
using the form on page 408.

After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.

The People may join in saying this prayer

Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee
for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the
spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy
Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of
thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very
members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the
blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs,
through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom. And we humbly
beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy
grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do
all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the
Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.

The Bishop when present, or the Priest, gives the blessing

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep
your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of
God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be
amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

The Deacon, or the Celebrant, may dismiss the people with these words

                 Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
People         Thanks be to God.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Some Useful Episcopal Statistics

Online, Episcopal statistics tend to focus on the declining membership; I don't intend to deny that problem, for it is a grave problem.  I wanted to post some positive statistics though.  A while back, there was quite a bit of (justified) excitement about ACNA's number of adult baptisms for 2010.  I decided to check TEC's statistics and found that it is remarkably much higher than ACNA's but there was no mention of it anywhere.  Any adult baptism is good because it shows a conversion to Christ, we should be giving thanks for these baptisms too.  Here is some comparative stats for TEC and ACNA.


PECUSA: 7,283
ACNA: 952 (ACNA and Ministry Partners - only 659 actually resident in ACNA)

Infant/children Baptisms

PECUSA: 31,967
ACNA: 1,647

Youth/Adult Baptisms

PECUSA: 4,692
ACNA: 1,411


PECUSA (including "children" and "adults"): 24,925
ACNA: 2,197

"Conversions" (As listed on ACNA stats, I'm assuming = received?)

PECUSA: 7,602 (received)
ACNA: 714 ("conversions")

Average Sunday Attendance

PECUSA: 697,880
ACNA (projected):  78,151 (actual reported = 49,665)

Total Membership

PECUSA: 2,125,012
ACNA: 100,000 (common number, no actual number to my knowledge)

Additional PECUSA Statistics

Marriages: 11,567
Deaths: 30,891



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Viewing the Decline in the Episcopal Church in a Positive Light

This week, sad news from the Diocese of Rhode Island has entered into the Anglican "blogosphere."  The Cathedral of St. John will be closing this year, due to financial difficulties in maintaining it as a place of worship (the building will still be open and operated by the Diocese).  This follows last year's news from the Diocese of Delaware,  where the Cathedral of St. John will also close.  There is also the old news from the Diocese of Western Michigan selling the Cathedral of Christ the King a few years ago.  There has also been quite a bit of buzz about Dr. Munday's post "What Will the Episcopal Church Look Like in 2030?".  I attempt not to enter contemporary debate on this blog, focusing, rather on the history of the Church, however, in this instance, I feel the history of the Church, especially the Episcopal Church is of crucial importance for the present Church.

The Episcopal Church is a rather odd expression of episcopal polity, if one compared the various expressions of episcopacy around the globe.  Typically an episcopal Church is founded when a bishop begins a diocese in a new area.  He builds a diocese around him and his see or cathedral.  Eventually, one diocesan bishop acquires control over other diocesan bishops and becomes and archbishop or metropolitan.  The power flows from him down to the diocesan bishops, priests, and the laity.  Not so with the Protestant Episcopal Church!  The Episcopal Church was originally part of the Church of England.  When English colonists arrived in what is now the United  States, they brought their Anglicanism with them.  Parish churches were constructed and clergy were sent to minister to them (usually by the SPG).  Anglicanism was concentrated in Virginia and Maryland, where it was the established Church, as in England.  It was diffused throughout the other colonies but with less privileges as in Virginia and Maryland.  These colonial parishes were under the episcopal authority of the Bishop of London.  Unfortunately, most of the bishops of London did not take their vocation to care for the colonial churches with any seriousness.  Hence, confirmation was rare in the colonial churches and ordained ministers were few because of the costly and dangerous voyage to London.  The Bishop of London appointed commissaries, who had most of the episcopal authority of English bishops, except the sacramental authority to ordain or confirm, to govern the colonial churches on his behalf.

The Church of England in the Colonies had grown significantly due to the work of Thomas Bray and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG).  There were several attempts to secure a bishop for the Colonies.  However, these efforts were cut short through the political conflicts leading up to the Revolution.  After the Colonies separated from the Crown, most other American Protestant churches recovered and even flourished, but the Church of England nearly collapsed.  Many of its clergy and prominent laity left for other Colonies or for England.  In its state of despair, William White emerged with a plan to constitute the Protestant Episcopal Church.  The problem was there were no cathedrals, sees, dioceses, or, more importantly, bishops.  The existing parishes in states would gather together to form voluntary associations, known as conventions, of state churches.  These would then elect a bishop, who would be the president of the state convention.  Samuel Seabury, a Connecticut High Churchman, thought this plan was too "Whiggish" and set sail for England to be consecrated a bishop.  He was denied consecration there but obtained it in Scotland.  Beside episcopal authority, Seabury also acquired a distinctive liturgy and a look into the primitive episcopacy when he was consecrated in Scotland.  The Scottish bishops, long sufferers of oppression from Scottish Presbyterians (and even the Church of England) for their Jacobitism, did not have titular sees or ancient geographical dioceses as the English Church still possessed.  They also had no metropolitans as many of the ancient churches had (because they had no ancient sees).  The bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church elected a Primus or presiding bishop (from the old title for all bishops primus inter pares).  Seabury brought these ideas with him and joined the other Episcopalians in forming the Protestant Episcopal Church.  White (and others) were later consecrated by the English bishops.  The American Church, like the Scottish Church, did not have metropolitans, neither did it have dioceses until the 1820's.  Each state church had its own bishop, who was a rector sans cathedral.  Unlike the Scottish Church, the American Presiding Bishop was not elected but was the senior bishop by date of consecration (until 1926, when the first Presiding Bishop was elected).

This primitive spirit was challenged by the rise of ritualism in the Church in the latter half of the 19th century.  The prelatical model, i.e. that of the Church of England, is not necessarily a bad model  but it is a later development which the Church adopted from the Roman civil government.  The Protestant Episcopal model was an attempt at primitive episcopacy with an American flavor, however, during the latter half of the 19th century, the original state churches (then styled dioceses) were split, as the Church grew.  Thus the Diocese of New York was divided into separate portions, such as the Diocese of Albany, where I currently serve.  The Diocese was constituted in 1869 with Bishop William Doane as the first bishop.  It was organized in the English fashion with a cathedral and titular see.  Throughout the country, Episcopal dioceses began constructing massive, Gothic cathedrals to accompany their new prelates.  All of this accompanied the ritualist movement, which sought to reintroduce medieval ceremonies into the Liturgy of the Church, such as the eucharistic vestments, actions such as the Elevation, ashes, etc.  The building of cathedrals occurred in this spirit.  The first cathedral constructed as such for the Episcopal Church was the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York, finished in 1888.  Throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, the Episcopal Church went through radical changes and continued on this path to further centralization and "prelaticialization" or the creating of hierarchical structures that were never there in the first place.  The process has taken much time, and really has just reached the final stages in 2012.  The Presiding Bishop was first elected in 1926 and styled "Primate" in the 1960's.  The facilities at 815 Second Avenue date from the latter part of the last century as well.

The past thirty years have seen the increasing liberalization of the national church, with its adoption of a progressive agenda.  The result has been an alarming decrease in membership since the 1960's when the Church had somewhere around 3 million members and now only reporting 1.9 million domestic members.  The Church continually loses about 2-3% of its membership each year.  Many have left for breakaway Anglican churches, some have left for other churches but many are simply giving up on the church altogether.    It is in this scene that we see cathedrals closing and dioceses merging.  Munday examines the diocesan structure and proposes a massive change in the structure of our dioceses, if the Church is to survive.  He notes the proposed mergers of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire as well of Quincy and Chicago.  The diocesan  structure, as it stands now, cannot hold, due to the loss of members and falling revenue.

In this spirit, I propose that the answer to our problems is perhaps to be found in our history.  Although the loss of members is bad for our Church and the progressive agenda of 815 has hindered our mission, I see the decline of the Episcopal Church in a positive light.  Allow me to explain, first, the centralization that began in the latter part of the 19th century and which has continued to this day has proved to be unsustainable by our Church.  The centralization was born in the ritualist movement to essentially create a hierarchical church out of thin air.  The founders of our church eschewed prelacy in favor of a primitive episcopacy.  The paper-thin hierarchy has shown that it does not work and perhaps it is time to cast it aside and return to our primitive roots.  The facilities at 815 Second Avenue are already unsustainable and being rented, why not sell the property altogether?  Our church survived two hundred years without it, we can surely live today without it.  The office of the Presiding Bishop needs to be rethought and perhaps changed to model the original design.  The original idea was that the presiding bishop would be that, a presiding bishop.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He (yes, he) would preside at General Convention and that was it.  He did not visit dioceses nor did he give up his diocese to become presiding bishop.  A note on bishops at this point, bishops did not cease being rectors when consecrated bishops.  Essentially, they had adopted Jerome's theory of episcopacy saying that presbyters and bishops are of the same order but that bishops are presbyters which are elected and consecrated (not ordained) and given a further responsibility, i.e. ordination.  Perhaps the Church should rethink its ideas of episcopacy in accordance with the varying theories of episcopacy held in the early church and within our own church.

The opportunity has arisen to shed the layers of prelacy which have invaded our church through the past century.  While prelacy is certainly not a bad thing, it is not a part of the Episcopal Church and I think we would do well to remember that in the upcoming years as the penalties of the national church's progressive agenda will be felt throughout the dioceses, first as a ripple then as a wave, crashing down our paper-thin hierarchy.