Bulletin Insert – November 11, 2018

Consecration of Samuel Seabury

On November 14, the Episcopal Church commemorates the consecration of Samuel Seabury in 1784 as the first American bishop and first bishop of the Episcopal Church.

On March 25, 1783, a meeting of 10 Episcopal clergymen in Woodbury, Connecticut, named Seabury to be the first American bishop, following the American Revolution. (The Rev. Jeremiah Leaming was elected first, but he declined the nomination because of failing health.) Since there were no Anglican bishops in America to consecrate Seabury, he sailed to London to seek consecration there.

The Church of England, however, reasoned that it would be impossible to consecrate Seabury as a bishop because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to King George III.

Seabury then turned to the Scottish Episcopal Church, whose bishops at that time refused to recognize the authority of King George III. He was consecrated in Aberdeen, Scotland, on November 14, 1784, by the bishop and the bishop coadjutor of Aberdeen and the bishop of Ross and Caithness, and in the presence of additional clergy and laity.

The one condition of the Scottish Episcopal Church was that, in the matter of the Holy Eucharist, Seabury was to study the Scottish rite and work for its adoption rather than the English rite of 1662. To this day, one of the rites for Holy Eucharistic in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer adheres to the main features of this Scottish rite.

When Seabury returned to America, he was recognized as bishop of Connecticut on August 3, 1785, at Middletown, Connecticut.

Collect for Samuel Seabury

Eternal God, you blessed your servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America: Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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