The origins of the Episcopal Church lie in the violent religious disagreements of 16th century Europe. The English church had initially split from Rome more for the convenience and enrichment of the heir-obsessed King Henry VIII than for doctrinal reasons. Doctrinal division soon followed, however, as Protestant ideas spread to England from the continent, where they were causing bloody internecine strife.
The English solution was a compromise designed to make the national church acceptable to the greatest possible number of those compelled (on pain of quite punitive fines) to attend it. By the standards of the day the Articles of Religion that defined the church avoided narrow doctrinal positions and allowed room for individual conscience provided that outward forms were observed. While this spirit of greater tolerance and inclusiveness did not save every clergyman from being burned at the stake, it definitely made things easier for average mortals. The colonial offshoots of the resulting Church of England were the direct antecedents of the Episcopal Church.
Birth of the Episcopal Church
After the American Revolution, Church of England congregations in the newly independent States reorganized themselves as a new church—free from the King of England and from oversight by English bishops. The new church took the name “Episcopal” to emphasize the historic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. It changed its name and its constitution (Episcopal bishops are elected, while English ones continue even now to be appointed by the monarch) but continued to use the Book of Common Prayer, with minor modifications to acknowledge the political changes.
Being a product of its time in history, many of the creators of the new church were also founders of America’s new government. Two-thirds of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Episcopalians, and the services for the inauguration of George Washington were performed by the first Bishop of New York and rector of Trinity Church, Samuel Provoost.
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church is a colonial parish, one of several in the Diocese of New Jersey. It was founded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1742, as a mission church of St. Mary’s, Burlington; and received its Royal Charter from King George III in 1765. The present structure was erected on High Street in 1844.
MP3-TheSonOfGod-AllSaintsNew-PipeLC-128-CAM Anniversary Hymn/All Saints New
Our fathers, in the years grown dim, reared slowly, wall by wall
A holy dwelling place for Him, that filleth all in all.
They wrought His house of faith and prayer, the rainbow round the throne,
A precious temple builded fair on Christ the Cornerstone.
The angel of the golden reed hath found the measure strait;
He hears the Great Foundation plead for ampler wall and gate.
The living pillars of the Truth grown on from morn to morn,
And still the heresy of youth is age’s creed outworn.
But steadfast is their inner shrine wrought of the heart’s fine gold,
Its hunger and its thirst divine, with jewels manifold,
Red sard of pain, hope’s emerald gleam, white peace, no glory missed
Of righteous life and saintly dream, jasper to amethyst.
Spirit of truth, forbid that we who now God’s temple are
And keep the faith with minds more free, our father’s fabric mar.
Better than thoughts the stars that search is self still sacrificed,
For only love can build the church whose cornerstone is Christ.