*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 25th of February 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
I won’t sing… but as I was working on this show, I had this, among other lyrics, running through my head:
Heed not the rabble who scream revolution They have not your interests at heart
Chaos and bloodshed are not a solution Don't let them lead you astray This Congress does not speak for me
Yup, that’s from Hamilton (I’ve got thoughts on this but for another time), and that is the lyric from the song Farmer Refuted. It starts with Samuel Seabury, a Loyalist explaining that the colonists should stay loyal to the crown.
Samuel Seabury wrote, “Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental Congress” under the pseudonym of “A.W. Farmer” (for “A western farmer”). Seabury had political reasons for wanting reconciliation between the colonies and the British crown and theological reasons: Samuel Seabury was born in the colonies in 1729 but was ordained a minister in the Church of England through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
As you know, the rebellion continued, and loyalists such as Seabury would be harassed, chased, beaten, and arrested. He moved from his native Connecticut to a loyalist stronghold in New York but moved back to Connecticut in 1783. He was then elected to be the bishop of Connecticut by his Anglican colleagues, but… well, a church that had the King of England as its head wasn’t going to be too popular in a newly independent America.
You may know that the Anglicans in America would become known as “Episcopalians”- like “Presbyterians” and “Congregationalists” the name of the denomination is a reference to its polity, that is how they are governed (Protestants are the absolute worst when it comes to naming their sects but I digress). So an “episcopos” is a bishop. So the Episcopal church would be run by Bishops- but not just “any” bishops.
The Anglicans and Episcopalians hold to the idea of a continuous apostolic succession. So for Seabury to be ordained as an Archbishop, he would need English Bishops to ordain him. But this new Episcopal church would not be subject to the King of England, so the Anglicans weren’t keen on ordaining the onetime Loyalist.
Hold the story here, and let me ask you to envision the crest for the modern Episcopal church. It is in the shape of a shield with the English flag- the St. George Flag (this is the white background with thin red lines bisecting horizontally and vertically). Except the upper left-hand quadrant of the English flag contains Scotland’s blue and white Saltire flag (a white X on blue background). Why is this?
Seabury was born in Connecticut and studied theology at Yale but then traveled to Scotland to study medicine at Aberdeen. He had made connections there with the Scottish Episcopal Church. They were an autonomous church in communion with the Anglican Church- but like other foreign Anglican churches, they were not bound to recognize the King of England as the head of the church.
Seabury would have bishops from the Scottish church ordain him, thus keeping up appearances with Apostolic succession (but not the excessively English kind).
Thus Samuel Seabury would be ordained as the first Bishop from the Anglican communion in America in 1784. He would introduce the Scottish Episcopal rite of consecrating communion to the American Episcopal church- thus giving it the Scottish heritage represented on their modern crest.
Seabury would serve until his death on the 25th of February in 1796.
The Last Word for today comes from 1 Peter 2:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 25th of February 2022 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who, when “push comes to shove, will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of [his] love,” he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who kept reading Samuel Seabury as Samuel Seaborn, and that’s a different character altogether. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.