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Historic Episcopate 

The succession of bishops in the history of the church from the apostles until the present. During the colonial period there were several efforts to bring the historic episcopate to America, but none succeeded. Samuel Seabury went to England in 1783 to receive the historic episcopate. It proved impossible for Seabury to be ordained and consecrated a bishop in England because English law required all ordinands to swear an oath of loyalty to the English sovereign. Seabury was ordained and consecrated into the historic episcopate by nonjuring bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland on Nov. 14, 1784. On June 26, 1786, Parliament passed an act which granted the Archbishop of Canterbury the right to consecrate three bishops who would not be required to take the oath of loyalty to the sovereign. William White and Samuel Provoost were consecrated Bishops of Pennsylvania and New York, respectively, on Feb. 4, 1787, and James Madison was consecrated Bishop of Virginia on Sept. 19, 1790. On Sept. 17, 1792, Thomas Claggett was consecrated Bishop of Maryland by Bishop Provoost, assisted by Bishops Seabury, White, and Madison. This combined the lines of succession of the historic episcopate in the Episcopal Church. The fourth point of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral states that one of the "inherent parts" of the sacred deposit of the Christian faith is "The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church" (BCP, pp. 876-878). 




Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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