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Ritualism 

Proposed canons on ritual were considered at the General Conventions of 1868 and 1871, but no canons on ritual were enacted. However, resolutions condemning ceremonies expressing doctrines foreign to the church were adopted at the 1871 General Convention, and the pastoral letter of the House of Bishops condemned the new ritualism. Ritualism was one of the issues that led some radical evangelicals into schism from the Episcopal Church in 1873. George David Cummins, Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, and others organized the Reformed Episcopal Church. The General Convention of 1874 did pass a canon on ritual. Many hoped this would satisfy the evangelicals, and prevent further departures from the Episcopal Church. This canon called for a bishop to investigate any use of ceremonies or practices in the bishop's jurisdiction symbolizing "false or doubtful doctrine." The bishop was empowered first to admonish and then bring to trial any member of the clergy who persisted in these practices. However, this canon did virtually nothing to slow the expansion of ritual practices in the Episcopal Church. Only one trial for ritualism took place. In 1877 Oliver Prescott received episcopal admonishment for his ritual practices. The canon on ritual was quietly repealed at the 1904 General Convention. 




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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