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Tuesday, November 14, 2017
5:30 pm High Altar
First American Bishop
The history is well-documented in Lesser Feasts & Fasts of the Episcopal Church (2000)
Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, November 30, 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned, as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1757, he became rector of Grace Church, Jamaica, Long Island, and in 1766 rector of St. Peter’s, Westchester County. During the American Revolution, he remained loyal to the British crown, and served as a chaplain in the British army.
After the Revolution, a secret meeting of Connecticut clergymen in Woodbury, on March 25, 1783, named Seabury or the Rev. Jeremiah Leaming, whichever would be able or willing, to seek episcopal consecration in England. Leaming declined; Seabury accepted, and sailed for England.
After a year of negotiation, Seabury found it impossible to obtain episcopal orders from the Church of England because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to the crown. He then turned to the Non-juring bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. On November 14, 1784, in Aberdeen, he was consecrated by the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Ross and Caithness, in the presence of a number of the clergy and laity.
On his return home, Seabury was recognized as Bishop of Connecticut in Convocation on August 3, 1785, at Middletown. With Bishop William White, he was active in the organization of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention of 1789. With the support of William Smith of Maryland, William Smith of Rhode Island, William White of Pennsylvania, and Samuel Parker of Boston, Seabury kept his promise, made in a concordat with the Scottish bishops, to persuade the American Church to adopt the Scottish form for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
In 1790 Seabury became responsible for episcopal oversight of the churches in Rhode Island; and at the General Convention of 1792 he participated in the first consecration of a bishop on American soil, that of John Claggett of Maryland. Seabury died on February 25, 1796, and is buried beneath St. James’ Church, New London.
On the Sunday that fell within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2011, our guest preacher (at all four services, preaching four separate sermons!) was The Right Rev'd Robert Arthur Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen, who made reference to the link between the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of the United States through Samuel Seabury. His 11am sermon from Sunday, January 23, 2011 is here.
We give thee thanks, O Lord our God, for thy goodness in bestowing upon this Church the gift of the episcopate, which we celebrate in this remembrance of the consecration of Samuel Seabury; and we pray that, joined together in unity with our bishops, and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Officiant: Fr Spurlock
Sung by: The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys
Prelude: A Verse of Three Parts, Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)
Introit: Call to remembrance, Richard Farrant (c. 1530-1580)
Responses: Thomas Tomkins
Psalm: 73 Anglican Chant (Stainer)
Service: Tone vii and Tone i in faburden, Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585)
Lesson: Joel 1:15–2:11
Lesson 2: Matthew 15:21-28
Anthem: Te lucis ante terminum, Thomas Tallis
Voluntary: A Verse for Mr. Archdeacon Thornburgh, Thomas Tomkins