The Free Church of England: otherwise called the Reformed Episcopal Church - c.1845 to c.1927

Fenwick, Richard David (1995) The Free Church of England: otherwise called the Reformed Episcopal Church - c.1845 to c.1927. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

In which are examined the birth of the Free Church of England, together with the Reformed Episcopal Church (United Kingdom) and the Reformed Church of England which grew from it. A study of the processes of denominational development and growth, division, and finally re-union in 1927. Containing also a survey of the united denomination to the year 1993. On 31 August 1863 the Free Church of England was registered in the High Court of Chancery, its roots having been in Devon during the 1840s. Largely reacting to the Puseyite sympathies of Bishop Phillpotts of Exeter, "Free" liturgical churches were established in association with the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, controversy being exacerbated by Phillpotts' prosecution of James Shore, Curate of Totnes. But whilst the Connexion moved towards Congregationalism, in 1876 a separated and far-spreading FCE received episcopal orders from the American Anglican secession, the Reformed Episcopal Church, later causing the Established Church many problems. Two secessions followed - the Reformed Episcopal Church (UK), and the Reformed Church of England. The politics and lives of the three resulting Churches were labyrinthine. Complications included the falls of Bishops Gregg (RCE) and Richardson (REC), after which both denominations united in 1894. The path to unity between the FCE and the REC (UK) in 1927 was also fraught, the REC (UK) nearly moving to Anglicanism in 1920. Meanwhile, the new century saw public indifference to theological "issues", and cataclysmic changes from the Great War. A survey from 1927 to 1993 identifies leadership problems and decline through the 1950s and 1960s; however, new opportunities are offered through unity discussions with the Established Church. Finally, a chapter of Case Studies analyses the mercurial nature of the newly-founded churches in the last century - conclusions linking closely with the broader study. In Wales, however, there were also other issues. From 200 congregations established through the years, 34 remain (in England, New Zealand and Russia). The study aims not just to re-construct the narrative, but to identify and analyse the political, personality and other complex dynamics involved. Above all, bound theologically and liturgically by its doctrinaire stand, the FCE remains essentially a 19th century institution struggling to meet the very different demands of the 20th. Nevertheless, its durability emerges strongly. However small, it stands as an honourable part of the wide spectrum of Christendom, with its own traditions and integrity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 06 May 2022 12:24
Last Modified: 06 May 2022 12:56
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1976

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