St Joseph's Episcopal Church

16921 West Newberry Road
Newberry, Florida 32669
Phone: 352-472-2951



Anglican Church services in America were first held in 1607 in Jamestown, Va. Except in Maryland and Virginia, there were few clergymen of the Established Church in the colonies. The New England Puritans, although they had not actually seceded from the Church of England, proscribed all that was Anglican. However, in 1686, when the colonial charter of Massachusetts was revoked, Church of England clergymen were appointed in that colony. In 1689, King's Chapel, Boston, was opened, and Trinity Church in New York City was consecrated. Anglicans were active in establishing institutions of higher learning in the colonies. In 1693, James Blair, an Anglican missionary to colonial Virginia, secured the charter for the College of William and Mary. King's College (now Columbia Univ.) was founded in 1754.

An American Church

During the American Revolution the personal loyalties of the church's clergy and laity were seriously split, and American independence brought about the disestablishment of the Anglican Church. After the Revolution the first objective of American Anglicans was to organize a native episcopacy and a national church. The new ecclesiastical body was called the Protestant Episcopal Church, a name approved in 1789 by the first General Convention of the denomination, which also adopted a constitution and a revised version of the Book of Common Prayer. Dr. Samuel Seabury of Connecticut was consecrated bishop in 1784 by bishops of Scotland, and William White of Pennsylvania and Samuel Provoost of New York were consecrated bishops in England in 1787. In 1817, General Theological Seminary was organized, and in 1820 the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society was established.

Episcopal churches were founded by settlers in the newly opened regions of the West. During the Civil War the church was necessarily disunited, but at the General Conference of 1865 there was a full reunion. In 1873 a group of clergy and laity withdrew from the main body, in disagreement over certain sacramental and ritualistic practices, and formed the Reformed Episcopal Church.

In recent decades the church (renamed the Episcopal Church in 1967) has been deeply involved in the ecumenical movement and in focusing the attention of Christians on social issues. Decisions in favor of prayer book revision and the ordination of women were made by the General Convention in 1976. In 1989, Barbara Harris of the Massachusetts diocese was consecrated as the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion, and in 1993 Mary McLeod became bishop of Vermont, the first woman in the United States to head a diocese of the church. The growing role of women in the church and differences over social issues, including the church's stand on homosexuality, caused divisiveness in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, the Episcopal Church joined with several others in establishing full communion with the country's largest Lutheran denomination. The election by the church in 2003 of its first openly homosexual bishop threatened to split both the church and the Anglican Communion.

Source: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press.