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Episcopal Church Emblem

There are political overtones to this emblem, which traces the Church's history back to 17th century North America.

Episcopal Church Emblem

Background

Protestantism in the American Colonies was established by the Church of England in the 17th century. The American congregations became independent of the C of E soon after the American Revolution ended, becoming known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the US.

Until that time, only adult white male owners of property had had the right to vote, but not for politicians in the British Parliament that governed them. Thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free of the British Empire. Armed revolution followed until the British decided, with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, that America was a waste of gunpowder.

Following the war were many liberal social and intellectual adjustments. Changes were slow, but significant. Chattel slavery, for example, was to remain part of society for generations to come. Bitterness against the British institutions continued for a long time also, and it was against this background that the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America was founded.

Episcopal Church Shield
Episcopal Church Flag

Their current emblem is usually shown as a shield or a flag and within this emblem can be seen several elements, each with a special meaning:

  • The red cross (as a Greek or Latin cross in the shield, or a Nordic cross in the flag) is an unmistakable reference to the St. George's Cross of England and reflects the Episcopal Church's Anglican roots.

  • The nine white Mission Crosses in the canton (top left quadrant) represent the nine original North American dioceses. The founders of the Church were also the founding fathers of the independent United States of America and it is no coincidence that the layout of these crosses is similar to the Confederate Flag's Southern Cross.

  • As with the Confederate Flag, the crosses are arranged as a Scottish St. Andrew's Cross. The Scottish link can be traced to an American priest, Samuel Seabury, who was consecrated bishop in Aberdeen at the Episcopal Church of Scotland in November 1784.

    Scotland was, by that time, part of Great Britain, yet Seabury did not have to swear allegiance to the British Crown. This was because when the Catholic King James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland refused to swear allegiance to the new monarchs William and Mary.

    As a consequence, the Presbyterian Church was made the official Church of Scotland. The Episcopal Church of Scotland was disestablished and no longer officially recognised by the State. Therefore it was not necessary seek permission from the Parliament of England to consecrate Seabury, and Seabury was not required to reciprocate with any display of loyalty to the Crown.

    Even so, Seabury was a loyalist at heart and this made him unpopular to some when he returned to America. But he had strong support from the majority of the New England clergy and became the Church's first Archbishop

    The nine dioceses convened in Philadelphia in 1789 and adopted the Constitution of the Church with a House of Bishops, a House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, and the Book of Common Prayer. Today, some congregations still use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer of Scotland.

  • True 'red, white and blue' patriots may see the emblem's colours match those of the Flag of the United States of America. For other Christians, the white represents the purity of God, and the red cross His sacrifice and that of the martyrs. The blue represents fidelity and Mary, the Mother of God

  • Within the separate congregations that use this emblem, the width to the arms of the red cross may vary and there may be different shades of blue.

    The emblems shown on this page conform to the Church's standard web colours (red: #D8001D and blue: #4278D3). The white crosses are usually Crosslets or Budded, each with their own meaning.

Today

Today, perhaps the most contentious issues facing the Church are the roles of women and gays in the church, and these issues drag people once more to the depths of politics. (See Anglican Use)

Fortunately for all, the fundamental beliefs and basic teachings of the Church (catechism) are steadfast:

For further (easy to read) information on the catechism, see www.episcopalchurch.org/...

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