There is much litigation going on currently in State courts over the polity of the Episcopal Church. At the same time, there do not appear to be any online versions readily available of ECUSA’s early Constitution, either as originally adopted or as subsequently from time to time amended. The commentary on the history of the Constitution and Canons published in 1981 by Messrs. White & Dykman, and reprinted in 1997, is available for download from this site (along with two supplements written by others, carrying the account through General Convention 1991). However, even it does not have in one place a complete version of ECUSA’s original Constitution, which is so important for understanding the nature of ECUSA’s mixed form of ecclesiastical polity.
Since the nature of ECUSA’s polity is so much in dispute these days, I have decided that as a public service, I will publish in this post the earliest version of the Church’s Constitution, as well as some further historical materials leading up to its formulation. The purpose will be so that everyone may access and understand the Church’s organic evolution (see this earlier post for even more detail and background), out of a meeting of delegates from the various successors, in each new State, of the previously established Church of England in the respective colonies.
Let us begin with the six principles for the formation of a national replacement in the States for the Church of England, as it had existed in the Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War. The Rev. Dr. William White, of Christ Church in Philadelphia, later one of the first Bishops in the newly established Church, first proposed them in a pamphlet which he had published in 1782, entitled The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered….
Read it all and please follow all the links also.