The General Convention of 1789 met at Philadelphia on July 8, with the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina represented by clerical and lay deputies. For the first time in the history of the American Church a bishop–William White of Pennsylvania–was present at a General Convention. Bishop Seabury, smarting under some question as to the validity of his consecration by Scotch bishops, was absent, as was also Provoost, Bishop of New York “detained by indisposition.” There was no representation from the dioceses of New England. By this time the need for the unity of the church was pressing and the convention was adjourned till September “for the purpose of settling articles of union, discipline, uniformity of worship, and general government among all the churches in the United States.”
When the adjourned Convention met, Bishop Seabury was present together with deputies from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, this being the first time the New England churches were represented in General Convention. Certain modifications were made in the Constitution to meet the views of New England, and on October 2 it was finally adopted. The Convention then separated into two houses–the House of Bishops and the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies.
The way was now open to proceed to the adoption of a Book of Common Prayer for the American Church. Immediately a difference of opinion manifested itself. The Bishops held that the English Prayer Book was still the Liturgy of the American Church and that “it should be taken as the book in which some alterations were contemplated.” On the other hand, the Deputies took the position “that there were no forms of prayer, no offices and no rubrics until they should be formed by the Convention now assembled.” Hence they appointed committees to “prepare” the various offices.
The revision covered a period of thirteen days….
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