The 18th Century

Are we Anglican or Episcopalian? The Labels We Wear

What’s the difference between the terms  “Anglican” and “Episcopal?” Isn’t it a bit of “overshoes” versus “galoshes?”  Don’t they identify the same thing? History and current usage show that why and when we use these labels is complicated. The origins of the word “Anglican” are simple enough.  The word “Anglican” can be traced back to …

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The Clandestine Marriage Act of 1753

The town of Magherangeeragh, Northern Ireland would never forget it.  It was in November 1937.  The clergyman had not met the couple to be married. Rebecca Cunningham, the bride, and Christopher Craig, the bridegroom were strangers to him. When Rebecca arrived she was escorted by Albert Muldoon the best man, and the clergyman didn’t bother …

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A Portrait of Heresy

It’s an imaginary scene. It’s the late 4th or early 5th century. It’s the south coast of England,  the Thames-side city of Londinium.  A monk has boarded a Roman ponto. Grasping the spar of its large square sail to balance himself,  he looked back on the Roman settlement. It gave him an odd feeling of …

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John Wesley – Evangelist to the Downtrodden

While preaching a sermon one day, John Wesley was dismayed to find that several members of his congregation had fallen asleep. “Fire! Fire!” he suddenly cried, whereupon the guilty parishioners jumped up with alarm. “Where?” they demanded, glancing around. “In hell,” Wesley replied, “for those who sleep under the preaching of the Word!” He is …

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Augustus Toplady – author of “Rock of Ages”

No one knows why a young English curate, Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) wrote his famous hymn, “Rock of Ages.”  Tradition says he was on horseback in the rock- hewn Somerset landscape when he got caught in a thunderstorm. He found a cleft in the rocks for shelter.  During the long storm he thought of Christ, his …

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“Saint Monday” and Monday Weddings

It was Monday, August 6, 1838.  John Harrison stopped in at work at 7 a.m.  then continued down the road two miles to a friend’s wedding.  After the wedding, Harrison had a pint of ale, went to a meeting of the Birmingham Political Union and went back to work.  To his astonishment,  his employer had …

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Susanna Wesley, Pioneer in Women’s Ministry

She grit her teeth. The curate‘s sermon was another diatribe that was  Biblically weak, critical of the poor, and took cheap-shots at her husband, the parish priest who was off in London.   What could she do? In 1712, the Church of England forbade women to preach and lead services, however Susanna Wesley cared about the …

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Isaac Watts – The Little Giant of Church Music

The jockey-sized teen winced. Why were worshippers forced to sing  such trite and dreary paraphrases of  the Psalms?  Anything had to be better than Ye monsters  of the bubbling deep, your Master’s praises spout; Up from the sands ye coddlings peep and wag your tails about. The lyrics were dreadful, and so walking home from …

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The Boxes of “Boxing Day”

December 26th is St Stephen’s Day, the patron saint of casket makers, deacons, bricklayers and stone masons – due to his execution by stoning (see Acts 7). At some unrecorded point in Church History, December 26th  also took on another name   – “Boxing Day.” While  the term “Boxing Day” suggests post-Christmas sales in big-box stores, …

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