Daily Reading for November 14 • Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First American Bishop, 1784
Parish worship on the whole continued along prerevolutionary lines once the Episcopal Church had organized itself and adopted a Prayer Book. Regional variations persisted. Connecticut’s Bishop Seabury devoted himself energetically to his episcopal ministry, ordaining clergy for New England, making episcopal tours to administer confirmation (a rite previously unknown in a colonial church without bishops), and urging more frequent celebration and reception of Communion. When Seabury was consecrated in Scotland, his eucharistic theology seems to have been of the ordinary high-church kind characteristic in Connecticut in his day. But the Scots sent him back with a collection of pamphlets and books which set forth their own distinctive outlook, and in the next few years he seems to have adopted this outlook in its entirety. Others share with him the credit for the adoption of a variant of the Scottish eucharistic prayer in the 1789 Prayer Book, but none seem to have so consistently advocated the theology to which that text gives expression as Seabury did. He issued in 1789 An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion and in 1791 reprinted the catechism of the Scottish bishop George Innes of Brechin, which lists as first of the duties of the Sabbath “to offer and receive the Holy Eucharist.” In New London, he himself adopted the practice of a celebration each Sunday. He was ahead of his time, however, and was unsuccessful in persuading others to follow his example.
From Eucharistic Celebration 1789-1979 by Byron D. Stuhlman (Church Hymnal Corporation, 1988).