Support the Café

Search our Site

Protestant? Or one holy catholic and apostolic? Or both?

Protestant? Or one holy catholic and apostolic? Or both?

It was 47 years ago today that the House of Bishops voted 79-56, and without debate, to drop the word “Protestant” from the name of the official title of the denomination of what’s popularly referred to as The Episcopal Church.

That only commended the action to the other House. In a compromise move, the House of Deputies added a preamble to the Constitution. The effect was a recognition that “The Episcopal Church” would now constitute a legally acceptable alternative designation.

The first sentence of the Preamble as it currently stands:

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

Even so, the fuller title remains.

This organization shall be called The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and shall be considered as comprehending all persons who are members of the Church.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I never really understood this, even when I was an Episcopalian. I don’t think it makes much difference, either. I never have understood the reluctance for some Anglicans, even when I was one, to be referred to as Protestant (well, at least lately). It doesn’t disqualify you from being a “catholic” … most mainstream churches confess belief in the church catholic. I imagine the historic episcopate plays into your definition.

Which causes me to ask– what makes a Catholic?

As an ELCA Lutheran, I am proud to call myself Protestant AND Catholic … and cry touché at the first two responses. I heard some awful, and awfully long, sermons in my Anglican life!

Finally, I agree with C. Wingate. Everyone else considers Anglicans to be Protestant…and ditto the “The.”

C. Wingate

There’s not really a lot of point in identifying us as not Protestant when everyone else is going to do so. That said, I really think put the word “The” in an acronym is exceedingly lame.


Living in America, with a First Amendment and an Article 6, Paragraph 3 (“…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”)enshrined in our Constitution, we may forget that The Church of England, no matter how “Anglo-Catholic” particular individuals are, considers itself a “Protestant” church.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 declared that succession to the throne of England (and later to the UK and the other Commonwealth realms) be limited to the PROTESTANT descendants of Sophie, the Electress of Hanover. No Roman Catholic nor anyone who marries one can ever become sovereign.

And the point made above about lengthy “Protestant” sermons? I certainly can name more than a few Episcopal preachers who dearly love to go on and on, bless their homiletically challenged hearts.

Of course, the British political component doesn’t affect us here. I just love the opportunity to use the word “Electress” in a sentence.

D Curlin

Apps 55753818692 1675970731 F785b701a6d1b8c33f0408

I must confess that the name “protestant” grated on my nerves in the time just after my move from Roman Catholicism into the Episcopal Church. It was, however, merely a knee-jerk reaction caused, I assume, by the fact that as an RC child and teen I was repeatedly told that there’s was the “One True Church” and all “protestant sects” were heretical. I’ve since then grown up and gotten over it…personally, I think we have more important issues to worry about, such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. I do, however, agree that “protestant” is an important part of our history, and should be recognized as such, even if we do not entirely agree with it’s implication. After all, the 39 Articles are still in the prayer book but very few people would argue that they are to be accepted as infallible.

-Cullin R. Schooley

Peter Pearson


Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café