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A Note on the Role of North America in the Evolution of Anglicanism

Paul V. Marshall

The history of the Anglican Communion indicates that North America has been a peculiar laboratory for developments the entire Communion has come to embrace. Contrary to the assertions made in the Windsor Report, the colonial churches in North America were not the object of Canterbury's special concern, and no contact between the churches can be found for thirty years after the new church's launch. The movement for what became the Lambeth Conference began in the General Convention of 1853, and was later echoed by the Canadians. Much of what the churches of the Communion value in governance and ecclesiology originated in North America, as both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical voices in England testify. Purely spiritual episcopacy, synodical government, and the sending of missionary bishops lead North American contributions to Anglican life. While history does not guarantee the rightness of the Canadian and Episcopal decisions, it suggests that they continue to be of significance for the evolution of the Communion.

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