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The Feast Day of William White, First Bishop of Pennsylvania

July 17, 2010

Prior to the American Revolution, the American branch of the Church of England had no bishops on colonial soil, but were instead governed from overseas.  After the Revolution, (during which most of the Anglicans in the colonies were of the Loyalist bent) the Church of England would not consecrate bishops for the revolutionaries.  So, Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the United States, had to travel to Scotland to be consecrated in 1784.  Shortly thereafter, in 1787, William White and Samuel Provoost, sailed to England where the Bishops of York, Canterbury, Bath, Wells, and Peterborough consented to consecrate them.  William White, who was born in Philadelphia in 1747, became the first bishop of Pennsylvania, and was later elected to serve as Presiding Bishop of the United States for that church’s first General Convention in 1789, and again from 1795 to his death in 1836.  White is remembered as being the chief architect of the Constitution for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and for his many cogent writings on church governance.

The Collect for William White

O Lord, who in a time of turmoil and confusion didst raise up thy servant William White, and didst endow him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead thy Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, we beseech thee, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry thy people may be blessed and thy will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Fr. Ryan+

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:16 am

    I thought only saints has feast days? BTW, we had quite a good feat day at St George’s Chicken BBQ yesterday, didn’t we?!!

    • July 18, 2010 9:36 am

      Pete, good question! The Anglican Church recognizes those men and women declared saints by the Roman Catholic church but does not declare saints of its own in the same way. Instead it honors those who have gone above and beyond in some extraordinary way by commemorating them on the Calendar known as Lesser Feasts and Fasts. So, Bishop William White’s day of commemoration is of a lower order of magnitude than, say, St. Luke’s Feast Day.

      You can see this Calendar here: Calendar of the Church Year

      Fr. Ryan+

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