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Hallo again to all.

The American War of Independence formally ended with the surrender of England's army in 1781 and the subsequent Treaty of Paris in 1783.* The Americans had a newly-minted country, but they still worshipped in outposts of the Church of England. The English, sore losers, refused to send a bishop to America, which meant that priests could not be ordained in America, which meant that England was still in control of America's church. The problem was solved in November 1784 when Samuel Seabury was consecrated in Aberdeen as Bishop for America by three Scottish bishops. It was the first consecration of a bishop in Scotland in almost a century, and was the event that ultimately triggered the existence of the Anglican Communion. This revolutionary event was absolutely non-traditional, but it has, over time, become part of the traditional story of the US Episcopal Church. Three years later, when a growing America wanted a second bishop, American-born William White was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Oh, wait, we forgot to mention. American-born Samuel Provoost was also consecrated bishop in that same ceremony.

The fourth Anglican bishop in America was James Madison, but we confess that we needed to turn to reference material to learn that. After three consecrations of bishops for America, the fourth was certainly routine and almost traditional. Last month when the Rt Revd Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was consecrated Bishop of Indianapolis, she became the 1100th bishop for America. Downright traditional.

The Anglican church nurtures the notion that it is based on the principles of scripture, tradition, and reason. It is too political to make statements about whether scripture or reason is unchanging, but there is solid evidence that traditions change. Sometimes tradition changes rapidly.

This week's big news in the Anglican world is that up in the north of England, 60 miles from Hadrian's Wall, in a parish whose website has the modest name '', the Reformed Evangelical Church of South Africa (REACH SA) accepted an invitation from the Vicar to consecrate one of the ministers of that parish as a bishop. Much has been written about 'the Jesmond consecration'. If you have time to read only one article outside our News Centre, we recommend this by Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum. We've read so much about it that our eyes are glazing over, and we have come away with the notion that this consecration was done in the name of preserving tradition.

Two centuries ago an outlaw consecration was done despite tradition, and now we have something similar that claims to have been done to uphold tradition.

As we've already said, traditions change.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Historically, few breakaway churches succeed long-term. But it might well be that in this twenty-first century, few churches will succeed long term.

Tradition takes many forms, and can be in conflict with many things. A family that we know well has three daughters, all baptised and raised in the Anglican church. The oldest chose not to get married, but is in a relationship that has lasted longer than most marriages, and has an exemplary teenage child. The youngest disdains traditional relationships and most social norms, but can sing the soprano part of half of the hymns in her hymn-book and is an experienced acolyte. The one in the middle is engaged to be married next year, but refuses even to consider a church wedding. She is the only one of the three who attends church. She just doesn't want to be married in one. Her parents are resigned to an understanding that the daughter's life will not, however traditional she thinks it to be, match the parents' notion of tradition.

Traditions change, as do notions of tradition.

We shall see how this Jesmond consecration plays out. It will not be the end of the world, but some traditions will surely change as a result. And we shall see how our friends' daughter's non-church wedding plays out. Some family traditions will surely change as a result.

See you next week. That is our tradition.

Our Signatures

All of us at Anglicans Online

15 May 2017

*As with all major historical events, the truth is much more complex and nuanced than what can be fit into one sentence. The Wikipedia article about the American Revolution is a good starting point if you wish to know more.

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