Choral Evensong for Samuel Seabury

Trinity and Samuel Seabury

In 1784, the Rev. Samuel Seabury Jr., was chosen by a meeting of the Connecticut clergy in Woodbury to journey to England to request his elevation to a Bishop of a new Protestant Episcopal Church of America (somewhat awkwardly known as PECA) to “collect, govern and continue our scattered, wandering and sinking church.Seabury had attended Trinity Church while a student, was a disciple of our missionary priest-in- charge the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, and had been hosted for two and a half months by the parish while he was a prisoner in New Haven in 1775,

The English bishops refused his request, but he was ordained in Aberdeen by bishops of the “nonjuring” Scottish Episcopal Church on November 14, 1784 – on the condition that he study the Scottish rite of Holy Communion and work for its adoption, rather than the English rite of 1662. Trinity voted to give their new bishop ten pounds towards his salary.

This contribution was vitally important to kick-start the new church. The American churches, having separated from the Church of England, the funding from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in England was also permanently canceled. The former missionary priests had to either emigrate (usually to Canada), convince their parish to fully fund their salary, or find another parish in America. In October of 1785 at the annual meeting the parish voted to add to Rev. Hubbard’s salary the amount he had been getting from England. With this self-funding, Trinity no longer had a missionary priest-in-charge but an official rector. In 1797, Abraham Jarvis would become the second Bishop of Connecticut by a splendid consecration held at Trinity Church on October 181, 1797.

(From upcoming Edition 2 of “Two Centuries on the Green”, by Neil Olsen)