Southern Episcopal Church
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The Southern Episcopal Church (SEC or SEC/USA) was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1962 by a physician turned clergyman, the Right Reverend Burnice Hoyle Webster, and a number of former members of the Episcopal Church USA. Bishop Webster became the SEC's first presiding bishop. The SEC now considers itself a "Continuing Anglican" church, but its members point out that the founding of the SEC preceded the start of the Continuing Anglican Movement by a decade and a half.
The Southern Episcopal Church was established in reaction to liberal political and theological trends of the 1960s within the Episcopal Church USA. At particular issue in the formation of the SEC were media reports that the World Council of Churches, of which the Episcopal Church was a member, had contributed funds to terrorist political groups in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Africa. Also, the ordination of women to the priesthood was already being discussed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This later happened within ECUSA in 1976.
The founders of the SEC believed that if any group begins to deny the teachings of the Apostles as found in the New Testament then, eventually, that group will deny other teachings of the Apostles. TEC not only ordains women to all three levels of the clergy but open and practicing homosexuals and lesbians have been ordained as bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishop Webster and the other founders of the SEC predicted that all these things would eventually happen in TEC.
The SEC did not consider that it was forming a new denomination, but rather saw itself as serving as a church home for Episcopalians who wished to maintain their Anglican faith and traditions while reaching out to other conservatives. This is a position often espoused by other Continuing Anglican groups. The SEC uses only the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for its liturgy and the Authorized Version of the Bible (also known as the King James Version) for all public readings of the scripture.
The first missionary bishop for the SEC was the Rt. Rev'd Earle Robert LeBaron (1900 to 1972) of Pensacola, Florida. He was consecrated on Sunday, 7 January 1968 at the Church of the Redeemer, Knoxville, Tennessee by Presiding Bishop Dr. Webster and Bishop O. J. Woodward.
The SEC claims congregations in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Canada, Ireland, and India. The exact number of clergy is unknown. The current presiding bishop is the Most Reverend William Martin Sloane. All Saints Church in Nashville, Tennessee is the national headquarters. The building, located in the Sylvan Park neighborhood of the western end of the city, once housed St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. As of August 2009 the official name of the church is the Anglican Orthodox Southern Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
In 2008, Fr. William Martin Sloane was consecrated a bishop of the "Christ Catholic Church, Diocese of Boston". He had previously been a priest and pastor in the Southern Episcopal Church. The consecrating bishops were the SEC's Huron Manning, Charles George Fry of the SEC, Robert W. Hotes of the SEC (and also of the Lutheran Church-International), and several bishops of the Christ Catholic Church. The board of directors of the Christ Catholic Church, Diocese of Boston then voted for Sloane to be the CCC/DoB's archbishop and for the "CCC/DoB to function as a diocese of the SEC/USA". The Christ Catholic Church considers itself to be "Orthodox-Catholic" in belief. It affirms the Real Presence and the Seven Sacraments. Worship is conducted according to any of the historic liturgies, including the traditional Roman Catholic Mass, the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox churches, or a Roman Catholic version of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The liturgy can be in either English or Latin.
There is one unaccredited online seminary, Holy Trinity College and Seminary, which offers classes by external studies. It operates out of addresses in Clearwater, Florida, and Springfield, Missouri.
- Southern Episcopal Church website
- Anglicans Online! "Not In Communion" Lists the Southern Episcopal Church and other churches that have formed outside the Anglican Communion
- Adherents.com and Adherents.com reporting estimates of the denomination's size from different sources. Estimates are not current.