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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes the origin and development of the concept of ‘missionary bishop’ from the mid-nineteenth century. Charting the origin of the term in the American Episcopal Church as it expanded westwards, which saw the appointment of the first ‘missionary bishops’ whose role was to plant churches, it shows how its own traditions of ‘primitive’ episcopacy chimed in with the elevation of the ‘apostolical succession’ by the Oxford Movement, which again emphasized the importance of the early church. This understanding of episcopacy allowed non-established missionary bishops to be sent across the British Empire, and even beyond the realms of the British Crown. The chapter concludes that a ‘primitive’ missionary episcopate was to some degree a cypher for a non-established, ‘free’ form of Anglicanism which created an independent ecclesial identity that nevertheless did little to challenge the wider imperial project.

Keywords: mission, primitive episcopacy, Episcopal Church, Oxford Movement, missionary societies, colonial bishops, British Empire

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