Monday, January 30, 2012

The Church Seceded Too

As southern states seceded from the Union, dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the south began forming the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America on January 30th 1861.

As southern states began to secede from the Union in December 1860, the dioceses of the Episcopal Church in those states began to struggle over what their status was going to be.  The first diocese to separate from the main church was Louisiana’s.  The Episcopal bishop of Louisiana, Leonidas Polk on January 30th 1861 issued a proclamation, saying, "The State of Louisiana having, by a formal ordinance, through her Delegates in Convention assembled, withdrawn herself from all further connection with the United States of America, and constituted herself a separate Sovereignty, has, by that act, removed our Diocese from within the pale of 'The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.”  Although some bishops disagreed with Polk as to the causes, they did agree that the separation was made compulsory by changing politics.

The Confederate dioceses requested that representatives from all the dioceses of the seceded states meet at Montgomery, Alabama on July 3rd 1861.  At the meeting a draft of the new constitution and canons were drawn up.  The meeting ended with the declaration that the “secession of the States ... from the United States, and the formation by them of a new government, called the Confederate States of America, renders it necessary and expedient that the Dioceses within those States should form among themselves an independent organization.”

After the end of the Civil War, with the southern states back in the Union the members of the Confederate Episcopal Church, rejoined the Episcopal Church of United States at a general convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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