Anthology surveys Anglican history

Published April 1, 2009

The Anglican Church of Canada started differently than other parts of the Anglican world, and it developed differently too. Several things have made it unusual: its difficult geography, its prolonged colonial period, its unique personalities, and its distinctive cultural and economic contexts. This book is a fine resource for those who would like to connect themselves with this history.   

Originally,  if I’m reading the acknowledgements correctly, this volume was conceived as a denominational history. But somewhere along the way, it turned into an anthology of studies by eight writers. The initial design can be seen in three of the nine chapters, which collectively survey the period from 1578 to 1945.

The six other chapters focus on particular topics: missions, Anglican identity, General Synod, women, First Nations, and recent theology and liturgy. Like any multi-author work on overlapping topics, this one suffers from some repetitiveness and an unevenness in scale and viewpoint.

[pullquote]But even someone uninitiated into Anglican history can profit from its considerable excellencies.  Above all, the concluding chapter on the Anglican church and aboriginal peoples by Christopher Trott is absolutely superb in every way.

I liked the little sketches, serving as introductions to three groupings of chapters. These make a wonderful 18-page survey of Canadian Anglicanism.

The book’s greatest deficit is that it includes no survey of the period since 1945. The book also contains several errors of fact and dating, and some unguarded generalizations.  

Alan L. Hayes
is Bishops Frederick and Heber Wilkinson professor of church history at Wycliffe College and Toronto School of Theology, Toronto.  


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