Sunday Reflection

The Consecration of Charles Inglis 12 August

First Anglican Bishop in Canada, 1787 — Commemoration

On this date in 1787 a priest named Charles Inglis was consecrated bishop of Nova Scotia, with jurisdiction over the Church of England in settlements as far west as the Niagara peninsula; and in commemorating this event we mark the official beginning of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Inglis himself was born into a family of Scottish Episcopalian clergy who had moved to Ireland. Poverty and a lack of opportunity led him to emigrate to Pennsylvania, where he worked as a school teacher while studying for ordination. He was made a priest in 1758 and served as a missionary in Delaware before moving to Trinity Church in New York City.

With the approach of the American Revolution, Inglis became an ardent defender of loyalty to the Crown — so much so that, after independence, the State of New York passed a bill which denied him amnesty and confiscated all his goods. Despite being forced into exile in England, he still loved America and planned to return and settle among the Loyalists in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. At this point the English government finally decided that Anglicans in British North America should have their own bishop; and though Inglis was not the first choice of the authorities, he turned out to be the only available candidate. So, on August twelfth, 1787, he was consecrated bishop at Lambeth Palace.

His new charge was enormous, for it covered all of the Maritime provinces, Quebec, and what is now Ontario. His advancing years and ill health made it difficult for him to travel, and he spent most of his time in Nova Scotia, with occasional visitations to New Brunswick. Nevertheless, until his death in 1816, he proved to be an effective leader and administrator, sensitive to the unique conditions of the Church of England in Canada. We honour him for his patience in building our Church and for his pastoral wisdom in sustaining it through its earliest years.

Collect for Charles Inglis:   Eternal God, who laid your hand upon Charles Inglis and made him the first bishop of your Anglican flock in Canada, grant to each and all of us the insight of faith, the eagerness of hope, and the skill of love, that we may continue to build upon the one foundation of life, which is Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

(For All the Saints, The Anglican Church of Canada)

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