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The Baptismal Revolution in the American Episcopal Church: Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Baptismal Covenant

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image of Ecclesiology

The Episcopal Church has come to espouse a developed form of baptismal ecclesiology, in which all laypersons are believed to be ministers by virtue of their baptism and the ordained ministry is understood as a particular form of the ministry of all the baptized. The adoption of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was significant for this. Also included in that book was a 'Baptismal Covenant' that has come to be seen as an iconic statement of the Episcopal Church's commitment to social action and 'inclusion'. This article documents the genesis and content of this developed form of baptismal ecclesiology and of the Baptismal Covenant, highlights their relevance for the ordination of women to the priesthood, and points to their significance for the moral and ecclesiological aspects of the current crisis in the Anglican Communion. Comparison is made with the ecclesiology of the Church of England, as expressed in its liturgy and in relevant reports.


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