Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Shield of the Anglican Province of America

The shield of the Anglican Province of America is based on the shield, or official heraldic symbol, of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America - as the APA asserts herself to be a legitimate heir and successor of the Episcopal Church. The APA shield is in most respects identical to the Episcopal shield. The only difference is the symbolism found in the upper left-hand field: the Episcopal shield displays nine Saint Andrew’s crosses in the shape of a Saint Andrew’s cross in order to represent the nine original Dioceses which signed the 1789 PECUSA Constitution. The Saint Andrew’s symbolism points to the fact that on November 14, 1784, the Episcopal Church in the USA received its first bishop from the Non-Juring Scottish Episcopal Church. Bishop Samuel Seabury was consecrated for the American Church as Bishop of Connecticut – he also introduced the Scottish Eucharistic Liturgy into the American version of the Book of Common Prayer. Hence, the Apostolic Succession of the American Church and her Liturgy are Scottish in origin.

The APA shield replaces the Scottish symbolism with that of Holy Scripture: the Alpha and Omega refer to the Divine Person of God the Son, Jesus Christ, God made Man (Revelation 1.8). The Chi-Rho (XP), meaning ‘Christ’ in Greek, Christos, was used by Constantine the Great as the symbol of his Christian civilisation. The Chi-Rho is one of the most ancient Christian liturgical and theological symbols. Because the Anglican Province of America sees herself as an essential continuation of the Anglican Church in her American expression, the similarities between her shield and that of the Episcopal Church have been purposely maintained. The shield reproduces the Cross of Saint George in red, the symbol of the English nation as well as the Church of England – the Cross represents the Faith of Christ Crucified, the Gospel, and, at same time, connects the American Church to her history and roots in the Church of England, from whence we ultimately received Apostolic Faith and Order. The blue field represents America, as the overall effect is like that of the American flag. Again, the Chi-Rho and Alpha and Omega represent the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the Head of His Body the Church. The Christocentric symbolism emphasizes the fact that the Church is founded solely upon the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, and all revelation and truth flow from Him. Obviously, the red, white and blue represent the colours of the American flag.

In particular, the APA shield is a new form of the original shield of the American Episcopal Church (the original name of the Anglican Province of America) which was created c. 1982. The American Episcopal Church united with another traditional Anglican jurisdiction named the Anglican Episcopal Church in North America in the early 1980s. Part of the fruit of that merger was the creation of our original shield. Originally our shield possessed the red cross, but the upper-left hand field was white and contained a red Chi-Rho and a blue Alpha and Omega insignia. Bishop Grundorf changed the colour scheme to its current configuration when the Anglican Province of America was given its current name and canonical structure in 1998.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently began attending an APA parish in St. Petersburg, FL called St. Philip's. What a beautiful family! Having been lost for the last several years, trying to determine what should be the appropriate way to handle the misguided innovations and heresies of the TEC, I had the good fortune of moving to an area where a Continuing Anglican church had been established. When I heard the service begin with the Decalogue and then later heard a sermon preached that took the Scripture and doctrines of the faith seriously, I knew my long wandering had ended. God bless the APA. It is a steadfast oasis in a wilderness of apostasy. What's more, I never encountered a more humble and welcoming church in my life. A real treasure...

Anonymous said...

I attend services at an APA parish in North Carolina and have learned that there is an ACC parish near my Georgia home. Can someone tell me (a) the theological, sacramental, and liturgical differences between the two, and (b) if there are few if any differences, why they have not merged?

Jeffrey Allen said...

The heresies within the episcopal church is scary and just sad. I think today after listening to our rector talk about how great it was for the churches worship halls to be lent out to the community for businesses as a great way to bring people together. While claiming that intolerance to Muslims was hateful and racist and a "white problem" I knew I must find an anglican community commited to our Lord Jesus Christ. I will not let my children be involved in that heresy.