This is the story of a body of Christians that has been described as 'the oldest Continuing Church.' Most Christians are completely unaware that for over two hundred years there has existed in England, and at times in Wales, Scotland, Canada, Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the USA, an Episcopal church similar in many respects to the Church of England: worshipping with a Prayer Book virtually identical to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, served by bishops, presbyters and deacons whose orders derive directly from Canterbury; and ecumenically enriched by Old Catholic, Swedish, Moravian and other successions.
The Free Church of England as an independent jurisdiction within the Universal Church began in the reign of George II. In 1991, the Church sent a bishop to attend George Carey's Enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury.
In addition to presenting the first detailed history of the Free Church of England, John Fenwick also explores the distinctive doctrinal emphases of the denomination, its Constitution, its liturgical tradition, its experience of the historic episcopate, and its many connections with other churches (including the Reformed Episcopal Church in the USA). He discusses why the Church has, so far, failed to fulfil the vision of its founders, and what the possible future of the Church might be - including a very significant expansion as many Anglicans and other Christians considering new options discover this historic, Episcopal, disestablished Church with its international connections and ecumenical character.
'John Fenwick's account is sure to remain definitive for years to come. He offers a brutally honest...survey of the denomination from its earliest years through to its recent crises.--Andrew Atherstone, Churchman, Autumn 2006 'a welcome study of the origins and development of the Free Church of England...original and stimulating'--Alan Munden "Anvil "