Christianity in Britain was already established and ancient by the time of the Council of Arles (314, A.D.), to which the Church of Britain sent bishops. Tertullian (185 A.D.) writes that the cross had conquered areas of Britain the eagle (Rome) had not. St. Augustine of Canterbury writes to Pope Gregory, after landing on British soil (597 A.D.), that the British Church already had its own ancient order, government and liturgy. Evidently, Christianity had come to Britain very early - most likely during the first century already. This is the beginning of our history.
This ancient and catholic Church gradually came under the government of the Roman see during the Middle Ages, but then regained the responsibility of regulating her own affairs during the necessary corrections of the English Reformation. This reformed and catholic Church throve under the pastoral hand of the English episcopacy, and under the authority of Holy Scripture she simplified the complicated worship of the later middle ages and corrected accrued abuses. The result was the eminently biblical and pastoral Book of Common Prayer, by which the English speaking people of the world were able to pray and worship truly in common as one corporate body.
This Church came to these American soils in the earliest British settlements of the 16th century, and after the Revolutionary War was organized as the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. During the latter 19th century, higher biblical criticism began to worm its way into American seminaries and universities, undermining confidence in the authority of God’s Word, and making it increasingly difficult for simple biblical Episcopalians to worship in “the old paths.”
Due to the forceful revisionism of the 1970’s, the Chapel of the Cross organized in 1986 as an independent Episcopal Parish until the realignment of the orthodox within Anglicanism should allow a return to the normal and regular episcopal government assumed by the Book of Common Prayer.
During those early years the Chapel cultivated local ministries and developed friendships with various continuing Churches and bishops. Since then the Chapel has found a home within the Reformed Episcopal Church and is looking forward to completing its full membership. The REC is of a sister spirit, having suffered a similar history in its own formation 137 years ago. It is also blessed with the distinction of maintaining an undivided denomination since it was organized in 1873 under the leadership of George David Cummins, a bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
The Reformed Episcopal Church has more than 13,400 members in 137 local parishes and missions, and has been privileged to serve during the current realignment of Anglicanism worldwide. The formal beginning of the Anglican
Church in North America in 2009 for which the founder members of the Chapel had been praying for since its inception has finally arrived. Adjusting back out of congregationalism poses its challenges, but the parish embraces the challenge and has nearly completed the process.