Caught by an 'Evil Infection': Postbellum Conflict in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina over the Role of African Americans in the Life of the Church

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Authors
Eichelberger, John Gary, Jr.
Issue Date
2020-05
Type
Thesis
Keywords
School of Theology Thesis 2020 , Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina , Ministry to African Americans , Bishop William Bell White Howe , Episcopal church and free and enslaved African Americans , Ordination of African Americans
Abstract
This thesis, which is divided into five chapters, chronicles attempts within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina to provide ministry to African Americans over the course of the nineteenth century, with particular focus on the post-Civil War challenges and controversies faced by Bishop William Bell White Howe as he sought to advance the recognition of black parishes and clergy. The first chapter provides background on outreach by, first, the Church of England and, subsequently, the Episcopal Church to both free and enslaved African Americans in South Carolina from its inception as a colony through the end of the Civil War. The second chapter offers an overview of how those efforts developed in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War through the 1871 diocesan convention election that resulted in Howe's elevation to the episcopacy. The third chapter provides biographical background on Howe and reviews his early efforts relating to race. The fourth chapter looks at the controversies that arose when St. Mark's Episcopal Church's applied to become the first predominantly black parish admitted to diocesan convention and how, despite Bishop Howe's support, that application was rejected. The fifth and final chapter chronicles the subsequent controversies over the ordination of African Americans in the diocese and how Bishop Howe's efforts to allow for the full participation of black clergymen at diocesan conventions were ultimately thwarted.
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