The Missionary Society
Every member of the parishes and worshiping communities in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut are also members of its Missionary Society. Originally founded in 1813 as a voluntary society to support missionaries and new parishes, and charted by Connecticut's General Assembly in 1818, its constitution was changed in 1835 to make all Episcopalians in Connecticut members of the "Missionary Society of the Diocese of Connecticut." By 1921, however, the Missionary Society had become a holding company for ECCT's property and assets. The Executive Council functioned as its board of directors..
In 2015 Connecticut's Annual Convention voted to change its Constitution again, restoring the emphasis on mission and establishing a Mission Council. The resolution was reaffirmed, as required, in 2016, making it official.
The preamble in new Constitution reads:
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, historically and again today known as the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, consists of every member of every Episcopal Parish and Worshiping Community in our State. Together, we convene as a missionary society to participate ever more fully in God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation, to employ faithfully the resources with which we are continually blessed, to promote solutions to challenges shared across our State, our Nation and the world, to foster our lives as disciples and apostles of Christ, and to enrich our common worship.
The new constitution may be viewed here.
The following is a history of the Missionary Society in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. It is adapted from an article by the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, published in 2014 in CRUX, the annual magazine of ECCT. It is found in full here.
Starting in 1701, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG - in England) missionaries shape the Anglican Church in Connecticut and religious identity is recognized as greater than the local parish, part of the catholic (universal) church.
- 1775-1783: Crisis of the Revolution forces Anglican colonists, mostly Tories, to disappear or adapt to the changing context and culture of the new nation.
- 1784: Samuel Seabury of Connecticut is elected and consecrated bishop for the church in the U.S.
- 1813: The Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church founded in Connecticut as a voluntary society to support missionaries and new parishes.
- 1818: The Missionary Society of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut is chartered by the Connecticut General Assembly.
- 1821: General Convention organizes the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America (DFMS)
- 1835: DFMS Constitution declares that each Episcopalian, by virtue of baptism, is a member of the Missionary Society of the "national" church
- 1863: Donations & Bequests, Inc. (D&B) is created to manage the growing financial assets of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) and parishes
- 1866: ECCT deems all baptized Episcopalians in Connecticut are members of its Missionary Society
- 1919: General Convention creates a National Council to oversee missions, Christian education, and social service; DFMS is subsumed under the National Council as the "holding company" of its assets
- 1921: Annual Convention in Connecticut creates a large Executive Council and the Missionary Society becomes the "holding company" of assets. The funds are managed by D&B and the Executive Council serves as the board of the Missionary Society.
- 2015: Annual Convention approves changes to the constitution of the Missionary Society, reclaiming focus on mission; requires second reading in 2016 to be in effect. The proposed changes includes establishing a Mission Council.
- 2016: Annual Convention approves changes.