Impact of the Revolution on the Established Church of England

Glebe Church and the battle for the hearts and minds of the Virginia Colonists. The conflict between Great Britain and her thirteen colonies in America had a tremendous impact on the church in Virginia. Virginia was a royal colony, which meant that the established Church of England was the dominant faith tradition. The head of the Church of England was and is the monarch. In 1775 this dynamic led to many some dramatic encounters, the most notable of which was a standoff between Parson John Agnew of the Bennett’s Creek Parish and one of his Vestryman named William Cowper. One Sunday morning Parson Agnew chose for his text the statement of Jesus to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (the text appears is Mark 12, Matthew 22 and Luke 20). Agnew interpreted this saying of Jesus to mean that the Colonists should maintain their loyalty to His Majesty, King George III. During his sermon Mr. Cowper ordered the Reverend to sit down, when Parson Agnew replied that he was “doing my Master’s business” Mr. Cowper asked; “Which Master? Your Master in Heaven or your Master overseas?” Mr. Cowper then proceeded to suggest that if Parson Agnew did not remove himself he would be removed by force. Parson Agnew stepped down from the pulpit and never ascended into it again.1 According to the history of the Parish, Parson Agnew removed to Canada where he joined the Canadian Forces and was later captured by the French. Bennett’s Creek Parish now has two Congregations that continue to function within the Episcopal Church in the…

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