The English Reformation

The English Reformation was a gradual process begun by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) and continued, in various ways, by his three children and successors Edward VI (1547-1553), Mary Tudor (1553-1558), and Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Initially, Henry VIII opposed Martin Luther, and composed a treatise to this effect which led Pope Leo X to confer on him the title "defender of the faith." His desire for a male heir, however, led him to change his mind. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon bore him a daughter, Mary Tudor, but no son, and the pope in Rome refused to allow Henry to divorce her. The pope did, however, comply with Henry's request that he appoint Thomas Cranmer archbishop of Canterbury. In 1534, Henry coerced Parliament to enact laws which annulled his first marriage, and declared him the "supreme head" of the Church of England; this constituted a separation of the Church of England from the Church of Rome.

Henry's son and successor, Edward VI worked to consolidate the Reformation. Having succeeded Edward, Mary Tudor, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, sought reunion with the Church of Rome. After her death, however, the Reformation was definitively established under Elizabeth I. Many Christians in England, however, perceived the Church of England as half-hearted in its reforms. Among them were Puritans, Baptists, and Quakers.

Arrival of Episcopalians in the Ozarks

Founded in 1859, Christ Episcopal Church is the first Episcopal congregation in Greene County. According to historian Lynn Morrow, its 1870 Carpenter Gothic nave is also "the oldest surviving church building in Springfield." A Gothic Revival stone chancel was added in 1927-28. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thomas Cranmer portrait

Portrait of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer was the head of the Church of England from 1532 until 1556. He ordered that the Bible be translated into English and a copy to be placed in every church at a place where all could read it. When Mary Tudor became Queen of England and set about recatholicizing the kingdom, Cranmer was tried for heresy and executed.

Credit: Portrait of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) by the German painter Gerlach Flicke (1495-1558) National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 535. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. 

Book of Common Prayer

Title Page of The Book of Common Prayer (1760)

The first edition of The Book of Common Prayer (1549) was written by Thomas Cranmer. Cranmer sought to change the way people thought about God by changing the way they worshiped. The Book of Common Prayer set forth how Protestant worship services, including Sunday services, baptisms, marriages, and funerals were to be conducted in the English language.

Credit: Church of England [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. 

Book of Comon Prayer

Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church (USA)

(New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1979)

Lent by Dr. Victor Matthews

Christ Episcopal, Springfield MO

Christ Episcopal Church

601 Walnut Street, Springfield, Missouri. Built in 1870, Christ Episcopal Church is the oldest remaining church building in Springfield, Missouri. The congregation was founded in 1859. Courtesy of Springfield Greene County Library

Church flier

Flier for a Service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 515 E. Division Street, Springfield, Missouri

The Rev. Melville Moore was the first rector (pastor) of the parish, serving from 1886-1898.

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church

Flier image

Program Cover for the Memorial Service for Queen Victoria, February 3, 1901.

The service was held at the Baldwin Theatre (1891-1909). The Rev. W. S. Trowbridge of Saint John’s Episcopal Church led the service, and the sermon was given by the rector of Christ Episcopal Church, the Rev. W. T. Allan. The Baldwin Theatre on St. Louis Street could seat 782, many more than either of the Episcopal churches, and several hundred people attended the service.

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church


St. John’s Episcopal Church Decorated for Christmas Services in 1946.

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church

St Johns liturgy

St. John’s Episcopal Church Altar Party and Choir in the Recessional at the End of a Service in 2015.

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church

Shield sticker

The Shield of the Episcopal Church

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church

metal bookmark

Bookmark Commemorating the 125th Anniversary Celebration of St. John’s Episcopal Church in 2011.

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church

Episcopalian mug.

St. John’s Episcopal Church Coffee Mug with Episcopal Shield

Lent by St. John’s Episcopal Church