The UECNA is run on what might be described as a ‘Bishop in Synod’ or a ‘Bishop in Presbytery’ system where the duties of governance are shared. This echoes some aspects of Ussher’s plan for a moderated Episcopacy, which was proposed during the run-up to the English Civil War, but its more specific context is William White’s The Case of the Episcopal Church in the United States Considered (1782.) White proposed creating State and Federal Conventions, consisting of clergy and laity, to administer the Church, over which would be elected a presiding officer, who would undertake the functions of a bishop until such time as the historic episcopate could be secured from England. The State Conventions started meeting in 1783, and the first General Convention was held in 1785.
At this stage, the Conventions were unicameral, with the clergy and laity sitting and deliberating together, and this was only modified in 1789 to encourage and facilitate Bishop Seabury’s participation in the General Convention. With various small adjustments, the bishop and convention model at state/diocesan and federal level has continued until this day. Its intention is to make the government of the church cooperative and consultative, rather than a straightforward monarchical system.Read more