History Overview of the REC
The Rt. Rev. George David Cummins
The Reformed Episcopal Church was organized in New York City in 1873 by eight
clergymen and twenty laymen who were formerly priests and members of the Protestant
Episcopal Church. A long debate over the excessive ritualism and exclusive attitude
of the Protestant Episcopal Church toward other denominations lay behind the
separation. The immediate cause of the division lay in the participation of
Bishop George David Cummins, Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, at a Communion Service
held in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. In the face of
criticism and with the conviction that the evangelical and catholic nature and
mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church were being lost, Bishop Cummins resigned
as Assistant Bishop of Kentucky and transferred his Episcopal oversight to a
new jurisdiction called the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Doctrine and organization of the Reformed Episcopal Church
are similar to that of the Episcopal Church with several important exceptions:
- Holy Scripture is the highest authority in the Reformed Episcopal Church.
- The Reformed Episcopal Church vigorously holds to the plain understanding
of the 39 Articles of Religion of the English Reformation and adopted them as
the doctrinal standard of the Church at her founding.
- Clergymen ordained as Presbyters in other churches may be
received into the ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church. If their ordination
is irregular, such orders must be regularized by the laying on of hands of a Bishop.
Members are admitted on letters of dismissal from other Protestant denominations.
- Worship is liturgical. At Sunday morning worship, the use of the Prayer Book,
recently revised to conform with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), is required.
The 1928 BCP is also authorized for use. At other services the use of the Prayer
book is optional while at any service extemporaneous prayer may be used by the
- The triennial General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church is not like
the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA since her bishops do not
constitute a separate house but, rather, vote with the Clergy.
There are three Theological Institutions within the United States (Philadelphia,
PA; Summerville, S.C.; Houston, TX). The Reformed Episcopal Church is in fellowship
through concordat with the Free Church of England (Otherwise known as the Reformed
Episcopal Church in England), the Anglican Province of America and is a founding jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America.