William Reed Huntington, Priest
27 July 1909
[Of interest chiefly to Anglican (or Episcopalian) readers]

W R Huntington, although never a bishop, had more influence on the Episcopal Church than most bishops. He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1838, the son of a physician, studied at Harvard, and was ordained a priest in 1862. In each of the thirteen General Conventions (held every three years, in years that have a remainder of 2 when divided by 3) of the Episcopal Church that met between 1870 and his death, he was a member, and indeed the most prominent member, of the House of Deputies. In 1871 he moved for the restoration of the ancient Order of Deaconesses, which was finally officially authorized in 1889. His parish became a center for the training of deaconesses. Huntington's was the chief voice calling for a revision of the Book of Common Prayer (completed in 1892), and his the greatest single influence on the process of revision. The prayers he wrote for it include the following, used during Holy Week and on Fridays.

Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he Suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

In his book The Church Idea (1870), Huntington undertook to discuss the basis of Christian unity, and he formulated the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, a statement adopted first by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in 1886 and then, with slight modifications, by the Bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion assembled at Lambeth in 1888. The statement set forth four principles which Anglicans regard as essential, and offer as a basis for discussion of union with other Christian bodies.

I append the preface as adopted by the House of Bishops in Chicago in 1886, followed by the Four Points in the slightly different wording adopted by the Lambeth Conference of 1888.

    We, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United
    States of America, in Council assembled as Bishops of the
    Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may
    concern, and especially to our fellow Christians  of the
    different Communions in this land, who, in their several
    spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:
         (1) Our earnest desire that the Saviour's prayer: "That we
    all may be one," may, in its deepest and truest sense, be
    speedily fulfilled;
         (2) That we believe that all who have been duly baptized
    with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
    the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church;
         (3) That in all things of human ordering or human choice,
    relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional
    customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and
    humility to forego all preferences of her own;
         (4) That this Church does not seek to absorb other
    Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of
    a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the
    wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which
    is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation
    of Christ to the world;
    But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian
    unity... can be restored only by the return of all Christian
    communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the
    undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its
    existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial
    deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and
    his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and
    therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who
    have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the
    common and equal benefit of all men.
As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore Essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:

[Here I switch to the Lambeth wording]
      (A) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as
"Containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being
the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
      (b) The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the
Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian
      (c) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself --
Baptism and the Supper of the Lord -- ministered with unfailing
use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements
ordained by Him.
      (d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the
methods of its administration to the varying needs of the
nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of the Church.

A personal observation: The reader will notice that the four points of the Lambeth Quadrilateral: Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments, and Ministry, correspond roughly to the points listed in Acts 2:41f, where Luke speaks of those who received the Gospel as it was preached on Pentecost.

+ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were + added that day about three thousand souls. + And they continued steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and + fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

These early Christians were in the apostles' doctrine. That is, they believed what the apostles taught about the Resurrection of Jesus, and about His victory on our behalf over the power of sin and death. That is to say, they believed the doctrine summarized in the Creeds.

[For background articles on the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, send the one-line messages


To the address LISTSERV@ASU.EDU or consult the web at http://www.aber.ac.uk/~spk/library/author.index.html ]

They were in the apostles' fellowship. That is, they did not seek to serve God as unattached individuals, nor did they form groups of persons of like minds with their own in whose company they might worship. They joined themselves to the existing band of believers, whose nucleus was the apostles. That is, they were united by participation in the ministry of the apostles and those whom the apostles deputized to carry on their work.

They participated in the breaking of bread. That is, they were regular participants in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. (That they had received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism has already been specified.)

They participated in the prayers. As far back as our records go, Christian services of worship have consisted principally of two things: (1) the reading of the Holy Scriptures and preaching based on them, accompanied by prayer, and (2) the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The pattern was set by Our risen Lord at Emmaus (L 24:13-35), when He first opened the Scriptures to His companions, and then "was known to them in the breaking of bread." The former part, the prayers and readings and sermons, would often be referred to simply as "the prayers."

End of personal observation.

Despite his involvement in the national affairs of the Church, Huntington was foremost a parish priest, for 21 years (1862-1883) as All Saints' Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, and for 26 years (1883-1909) at Grace Church, New York City. He died 26 July 1909.

PRAYER (traditional language)

O Lord our God, we thank thee for instilling in the heart of Thy servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for thy Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in thy promises, we may make known to all peoples thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

PRAYER (contemporary language)

O Lord our God, we thank you for instilling in the heart of Your servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for your Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in your promises, we may make known to all peoples your blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Psalm 133 or 145:8-13
Ephesians 4:11-16* or 1:3-10
John 17:20-26 (Bap)

Unless otherwise indicated, this biographical sketch was written by James E. Kiefer and any comments about its content should be directed to him. The Biographical Sketches home page has more information.