Our Prospectus

Over his fifty-sev­en years as rec­tor of Christ Church Philadel­phia, fifty years as the first Bish­op of Penn­syl­va­nia, and his cumu­la­tive forty-two years as first and fourth Pre­sid­ing Bish­op of the Epis­co­pal Church of the Unit­ed States, for which he was also the prin­ci­pal archi­tect, the Rt Rev’d Dr William White was instru­men­tal in liv­ing and teach­ing what we hold fast as a peren­ni­al­ly rel­e­vant form of chris­t­ian church­man­ship — one that is cen­tered on the per­son­hood and divin­i­ty of Christ Jesus, but is lib­er­al, lat­i­tudi­nous, rec­on­cil­ing, ratio­nal, and unabashed­ly human­is­tic. It may be, like so many of the great Penn­syl­va­ni­ans that left their mark on Amer­i­can his­to­ry, that White embod­ied an ide­al for which the mold was there­after bro­ken. How­ev­er, we, the prin­ci­ple share­hold­ers of the William White Soci­ety believe that it is our solemn duty to encour­age the cul­ti­va­tion of those virtues which Bish­op White spent more than half a cen­tu­ry preach­ing and prac­tic­ing, for the sake of both our eccle­si­as­ti­cal and sec­u­lar insti­tu­tions and there­by our chris­t­ian con­fes­sion and com­mon­weal in a time no less tumul­tuous, fac­tion­al, and uncer­tain.

To that end, we pro­pose a three­fold com­mit­ment to the cul­ti­va­tion of wis­dom, patience, and a rec­on­cil­ing tem­per, that we might lead one anoth­er into ways of sta­bil­i­ty and peace. We pro­pose, first­ly, a com­mit­ment to reli­gious edu­ca­tion, mak­ing acces­si­ble to every­one what became known as the Bishop’s Course — a read­ing cur­ricu­lum first com­piled by Bish­op White in a let­ter to Hen­ry Hobart. This cur­ricu­lum will pro­vide a ready foun­da­tion for any­one inter­est­ed in Clas­si­cal Angli­can for­ma­tion. But we pur­pose to go even fur­ther and cre­ate cur­ric­u­la that encom­pass the full lat­i­tude of Angli­can-Epis­co­pal thought as it has devel­oped in the past two hun­dred years — high­light­ing the very best of what has been thought and said. We will also seek to com­pile, edit, and pub­lish the extent works of Bish­op White him­self, always a mod­el wor­thy of study and emu­la­tion. Sec­ond­ly, we pro­pose to peri­od­i­cal­ly pub­lish patient, prag­mat­ic, and rec­on­cil­ia­to­ry orig­i­nal analy­sis and com­men­tary by our con­tem­po­raries. Third­ly, we will spon­sor the devel­op­ment of prac­ti­cal ways to struc­ture our com­mon life and min­istry in the world.

On the Rt Rev’d Dr Wm White

William White was born in Philadel­phia on April 4, 1748. He entered the Eng­lish school of the new­ly estab­lished Philadel­phia Col­lege (to become the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia) at sev­en, grad­u­at­ed to the Latin school at ten, and the col­lege at thir­teen, earn­ing his Bach­e­lors of Arts at sev­en­teen in 1765 and his Mas­ters of Arts three years lat­er. In 1770, he sailed to Eng­land and was ordained a dea­con by Philip Yonge, Bish­op of Nor­wich. Two years lat­er, he returned for his pres­by­te­r­i­al ordi­na­tion at the hands of Richard Ter­rick, Bish­op of Lon­don. White served as rec­tor of the Unit­ed Parish­es of St Peter’s and Christ Church in Philadel­phia from ordi­na­tion until death. He was award­ed his Doc­tor­ate of Divin­i­ty in 1781 from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia.

Fol­low­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, in 1782, he draft­ed his pro­pos­al for demo­c­ra­t­ic, fed­er­at­ed church gov­er­nance that includ­ed lay rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Case for the Epis­co­pal Church­es Con­sid­ered. In 1787, after long and care­ful nego­ti­a­tion, he become the first bish­op of the Amer­i­can Epis­co­pal Church­es to be con­se­crat­ed in Eng­land, with full col­le­gial recog­ni­tion and with­out oblig­a­tion to take the Oath of Suprema­cy, by John Moore, Arch­bish­op of Can­ter­bury; William Markham, Arch­bish­op of York; Charles Moss, Bish­op of Bath and Wells; and John Hinch­liffe, Bish­op of Peter­bor­ough. He served as the first and fourth Pre­sid­ing Bish­op of the Epis­co­pal Church (1789; 1795–1836), and as the first and fourth Pres­i­dent of the House of Deputies (1785, 1789).

As a lead­ing cit­i­zen of Philadel­phia, White was an exem­plar of chris­t­ian phil­an­thropy, found­ing, orga­niz­ing, or sit­ting in trust over count­less edu­ca­tion­al and char­i­ta­ble enter­pris­es, includ­ing found­ing the first Sun­day school in the Unit­ed States, a school for Native and African Amer­i­can chil­dren, the Mag­dalen Soci­ety in Philadel­phia, the Penn­syl­va­nia Insti­tu­tion for the Deaf and Dumb, and the Philadel­phia Soci­ety for the Alle­vi­a­tion of Mis­eries of Pub­lic Pris­ons. He was also a long­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal Soci­ety and a trustee of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. His com­mit­ment to lib­er­al gov­er­nance, to relief for the unfor­tu­nate and suf­fer­ing, and to edu­ca­tion for all was so com­plete that it could be said upon his death, “I offer you no detail of the virtues and actions of the illus­tri­ous man whose remains are before you, because it would be but a recital of the cat­a­logue of human duties, with the dec­la­ra­tion that he ful­filled them dai­ly and hourly. His domes­tic love, his social excel­lences, his pro­fes­sion­al assiduity and fideli­ty … all these are known to you; but they were so con­stant, that to name exam­ples would be to leave unno­ticed far more of the list than could be laid before you.”

Our Undertakings

The William White Society’s work is pri­mar­i­ly tex­tu­al — archival research, tran­scrip­tion and edit­ing, as well as pub­li­ca­tion. We’re look­ing to make avail­able the tex­tu­al resources that com­prise our the­o­log­i­cal cur­ric­u­la, Bish­op White’s orig­i­nal works, and con­tem­po­rary com­men­tary, analy­sis, and schema­ta in the most user-friend­ly and acces­si­ble for­mats, using as much as pos­si­ble the bleed­ing edge of dig­i­tal media, deeply informed by the wis­dom accrued by type­set­ters and typog­ra­phers in pre­sent­ing the writ­ten word over the past five hun­dred years. In addi­tion to the col­lec­tion, edit­ing, and index­ing of this work, we seek to make it avail­able in the most read­able for­mats, both for brows­er-based view­ing, as well as in print­able and dig­i­tal read­ing for­mats. We’re espe­cial­ly excit­ed to exper­i­ment with some of the most inno­v­a­tive tech­niques that emerged in dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing, includ­ing, we hope, on-demand print­ing of cus­tom type­set edi­tions of these works. Our prin­ci­pal share­hold­ers have been inspired by the work done for twen­ty years by the Soci­ety of Arch­bish­op Jus­tus and hope to par­tic­i­pate in the impor­tant work of dig­i­tiz­ing Angli­can thought.

On Shareholding

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