The Hearse Ride...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


What is High Church, and what is Low Church?

And while were on it, is there a Middle Church?
posted by David G. at 4:44 AM


In popular parlance, high church is characterized by elaborate liturgy with emphasis on eucharist, low church is characterized by unadorned liturgy with emphasis on "the Word". In days past, you could count on finding Eucharist at a high church and Morning Prayer at a low church.

More academically, the high church tradition placed higher value on the role of bishops, ecclesiastical structures, and hierachical authority for the sake of unity and the preservation of apostolic doctrine. The low church tradition placed a higher value on local authority, usually of the laity (congregationalism).

And yes, there is a middle church tradition. It's called "broad church", which values the good in both previous traditions. Most Episcopal congregations probably fall into this category.

But all three of these are ways of speaking that have less and less meaning since the publication of the Book of Common Prayer 1979. When they are used at all, it is usually in the popular sense, not the academic one.

7/15/2008 10:26 PM  

I consider myself Middle Church.

7/18/2008 12:22 AM  

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