An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Huntington, William Reed

(Sept. 20, 1838-July 26, 1909). Ecumenical leader and liturgical reformer. He was known as the "First Presbyter of the Church." Huntington was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He received his A.B. from Harvard in 1859. He studied for the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church under the direction of Frederic Dan Huntington, who was later Bishop of Central New York. He was ordained deacon on Oct. 1, 1861, and priest on Dec. 3, 1862. He was rector of All Saints Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1862-1883; and rector of Grace Church, New York City, 1883-1909. Huntington was a member of the House of Deputies of the General Convention, 1871-1907.

In The Church Idea (1870), Huntington presented the Anglican basis for an ecumenical "Church of the Reconciliation" in America in terms of acceptance of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God; the Nicene Creed as the rule of faith; Baptism and Eucharist, the two sacraments ordained by Christ; and the episcopate as the keystone of church unity. This "foursquare" basis for church unity came to be known as the "Quadrilateral." Huntington's efforts led to the adoption of the Quadrilateral by the House of Bishops at the 1886 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Chicago. It was not enacted by the House of Deputies at the 1886 Convention. However, the Quadrilateral was passed in a modified form as a resolution at the Lambeth Conference of 1888. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral continues to be the primary Anglican ecumenical statement and standard.

Huntington also sought greater flexibility and accessibility in the worship of the Episcopal Church. He sought to modernize Prayer Book worship in light of the needs of the American people. He called for a complete revision of the BCP at the 1874 General Convention. His Materia Ritualis was the working paper of the joint committee on Prayer Book revision prior to the 1883 General Convention. Huntington was a leader in proposing The Book Annexed to the Report of the Joint Committee (1883), which was a significant revision of the BCP. The Book Annexed was not accepted, but this Prayer Book revision process ultimately resulted in the 1892 BCP. Some of the prayers of The Book Annexed were later incorporated into the worship of the church, such as the prayer For the Poor and Neglected (BCP, p. 826). Huntington also had an important role in the canonical authorization of the order of deaconesses in the Episcopal Church. He died in Nahant, Massachusetts. His life is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on July 27. See Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.