The churches and special worship
in Prayer, providence and empire
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Special worship demonstrates the confidence and authority of institutional churches in nineteenth-century ‘new world’ societies. To evidence this point, the chapter considers how churches responded to, and increasingly initiated, community-wide special occasions of worship. Non-Anglicans and non-established churches observed state days of worship more frequently and readily in settler colonies than they did in Britain, though how churches responded to orders and invitations from states varied considerably, as styles of worship within denominations differed. Indeed, occasions that had once been monopolised by Anglicans took on an ecumenical and multi-denominational character in the colonial world, though this important development, one that reveals much about relationships between churches, occurred at different speeds in Canada, Australia and South Africa. The chapter asks why non-established and ‘nonconformist’ churches were drawn to state-appointed acts of worship; it also considers the encouragement that special worship gave to those who believed the empire could be united by a common national or imperial church: Anglicans in particular felt their church could be the kind of broad-based institution that represented the diversity of a far-flung imperial spiritual community.

Prayer, providence and empire

Special worship in the British world, 1783–1919