Today we celebrate Edward King. He was Bishop of Lincoln from 1885 to 1910 and a leader of the nascent Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England. And for which he was prosecuted.
Ordained a priest in 1854, he was a founder of the leading Anglo-Catholic Theological College in the Church of England, St. Stephen’s House at Oxford.
As Anglo-Catholicism evolved into the Oxford Movement, it became controversial for some of its “Romish” rituals that, critics charged, brought Roman Catholic practices into the Protestant church.
A Public Worship Regulation Act was proclaimed in 1874 to restrict it. Bishop King was prosecuted under that Act, for six “ritualistic practices.” Those included wearing vestments for the Eucharist, using thuribles and incense, “lights” (six candles on the altar), using unleavened bread for communion, facing east while celebrating and mixing water with wine.
Rather than have him tried by a lay court, the Archbishop of Canterbury revived his archepiscopal court. The Lincoln Decision that came out of that court allowed use of candles, mixing of the elements and facing eastward. It also directed priests to perform the consecration in view of the people.
Quaint as it may seem today, it was a landmark decision in its time. Within a few years most of the practices became commonplace. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, visiting King’s shrine at Lincoln in 2010, and denounced the decision as an “embarrassment to church and state".