The Free Protestant Episcopal Church
in the United States
(FPEC) began as an overseas outreach of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England. The English group was formed on November 2
from the merger of three smaller churches; others were to join later. The ordination of bishops
from within the apostolic succession
was of major importance to this group, as also was having the church recognized as a lawfully constituted denomination
. The latter event occurred, at least tacitly, when an Archdeacon
from the group was exempted from World War I conscription
in 1917 due to his status as a clergyman
, which would not have been permitted had the group not been considered a lawfully constituted denomination.
This church has traditionally been quite small. There are various reasons for this, but one of them seems to be that clergy have tended to pass though it as a church in which to be ordained by bishops from the historic apostolic succession before moving on to other, larger church bodies.
While maintaining apostolic succession, the Free Protestant Episcopal Church generally has held to the position of the Evangelical or Low-Church end of the Anglican spectrum, in opposition to the growth of Anglo-Catholicism. The FPEC has known much internal dissension, some based on theological disputes and some on personalities, as is common to many small denominations.