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Agapemonism

A religious movement founded by Henry James Prince (1811-99), an evangelical perfectionist. Ordained in 1840, Prince became a curate first in the Bath and Wells diocese and later in the diocese of Ely. Both bishops inhibited him. It was probably in 1843 that he began to make extravagant statements which gave the impression that he was claiming to be in some sense an incarnation of God. A community was formed at Spaxton where a magnificent residence was acquired and called Agapemone (Abode of Love). Prince declared that community of goods was binding upon believers, and numerous devotees handed over their property to him. The legal case Nottidge v. Prince revealed grave disorders, and the movement was generally discredited, though Prince and a number of followers continued to live in the Agapemone. In the 1890s the movement enjoyed a revival under J.H. Smyth-Pigott, formerly a curate of St. Jude's, Mildmay Park. Calling themselves “Children of the Resurrection,” his followers built a meeting place known as the “Ark of the Resurrection.” In 1902 Smyth-Pigott proclaimed himself to be Jesus Christ, and the movement lost its vogue. Some of Prince's writings breathe a spirit of devotion to Christ, but they are marred by an erotic element. Regarding himself and Samuel Starky, his former Somerset rector, as the two witnesses of Revelation 11, Prince proclaimed the doom of Christendom, for example in The Council of God in Judgment.

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