Episcopal Church (United States)

The Episcopal Church, based in the United States with additional dioceses elsewhere, is a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is a mainline Protestant denomination and is divided into nine provinces. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African American bishop to serve in that position.

Episcopal Church
Arms of the Episcopal Church: Argent a cross throughout gules, on a canton azure nine cross crosslets in saltire of the field.[1]
ClassificationMainline Protestant (with various theological and doctrinal identities, including Anglo-Catholic, Liberal and Evangelical)
ScriptureHoly Bible
TheologyAnglican doctrine
GovernanceUnitary (General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
Presiding bishopMichael Curry
Distinct fellowshipsAnglican Communion
Parishes7,098 (2019)
AssociationsAnglican Communion
National Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
Christian Churches Together in the USA
Full communionChurch of Sweden[2]
Union of Utrecht
Philippine Independent Church
Mar Thoma Syrian Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in America
RegionUnited States,
Further dioceses in
Latin America and the Caribbean
LanguageEnglish, with Spanish, French
Liturgy1979 Book of Common Prayer, Revised Common Lectionary
Headquarters815 Second Avenue
New York, New York
United States
Origin1785; 238 years ago (1785)
Branched fromChurch of England
AbsorbedChurch of Hawaii (1890s)
Members1,678,157 active members (2021)[3]
1,520,388 active baptized members in the U.S. (2021)[4]
Other name(s)The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, La Iglesia Episcopal, La Iglesia Episcopal Protestante de los Estados Unidos de América, L'Église épiscopale, L'Église protestante épiscopale des États-Unis d'Amérique
Official websitewww.episcopalchurch.org Edit this at Wikidata
The Archives of the
Episcopal Church
Constitution and Canons 2018

As of 2021, the Episcopal Church had 1,678,157 members,[3] of whom 1,520,388 were in the United States.[4] In 2011, it was the nation's 14th largest denomination.[5] In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, or 3 million people, self-identify as mainline Episcopalians.[6] The church has recorded a regular decline in membership and Sunday attendance since the 1960s, particularly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.[7]

The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Episcopal Church describes itself as "Protestant, yet Catholic"[8] and claims apostolic succession, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders. The Book of Common Prayer, a collection of rites, blessings, liturgies, and prayers used throughout the Anglican Communion, is central to Episcopal worship. A broad spectrum of theological views is represented within the Episcopal Church, including evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, and broad church views.

Historically, the members of the Episcopal Church have played leadership roles in many aspects of American life, including politics, business, science, the arts, and education.[9][10][11][12] About three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were affiliated with the Episcopal Church, and over a quarter of all Presidents of the United States have been Episcopalians.[13] Historically, Episcopalians were overrepresented among American scientific elite and Nobel Prize winners.[14][15] Numbers of the most wealthy and affluent American families, such as Boston Brahmin, Old Philadelphians,[16] Tidewater, and Lowcountry Gentry or old money, are Episcopalians.[10][17] In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Episcopalians were active in the Social Gospel movement.[18]

Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a more liberal course, though there remains a wide spectrum of liberals and conservatives within the church.[19] It has opposed the death penalty and supported the civil rights movement. The church calls for the full legal equality of LGBT people. In 2015, the church's 78th triennial General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions.[20] In view of this trend, the conventions of four dioceses of the Episcopal Church voted in 2007 and 2008 to leave that church and to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America. Twelve other jurisdictions, serving an estimated 100,000 persons at that time, formed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) on December 3–4, 2008. The Anglican Church in North America and The Episcopal Church are not in full communion with one another.

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