Episcopal Church in the United States of America

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  in the nation's capital is the national cathedral of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the nation's capital is the national cathedral of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The Episcopal Church or the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is the American national church of the Anglican Communion. It includes 108 dioceses in the United States, the US Virgin Islands, Haiti, Taiwan, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Honduras, and has an extra-provincial relationship with the dioceses of Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It is sometimes known as the Episcopal Church in the USA, abbreviated ECUSA.

The motherchurch of the Episcopal Church is the Washington National Cathedral, which also serves as a gathering place for the nation, under charter by Congress.



The Episcopal Church was founded in 1789 after the American colonies proclaimed independence from Great Britain. Prior to the American Revolutionary War, the Episcopal Church was part of the Church of England, whose clergy are required to accept the supremacy of the British monarch. When the clergy of Connecticut elected Samuel Seabury as their bishop, he sought consecration in England. The Oath of Supremacy proved too difficult a problem, however, and he came to Scotland, where the Scottish bishops (at the time being persecuted by the state) consecrated him in Aberdeen on November 14, 1784, the first Anglican bishop outside the British Isles.

The American bishops thus descend in the Apostolic succession from the bishops of Scotland, and to this day the nine crosses which symbolise ECUSA's nine original dioceses in its arms form a St Andrew's cross, commemorating the Scottish link. In Scotland, the Episcopal Church is so known because unlike the national state Church of Scotland (which is Presbyterian, i.e. governed by Elders), it is governed by bishops (in Latin episcopi). The word "Anglican" comes from the Latin word Anglicana which literally means English.

The Church

Missing image
Shield of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America

Other than the name difference the national churches are roughly the same, however the different groups (i.e., High Church, Broad Church, & Low Church) within the national branches of the Church may be proportionally different in numbers. Like many other Anglican churches, it has entered into a full communion relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

In the United States the Church has a membership of approximately 3 million, and has had such notable members as more than a quarter of all presidents of the United States and Supreme Court chief justices as well as roughly half of the members of Congress and Supreme Court associate justices.

The full legal name of the national church corporate body is "The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America", but this name is rarely used.


The Episcopal Church in the United States has nine provinces, numbered as followed

  1. New England
  2. New York, New Jersey, Haiti, United States Virgin Islands, and American Churches in Europe
  3. Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
  4. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, eastern Lousiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
  5. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, eastern Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin
  6. Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
  7. Arkansas, Kansas, western Louisiana, western Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas,
  8. Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Taiwan, Washington
  9. Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela

See also: Dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America

The Book of Common Prayer

The Episcopal Church publishes its own Book of Common Prayer (BCP), which was last updated in 1979. The BCP contains the worship services or liturgies for all Episcopalians. The BCP is a primary source for the theology of Episcopalians. Other BCPs were issued in 1789, 1892, and 1928. A proposed BCP was issued in 1786 but not adopted. The BCP is public domain; however, any new revisions of the BCP are copyrighted until they are approved by the General Convention. After this happens, the BCP is placed into the public domain. The text is controlled by the Custodian of the Standard Book of Common Prayer.

Church Polity

The basic unit of governance in the Episcopal Church is the diocese. The ordained leader of the diocese is a bishop. Other ordained leaders include priests (or presbyters) and deacons. Laity participate fully in the life and governance of the Church.

Each diocese is composed of congregations. The ordained leader of a congregation is a priest, called a rector. Two primary lay leaders of every congregation are the wardens, sometimes referred to as senior and junior. In addition to the rector and wardens, there are additional lay persons elected to support the mission and ministry of the congregation. The rector, the wardens, and these laity comprise known as the vestry. The number of these additional laity vary depending on the size of the congregation.

The Church holds its General Convention every three years. The General Convention is bicameral. There is the house of bishops and the house of deputies, the latter being made up of both priests and lay persons. The head of the house of bishops is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. The head of the house of deputies is the president who is either a lay person or priest. The last General Convention was held in 2003. The next one will be held in 2006, in Columbus, Ohio.

Colleges Affiliated with the Episcopal Church

Seminaries of the Episcopal Church

See also

External links



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