What is the Episcopal Church?
The Episcopal Church is a Christian church based on the teachings of the Bible and complimented by the Book of Common Prayer. The Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) is the American branch of the Church of England (also known as the worldwide Anglican Communion), a body headed spiritually by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is the second largest Christian body in the Western world.
When was the Episcopal Church started in the United States?
The United States Anglican Church can trace its beginnings to the birth of America with the first English colony in 1607 at Jamestown, Va. In 1689, King's Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts opened and Trinity Church in New York City was consecrated. Not only churches opened, but also schools! In 1693, James Blair, an Anglican missionary to colonial Virginia, secured the charter for the College of William and Mary. King's College in New York, which is now Columbia University, was founded in 1754 and also shares its roots from the Anglican Church.
What is the structure of the Episcopal Church in the United States?
What does the word 'Episcopal' mean?
The Episcopal Church in the United States is organized into dioceses. Each diocese has a Bishop, who is elected by the members of the diocese and consecrated into the Apostolic Succession. The Apostolic Succession is considered to be an unbroken line of Church leadership beginning with the Apostles themselves. There are over 100 diocese in the United States. Each diocese is made up of congregations in a geographic region. The Episcopal Church has a three-fold order of ministry as handed down by the Apostles in direct descent: Deacons, Priests and Bishops.
The word "Episcopal" is derived from the Greek word for "bishop." Thus "Episcopal" means "governed by bishops." From an etymology (meaning of words) perspective, the word "Episcopal" is an adjective as in "I belong to the Episcopal Church," while the word "Episcopalian" is a noun as in "I am an Episcopalian."