About the Episcopal ChurchWelcome to the Episcopal Church—a community of faith that seeks to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. Today, members of our church are known both as “Episcopalians” and “Anglicans.” The Episcopal Church (TEC) is one of 30 autonomous national churches that are part of the Anglican Communion. With 70 million members in 64,000 congregations in 164 countries, the Anglican Communion is the third largest body of Christians in the world, after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions. The current Archbishop of Canterbury is the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Justin Welby.


Anglican worship was first celebrated in North America on the coast near San Francisco, by Sir Francis Drake's chaplain, in 1579. The first regular worship began in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. English mission societies (SPG in particular) supported the early work under the direction of the Bishop of London, who never visited the American colonies. The American Revolution challenged the ongoing existence of Anglicanism, as many clergy departed for Canada or other parts of the British Empire. Lay leaders were responsible for continuing the work of parish churches and recruiting clergy. The first bishop for the new Episcopal Church was consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784, with two other bishops consecrated by the Church of England after changes in English law. At that point, The Episcopal Church became fully autonomous and soon began to send missionaries to other parts of the Americas and beyond. Today a quarter of the Anglican Communion's provinces derive at least in part from that missionary work. The Episcopal Church today includes 100 dioceses in the United States, and 12 additional dioceses or jurisdictions in 15 nations in Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.


The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late nineteenth century. Since the 1960s and 1970s, it has opposed the death penalty and supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests marched with civil rights demonstrators. Today the Church calls for the full civil equality of gay men and lesbians. Most dioceses ordain openly gay men and women; in some, same-sex unions are celebrated with services of blessing. In 2009, the Church's General Convention passed resolutions that allowed for gay and lesbian marriages in states where it is legal. On the question of abortion, the Church has adopted a nuanced position. About all these issues, individual members and clergy can and do frequently disagree with the stated position of the Church.

The Episcopal Church ordains women to the priesthood as well as the diaconate and the episcopate. The current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Curry.



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