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“The beauty of the Episcopal tradition is that it is open to questions and new possibilities, as well as ancient teachings. Imagine a spiritual practice that is both grounded in tradition and open to new possibilities.”
from The Episcopal Church
The Rev. George Anne Boyle, Saint Thomas Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church strives to live by the message of Christ, in which there are no outcasts and all are welcome. Walking a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions, we are a sacramental and worship-oriented church that promotes thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be, as followers of Christ.
The Episcopal Church, having its roots in the Church of England, is also an Anglican Church. Like all Anglican churches, the Episcopal Church is distinguished by the following characteristics:
Organization of The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church has between two and three million worshipers in about 7500 congregations in 100 U.S. dioceses, plus ten dioceses in other countries and outlying U.S. territories, and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
The church is divided into nine geographical provinces. It is governed by a bicameral General Convention, which meets every three years, and by an Executive Council during interim years. The General Convention consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The two top leaders of the church are the Presiding Bishop, who is also called Primate and Chief Pastor, and the president of the House of Deputies.
The Episcopal Church in the United States of America is sometimes called ECUSA. The Episcopal Church is a province of the Anglican Communion. The legal name of the Church is “The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and Affiliates.”
History of The Episcopal Church
A conference of three clergy and twenty-four lay delegates met at Chestertown, Maryland, on Nov. 9, 1780, and resolved that "the Church formerly known in the Province as the Church of England should now be called the Protestant Episcopal Church." On Aug. 13, 1783, the Maryland clergy met at Annapolis and adopted the name "Protestant Episcopal Church." At the second session of the 1789 General Convention, Sept. 29-Oct. 16, 1789, a Constitution of nine articles was adopted.
The new church was called the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" (PECUSA). The word "Protestant" noted that this was a church in the reformation tradition, and the word "Episcopal" noted a characteristic of catholicity, the historic episcopate. The first American BCP was based on the Proposed Book of 1786 and the 1662 English BCP. It was ratified by the 1789 General Convention. Alterations or additions to the BCP require the approval of two successive General Conventions. BCP revisions were ratified in 1892, 1928, and 1979.
Over the years there were numerous efforts to change the name of the church and to drop the word "Protestant." Among the names suggested were "The Reformed Catholic Church," "The American Catholic Church," "The American Church," and "The American Anglican Church." The 1967 General Convention voted to add a preamble to the Constitution, which states, "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church)...." The title page of the 1979 BCP states that the Book of Common Prayer is "According to the use of The Episcopal Church."
Source: The Episcopal Church