What is an “Episcopalian”?

An Episcopalian is a member of the Episcopal Church, which is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church was organized in America shortly after the American Revolution when it was forced to break with the Church of England on penalty of treason, because Church of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch.

The name “Episcopal” was chosen as the name of this new church and is from the Greek “episcope” – “having bishops.” But our Anglican roots are in 18 centuries of Christianity in England extending back to the time of Jesus. The Anglican Church officially began in 16th century England at the time of the Reformation.

Three strands of authority guide our search for truth.

  1. Scripture: the Bible, written by people inspired by the Holy Spirit, is a living, dynamic basis for our liturgy and worship.
  2. Tradition: preserves the essential truths in our basic worship liturgy of prayers, hymns and readings.
  3. Reason: allows us to explore and comprehend God’s works and to make responsible moral and ethical decisions.

© 2012 Church Divinity School of the Pacific