Welcome to the Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America grew out of the Church of England in the colonies after the Ameri­can Revolution. Today, it is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion whose spiritual leader is the Archbishop of Can­terbury and while it remains autonomous of the Church of England, this affiliation unites the Episcopal Church with Anglican congregations in 160 countries worldwide.

The word Episcopal is derived from the Greek episkopos, meaning bishop, indicat­ing that we are governed by bishops; but lay people, bishops, priests and deacons all work together in the life of the church as it continues in the mission of God.

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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 Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female primate in the Anglican Communion.




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