The Episcopal Church in the United States was originally the Anglican Church or the Church of England. King Henry VIII, in the 1530s, in an attempt to break away from papal influence broke from Rome to start his own Church, which traces its English roots back to the 4th century. The term Episcopal derives its meaning from "episcopos", the Greek word for Bishop. It´s used in the context of Church rule in contrast to Presbyterian or Congregational forms.
Later, during the reign of Edward VI the Church leaned more protestant and the Book of Common Prayer was adopted. Having exerted considerable influence throughout the world, including other Protestant denominations it consists of 39 Articles including marriage, baptism, Communion, and other primary doctrines of the faith. The Church practices a traditional worship service which includes the sacraments of Baptism for adults and infants and Communion.
From the very beginning of America´s founding, the Anglican Church has practiced its faith. From Francis Drake who landed in California, to Walter Raleigh who landed with chaplain at Virginia. With practitioners that include a who´s who list of America´s most intelligent and influential leaders, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Jay and many, many others, Anglicanism took its deepest roots in the American South. Originally clergy were British so they were distrusted by the American patriots.
Having taken a special oath to the King of England many fled back to England, Canada or retained their loyalty despite vigorous persecution here in the Colonies. By the end of the Revolutionary War the Church had to reorganize since it had no bishop and no formal Church associations. ordained in Scotland in 1784.
Originally known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, its first bishop of Samuel Seabury of Connecticut who, after waiting a year to be ordained in England, eventually was
Noticeable among the churches is the sense of "high" Church with elaborate ceremony and services and "low" which tend to be less involved and often more evangelical.
In the end, England had little choice but to formally recognize this new entity in the New World. Soon, the Bishop of Canterbury recognized a bishop from New York and Pennsylvania in 1787, the same year of the American Constitution. In 1789, the Church´s own Constitution was adopted in Philadelphia. The Book of Common Prayer was adapted for American use and eventually the name would be shortened to the Episcopal Church. It soon became an independent body completely detached from England´s domination.
During the American Civil War the Episcopal Church was the only denomination that did not split as the nation divided in two. Therefore, it was a simple process of continuing in unity after the war ended.
Episcopalians profess two Christian creeds; namely, the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. A general statement of agreement exists based on the articles of the Church of England. There is considerable latitude in "nonessentials". Liberals and conservatives on all of sides of many issues have found the Episcopal Church a comfortable place to worship and exercise their faith. Noticeable among the churches is the sense of "high" Church with elaborate ceremony and services and "low" which tend to be less involved and often more evangelical. The Episcopal Church has some of the most beautiful Churches in the U.S, including the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, also known as the "National Cathedral" in Washington, D.C. Because of its ecumenical nature, this cathedral is often used for services that are important to the nation including funeral of dignitaries.
Over the centuries, the Episcopal Church, like others, has been the subject of schism, controversies and difficulties. Past issues were the ordination of women to the priesthood and the revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Most recently, the ordination of an openly gay Bishop from New Hampshire has started an internal controversy where many are not sure the denomination any longer accurately represents their beliefs.
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