The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is one of 38 member provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion. TEC has over 7,400 congregations in 110 dioceses with 2.2 million members. While the majority of members of TEC are located in the United States, TEC also has members in Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands and the Convocation of Churches in Europe. The leader of TEC is the Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Bishop Schori is the first woman to lead TEC, and was elected at the 75th General Convention in June 2006.

The Anglican Communion is made up of 70 million members in 64,000 congregations in 164 countries. The member churches of the Anglican Communion are joined together by choice in love, and trace their roots to the Church of England. Because of this shared ancestry, they maintain a “communion” with each other, but they have no direct authority over one another. The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion is the Most Rev. Justin Welby, 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Church of England. However, Archbishop Welby does not have any direct authority over any Anglican Church outside of the Church of England.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) traces its origins back to the Church of England, which was created by King Henry VIII of England in the midst of violent religious disagreements of the 16thcentury. This was the time of the Reformation, and after several disagreements with the pope, King Henry VIII cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the newly independent Church of England – also known as the Anglican Church. The Church of England spread through colonization. However, after the American Revolution, the Anglican congregations in the newly independent United States wanted their church to be free of the King of England as well as their country. Thus, they reorganized themselves and created a new church. The word “Episcopal” was chosen to emphasize the historic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Today, TEC is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is the third largest body of Christians in the world, after the Roman Catholic and Eastern orthodox communions.

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