Episcopal Church History

Uphold your Church, O God of truth, as you upheld your servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of your eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-Athanasius: Bishop of Alexandria, 373


The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ, in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which numbers nearly 80 million.


The mission of the church, as stated in the Book of Common Prayer’s catechism (p. 855), is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

The 2012 General Convention established the Anglican Communion Five Marks of Mission as a mission priority framework for the 2013-2015 triennium:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The Episcopal Church has its origin is in the planting of the Church of England in the colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Episcopal Church has a long history and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.
The earliest known celebrations of the Eucharist on North America were near San Francisco in 1579 by Sir Francis Drake’s chaplain and in 1607 at Jamestown, Va., an English settlement.
Since those days, our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions, and is celebrated in many languages. We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer.
William White said that the Church, of which he was a prime architect, was to contain “the constituent principals of the Church of England, and yet independent of foreign jurisdiction or influence.”
Since the end of the American Revolution (when American Episcopalians became independent from the Church of England), The Episcopal Church has been organized on three levels: with a General Convention on the national level, individual dioceses, and parishes.

  • The General Convention, made up of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, has ultimate legislative authority. It authored (and continues to amend) the Church’s Constitution, establishes the Book of Common Prayer, sets out the rules for the ratification of bishops, and through its canonical actions sets forth governance of the Church.
  • New dioceses are “formed with the consent of General Convention.” Each dioceses offers “unqualified accession” to the Constitution and Canons of the Church. Dioceses, in turn, require that individual congregations must accede to the Constitution and canons in order to be members of the diocesan convention.
  • Dioceses govern themselves through conventions (sometimes called councils), and in turn also pass canons, but these are subservient to the national canons.


All clergy swear loyalty to “Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship” of The Episcopal Church.
Today, The Episcopal Church has members in the United States as well as in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Taiwan, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands (both US & British).

History and Heritage available at The Episcopal Church website: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/