The Episcopal Church, its History and its long Heritage
The Episcopal Church boasts a long history. The Episcopal Church, a hierarchical church, traces its heritage to
the beginnings of Christianity.
The Episcopal Church is an independent church which is a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican
Communion. Its origin is in the planting of the Church of England in the colonies in the seventeenth and
The earliest known celebrations of the Eucharist on North America were near San Francisco, CA in 1579 by Sir
Francis Drake’s chaplain and in 1607 at Jamestown, VA, an English settlement. Since those long ago 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.
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.
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 rules for the ratification of bishops, and through its canonical actions sets forth governance of
New dioceses are “formed with the consent of General Convention.” Each diocese 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 and British).
William White said that the Church of which he was a prime architect was to contain “the constituent principles
of the Church of England, and yet independent of foreign jurisdiction or influence.”
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
-- For more info contact:
Neva Rae Fox
Public Affairs Officer
The Episcopal Church
212-716-6080 Mobile: 917-478-5659