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The Episcopal Church


About the Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church (TEC or ECUSA), is the Province of the Anglican Communion in the United States, Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe. The Church was organized shortly after the American Revolution when it was forced to break with the Church of England on penalty of treason as Church of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch, and became, in the words of the 1990 report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Group on the Episcopate, "the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles". Today it is divided into nine provinces and has dioceses outside the U.S. in Taiwan, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands encompasses both American and British territory.

The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late nineteenth century and since the 1960s and 1970s has played a leading role in the progressive movement and on related political issues. For example, in its resolutions on state issues the Episcopal Church 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. 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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