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Episcopal Church (United States)

Episcopal Church (United States)
The arms of the Episcopal Church includes both the cross of St. George and a St. Andrew's cross.
Show NameThe Episcopal Church
CaptionThe arms of the Episcopal Church includes both the cross of St. George and a St. Andrew's cross.
PrimateKatharine Jefferts Schori
Headquarters815 Second Avenue
New York, New York, United States
TerritoryThe United States and dioceses in Taiwan, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe
Population2,175,616 baptized

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The Episcopal Church (also officially known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States (including its unincorporated territories), but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe. The Episcopal Church is the Province of the Anglican Communion in the United States and most other territories where it has a presence (excluding Europe). The Episcopal Church describes itself as being "Protestant, Yet Catholic". In 2009, the Episcopal Church had a baptized membership of 2,175,616 both inside and outside the U.S. In the United States, it had a baptized membership of 2,006,343, making it the nation's fifteenth largest denomination.

The Church was organized shortly after the American Revolution when it was forced to separate from the Church of England, as Church of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch. It 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, and the Caribbean. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands encompasses both American and British territory. In Europe, the Church's Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe co-exists with the Church of England's Docese of Gibraltar in Europe and with the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain.

The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th century. Since the 1960s and 1970s, it 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. Today the Church calls for the full civil equality of gay men and lesbians, and the Church's General Convention has passed resolutions that allow 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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