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The Episcopal Church generally refers to Anglican Church movements outside of England, especially in the United States. Within Britain, the Anglican church in Scotland identifies itself as the Scottish Episcopal Church. Episcopalians all share the Book of Common Prayer, last revised in 1979. Theoretically, all the different Anglican or Episcopal Churches are in communion with each other, but in practise some of the more homophobic Episcopalian Churches in Africa and elsewhere refuse to stay in communion with other Episcopalian Churches that allow gay bishops and other religious leaders.
Prior to the American Revolution, the Church of England in what was later the United States was known as the Anglican Church just as everywhere else, but after the revolution all things British were suspect, so the church reorganized as the Protestant Episcopal Church and created their own prayer book instead of using the Church of England's prayer book though they still claim to be united in use of the Book of Common Prayer. They later dropped "Protestant" from the name and became just the Episcopal Church. The American Episcopal Church ordained the first woman bishop in 1989 and shock horror she was also African American.
The American Episcopalians are autonomous but acknowledge the spiritual headship of the UK Archbishop of Canterbury in some vague way. The Episcopal Church in the US is currently headed by Katherine Jefferts Schori, who has a Ph.D in Oceanography and she also supports gay unions and supported gay bishop Gene Robinson. Due to Katherine Schori's status as a female, several Dioceses have made requests for "alternative primatial oversight." The world communion of the Episcopal/Anglican Church has been under the threat of schism over the last few decades because of anti-homosexual bigotry relating to certain American churches' ordination of gay bishops and other gay clergy and the ordination of women bishops and other women clergy.
Despite its old traditions, the Episcopal Church has been one of the more progressive churches, supporting the Civil Rights Movement, ordaining women long before any other Church, supporting gay rights (going so far as to actually marry gay and lesbian couples), and running meaningful social programs. In other words, they actually make some attempt to do what Jesus preached. Amazing, isn't it?
The diocese of Pittsburgh has formally split from the American Episcopal Church over the ordination of Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop. At least one commentator believes the real reason is that the American Episcopal Church favors Social justice in ways that oppose the American Religious Right.