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Episcopal Church

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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 practice 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.

History[edit]

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.

Current status[edit]

The American Episcopalians are autonomous but acknowledge the spiritual headship of the UK Archbishop of Canterbury in some vague way.[1] The Episcopal Church in the US is currently headed by Michael Curry, the first African American to hold the position. Immediately preceding Curry was Katherine Jefferts Schori, who has a Ph.D. in Oceanography, supports gay unions, and supported gay bishop Gene Robinson during her tenure as head of the Episcopal Church. Due to Katherine Schori's status as a female, several Dioceses have made requests for "alternative primatial oversight."[2] The liberal branches of American Episcopalianism have not succeeded in establishing any meaningful, loving relationship with African Episcopalians lead by Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda which favor re-criminalising homosexuality.[3] 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. Liberal Americans and Africans are not in communion with each other but both are in contact with Canterbury, England. Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby hopes he can get branches that disagree over sexuality to cooperate over issues like climate change and inter-religious violence.[3]

Despite its old traditions, some branches of the American Episcopal Church have been among 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 so far?

Several African churches have formed, 'missionary congregations' in the United States employing American conservatives and have taken worshipers from the Liberal American churches. American conservatives also write speeches and manifestoes for the Africans.[3] 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.[4]

Though in recent decades parts of the Episcopal church have been among the more socially liberal forms of Christianity, historically the episcopal church supported the eugenics movement as it moved into the United States.[5]

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby sees a possible temporary or permanent worldwide split over LGBT and women's ordination and over how to deal with the Bible.[6]

A meeting of bishops was held in Canterbury in 2016 and the Anglican Church went so far as to ban the United States Episcopalian Church from being represented on major bodies or voting on doctrine or strategy for three years. [7] The Archbishop of Canterbury claims that it was not done punitively, but everybody knows better than to believe him.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby wants Anglican churches to focus rather on other important issues like climate change and religious violence. In the developing world Anglican churches are growing rather than declining as in the West. Some in the developing world resent the dominance of former colonial rulers within Anglicanism.[8] [9] [10]

See also[edit]

Footnote[edit]