The Wider Church

The Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, and includes 109 dioceses in 17 nations. Established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, known as the Church of England, had a strong following in colonial America. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required. As a result, the Episcopal Church was formed. Samuel Seabury, of Connecticut, was its first bishop.

The mission of God, in which the church is privileged to participate, as stated in the Book of Common Prayer’s catechism (p. 855), is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, previously Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, is the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He is chief pastor to the Episcopal Church’s 1.5 million members in 17 countries and 109 dioceses, ecumenical officer, and primate, joining leaders of the other 42 Anglican Provinces in consultation for global good and reconciliation. Curry was elected at the 27th General Convention on June 27, 2015 and invested at Washington National Cathedral on November 1, 2015.

The Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of 42 autonomous national and regional Churches plus six extra provincial Churches and dioceses; all of which are in Communion – in a reciprocal relationship – with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Communion’s spiritual head.

There is no Anglican central authority such as a pope or a “confession” or other document that must be signed. The four “Instruments of Unity” of the churches include:

  • The Lambeth Conference (all bishops meet every 10 years)
  • Anglican Consultative Council (lay persons, deacons, priests, and bishops, elected)
  • Primates’ Meeting (all bishops who head provinces)
  • Archbishop of Canterbury (England)

Communion life, however, is primarily found in the relationships between Anglicans at all levels of church life and work around the globe; dioceses linked with dioceses, parishes with parishes, people with people, all working to further God’s mission. These Christian brothers and sisters share prayer, resources, support and knowledge across geographical and cultural boundaries.