Episcopal Church (United States)
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The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a United States-based member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is also known as the Episcopal Church in the United States of
America (ECUSA). It is divided into nine provinces and has dioceses in the U.S., Taiwan, Micronesia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as the Convocation
of Episcopal Churches in Europe and the Navajo land Area Mission. The current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female primate
in the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church describes itself as being both "Protestant and Catholic". Some refer to Anglicanism as a major branch of Christianity in its own right, alongside Roman
Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. In 2013, the Episcopal Church had 2,009,084 baptized members, of whom 1,866,758 were in the U.S. In 2011 it was the nation's
14th largest denomination. The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear
allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and became the first Anglican province outside the British Isles. The Episcopal
Church has become a rich and, considering its comparatively small size, one of the most prominent of United States churches.
The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a more liberal course.
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 legal equality of gay and lesbian people, a movement partly inspired by their similar call for racial equality during the mid-1900s. The church's General Convention has passed resolutions that allow for the blessing of same-sex partnerships in states in which it is legal. The convention also approved an official liturgy to bless such unions, though it is not an official liturgy within the Book of Common Prayer. On the question of abortion, the church's current Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has adopted what she calls a "nuanced approach". The Episcopal Church ordains women to the priesthood as well as the diaconate and the episcopate