What is the origin of this church?
The Episcopal Church is descended from the Church of England, and through the consecration of bishops, has roots all the way back to Jesus and his original followers. The Church of England developed during the 16th century, as it moved away from being overseen by the Pope but did not reject its Catholic origins. Thus, the Church of England grew to be called the via media, or the "middle way," between what became known as the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church. In this way, churches in the Anglican Communion are both Protestant and Catholic, and maintain traditions found in both of those branches of Christianity.
When did the Episcopal Church start?
It started when the United States started in 1789. Members of the Church of England started a new, independent church to go along with their new, independent country, and it was based on a lot of the same principles. While we are self-governing, the Episcopal Church maintains a relationship, based on common faith, traditions, history, and use of the Book of Common Prayer, with the Church of England and more than 30 other Anglican churches all over the world. All churches in this tradition make up the Anglican Communion.
How many churches are there in the Episcopal Church?
Today we have more than 2.5 million members and 7,500 parishes and missions in the United States. Although we are not one of the larger denominations in America, as part of the Anglican Communion, we make up one of the largest Christian denominations in the world. In fact, the fastest growing branches of the Anglican Communion can be found in Africa and Asia, making us part of a true world-wide church. There are currently more than 75 million people in the Anglican Communion.