Difference Between Anglican and Episcopal (With Table)

Protestantism, a major branch of Christianity, found its origin in the Reformation period in the 16th century. It was a movement that was started to counter Catholic Church, to point out its error and to bring a change in the society. It began in Germany in the year 1517 when Martin Luther published a book that told about the corruption and sales of indulgences going in the Catholic Church. From Protestanism, there emerged different Christian traditions. One such was Anglican Church, and the other, which in fact emerged from Anglican Church, is Episcopal Church.

Anglican vs Episcopal

The difference between Anglican Church and Episcopal Church is that the Communion of Anglican is the third largest communion of Christians in the world. While Episcopal is the sub-branch or member of the Anglican Church. Anglican Community or Church is believed to be founded in Lambeth Conference in 1867 in London. Whereas, Episcopal Church was founded after the American revolution when it got separated from the Church of England.

Anglican Communion was founded in 1867 in London by Charles Longley, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Church of Anglican Community believes in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. They refer themselves to be both catholic as well as reformed. The member of Anglicanism is referred to as Anglicans. It has 110 million members all over the world. The roots of Anglicanism can be traced back to the period of Reformation and concepts developed by the Church of England.

Episcopal Church is the American counterpart of the Anglican Church. It also traces its origins from the Church of England in the colonies of America. The first parish of Episcopal was founded in Virginia in 1607. Although in that period, no bishops of American-Anglican existed, and it was controlled by the Church of England. It was only in the 20th century that it got named Episcopal Church. Due to the American Revolution, there was a change in the power and supremacy both in church and in America, which led to its formation.

Comparison Table Between Anglican and Episcopal

Parameters of ComparisonAnglicanEpiscopal
OriginAnglican Church originated in 1867 in London. Episcopal Church originated in 1785 under the Church of England.
MembersIt has 110 million members all over the world.It has 2 to 3 lakh members worldwide.
TerritoriesIt has its territory majorly in the UK. But also in African countries as well as in Australia.It has its territory majorly in the USA. But also in Micronesia, Taiwan, Central and South America etc.
HeadArchbishop of Canterbury is the head of Anglicans. Bishop of America is the head of the Episcopal Church.
ParishesIt has 40 independent churches and lakhs of parishes.It has almost 6,897 parishes.

What is Anglican?

Anglicanism is the third largest community of Christian both in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church. Anglican Church as such doesn’t have any legal rights, but it works under the compliance of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. It is believed that three elements hold Anglicanism together: the shared structure of ecclesiastical order, the belief expressed in worship, and the historical documents and writings of earlier Anglicans. Anglicanism is often confused with the Church of England. It is believed to be the same. But in fact, it has taken its theology and liturgical traditions from it.

The term ‘Anglican’ emerges in a phrase of Magna Carta in the year 1215. Anglican is used as an adjective to describe institutions, the people, and churches and the theological concepts and liturgical traditions developed by the Church of England. Followers of the Anglican Church are called Anglicans. Anglicanism is defined as a middle path among Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Lutherans. It has developed a vernacular book known as ‘Book of Common Prayers’.

Anglicanism has never been ruled by a theologian or a magisterium. It has always followed the Book of Common prayers for its beliefs and practices. With the expansion of the British empire, Anglicanism also grew, and all the churches under colonial power came under its jurisdiction. Anglicanism kind of represents a non-papal Catholicism for some people, while for others, it represents a form of Protestantism. Some of the guiding figures who contributed are Knox, Calvin, Zwingli, Luther, or Wesley.

What is Episcopal? 

The United States of America is considered to be the origin of the Episcopal Church. It is a sub-branch of Anglicanism or Anglican Church. It can also be said as an American version of Anglicanism. Episcopal comes under the larger domain of Protestanism and has become the mainline of Christianity. It is divided into nine provinces, unlike Anglican. The bishop of America is considered as the primate of Episcopal all over the world. It has 2 to 3 lakh followers. About 1.7 lakh followers are in America only. They constitute the 14th largest denomination in the USA.

Followers of Episcopal are called Episcopalians. The Church of Episcopal used to be a part of the Church of England, but after American Revolution, it got separated. But it was only in the 20th century that it got its name. Episcopal defines themselves as Protestant, yet Catholic also. They claim their succession of Apostles to the Apostles chosen via Holy orders. They also follow the book ‘Book of Common Prayers’ like Anglicans, and it plays a crucial role in their rites, prayers, liturgies, and blessings.

Episcopal has played the role of leadership in American contexts such as in science, the arts, politics, business, and education. It was also active in the 19th and the 20th century in the Social Gospel Movement. But post world war, Episcopal Church has become more liberal in its approach. This has reflected in the stands taken by Episcopal, such as opposing the death penalty, seeking equality for the LGBTQ community, allowing same-sex marriage, supporting the Civil Rights Movement, and positive actions. 

Main Differences Between Anglicans and Episcopal

  1. Anglican Church originated in 1867 in London, England and was founded by Charles Longley. Episcopal Church originated in 1785 under the Church of England and later got separated.
  2. Anglicanism has 110 million members all over the world and is divided into 38 provinces. Episcopal Church has 2 to 3 lakh members worldwide and is divided into 9 provinces.
  3. Anglican Church has its territory majorly in the UK. But are also in African countries as well as in Australia. Episcopal Church has its territory majorly in the USA. But they are also in Micronesia, Taiwan, Central and South America etc. It is the sub-branch of Anglicanism.
  4. Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of Anglicans. The Bishop of America is the head of the Episcopal Church.
  5. Anglican Church has 40 independent churches and lakhs of parishes. Episcopal Church has almost 6,897 parishes.

Conclusion

Both Anglican and Episcopal are derived from the branch of Protestantism. Both are often confused with the Church of England. Although roots are connected via England. But both have different beliefs and ideologies. Both Anglican and Episcopal has more similarities than differences. Episcopal is considered as a subset of Anglican. Anglicanism is a mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism, while Episcopal beliefs to be more Protestants in nature. Both follow the same ‘Book of Prayers’. Episcopal is often called Anglican Episcopal.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9Fyce9FgrPgC&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=Anglicans+and+Episcopal&ots=2Hth4mjijL&sig=zOZjP8jfxuEdNsZyDMHsBwoUO5E
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=_iK5VggudLkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Anglicans+and+Episcopal&ots=M8U3lPHZ8X&sig=ttkZa6yrci0eZ6ac6RPfdRsu6Wo
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