Anglican vs Episcopal: Difference and Comparison

Protestantism, a major branch of Christianity, originated in the Reformation in the 16th century. It was a movement that was started to counter Catholic Church, to point out its error and to change society.

Key Takeaways

  1. Anglican and Episcopal are both part of the larger Christian denomination of Protestantism.
  2. Anglican refers to the Church of England and its global affiliates, while Episcopal refers to the American branch of the Anglican Communion.
  3. The main difference between the two is their governance structure, with the Anglican Church having a more decentralized structure and the Episcopal Church has a more centralized hierarchy.

Anglican vs Episcopal

Anglican refers to the broader religious tradition and community that emerged from the Church of England during the Reformation in the 16th century, emphasizing the importance of the Bible and tradition.  Episcopal refers specifically to the American branch of the Anglican Communion.

Anglican vs Episcopal

Anglican Communion was founded in 1867 in London by Charles Longley, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of Anglican Community believes in one holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Episcopal Church is the American counterpart of the Anglican Church. It also traces its origins to the Church of England in the colonies of America.


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Comparison Table

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 Christians, 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.

The term ‘Anglican’ emerges in a phrase from 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.

A theologian or a magisterium has never ruled anglicanism. 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.


What is Episcopal? 

The United States of America is considered the Episcopal Church’s origin. It is a sub-branch of Anglicanism or Anglican Church. It can also be said as an American version of Anglicanism.

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.

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 20th Century in the Social Gospel Movement.


Main Differences Between Anglicans and Episcopal

  1. The archbishop of Canterbury is the head of Anglicans. The Bishop of America is the head of the Episcopal Church.
  2. Anglican Church has 40 independent churches and lakhs of parishes. Episcopal Church has almost 6,897 parishes.
Difference Between Anglican and Episcopal

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