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Saint John the Divine is a member of the Episcopal Church USA and part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Meaning we believe ourselves to be a part of the historical, continuing community of faith that finds its origins in the Apostolic or first Church. We have four foundational or essential beliefs:
What is the Episcopal church?
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church, 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, this led to its reorganization on an independent basis in the 1780s. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was characterized sociologically by a disproportionately large number of high-status Americans and English immigrants; for example, more than a quarter of all presidents of the United States have been Episcopalians. Although it was not among the leading participants of the abolitionist movement in the early 19th century, by the early 20th century, its social engagement had increased to the point that it was an essential participant in the Social Gospel movement. However, it never provided much support for the Prohibitionist movement. Like other mainline churches in the United States, its membership decreased from the 1960s. This period is when the church took a more open attitude on women’s roles and toward homosexuality
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What is the Anglican Communion?
Today the Anglican Communion is 39 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 are approximately 85 million members worldwide
There is no Anglican central authority, such as a pope. Each Church makes decisions in their best way, guided by recommendations from the Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anglicans and Episcopalians have always worked and worshipped together across national borders to support each other’s lives and ministry. The insight, experience, and wisdom contributed to joint endeavors by Anglican Communion members from all provinces mean that the Communion can pack a real punch at national and international levels. Some examples of these collaborations include Communion’s Networks, projects such as Anglican Witness, the Anglican Alliance, its International Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, and the Anglican Communion News Service.
It has always been a strength of the Anglican Communion that such co-operation continues and flourishes despite significant disagreements on specific issues. Other Christian traditions look to the Anglican Communion to learn from its ability to have reasonable disagreements. Projects such as Continuing Indaba and Living Reconciliation testify how reconciliation is at the heart of our Communion.