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The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church was known before the Independence of the 13 colonies as the Church of England. It was the result of the colonial English presence in the New World.
The Church of England was created as a result of the conflation of political interests and theological changes taking place in all over Europe. Henry VIII, although he died as a Roman catholic, stopped paying the annual contribution to the papacy, authorized the Bible in English, and permitted the influence of Lutheranism in England by promoting prelates of that persuasion. Henry’s struggle to maintain his shaky control over the throne and seeking a male heir lead him to marry and dispose of a succession of women, seven in total. Eventually, it was a female heir, Elizabeth I, his daughter with his second wife Ann Boleyn, who succeeded him on the throne.
Elizabeth Tudor reigned 44 years on the throne and provided welcome stability for the kingdom as well as helping to forge a sense of national identity. The Elizabethan era saw a flourishing in the arts and commerce (Shakespeare and Marlow were household names) and Elizabeth helped to shape what the Episcopal Church is today.
In 1776, over half the signers of the declaration of Independence were members of the Church of England.
In 1784, Samuel Seabury of Connecticut was consecrated the first overseas Anglican bishop by Scottish non-jurying bishops, after being elected in Connecticut and rejected by the bishops of the Church of England, who, legally, could not ordain him.
In 1785, the First General Convention of the Episcopal Church was held, and named itself the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
During the American Civil War, Southern Episcopal dioceses join the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America, but are welcomed back after war ends. Other denominations experience long term (100+ years) splits.
In 1976, women were allowed to be ordained priests, and in 1989 Barbara Harris is elected the first female Bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
In 2003, the General Convention approved the Diocese of New Hampshire’s election of the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest in a long-term committed relationship, as Bishop Coadjutor.
In 2006, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada was elected the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church for a 9-year term. She is the first and only woman to be a church-wide leader in the Anglican Communion.
In 2015, the General Convention elects the first Afro-American Presiding Bishop in history, the Right Rev. Michael Curry, from North Carolina.
The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Redeemer was organized on August 19, 1866.
For the first eighteen months, the society held services in a store on Main Street, with Holy Communion being administered for the first time on September 2nd, celebrated by the Rev. William D. Walker, who would later become Bishop of North Dakota. In December 1866, the Rev. Edmund D. Cooper, D.D., became the first rector. Plans for a permanent church were drawn up, and the cornerstone was laid on June 27, 1867. Designed in a plain Gothic style, the structure is constructed of ashlar granite. The first service in the completed church took place on Sexigesima Sunday (Feb. 9), 1868, with the sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Haight of Trinity Church, New York. Although the congregation was in debt, the Vestry unanimously resolved on May 22, 1872, that the time had come to erect an organ chamber and commissioned Messrs. Odell of New York to build an organ. Due to a liberal bequest from the late Mr. Trafford, the square tower was erected in 1872-73 and a chime of ten bells installed. It was not until 1879 that the society was free of debt and consecrated.