The Episcopalian Church is rich in history and diverse in membership. The word “episcopal” means governed by bishops, which is how the Episcopal Church is organized: into dioceses headed by bishops.

Episcopalians cherish diversity and view themselves as “via media,” which means standing between Catholicism and Protestantism.

The Episcopal Church was founded in 1534 by King Henry VIII, who decided to break away from the Catholic Church  when the Pope refused to grant him a divorce. At the time, this newly formed church called itself the Church of England.

The American Revolution caused The Church of England in this country to form its own church. The Protestant Episcopal Church was officially united in 1789 when it formally separated from the Church of England so that the clergy would not be required to accept the supremacy of the British monarch.

Today there are more than 7,000 Episcopal congregations in the United States, with almost two million baptized Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church is not subject to the Pope and is Protestant in most areas of doctrine, but also retains many Catholic forms of worship, including weekly communion. Another interesting fact is that Episcopalian priests are allowed to marry.

Well-known people include presidents George Washington and Gerald Ford, Florence Nightingale, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Bono and Robin Williams. Thirty-nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were Episcopalians. Another notable Episcopalian is C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia.

For more information please visit or to find a local Episcopal church, please visit our church directory on page 13.

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.