Why are Anglicans from America called Episcopalians?

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Why are Anglicans from America called Episcopalians?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Episcopal = has bishops (unlike other protestant denominations like Methodists, baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans).

Anglican = English so the north American churches didn’t want to say they were being English after independence. 

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s because of Greek. Epi = over/above. Skopos = sight (roughly). Episkopos = overseer, that is the origin of the word bishop.

Episcopal = with an episkopos, that is to say, overseen by a bishop. They’re the denominations that have a bishop as the big wig in charge. You’ll notice the Church of England has bishops and archbishops too, most notably of course the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It was a rebranding exercise after the American Revolution and part of disentangling from allegiance to the English monarchy.

Americans in general looked down on the Church of England after the Revolution, and for a brief time they had a shortage of clergy because they had to take an oath of loyalty to be ordained by the Church of England.

But within a decade the laws were changed to get rid of the loyalty oath, and they had new bishops consecrated in the Church of England again (edit: although to be clear, they kept some previous Church of England Bishops for most of that time too).

The term “Episcopal” comes from their form of Church governance, which kept the hierarchy of bishops in place. Episcopal just comes from the Greek word for Bishop.

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

Some US church denominations that trace their origins to the British Isles have different names in America than the denominations they descend from. These different names just refer to the way they were organized. These are:

* Descendants of the Church of England in the US took the name Episcopalians, from “episcopal”, referring to bishops.
* An [episcopal church polity](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episcopal_polity) is the hierarchical model of organizing a church, when authority is invested in a hierarchy of bishops.
* In addition to Anglican churches, The Catholic and Orthodox churches have episcopal church polities. Methodists and Lutherans generally do as well, sometimes with modifications.
* Descendants of the Church of Scotland in the US took the name Presbyterians, from “presbyter”, a word that originally referred to bishops and priests.
* A [presbyterian church polity](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_polity) is when an assembly of elders has the final authority. There is a hierarchy of assemblies: one for each congregation, another over a group of local churches, on up into a nationwide general assembly.
* Other Reformed churches may have presbyterian polities.
* Descendants of the English Dissenters or Puritans took the name Congregationalists, from “congregation”.
* A [congregational church polity](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregationalist_polity) is when each church is independent and autonomous, making its own decisions without asking permission from a higher authority.
* Baptist churches often also have congregational polities.

That’s why that name was picked. But why is the name different at all?

Well, the term “Episcopalian” [predates American independence](https://www.etymonline.com/word/Episcopalian). For example, in Scotland, the local Anglican church is called the “[Scottish Episcopal Church](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Episcopal_Church#Origins_of_Christianity_in_Scotland)”. At one point, there was a political thing in Scotland when the Kirk had adopted a presbyterian polity, but the King wanted the Kirk to have an episcopal one, with himself at the head instead of an assembly of elders.

As a result within Scotland, there were two church structures, and “Episcopal” was a name used to the one organized through bishops under the King. That all happened starting in the 1580s, long before the US.

But when the American dioceses separated of the Church of England, they took on that name “Episcopal”, in order to do two things: 1.) stress the idea that they were just continuing in the same tradition of the bishops; but also: 2.) be clear that they were making some changes compared to the old church, such as getting rid of the loyalty oath to the King.