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Ask Dear Old Dad: ANGLICAN IN THE U.S.?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Do you have a burning question about church, Episcopal/Anglican traditions, theology, and so on? Starting in Advent, The Messenger will be running a new feature, "Ask Dear Old Dad," after the classic "Dear Abby" format. The Rev. Reese Riley, COS Senior Adjunct Clergy, will tackle your questions with his signature wisdom and charm. And by the way, there are no dumb questions! You may request to be anonymous, or you may have your name published. We are so excited to launch this column. Your questions will inspire the conversation!

Dear DOD,

My questions are as follows: How are Episcopal churches similar to the Church of England in the U.S.? Are St. David and St. Luke “Anglican” churches near us (the churches with Anglican Church in their names) real, authentic Anglican Churches? Are they like the Church of England? People say there are still few “Anglican” Anglican Churches in the U.S., but I’m not sure what they mean.


Sherry Lei Xiao


Hi Sherry,

The word Anglican, at its core, has to do with England. At its height, the British/English empire circled the globe. Within this empire, Church of England was planted around the globe. As the British colonies became independent. the churches in these now independent countries became independent churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury became what is known as the Anglican communion. The Anglican communion is the third largest Christian body in the world, following the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

In the United States, the Episcopal Church is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are named Episcopal rather than Anglican, because our first bishop Samuel Seabury was consecrated after the American Revolution by bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which incidentally was in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the latter part of the 20th century, some members of the Episcopal Church were upset with:

• the revision of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

• the ordination of women as priests, bishops and deacons

• the embrace of LBGTQ+ members into the full ministry of the church

These persons left the Episcopal Church to form new congregations, which they believed were more orthodox than the Episcopal Church, and often name themselves as Anglican churches. However, they are not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore not a part of the larger body of the Anglican Communion.

Churches using the name “Anglican” are rooted in the Church of England and share worship rooted in the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer. But from this common ground, many variations and evolutions have arisen.


Dear Old Dad (DOD)

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