The history of the Episcopal Church in the United States is fascinatingly intertwined with the earliest history of the nation. The American Episcopal Church, actually, observes almost identical worship practices to the Anglican Church, and would still be called the same were it not for one little detail: Anglican (Church of England) clergy were, at the time of the American Revolution, required to give an oath of allegiance to the British crown.
Since that conflicted with the formation of the United States, which was actively forswearing allegiance to England, Anglican worshippers in the late 18th century were left with an unpleasant situation, in which attending their preferred church was actually in conflict with national identity. Early American Anglicans solved this problem by forming a new religious denomination: the Episcopal Church.
Of course, the original Anglican Church was as fraught with controversy. Its history goes back to Henry VIII, he of the famous six wives. At the time of Henry’s accession to the throne, England was Catholic. Although the process was far more complicated than this column will fully explicate, Henry essentially was denied a divorce by the Pope and took matters into his own hands. The English Reformation was the result, in which England declared itself no longer subject to papal control, and placed the reigning monarch at the head of the newly-formed Church of England.
While the Episcopal Church is often regarded as being Protestant, its roots are in the Catholic tradition. While members of each Episcopalian congregation may interpret this history differently, essentially the Episcopal church is an American phenomenon, and perfectly expresses the desire of American Christians to observe classic traditions while adapting worship to the communities existing within the United States.
All-Saints-By-The-Sea Episcopal, at 83 Eucalyptus Ln., Montecito. Call 969-4771 or visit allsaintsbythesea.org.
Anglican Church of Our Savior, at 3721 Modoc Rd., Santa Barbara. Call 682-0161 or visit sbanglican.org.
Christ the King Episcopal, at 5073 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara. Call 964-9966 or visit ctksb.org.
Lewis Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal, at 202 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara. Call 965-2625.
St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal, at 502 Olive St., Santa Barbara.
Trinity Episcopal, at 1500 State St., Santa Barbara. Call 965-7419 or visit trinitysb.org.
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