The Episcopal Church had its origins in England in the 1500s as the Church of England. It developed as part of the Reformation that began in Europe, and split from the Catholic Church during the reign of Henry VIII. It was a violent time of transition. The first Book of Common Prayer was written and compiled by Thomas Cranmer in 1549, with a revised version in 1552. The fights between the Catholics and Protestants continued, depending on who was in power in England. After Edward VI died and Mary became Queen, England became Catholic again. Cranmer was burned at the stake in 1556. Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, ascended the throne in 1558. In 1559, she helped shape the Book of Common Prayer so that it accommodated both Catholic and Protestant concerns. Those changes are still evident in our Book of Common Prayer today.
After the American Revolution, the Church of England in America reorganized itself so that it was no longer under the jurisdiction of the King of England or English bishops. It was named Episcopal as an acknowledgment of the hierarchical structure and ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. The Book of Common Prayer mirrors the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, but was modified to exclude allegiance to the monarchy.
As Episcopalians, we believe that Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture, and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds are the foundational tenets of our faith. The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church can be found in the Catechism in the back of the Book of Common Prayer. The two primary Sacraments given to the Church by Christ are Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist (Episcopal Diocese of Texas).