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The word Episcopal is derived from the Greek επισκοπος epískopos, which literally means "overseer"; the word, however, is used in religious terms to refer to a bishop.
Episcopal churches are the churches with bishops, those with episcopalian church governance, but generally those whose bishops are in Apostolic Succession. In the more specific sense the term is applied to those particular churches associated with Henry VIII and with the Church of England. The word "episcopal" is commonly used to distinguish between the various organizational structures of Protestant churches, thus the word presbyterian is used to describe churches ruled by elected Elders (Greek πρεσβύτης presbútēs) while "episcopal" is used to describe churches ruled by bishops. Others are neither, being congregational and local in structure.
Examples of specific episcopal churches include:
However, other churches overseen by bishops and with a connection to the Church of England are NOT members of the Anglican Communion. The United Methodist Church is one example. All Methodist churches have their roots in Anglicanism because their founder, John Wesley, was an Anglican minister in England in the 1700s. Methodists, however, do not look to the Archbishop of Canterbury for leadership as Anglicans do, nor to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) in America. Further, Methodist bishops are not in Apostolic Succession. Wesley held that bishops are merely presbyters who have been chosen for a supervisory position by the Church, and that there is, therefore, no necessity of them receiving a laying on of hands of prior bishops whose "orders" are allegedly traceable in unbroken succession to the Apostles.
Churches that are members of the Anglican Communion are episcopal churches in polity, and some are named "Episcopal." However, some Anglican churches do not belong to the Anglican Communion, and not all episcopally-governed churches are Anglican. The Roman Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Churches, and the Eastern Orthodox churches are recognized, and also their bishops, by Anglicans.
Episkopos is also used in Discordianism as a title of a person who has started their own cabal or sect of Discordianism. One of the key tenets of Discordianism is everyone is infallible. Thus, everyone has the authority to diverge from the Polyfather, if so desired, or in case the Polyfather is unreacheable.
Last updated: 05-12-2005 23:25:18