ABOUT THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH - An abbreviated history from www.episcopalchurch.org
The beginnings of the Church of England, from which the Episcopal Church derives, date to at least the second century, when merchants and other travelers first brought Christianity to England. It is customary to regard St. Augustine of Canterbury's mission to England in 597 as marking the formal beginning of the church in England, then under papal authority, as it was to be throughout the Middle Ages.
In its modern form, the church dates from the English Reformation of the 16th century, when royal supremacy was established and the authority of the papacy was repudiated. With the advent of British colonization, the Church of England was established on every continent. In time, these churches gained their independence, but retained connections with the mother church in the Anglican Communion.
The Church of England set down roots in the “New World” in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Subsequently, following over a century of periods which included growth, diminishment, the Revolutionary War and the re-establishment of the church in the colonies, the Episcopal Church in the Americas was established as a “unified” church at its “first” General Convention in Philadelphia in 1789 under the leadership of the first Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. William White. In an arrangement similar to that of United States government, the Convention was comprised of two houses: the House of Deputies (laity and clergy) and the House of Bishops.
For more on the History of the Episcopal Church, go to http://www.episcopalchurch.org.