Church Connections: The Episcopal Church
St. Stephen's is one of 46 parishes in the Diocese of Kansas. Kansas is, in turn, part of The Episcopal Church, which consists of 100 dioceses in the United States, plus dioceses in several other countries including Venezuela, Taiwan, Haiti and the Virgin Islands. There are several parishes in Europe, as well.
The Episcopal Church grew out of the Church of England, which had founded congregations in the colonies. When the United States claimed its independence, the Church of England communities in this new country needed to establish their own independence, and so the Episcopal Church was established in 1789, the same year that the U. S. Constitution was drafted.
The Episcopal Church is governed by the General Convention, which, like the US congress, consists of two houses. One house is the House of Bishops, which includes all the bishops in the church. The other house is the House of Deputies, which is composed of an equal mix of clergy and lay deputies that have been elected by their dioceses. It's truly a representative democracy. General Convention meets every three years to vote on policy and doctrine.
The Presiding Bishop is the chief pastor, ecumenical officer, and primate of The Episcopal Church (a Primate is the chief leader of a member church of the Anglican Communion). The current Presiding Bishop is the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The Episcopal Church is the official American province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.