The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church strives to live by the message of Christ, in which there are no outcasts and all are welcome. Walking a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions, we are a sacramental and worship-oriented church that promotes thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be, as followers of Christ.
The roots of the Episcopal Church go back to the Reformation in the 16th Century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church of England independent of the Roman Catholic Church with himself as its head. It was the result of many factors, some political and some theological, but it has given rise to a distinct form of Christianity, known as Anglicanism.
The Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the churches around the world that trace their roots to the Church of England, and maintain a "communion" with it, hence the name "Anglican." Other members of the Communion include the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Nigeria. In fact, most Anglicans now live in Africa.
The member churches of the Anglican Communion are joined together by choice in love, and have no direct authority over one another. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, is acknowledged as the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, but while respected, the Archbishop does not have direct authority over any Anglican Church outside of England.
The Episcopal Church is made up of between two and three million worshipers in about 7500 congregations across the United States and related dioceses outside the US. St. Peter's is part of the Diocese of Rhode Island, covering the same geographic area as the state, and including 50 parishes and missions. Our bishop is the Rt. Rev. Nick Knisely, who was ordained and consecrated in November 2012.