In 2015, the Episcopal Church had 1,917,182 active baptized members, of whom 1,779,335 were members located in the United States. In 2011, it was the nation's 14th largest denomination. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, or 3 million people, self-identify as mainline Episcopalians/Anglicans.
The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Episcopal Church describes itself as "Protestant, yet Catholic". The Episcopal Church claims apostolic succession, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP), a collection of traditional rites, blessings, liturgies, and prayers used throughout the Anglican Communion, is central to Episcopal worship.
The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a decidedly more liberal course. It has opposed the death penalty and supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests are known for marching with influential civil rights' demonstrators such as Martin Luther King Jr. The Church calls for the full legal equality of gay and lesbian people, a movement partly inspired by their similar call for racial equality during the mid-1950s. In 2015, the Church's 78th annual General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions, though they are not yet official rites within the Book of Common Prayer. Due to the complex process of editing or making additions to the Prayer Book, the BCP still describes marriage as being the union of a man and a woman.
The Episcopal Church ordains women and LGBT people to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the episcopate, despite opposition from a number of other member churches of the global Anglican Communion. In 2003, Gene Robinson was the first non-celibate openly gay person ordained as a bishop in documented Christian history.
There are two official names of the Episcopal Church specified in its constitution: The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA) and The Episcopal Church (TEC). The latter is the more commonly used name. In other languages, an equivalent is used. For example, in Spanish, the church is called La Iglesia Episcopal Protestante de los Estados Unidos de América or La Iglesia Episcopal. and in French L'Église protestante épiscopale dans les États Unis d'Amérique or L'Église épiscopale.