Membership: 2.5 million.
Churches: 7,400 parishes.
Structure: 107 dioceses headed by bishops, grouped regionally into nine provinces.
Hierarchy: The top elected figure is Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, elected in 1997 to a nine-year term.
Governance: The church gathers every three years -- the last time in 2000 -- to set policy and doctrine. The General Convention gathering is divided between a 204-member House of Bishops and an 832-member House of Deputies comprised of clergy and lay members.
History: The Episcopal Church is the autonomous U.S. branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Episcopalians arrived in the United States in 1607 at the Jamestown, Va., settlement and weathered the American Revolution to emerge as the Protestant Episcopal Church.


Membership: Approximately 70 million.
Provinces: 38 autonomous churches spanning 164 countries. Each church has a presiding bishop, also called a primate.
Hierarchy: The archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, is the de facto head of the Anglican Communion, although he is considered only the first among equals.
Governance: The primates, bishops and lay members of the Anglican Communion gather once every 10 years -- the last time in 1998 -- for the Lambeth Conference, which sets policy and doctrine for the global church. The primates also gather once a year for discussion.
History: The Anglican Communion has its roots in the Church of England, which was formed in 1534 when England's King Henry VIII split the church from Rome because the pope refused to grant him a divorce. The British monarch is considered the symbolic head of the church.
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