The Episcopal Church was formally organized in 1783 when representatives of the Church of England in the United States of America met in Maryland and organized the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. A year later Samuel Seabury traveled to Scotland be ordained the first Episcopal bishop by three Church of Scotland bishops. In 1785 the church's first General Convention, consisting of a House of Deputies, met in Philadelphia. The General Convention became a bicameral body in 1789 when the House of Bishops was formed. The first American Book of Common Prayer, modeled on the Church of England prayer book, was adopted by General Convention in 1790. The church's corporate organization, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, was founded in 1820.
Bishop William White of Pennsylvania was the church's first presiding bishop. Until 1919 the presiding bishop's office was held by the church's most senior bishop. The first bishop to be elected presiding bishop was John Gardner Murray, bishop of Maryland, who served from 1926 to 1931. In 1946 the General Convention designated the presiding bishop as the chief pastor and primate of the church, and removed the requirement that the presiding bishop also function as a diocesan bishop. In 1994 the presiding bishop's term of office was reduced from twelve years to nine years. The presiding bishop and staff work out of the Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017.