The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church has members in the United States, as well as in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands.

We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.

The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.  With a membership currently estimated at around 80 million members worldwide, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions and is celebrated in many languages.

Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops.

We believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting.

Lay people exercise a vital role in the governance and ministry of our church.

Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.

We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer.

We affirm that committed relationships are lifelong and monogamous. Episcopalians also recognize that there is grace after divorce and do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced.

We affirm that issues such as birth control are matters of personal informed conscience.

We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our differences, always putting the work of love before uniformity of opinion.

All are welcome to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.

[The above content is from The Episcopal Church USA.] 

 

What does the name “Episcopal Church” mean?  

“The Episcopal Church” is one branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.  It is often described as the “bridge church” because it includes both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. It preserves the ancient Catholic faith and sacraments and the historic ministry with Bishops as its chief pastors. (“Episcopal” comes from the Greek word for “bishop.”) It is, at the same time, Protestant, focusing on the basic authority of Holy Scripture and the proclamation of the Word of God.

 

What is the nature of the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church?  

The Episcopal Church offers a thoughtful approach to religion. It believes faith involves a measure of reason as well as emotion. Its doctrine is designed to point out, not dictate, the response to God’s continuing revelation. The focus is on God’s love and the invitation to respond in mature freedom, in thanksgiving, and in loving devotion. Basic beliefs are expressed in the Book of Common Prayer and especially in the Catechism (page 845).

The Episcopal Church teaches that morality is positive, rather than negative. It is rooted in Jesus’ summary of the law: “to love God with heart, mind and soul and to love ones neighbor as oneself.” The focus of Christian morality is not on laws and restrictions but on free and mature response to God’s love and in responsibility to our neighbors.

 

What are the basic beliefs of the Episcopal Church?

1. Episcopalians promise to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

2. Episcopalians believe in One God,

the Father who creates us and things,

the Son who redeems us from sin and death,

the Holy Spirit who renews us as the Children of God.

3. Episcopalians believe the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary for salvation. We believe God inspired human authors and continues to speak to us through the Bible.

4. Episcopalians affirm that salvation is the end of our separation from God and the beginning of a new relationship with God and one another. The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are basic statements of our beliefs in God.

 

How do Episcopalians worship? 

In worship we unite ourselves with one another to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer and praise, and to celebrate the Sacraments. The Celebration of Holy Eucharist is the central act of worship in accordance with Jesus’ command to His disciples.

Three books are used:

  • the Holy Bible-lessons are read from it at every service;
  • the Book of Common Prayer, which the service follows, is composed of both ancient and modern prayers and forms of service and;
  • the Hymnal, which includes both traditional and contemporary Church music.

Episcopal services preserve the rich worship and tradition of the historic Church. All present participate actively in this joyous response to God’s love.

 

What are the sacraments of the Episcopal Church?  

Sacraments are the “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.” Grace is God’s love freely given to us for forgiveness and spiritual renewal.

The two sacraments of the Gospel instituted and ordained by Christ Himself as essential for every Christian’s salvation are:

  • Holy Baptism: Administered once as a pledge of repentance and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is the means by which God adopts us as His Children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church.
  • Holy Eucharist: In it we share bread and wine for the continual remembrance of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection until His coming again. Through it we receive the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another.

 

Does the Episcopal Church offer any other sacraments?

Yes. There are five other sacramental rites:

  • Confirmation: the rite in which we express mature commitment to Christ and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a Bishop.
  • Reconciliation of a Penitent: the confession of one’s sins to God in the presence of a priest and the receiving of the assurance of God’s forgiveness and the grace of absolution.
  • Ministration to the Sick: the anointing of the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.
  • Ordination: the sacrament consecrating Christians in service to God as bishops, priests and deacons.
  • Holy Matrimony: is Christian marriage, in which two persons enter into a union that is by intention life-long, making their vows before God and the Church, and receiving the grace and blessing of God and the Church to help them fulfill their vows. All Saints’ has a policy on the blessing of same-sex unions. [adapted from The BCP, age 861]

 

What is the structure and ministry of the Episcopal Church? 

The Episcopal Church is a democratic church with a government much like the government of the United States, with Bishops giving pastoral care and oversight. In each congregation the ministry is shared by lay people and ordained clergy – priests and deacons.

  • Lay persons represent Christ and His Church and bear witness to Him wherever they may be according to the gifts given them.
  • Deacons assist in the proclamation of the Gospel, in the administration of the Sacraments, and as servants to those in need.
  • Priests serve as pastors, proclaim the Gospel and administer the Sacraments.
  • Bishops serve as chief priests and pastors of dioceses and ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry.

 

What is the mission of an Episcopalian? 

The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. It is not simply a matter of “saving souls.” Neither is it simply a matter of “feeding the hungry.” Christian mission involves both the spiritual and the physical welfare of mankind, for Christ’s love extends to all of life.

 

What does being an Episcopalian mean? 

It means actively participating through Christ’s Church in the work of God:

In Church services and parish programs;

Through prayer and the study of Holy Scripture;

In acts of charity and social justice;

In spreading the Good News of Christ to other people;

In learning more about God and how He shares His Love with us;

By giving of our means and talents to the greater purpose of God’s work.

[The above content is from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.]