What do Episcopalians Believe?

The Episcopal Church has a unique place in the spectrum of Christian experience. Our worship is rooted in scripture, with vibrant expression of prayer, music, sacrament, and word. Episcopalians have long stood for service to the wider community, and we express our faith in outreach and social concern; we attempt to “walk the talk” of Jesus’ teachings. We are known for asking good questions, rather than necessarily providing pat answers for complex issues. And we are known for our inclusiveness, recognizing that Christ’s banquet is large enough to include every person.

Some words that describe Episcopalian values are:

  • Open-minded, and willing to live with ambiguity, knowing that truth is discerned by many paths.
  • Searching, questioning, and using reason to explore new insights and possibilities.
  • Intuitive, affirming the metaphorical, paradoxical, and symbolic.
  • Aesthetic, understanding that truth, goodness, and beauty are inter-related.
  • Moderate, holding the “middle ground” between extremes.
  • Naturalistic, delighting in the rhythms of life grounded in Creation.
  • Historical, valuing tradition and experience in understanding the present.
  • Political, appreciating civic virtues and affirmation of free, peaceful, and public debate and discourse, and the role of the church in influencing social, political, and economic life.

In our beliefs, we promise to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We believe the mission of our church is the restoration of all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The cornerstones of our faith are scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

Scripture is the word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Old Testament recounts the story of God’s love for the world from Creation until the time of Jesus. The New Testament contains Jesus’ teachings, the accounts of his life as told by his followers, and the beginning of the early Christian church.

Scripture is the ground of our faith and is read in public worship services and daily devotions. We are not biblical “literalists.” That is, we study scripture in the context of history, and seek to interpret God’s word in scripture for our own day. We have a willingness to live with diverse and changing interpretations of scripture, rather than attributing scripture with infallible certainty and binding prescriptions for all time and circumstance.

Tradition is the embodiment of our experience as Christians throughout the centuries, shaped by the Bible, historic creeds, sacraments, and the ministry carried out by Christ’s disciples. Tradition is expressed with many voices, including worship styles, languages, cultures, architecture, and music. Our tradition encourages this diversity. We seek to value each person’s life and story, and invite each person to share in our Christian community.

Reason, the God-given ability to think critically and take responsibility for our actions, is a vital part of our Christian faith. Reason, as a complement to scripture and tradition, leads us to seek answers to our own questions. Human reason is set in the context of our relationship with God, and God’s call to us to live full and healthy lives. We experience God’s love and our spiritual journey in the context of community – both within the church and in the world-at-large. Our daily living experience also shapes our questions, and nurtures our quest for a closer relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

The basic tenets of our belief

The basic tenets of our belief include:

  1. The Holy Trinity: God is three persons or beings in one.
    God the Father: infinite, omnipotent, good.
    God the Son: the joyous union of both God and human being, whose life and death and resurrection set us free from bondage of sin and death, and reunited us with God our Father in love and forgiveness.
    God the Holy Spirit: God’s power of love moving within us and among us in mysterious and unexpected ways.
  2. Salvation: the end of our separation from God; the beginning of a new life, lived according to God’s will; gained by us because of Christ’s sacrifice, when he took all of our sins upon Himself and paid for them with his life; every Christian should witness to Christ’s sacrifice and express the living truth of this sacrifice to the world (which is called “evangelism”).
  3. The Church: the people of God; all baptized people are the members and all play an equally important role in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.
    ONE: one Body under one Head, Jesus Christ.
    HOLY: the Holy Spirit dwells in it and its members.
    CATHOLIC: universal; holding the faith for all time, everywhere, for everybody.
    APOSTOLIC: continuing in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship. (The Apostles were the authoritative New Testament group sent out to preach the gospel and made up especially of Christ’s original disciples [“followers”] and Paul.)
  4. Worship: a joyous response to God’s love; an expression of hope for salvation; a chance to praise God and receive strength and forgiveness; a way to share faith with other believers.

 
How do Episcopalians worship?

The Episcopal Church is liturgical, i.e., it has formal rites and instructions for public worship. We use three central texts:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Book of Common Prayer (contains calendar of Church year, order of Bible readings, orders of services, and some of the most beautiful prayers ever written)
  3. Hymnal

 
The Book of Common Prayer tells us that private worship is not always adequate; religion is a fellowship. You relate to the whole church through your parish, your local church community. Being with a community of believers inspires us, nurtures us, encourages us, and comforts us.

What is the structure of the Episcopal Church?

Within the Episcopal Church all people are ministers. Some are called into special ministry positions to which they are “ordained.” These are deacons, priests, and bishops who are together called “clergy.” All others are called “lay people.” All participate in the work of the church and all participate in its governance.

The service of Holy Baptism ends with the following:

  • Celebrant: Let us welcome the newly baptized.
  • Celebrant and People: We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.

These words are a reminder that “the people” are sanctified participants.

“Episcopal” means “governed by bishops.” An unbroken line of bishops may be traced back to the early church commissioned by Jesus. Bishops are the spiritual overseers of their dioceses (groups of churches, parishes and missions), which elected them to office. Bishops act as counselors to clergy; ordain ( or “invest officially with priestly authority”) priests and deacons; consecrate(or “bless, invoke divine care for”) other bishops; administer Confirmation (a mature affirmation of one’s faith); are final counselors in church matters. Together, bishops share responsibility for the welfare of the church.

Priests are parish leaders. The full scope of their duties covers every pastoral, spiritual and educational activity. Specifically, priests celebrate the Eucharist, baptize, pronounce absolution from sins, and perform many other duties.

Deacons assist priests in parish work, or minister in missions or unorganized parishes. They cannot perform sacramental acts of the priesthood; though not allowed to celebrate the Eucharist, they may minister the consecrated Holy Communion at a service, to the sick, etc.

We invite you to learn more about the Episcopal faith. We strive to be a church of open doors, open hearts, open minds. We look forward to welcoming you.

Eximius Theme by dkszone.net