Beliefs

Episcopalians are:

  • Anglican (meaning English). The Episcopal Church has its roots in the Church of England dating back to the 16th century, which has its roots in the Roman Catholic Church dating back to the 1st century. Thus we are Catholic in form, holding a reverence for and being rooted in the ancient tradition (worship, governance, and spirituality) of the Church.

Episcopalians are:

  • Protestant. The Church of England is one of the groups that protested against the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century and broke ties with Rome.  Thus we are Protestant in theology, believing and proclaiming that Jesus is the reflection of God’s character and passion in the world, which is grace, love, and compassion. Other Protestant churches include the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Reformed Churches, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Methodists, and others.

Episcopalians are:

  • not given to extremes in either form or theology. In fact, Anglicanism is often called the via media (Latin for “middle way”)—embodying the best of both the Catholic and Protestant traditions. We are not focused on correct doctrines (right thinking) so much as on right relationships (with God and the world). As someone once said, if you want to know what Episcopalians believe, worship and pray with them. For us, the twin concerns of love of God (devotion) and love of neighbor (ethics) drives who we are.

Episcopalians are:

  • part of a denomination called The Episcopal Church, composed of 2.3 million people in 7200 congregations in the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Micronesia, and Europe. The Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church is The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, who oversees 111 dioceses (groupings of congregations), each headed by a bishop. (The word “episcopal” comes from the Greek word “episcopos” meaning “overseer” and often translated “bishop” in the Bible.) Clergy in The Episcopal Church are either male or female and are called deacons, priests, and bishops (each with a separate function). Female priests are called “Mother” or The Reverend. Male priests are called “Father” or The Reverend. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a loosely affiliated confederation of 44 national and regional churches in the world that trace their ancestry to the Church of England. The Anglican Communion, at 80 million members, is the 3rd largest Christian “church” in the world, behind the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Episcopalians are:

  • people of the book. The Bible is a collection of historical writings that describe God’s movement in human history. We believe that God still speaks to us through this book, so we call the Bible God’s word, but we also believe that God’s word is ever growing and changing as our culture develops. Therefore, we do not interpret the Bible literally, but historically and metaphorically using both tradition and reason. We take seriously the historical context in which the Bible was written and try to understand what was being said to the original audience, but also recognize that what may have been common two thousand years ago may no longer apply in the 21st century. So, for example, slavery was common in ancient times, but is no longer considered morally acceptable in our time. Thus slavery as a literal concept is rejected in the 21st century, though we can still speak metaphorically of slavery (e.g. being enslaved to that which keeps us from God’s love). In keeping with the historic Anglican recognition of the authority of scripture, tradition, and reason, we welcome and respect diverse views, independent thinking, and thoughtful discussion as essential to how we come to know and serve God together.

We are also people of another book: The Book of Common Prayer. In that book are all the prayers we pray as Episcopalians. Having a common prayer book connects us to others across the Church and the world. Further, since many of the prayers in the prayer book are ancient, we are also connected to the tradition, that is, the countless Christians who have gone before us. We take comfort in this great company of saints!

This is simply a taste of who we are and what we are about. If you’re curious to know more, please ask. Better yet, come and walk alongside us for a while. We would be honored by your presence. And please know, ALL are welcome here!

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