The word “episcopal” refers to governance by bishops. The historic episcopate (bishops) continues the work of the first apostles in the Church: guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, and ordaining men and women to continue Christ’s ministry. An Episcopalian is a person who belongs to The Episcopal Church, which encompasses churches in the United States and 16 countries. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
- the Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture, and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- the Nicene Creed is the basic statement of our belief about God.
- the sacraments of the church were given by Christ. At most worship services we share the sacrament of Holy Eucharist (communion).
- The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are articulated in an “Outline of the Faith” in our Book of Common Prayer
The Episcopal Church follows the “via media” or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are beloved by God and can have thoughtful and respectful discussions. There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … everyone is welcome. We are bound together by our love of God in Christ Jesus, by our shared traditions, and experiences of God in the worship and the life of the community.
That is not to say that Episcopalians don’t believe specific or particular things. It is just that each member of our community is able to think for herself or himself, to wrestle with doubt and the questions of faith, and to arrive at conclusions which may be different than those of other members within the community. We strive to be open, affirming, and welcoming.
Not only does The Episcopal Church accept and welcome a wide range of theological ideas and thoughts, we also accept and welcome all people. We do not discriminate against anyone or any group for any reason.
We are all church together. Our church as an organization – from the national governing structure all the way to the individual parish – is run by lay people and clergy working together, making decisions together, in an open and democratic process. We have no high council, no infallible leaders, and no elite ruling class. We’re all in this together.
Our worship (or “liturgy”) varies in style and outward appearance, according to the needs and tastes of each local community in its own place and time. But the basic format and structure of our liturgy is the same everywhere you go, and has its roots in the earliest known Christian communities. Our Sunday services are not essentially different than those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and continually offered by Christians for the last two thousand years.
Our faith is a living faith, and our church is a community, not an idea. The only way to know what Episcopalians believe is to come and see for yourself. We invite you to worship with us, pray with us, and sing with us at the table of the Lord.