SO YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO AN EPISCOPAL CHURCH...

You will find that our worship service is as much the work of lay people as it is the work of the minister. Lay people read lessons, lead the recitation of the psalms, assist the ministers at the altar, and help in the distribution of communion. All participate in the responses and hymns.

When you enter the worship space, you do so through a small entryway called the “narthex” (yes, we Episcopalians have a word for everything!) you’ll be greeted, then given a worship booklet and a weekly bulletin that contains news, schedules, and the Sunday readings and hymn list.

As you pass from the somewhat rowdy bustle of the narthex (See? Using the new word already!) into the nave, or main part of the church, the atmosphere changes to one of meditative quiet. Many use this as an opportunity to pray and contemplate in preparation for worship.

Every Sunday service includes Communion, and all who recognize in the consecrated elements of bread and wine the real Presence of Christ are welcome to receive. If you are gluten intolerant, please let an Usher know so that we may accommodate your needs.

Even very young children often recognize that receiving Communion is a part of being in the community; if they extend their hand, they will be given Communion.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

What We Believe

Like all churches, we are often asked, “What do you believe?” What Episcopalians believe is simple, to some extent, but not simplistic.
A true answer might be to say that we believe in God, in Jesus Christ the Son of God, and in the Holy Spirit.
But in our world today, full of division and uncertainty, many people find that simple answer unsatisfying. After all, don’t ALL Christians believe those things? People want to know precisely what a church believes about God, not just that we believe in God. People want to know specifics, so that they can decide if we’re “right” or “wrong,” if we have the right understanding, the right interpretation.
That is not how The Episcopal Church tends to approach faith and belief. Our list of “non-negotiable” points are very few, and largely shared with most every other Christian tradition. Those relatively few points are:

  • There is one God, who is a Trinity of Persons.
  • The First Person of the Trinity, traditionally called “Father,” created all things at the beginning of time.
  • Jesus Christ, the very human rabbi from 2000 years ago, was and is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, and our Savior.
  • The Holy Scriptures (the Bible) are the revealed word of God, written by human beings under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is the Third Person of the Trinity. The
  • Bible contains all things necessary for salvation.

GOING DEEPER…

Certainly there is more to be said, more that can be believed about God and Jesus. Many denominations or church traditions take very specific stances on issues or questions concerning things such as (for example) the nature of God or the method of salvation.
The Episcopal Church, though, is not bound together by a shared position on academic theological questions or by tests of doctrine. 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.
This openness has led The Episcopal Church to a number of positions, what you might call beliefs, that actually are somewhat unique among Christian churches. These ideas and practices are not so much points of doctrine, like you might learn in Sunday School or a theology class, but they are defining characteristics of our church.

OPEN AND AFFIRMING, WELCOMING EVERYONE

Concerning Membership, Ordination and Marriage, The Episcopal Church  has followed the Apostle Paul's proclamation:

"For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As  many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with  Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or  free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in  Christ Jesus."  Galatians 3:26-28

Thus, neither race, nor ethnicity, nor sexual identity, nor social  status prevent anyone's access to all that the Episcopal Church has to  offer. Paul was formerly a deeply nationalist and exclusionary  religious figure. All of his deeply held categorizations by which he  determined who was in and who was out were obliterated by his  encounter with the Risen Lord. We seek to live this out and to  "respect the dignity of every human being". (Baptismal Covenant).

In our church, women are of equal worth and dignity with men, and have full access to all orders of ministry, including the ordained priesthood and the office of bishop. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons are likewise full and equal members of our church, and likewise have full access to all orders of ministry, including the ordained priesthood and the office of bishop.

WE ARE ALL THE 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.

TRADITION AND PROGRESS, HAND IN HAND

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 from those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and continually offered by Christians for the last two thousand years.

COME AND SEE

Faith is not a set of words- it can’t be written down in some medieval manuscript or linked to from Facebook. 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.