What It Means to Be Episcopalian
Whoever you are, you are welcome here!
Before we tell you what we believe, that’s the most important thing you need to know. You are welcome here. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, we welcome you with open hearts. Jesus tells us that our highest priorities should be to love God and to love our neighbor. Everything we believe flows from that love.
WHAT IS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. We are a Christian church, which means we believe in Jesus Christ. We also believe in the Holy Scriptures, as they are understood through reason, tradition and as the living Word of God. Take a look at the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds to read the foundations of our faith tradition. The Episcopal Church also holds room for individual conscience and intellectual freedom in matters of faith.
WHAT ARE YOUR WORSHIP SERVICES LIKE?
We follow an established pattern of prayers, scripture readings, responses and singing, which we call our “liturgy.” We always serve Communion—which means we share bread and wine, as Christ taught us to do to remember his love for us. Everyone is welcome to the Communion table.
IS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH DIVERSE?
Yes. In our faith communities you will find people of every culture, race, ethnicity, age and origin, as well as those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We respect diverse thinking, too. Laypeople have important roles in guiding our churches, and both women and men may be ordained to serve as deacons, priests and bishops. Our current presiding bishop, who oversees The Episcopal Church in 17 different countries, is Michael Curry.
ARE YOUR MEMBERS POLITICALLY LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE?
To be honest, we have a reputation for having members with a wide range of perspectives on almost everything, and that includes politics. But the Episcopal Church, while supporting causes that come to the aid of people who have been marginalized, doesn’t endorse political parties or candidates. We believe that our energy is best focused on loving God and loving one another because we believe every human being is a child of God.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT TO DO IF I GO TO A CHURCH SERVICE?
Usually you’ll be greeted as you arrive, and you should feel free to ask anyone for guidance. Most likely, you’ll receive an order of service bulletin to guide you. We use The Book of Common Prayer as our worship guide. It was first created to help the people of England participate in worship in their own language, rather than in Latin.
WHO ARE THE MINISTERS OF YOUR CHURCH?
Every member is considered a minister in The Episcopal Church. The ordained ministers – who have completed special requirements and approved by a committee of lay and ordained people – may be either bishops, priests or deacons. A bishop leads a diocese – a geographical grouping of parishes or worshiping communities that are led by priests. Deacons work on behalf of the bishop, without remuneration, to keep the needs of the poor visible in the lives of church members.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
We think about “being the church,” rather than “going to church.” Because what we do to help others after we leave worship is just as important. Learn more about opportunities to serve here.