Who Are Episcopalians
Somebody just like you: We are comprised of conservatives, liberals, funny people, serious people, various backgrounds, education and ethnicities. Some are old, and some are young. Some are straight, and some are gay. Some are really sure about their faith, and some find it to be a constant struggle.
Scripture, tradition, and reason combine to form the foundation for all the teachings of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church does not put forth a long list of "dos" and "don'ts" and Episcopalians disagree on many issues. We do, however, all agree that our salvation comes through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that we should reach out to all God's children with the same unconditional love God has given us. We believe this love is strong enough to bind us together, in Christ, even if we disagree on lesser issues.
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity. Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions and is celebrated in many languages.
As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Episcopal Church has members in the United States and the territory of Puerto Rico; and also in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Venezuela, Curacao, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Taiwan, and the Virgin Islands.
What ties us together is our belief in the love of God, especially as Jesus talked about it. Jesus taught us that God's biggest hope for us is that we would love God and love our neighbors. Although we're not always great at it, it's what we try to do.
We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.
Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops. We believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting. Lay people exercise a vital role in the governance and ministry of our church.
We affirm that committed relationships are lifelong and monogamous. Episcopalians also recognize that there is grace after divorce and do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced.
We affirm that issues such as birth control are matters of personal informed conscience.
Most of us believe that our "salvation" is a gift from God, delivered to all peoples and all of creation in some way by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can neither earn nor lose that gift by how we lead our lives. We can only reject or ignore it
We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our differences, always putting the work of love before uniformity of opinion. All are welcome to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.
How We Worship
What a typical service is like
Our services are similar to Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and to some extent, Presbyterians and Methodists in that we use a printed book, The Book of Common Prayer, for worship. Extemporaneous or "pastoral prayers" are not normally part of our services. The Holy Communion or Lord's Supper or Holy Eucharist is the usual service on Sunday.
Our services are described as "liturgical" in that we include ceremony -- robes and vestments for participants; processions of worship leaders into and out of worship, usually led by a processional cross and torches; the use of a prescribed rotation of scripture readings in our worship. Individual congregations use more or less ceremony as local custom determines. The laity takes an active role in the leadership of public worship along with the clergy.
We do not believe God's word has changed over the ages but we do believe our understanding of the Bible and our Traditions can change. We encourage people to think and study and use their ability to reason to find God's will and direction for their lives
What kind of music is used
Music is a big part of our worship. Some Episcopal churches only use the hymnal with an organ and choir, others provide a blend using more modern instruments such as guitar and singing. At St. Paul's, we are blessed with a wonderful pipe organ and a small, but very talented choir.
Can you come?
All are welcome. We believe that God does not restrict anyone from coming to God's table, so neither do we. All are allowed to come and worship. Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians regardless of membership in the Episcopal Church.