What is an
A person who belongs to the Episcopal Church.
What is the Episcopal
The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion;
derived from the Church of England and sharing with it
traditions of faith and order as set forth in its Book of
Common Prayer. The Anglican Church is made up of all
churches that are in communion with the Archbishop of
Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury is located in
England, and he or she serves as the spiritual head of the
Anglican Church. Unlike the Pope of the Roman Catholic
Church, the Archbishop serves only as a leader and guide,
and does not make rules or laws for the Church to
The Episcopal Church is the term we use for that branch of
the Anglican union located in the United States.
What do Episcopalians
There are three basic sources of Episcopal Church
1. Scripture (the primary source)
The Old and New Testaments contain the essence of Christian
doctrine. They reveal God to humankind, and tell of our
response to God in history. The Bible helps us to know God's
will, revealed supremely through the life, death and
resurrection of Jesus. The Scriptures are the word of God,
proclaiming that Jesus&emdash; both God and human
being&endash;is Christ, the Messiah.
2. Reason (gifts of the Holy Spirit)
The Episcopal Church does not control interpretation and
practice. Instead, members are encouraged to use reason to
explore and comprehend God's works; to make responsible
moral decisions under the guidance of Scripture, the
ordained ministry and in response to sincere prayer.
3. Tradition (wisdom of generations past).
Tradition helps us to interpret Scripture; lets us share
experiences of early Christians and believers of every era;
preserves hymns, prayers, etc., that keep our faith alive;
strengthens our faith. Through its continuity and
consistency, tradition helps preserve essential truths
Interpretation of the faith varies somewhat from parish to
parish, but within the framework of these basic
1.) The Holy Trinity: God is three persons or beings
God the Father: infinite, omnipotent, good.
God the Son: the joyous union of both God and human being,
whose life and death and resurrection set us free from
bondage of sin and death, and reunited us with God our
Father in love and forgiveness.
God the Holy Spirit: God's power of love moving within us
and among us in mysterious and unexpected ways.
2. Salvation: the end of our separation from God; the
beginning of a new life, lived according to God's will;
gained by us because of Christ's sacrifice, when he took all
of our sins upon Himself and paid for them with his life;
every Christian should witness to Christ's sacrifice and
express the living truth of this sacrifice to the world
(which is called "evangelism").
3. The Church: the people of God; all baptized people
are the members and all play an equally important role in
proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.
ONE: one Body under one Head, Jesus Christ.
HOLY: the Holy Spirit dwells in it and its members.
CATHOLIC: universal; holding the faith for all time,
everywhere, for everybody.
APOSTOLIC: continuing in the Apostles' teaching and
fellowship. (The Apostles were the authoritative New
Testament group sent out to preach the gospel and made up
especially of Christ's original disciples
["followers"] and Paul.)
4. Worship: a joyous response to God's love; an
expression of hope for salvation; a chance to praise God and
receive strength and forgiveness; a way to share faith with
For a full outline of the faith, please see the Catechism in
the back of the Book of Common Prayer, or click
here. (link to catechism page)
How do Episcopalians
The Episcopal Church is liturgical, i.e., it has
formal rites and instructions for public worship. We use
three central texts:
1. The Bible
2. The Book of Common Prayer (contains calendar of Church
year, order of Bible readings, orders of services, and some
of the most beautiful prayers ever written)
The Book of Common Prayer tells us that private worship
is not always adequate; religion is a fellowship. You relate
to the whole church through your parish, your local church
community. Being with a community of believers inspires us,
nurtures us, encourages us, and comforts us.
What is the structure of the Episcopal
Within the Episcopal Church all people are ministers. Some
are called into special ministry positions to which they are
"ordained." These are deacons, priests, and bishops who are
together called "clergy." All others are called "lay
people." All participate in the work of the church and all
participate in its governance. Their special functions are
described in the Catechism.(link to catechism page)
The service of Holy Baptism ends with the following:
Celebrant: Let us welcome the newly baptized.
Celebrant and People: We receive you into the
household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified,
proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal
These words are a reminder that "the people" are sanctified
"Episcopal" means "governed by bishops." An unbroken line of
bishops may be traced back to the early church commissioned
by Jesus. Bishops are the spiritual overseers of their
dioceses (groups of churches, parishes and missions), which
elected them to office. Bishops act as counselors to clergy;
ordain ( or "invest officially with priestly authority")
priests and deacons; consecrate(or "bless, invoke divine
care for") other bishops; administer Confirmation (a mature
affirmation of one's faith); are final counselors in church
matters. Together, bishops share responsibility for the
welfare of the church.
Priests are parish leaders. The full scope of their duties
covers every pastoral, spiritual and educational activity.
Specifically, priests celebrate the Eucharist, baptize,
pronounce absolution from sins, and perform many other
Deacons assist priests in parish work, or minister in
missions or unorganized parishes. They cannot perform
sacramental acts of the priesthood; though not allowed to
celebrate the Eucharist, they may minister the consecrated
Holy Communion at a service, to the sick, etc.
by the Office of Communication
The Episcopal Church Center