What Episcopalians Believe
The faith taught by the Episcopal Church, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is simply the Christian faith – no more and no less. The Episcopal Church has no dogma and no confession of faith, except the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds which are shared by all Christian churches.
Our Anglican tradition teaches that our faith should be supported by the “three-legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason. That is, what we believe should be rooted in the Bible, in the 2,000 year-old teachings of the Christian faith, and must make sense to our God-given reason. This metaphor suggests that if any leg is longer than the other, the stool can’t stand firmly.
This means that we share a foundation of faith: Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became incarnate as a human being, died for our sins on the Cross, and destroyed the power of death by his resurrection. Jesus now offers us a new life of joy, peace and love through the Holy Spirit. We live out this faith by following our baptismal vows to seek and serve Christ in all people, respect the dignity of every human being, strive for God’s justice and peace, and share the Good News of God’s love.
It also means that on other issues, we often agree to disagree. The Anglican Church has a long history – back to its very beginning – of being a church where diverse views are expected and respected, and where what we have in common is our commitment to Jesus Christ and our worship together. That is why the central book of our church (besides, of course, the Bible) is not a book of doctrine or dogma, but a book of prayer: the Book of Common Prayer.
How We Worship
For Episcopalians, Sunday worship, particularly sharing Holy Communion together, is the most important part of our life together. Worship joins us together as the Body of Christ and empowers us to do God’s work in the world. The Episcopal Church is a liturgical church, which means our worship tends towards ritual and ceremony. The symbols and ceremony of worship hold meaning that words can’t express. However, we are also a fun, family church so our worship welcomes those of all ages in a reverent but relaxed atmosphere. Liturgy means “the work of the people” so all participate in the service by reading the prayers aloud together, kneeling and standing at different times during the service, and by singing together. Lay people as well as clergy help lead the worship service in various roles.
The weekly service bulletin will lead you through the service. The prayers in it are taken from the Book of Common Prayer, the small red book in the pew racks. Those who are long-time Episcopalians may prefer to follow the service in the BCP, but most newcomers find the service bulletin easier. Hymns and songs are in the blue Hymnal (page numbers are in the service bulletin).
You can learn more about what to expect at a worship service here.
All welcome at the Lord’s Table
All who seek Christ are encouraged to take part in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We encourage children to receive at the earliest point at which their parents are comfortable. At the altar rail, simply hold out your hands and the priest will place the bread in the palm of your hand. Please help the chalice bearer by holding the bottom of the chalice to guide it to your lips when receiving the wine. Normally, we share in the common cup as a symbol of our unity in Christ.
If, for any reason, parents do not want their children to receive communion, children can cross their arms over their chests and they will receive a blessing. For various reasons adults may not wish to receive bread or wine. If you cross your arms over your chest it will indicate to the person administering that you do not wish to receive that particular element and you desire a blessing instead.
Although this is what we customarily do, there is no wrong way to receive Communion! So please join us at the Lord’s Table.
Frequently Ask Questions can be found here.