What We Believe
One of the greatest things about being an Episcopalian is that there are all different kinds. Conservative, liberal, funny people, serious people, black, white, latino, asian, some old and some young, some straight and some gay. Some of us are really sure about our faith and some find it to be a daily struggle. What ties us together is our belief in the grace and reconciling love of God, especially as Jesus taught us . . . that God’s deepest wish for us is that we love God and love our neighbors.
We read the Bible aloud in church every Sunday, and if you come for three years straight, you will have heard almost the entire Bible. Some Episcopalians read the Bible literally while for others, their understanding of scripture is informed by their experiences and the learned wisdom of the community as we are guided by the Holy Spirit.
We also believe, like most Christians, that Jesus is the clearest picture God has ever given us of who God is. God loves us so much that God came to be among us. When we turned against Jesus, crucified and killed him, God used that act as a way to show us how far the reconciling love of God calls us to go. Plus, in God’s response to that death, God showed us that somehow death had been conquered forever. When it comes to God’s revelation in the Word, we tend to see scripture as something that is inspired by God rather than a literal word for word message from God. We, therefore, are open to new interpretations of the Bible with the passage of time. However, we take the Bible seriously, and we believe that it has much to teach us about who God is, who we are, and how God wants us to live.
There are two things that make Episcopalians different from other Christian denominations. One is that we usually serve Holy Communion every Sunday. If you’re not used to that, it can seem strange at first, but we see it as a great way to worship and the perfect way to remember all that God has done for us. The other thing is that most Episcopalians don’t spend very much time talking about hell. Some churches make it seem like we were all born evil and have to do a lot of work to stay out of hell. We tend to believe that God made us very, very good, that God’s love for us is greater than we can imagine, and that God’s grace and reconciling love will ultimately do most of the hard work that is needed for keeping us in relationship with God—both in this life and the next. Of course, that doesn’t mean we intentionally go out and live crazy, sinful lives. It just means we believe God is not a God who holds our humanity against us.
About Our Services
The Episcopal Church traces its roots in the United States to English settlers who brought with them the Church of England. After the Revolution, the Church of England in American adopted the name of “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.” in 1789.
Episcopalians are part of the Anglican Communion. We number about 83 million people worldwide. All of us across the globe worship using modern versions of the Book of Common Prayer, whose roots go back to the first edition in 1549. The Church was determined, through the creation of this Book, that lay people would participate in all the liturgy, not simply have it performed for them by the clergy.
We continue that tradition of lay involvement by using the 1979 American edition of the Book of Common Prayer Book and 1982 Hymnal. We worship using the contemporary language form (Rite II) for both our 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock services. A traditional language service (Rite I) is held on Wednesdays at 12 noon. Because parts of our service are not always in page number sequence, and because flipping back and forth between the Prayer Book and Hymnal can be confusing for even the most seasoned Episcopalian, we provide a printed bulletin at every service.
The Anglican/Episcopal tradition provides an emotionally and intellectually stimulating worship style intended to honor God and involve everyone in the service. Some have also observed that the Episcopal Church is a “bridge” between Protestant and Catholic traditions. Married couples with one partner from the Catholic tradition and one from the Protestant often find a common ground of worship and spiritual practice in the Episcopal Church.