The Episcopal Church is the American province of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of over 70 million Christians who trace their origins to the Church of England. Episcopalians are thinking Christians who engage questions of faith with both seriousness and great joy. Often, The Episcopal Church is called a “bridge church” between Roman Catholicism and Protestant denominations. This is because much Episcopal theology is Protestant in nature, while much of Episcopal worship, spiritual practice, and church structure resembles Catholicism.
Episcopalians describe the foundation of our faith by using the image of a “3-legged stool.”
- The first leg is Holy Scripture, which Episcopalians say is “written by people...inspired by the Holy Spirit” (from the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer). The wisdom that Scripture provides guides our lives.
- The second leg is Tradition, which consists of the interpretation of God’s purposes by past generations of Christians. The First Council of Nicaea wrote the Nicene Creed, which Episcopalians recite every week. The Creed reminds us of the nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The third leg is Reason. Episcopalians understand that God makes human beings in his image, which includes gifting us with complex, reasoning minds. We honor God’s gift when we use our minds to think deeply about God’s will, consulting Scripture, Tradition, and the myriad ways that God is revealed in the world around us.
The Book of Common Prayer includes a wealth of prayers and liturgies for virtually every occasion. It serves as a way to center our lives in Christ.
The word “Episcopal” is derived from the Greek word for “bishop.” Thus, our very name means that The Episcopal Church is structured around bishops. Bishops trace their authority all the way back to the generation of Christ’s apostles.
Each bishop oversees a geographic area called a diocese. Within a diocese are local congregations called parishes. A parish consists of a body of baptized Christians, often served by an ordained priest and deacon.