The Episcopal Church

Welcome to the Episcopal Church welsign

Emblazoned on familiar red, white, and blue signs all over the land, these words point the way to houses of prayer where all sorts and conditions of people are invited to worship God.

It is our worship that makes us who we are. We utilize The Book of Common Prayer to guide our worship. We describe ourselves as a people united above all by our prayer.

Guided by Holy Scripture, tradition, and reason, we aim to live lives that are pleasing to God by fulfilling the promises made at our baptism, which include loving our neighbors as ourselves and respecting the dignity of every human being.

As you will see from reading about our parish on this website, we have a wide variety of ways for you to participate in this faith community. Please join us. We need your heart and your hands, and we are ready to offer you our own as together we seek to serve the Lord.

The Episcopal Church

What is the Episcopal Church?  The Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion — a “daughter” of the Church of England.

 episopal crossHow did it get started? There have been Anglicans in what was to become the United States since the establishment of the first English colony at Jamestown. Following the American Revolution, some reorganization was necessary for those Anglicans who chose to remain in the new country, as the Church of England is a state church which recognizes the monarch as her secular head (obviously, not a popular idea in post-Revolutionary America!). Thus the “Protestant” Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. was born (the word “Protestant,” used to distinguish the Episcopal Church from the Roman Catholic Church, which is also “episcopal” in its organization, has since been dropped from the official title). There were some rocky periods, especially in the early days of the church, when bishops of the established Church of England were reluctant to consecrate new bishops who would not recognize the reigning monarch as the head of the church. These problems were overcome, however, and the Episcopal Church is now fully “in communion” with the Church of England, and with other Anglican churches throughout the world.

What does “Episcopal” mean?: Episcopos is the Greek word for “bishop.” Thus “Episcopal” means “governed by bishops.” The Episcopal Church maintains the three-fold order of ministry as handed down by the Apostles — deacons, priests and bishops — in direct descent, via the laying on of hands, from the original Apostles. By the way, “Episcopal” is an adjective: “I belong to the Episcopal Church.” The noun is “Episcopalian”: “I am an Episcopalian.”

What is The Book of Common Prayer? Contrary to what some believe, The Book of Common Prayer (the “Prayer Book”) is not an “Anglican Bible.” We love it, use it and depend on it, but it is not Scripture, and we do not view it or use it as such. The first Book of Common Prayer as produced by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549, and revised by Cranmer in 1552 (further revisions occured in 1559 and 1662; the latter revision is still used as the official Prayer Book of the Church of England). The book was intended to facilitate worship in English rather than Latin, and to bring the rites of the church together into one book for use by both clergy and layfolk. Each national church in the Anglican Communion has its own adaptation of the Prayer Book. The American version, used by ECUSA, was last revised in 1979.  In the Prayer Book, you will find the orders of service for the various rites of the church, the Daily Office, prayers for use within the context of the liturgy and prayers for use in home devotions, the Lectionary (i.e., the Scriptural readings to be used in corporate worship, organized so as to carry the congregation through the entire Bible in a three-year period), the Psalter (Psalms), the Calendar of the Church Year, The Outline of the Faith (Catechism) and various historical documents.

How can I learn more about Episcopal worship practices? The best way to learn more about our worship practices is to look through a copy of Book of Common Prayer.  These can typically be found in the pews in every Episcopal Church, and no one is likely to mind if you drop by to peruse a copy.  Copies can also often be found in libraries and bookstores.

What are the sacraments of the Episcopal Church? Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation (“confession”), Ordination and Unction of the Sick. Of these, Baptism and the Eucharist are considered “necessary” sacraments… the others are “conditional” sacraments (i.e., they are not required of all persons, but apply in certain situations). “Sacraments” are defined as “Outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.”