What is an Episcopalian?

What is an Episcopalian?

The word “Episcopal” refers to government by bishops. The historic episcopate continues the work of the first apostles in the Church, guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, and ordaining men and women to continue Christ’s ministry. An Episcopalian is a person who belongs to the Protestant Episcopal Church, the branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the United States. As Episcopalians, we believe:

  • The Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture, and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (link to Bible Gatewaywww.biblegateway.com)
  • The Nicene Creed is the basic statement of our belief about God. It was adopted in the 300s by the early church founders and is said every Sunday in Episcopal and Anglican churches around the United States and world..

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead ,and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

  • The two great sacraments of the Gospel, given by Christ to the Church, are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. In Baptism we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and adopt Jesus as our Lord and Savior. In the Holy Eucharist, the center of our worship life, we remember and participate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until his coming again.
  • Catechism: The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are articulated in this “Outline of the Faith.” It is designed in a question and answer format.

How we worship, united by a Prayer Book

All Episcopal services whatever their style—and they vary from simple spoken ceremonies to elaborate sung ones—follow those laid out in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It ultimately traces its history back to the first Prayer Book of the English church, produced in 1549, following its split with Rome.

Services involve participation from the congregation and follow almost exactly the same essential forms. This means that on any given Sunday an Episcopalian can walk into any Episcopal church (and with small local variations, any Anglican church in the world) and take part in a familiar worship service.

In our worship service, we celebrate God with us through water, bread and wine. Jesus shared bread and wine with his first followers and is with us today in this family meal we call Holy Communion. Through it we receive the forgiveness of our sins and a strengthening of our union with God and one another as we remember Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

For each Christian season, the Book of Common Prayer lays out the form that the service should take, and provides the text for most of the prayers. A calendar of readings from the Scriptures, called the “Lectionary,” lays out which biblical passages should be read each day. Typical services will mix readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. In every case, while a priest leads the service, the congregation participates extensively—singing hymns and speaking or singing prayers, the creed (statements of our beliefs), responses and psalms (sacred poems).

Exactly what one does when—should you be kneeling, sitting or standing? Should you sing or speak the responses? When do you say “Amen”? —can be a bit of a puzzle to a newcomer (and sometimes Episcopalians visiting a different church), but it should not be intimidating. In any event, because the essential form of the service remains the same from one Sunday to the next, you soon get used to it—and after that you will begin to experience what Episcopalians find so satisfying: the mental space that the familiar rhythm opens up to commune more profoundly with God.

The Book of Common Prayer provides a fixed framework, but not a rigid one. The details vary from church to church and are a matter of tradition and taste. One church may begin with a more or less elaborate procession of priest(s), acolytes and choir, and in another with the priest standing on the steps in front of the altar. Texas’ Episcopalians infuse their services with their own traditions from around the world and give each of them a unique character. They lift up their voices to the Lord in many languages from Spanish and English, to Ibo and Portuguese, and in a multitude of rhythms from jazz to those of traditional choirs.

All Episcopal services whatever their style—and they vary from simple spoken ceremonies to elaborate sung ones—follow those laid out in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It ultimately traces its history back to the first Prayer Book of the English church, produced in 1549, following its split with Rome.

Services involve participation from the congregation and follow almost exactly the same essential forms. This means that on any given Sunday an Episcopalian can walk into any Episcopal church (and with small local variations, any Anglican church in the world) and take part in a familiar worship service.

In our worship service, we celebrate God with us through water, bread and wine. Jesus shared bread and wine with his first followers and is with us today in this family meal we call Holy Communion. Through it we receive the forgiveness of our sins and a strengthening of our union with God and one another as we remember Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

An individual becomes part of the Church through the sacrament of baptism by water. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that through baptism we are united with God. The Episcopal Church believes that through baptism—in any Christian denomination—we become brothers and sisters in God’s family. Episcopalians therefore welcome and encourage all those who have been baptized, in whatever church to join us in taking communion.

Even within a congregation, worship services can be offered in a range of styles from contemporary to more traditional. Come join us, won’t you?

How Does the Episcopal Church Differ From Other Denominations?

Historically, bishops oversee the Church in particular geographic areas, known as dioceses. In the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who oversees the Diocese of Canterbury, occupies a special position by virtue of history and tradition but he does not hold a governing position. We are a confederation of equals. Bishops from the Anglican Communion meet every 10 years for the Lambeth Conference, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the resolutions coming from that Conference do not hold authority over all members of the Communion. Collegiality among bishops is the substitute for authority, and communal discernment is the substitute for decision-making power.

Each bishop and diocese, operating through an annual council, determine the character of life and work in that diocese within a set of general decisions made by a triennial General Convention of The Episcopal Church as a whole. These decisions are formalized as canons—rules that govern—by The Episcopal Church and subsequently by each affected diocese. Each diocese elects and sends clergy and lay representatives—deputies—to the General Convention. Saint Andrew’s parish is a part of the Diocese of New Jersey and Province II of The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church celebrates diversity. We are young and old, male and female, gay and straight, single, married, divorced and widowed, Anglo, African American, Latino, African, Asian, CEO and unemployed, student and teacher, rich and poor. We worship together, study and ask questions as we move more deeply into the mystery of God.

We honor tradition and strive to live by the example of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger and the outcast, helping our neighbors and offering love and forgiveness. We want our communities to be better because The Episcopal Church is here.

We are known for our engaging and beautiful worship services. For those who have grown up Roman Catholic, the service, known as the Mass, Eucharist or Holy Communion, will be very familiar. For those of reformed tradition or no religious tradition at all, we think you may find a spiritual home in a church that respects its tradition and maintains its sense of awe and wonder at the power and mystery of God. Some services are more contemporary, some more traditional but all follow the same form found in the Book of Common Prayer.

There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … Everyone is welcome.

We walk the “middle way” between Protestant and catholic traditions. We often talk about the Episcopal Church as following the “via media” or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are children beloved by God and we can have thoughtful and respectful discussions.

The Episcopal Church has between 2-3 million members in about 7,500 congregations in the United States, the Virgin Islands, Haiti, Europe and other areas in North America. New Jersey ranks sixth out of 100 domestic dioceses in the Episcopal Church in the USA, in the number of parishes. We’re eighth in number of baptized persons. There are 154 congregations in this diocese, including seasonal, collegiate and institutional chapels.We are part of the global Anglican Communion, which has 70 million followers.

 

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