Christ Church Forest City About Us
What is an Episcopalian?
An Episcopalian is a Christian who belongs to the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion, the third largest body of Christians in the world with 73,000,000 members. The Archbishop of Canterbury, located in England, serves as the spiritual head of the Anglican Church. Unlike the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the Archbishop serves only as a leader and guide, and does not make rules or laws for the Church to follow. The Episcopal Church recognizes the Archbishop of Canterbury's primacy of honor throughout the Anglican Communion however, the Episcopal Church in the United States is self-governing.
The Episcopal Church in the United States shares with the Anglican Communion its traditions of faith and order as set forth in its Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer had its beginning in 1549. The latest American revision is the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which contains the calendar of Church year, the order of Bible readings, orders of services, and some of the most beautiful prayers ever written.
"Scripture, tradition, and reason" is the Episcopal motto. This is best understood as the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and reasonableness! The Episcopal Church does not dictate a personís response to God. You will find in any Episcopal Church people of many different backgrounds, opinions, political views, and persuasions worshiping together in peace. That is because "respect" is such an important part of our Church.
The Episcopal Church has formal rites for public worship. It uses three texts in worship ó the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Hymnal. The texts will vary little from parish to parish, but the method of conducting services may vary greatly. This variance may be from very plain services to those with great ceremony. Every Episcopal parish is different. Most are "middle of the road". Others are very "Roman Catholic" in nature. Some try to be like English cathedrals. Still others vie to be "low church" while their neighbors are "high church".
Episcopalians are sacramental. They believe there are two main sacraments instituted and ordained by Jesus. They are the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. The five other "minor" sacraments were neither directly commanded by Christ, nor are they applicable to everyone. They are Confession (now called Reconciliation of a Penitent), Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Ordination, and Ministry of Healing (called Unction).
The word "Episcopal" means, "governed by bishops". Clergy in the Episcopal Church are the bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishops are elected spiritual overseers of groups of parishes and missions, which includes their priests and deacons. Priests are parish and mission leaders. Deacons assist priests in parish duties. This is a quick and done description of the hierarchy in our Church.
Vestries are elected by the laity in each parish to serve as their legal representatives. Although the vestry has some similarities to a board of directors, its measure of success is the degree to which the vestry and the congregation work together toward the fulfillment of Godís mission.
Structure in the Episcopal Church is democratic, resembling the basic government of the United States. A bishop presides over a diocese, which is a group of parishes and missions. Working for him or her is a group of priests and deacons who preside over the parishes and missions. These parishes and missions elect lay delegates who attend an annual Convention of the diocese. These Conventions make decisions for the diocese. They also elect representatives to attend the National Convention of the Episcopal Church, which makes decisions for the entire Episcopal Church. These conventions are held every three years. The Episcopal Church Convention is presided over by a Presiding Bishop.
What Do Episcopalians Believe?
- Human Nature
- God the Father
- The Old Covenant
- The Ten Commandments
- Sin and Redemption
- God the Son
- The New Covenant
- The Creeds
- The Holy Spirit
- The Holy Scriptures
- The Church
- The Ministry
- Prayer and Worship
- The Sacraments
- Holy Baptism
- The Holy Eucharist
- Other Sacraments
- The Christian Hope