Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity
Episcopalians believe in the mystery of the Trinity, that there is one God in three divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man, that he was crucified and rose from the dead, and that through his life, passion, and death he opened to all people the doors of salvation. We believe that we were created to love God, to love one another, and to be happy with God forever in this life and the next.
Episcopalians are Anglican Christians, members of a world-wide family of churches called the Anglican Communion, all of which trace their origins to the Church of England.
After the American Revolution, members of the Church of England living in the newly independent colonies organized what became the Episcopal Church. Many American presidents, politicians, and founding fathers have been members of our church.
Fully Protestant and Fully Catholic
Worshipping according to the Book of Common Prayer, we embrace the catholic creeds alongside many traditions and practices of the early and medieval Church.
We also embrace the insights of the 16th century Protestant Reformation; so it is not unusual for Episcopalians to tell others that our church is a “middle way” between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Scripture, Tradition, and Reason
Episcopalians treasure the Holy Bible, containing what are commonly called the “Old” and “New” Testaments, as integral to the Christian faith. We believe that they are God’s inspired revelation to us in human language. Because the Bible also reveals a fully human attempt to grapple with God’s revelation, it must be studied critically in the context of the culture and biases of its authors.
Episcopalians embrace Holy Tradition — the words, teachings, and practices handed down to us by the mothers and fathers of the early Church. Episcopalians, through apostolic succession, trace our church much further back than England — and to the days of Jesus and the Apostles! Tradition places us in continuity with the very first communities of Christians.
Episcopalians are champions of human reason. We fully embrace the teachings of modern science, and believe that we must think critically about our relationship with God and with one another. This means that we must continually re-examine our beliefs and make sure they are grounded in right thinking. Episcopalians, through reason and experience, have come to value and embrace the leadership of women and LGBT+ people in the life of our church.
Worship and Sacraments
Episcopalians are liturgical Christians: our forms of worship date back to the earliest days of Christianity, and connect the present with the past. Newcomers to an Episcopal church might be a bit overwhelmed by how we move from standing, to sitting, to kneeling. This is because we involve the entire body and all the senses in worship, and believe that worshippers should actively participate in the adoration of God.
Episcopalians are sacramental Christians. We believe that God conveys transforming, saving grace to us through outward and physical signs. The water of baptism. The bread and wine of Holy Communion. God uses these physical and concrete signs to sanctify us in this life. Episcopalians also believe that Christ is truly present, in a mysterious and unexplainable way, in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. But unlike some denominations, we welcome all baptized Christians to receive the consecrated bread and wine.