What do Episcopalians believe?
Most people usually get around to asking, “What do you believe?”
In two foundational statements of faith – the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed – we affirm our faith in the one God who created us and redeems us through God’s son, Jesus Christ. We use both creeds in our worship, declaring our beliefs. We don’t add to or take away from anything in those creeds.
We believe the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary for salvation. We believe God inspired human authors and continues to speak to us through the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit.
While we agree on the many doctrinal statements in the creeds, the Episcopal Church is not bound together by shared positions on theological questions or by tests of true doctrine. Our unity comes from our love of God in Jesus Christ, through worship and service together, rather than rigid adherrence to particular beliefs. Each member of our community is able to wrestle with questions of faith and arrive at different conclusions than other members within the community.
Are we a Protestant Church? Yes. The word protestant means “to witness for” and reminds us that our church witnesses for Jesus in the world around us. Protestantism is one of the major divisions within Christianity. The Episcopal Church traces its history back to the Protestant Reformation. Unlike many protestant churches, our worship is centered on the Eucharist (Communion), we use wine (not grape juice), and our clergy wear robes and vestments.
Are we a Catholic Church? Yes. The Episcopal Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people. We’re not Roman Catholic, though you will find many similarities between the Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic Church; our worship services are similar and because the priests and deacons of both faith traditions wear special clothing, called vestments. Unlike Roman Catholics, our clergy are allowed to marry, we ordain women and men and LGBT people, communion is open to all Christians, we rely most upon scripture in determining matters of faith, and our church is governed democratically.
Want to find out about our worship? Read it here.