About the Episcopal Church
The roots of the Episcopal church are traced back to the one church that began two thousand years ago when Jesus asked his apostles to go into the world and teach. The origins of the Episcopal Church are also deeply rooted in England where Rome and the Pope influenced Christianity until the sixteenth century when the English church broke its ties with the Pope. When the “new world” was discovered, the leaders from England brought their faith and gave rise to the Episcopal Church of the United States or ECUSA which is a national church and is self-governing. The Episcopal Church is part of a worldwide fellowship of national churches known as the Anglican Communion which comprises 85 million people in over 165 countries. The Anglican Communion is a global family of national and regional Churches. There is no Anglican central authority such as a pope. Today the Anglican Communion is 38 autonomous national and regional Churches plus six Extra Provincial Churches and dioceses all of which are in Communion – in a reciprocal relationship – with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Communion’s spiritual head.
Episcopal comes from a Greek word meaning bishop and bishops are the leaders along with priests and deacons. The Episcopal church has local parishes (like us here at St. Andrew’s) that has a priest or pastor as the leader. We also have a Vestry, which is nine members of the congregation who have been elected to serve with the rector as the governing board of the parish. We then have the diocese which is a grouping of parishes under the supervision of a bishop and then the national church which also has a bishop as the main leader.
The Episcopal faith, or Anglicanism, is that of the earliest undivided Christian Church (When the pope in Rome was the leader). We believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that all we are and all we possess is a gift from God. We believe that all things come from God and are therefore good. We do not ban or disallow activities, we do not dictate what you wear and we don’t have rules about what or when you can eat or drink. We believe God’s love and grace are the rightful possession of all people and that love and grace are expressed through the people of the church.
The threefold sources of authority in Anglicanism are scripture, tradition, and reason. The Anglican balance of authority has been characterized as a “three-legged stool” which falls if any one of the legs is not upright. Each of the three sources of authority must be perceived and interpreted in light of the other two.
A Word from our Presiding Bishop