As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Episcopal Church has members in the United States and the territory of Puerto Rico; and also in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Venezuela, Curacao, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Taiwan, and the Virgin Islands.
We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.
Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions and is celebrated in many languages.
Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops.
We believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting.
Lay people exercise a vital role in the governance and ministry of our church.
Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.
We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer.
We affirm that committed relationships are lifelong and monogamous.
Episcopalians also recognize that there is grace after divorce and do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced.
We affirm that issues such as birth control are matters of personal informed conscience.
We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our differences, always putting the work of love before uniformity of opinion.
All are welcome to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church, all.
What it's like to worship at an Episcopal church?
Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. The principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion or Mass. In most Episcopal churches, worship is accompanied by the singing of hymns, and in some churches, much of the service is sung.
Episcopalians worship in many different styles, ranging from very formal, ancient, and multi-sensory rites with lots of singing, music, fancy clothes called vestments, and even incense to informal services with contemporary music. Yet all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer, which gives worship a familiar feel, no matter where you go.
Liturgy and Ritual
Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be liturgical meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the worshipers. The scriptures read each week as lessons always change.
For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating… or confusing. Services may involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.
The Holy Eucharist
In spite of the diversity of worship styles in the Episcopal Church, the Communion service or Eucharistic Service always has the same components and the same shape.
The Liturgy of the Word
We begin by praising God through song and prayer, and then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually one from the Old Testament a Psalm, something from the Epistels (letters written to the ancient church) and (always) a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation.
Next, a sermon intepreting the readings appointed for the day is preached. The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since. Next, the congregation prays together—for the church, the World, and those in need. We
pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. The presider, or celebrant (usually the priest or bishop) concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession.
In certain seasons of the Church year, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution (the assurance of God's unmerited and gracious forgiveness). In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation
that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
The congregation then greets one another with a sign of peace, usually a handshake and the words,
"Peace be with you."
The Liturgy of the Table
Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or
wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the presider tells the story of our faith, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from
God, and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the presider tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him.
The presider blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord's Prayer. Finally, the presider breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the People of God.”
The congregation then shares the bread and the wine. The people all come forward to receive the bread and wine; those not baptized or not wishing to receive the bread and wine come forward and receive a blessing. This is indicated by crossing your arms over your chest.
Everyone is welcome
Everyone is welcome at our service, and all baptized Christian -- no matter age, marital status or denomination—are welcome to “receive communion.”Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously. If you are feeling hungry for the sacrament, speak with the priest about being baptized!
Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to
receive a blessing from the presider. Indicate this by crossing your arms over your chest.
At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the World. Please sign the guest book and head to the parish hall downstairs to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation!
Thanks to the Episcopal Church USA's visitors center for providing the above instruction and information on "What to expect" when visiting an Episcopal church