Frequently Asked Questions

Read 'FAQs' about The Episcopal Church in magazine format.

What is the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church is a “constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.” (Constitution and Canons, 2006)

Who is the head of the Episcopal Church?

The General Convention, comprised of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, is the governing and legislative body of the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop is the Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church. The current Presiding Bishop is the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry. He was elected Presiding Bishop at the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

What is a primate?

A primate is the chief bishop or archbishop of one of the thirty-eight churches of the Anglican Communion.

What is the Anglican Communion?

An international association composed of over 80 million people in 44 regional or national churches all in full communion with the Church of England and, more specifically, in communion with both the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York.

Who is the current Archbishop of Canterbury?

The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby. He was elected last January 13, 2013 and enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21, 2013. Formerly the Bishop of Durham, he now shares the primacy of the Church of England with the Archbishop of York and is considered the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

What are the four Instruments of Communion in the Anglican Communion?

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church where the Pope is the solitary head, in the Anglican Communion, there is no one single authoritative leader. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the “symbolic head” of the Communion and the “first among equals” among the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Some Anglicans, however, understand that there are four (4) bodies involved in providing leadership across the Anglican Communion, which are: the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates Meeting, the Lambeth Conference and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Episcopal Church is a full participating member in the decision making bodies of the Anglican Communion.

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THEOLOGY

What is the meaning of the word 'theology'?

The word comes from Theologia, from the Greek words Theos (θεός), meaning God, and logia (λόγια), meaning utterances, studies or discourses. So theology literally means the discourse or study on God.

What is meant by the “three-legged stool” of faith-understanding in the Episcopal Church?

Scripture, tradition, and reason are the three dynamic legs that provide a balanced way of discerning the will of God. The source of this metaphor is generally attributed to the Rev. Richard Hooker (1554-1600), an Oxford University scholar who wrote: “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”

What are the 'Scriptures?'

The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments; other books, called the Apocrypha, are also included in the Bible. (BCP, p. 853).

What does 'tradition' refer to?

The Episcopal Church has inherited ancient traditions from apostolic times, as well as historical customs, laws, practices, and values that have become part of the common life of the church.

What do we mean by “Reason”?

Reason is both the intellect and the experience of God that illuminate scriptures and tradition as they altogether relate to our common lives, ministries, and contemporary situations.

What are the Four Marks of the Christian Church?

The four marks of the Church as affirmed in the Nicene Creed are “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” (BCP, p. 358) The church is one because God is one; Jesus Christ, the Head is one, and the Holy Spirit who dwells in those who believe, is one. The Church is holy because she lives in unity with Christ and through the Holy Spirit, she leads others to holiness. To be holy also means “to be set apart for God.” The Church is catholic or “universal” because all the baptized persons are parts of the Church and the universal Church is sent to proclaim Christ to the entire human race in the whole world. The Church is apostolic because she traces her history, tradition and culture from the apostles of Jesus Christ.

What does “via media” mean?

Via media is Latin for “middle road,” which refers to the tendency of Anglican theology to strike a middle ground between reformed Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

What are the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed?

These two creeds state the Episcopal Church’s basic beliefs about God. The Apostles’ Creed (BCP, p. 96) is the ancient creed of baptism and is often used in the church’s daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant. The Nicene Creed (BCP, p. 358) is the creed of the universal church and is often used at the Eucharist.

What is the Holy Trinity?

The Holy Trinity is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (BCP, 852).

Is the Holy Spirit is a Person?

Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Third  Person of the Trinity revealed in Scriptures as “the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and together with the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified; He has spoken through the prophets” (The Nicene Creed, BCP 359).

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MISSION AND MINISTRY

What is the biblical mandate known in Christian circles as “The Great Commission”?

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said to the apostles:”All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. And lo, I will be with you even unto the close of the age.”

What are the Five Anglican Marks of Mission?

(1)  To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;

(2)  To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers;

(3)  To respond to human need by loving service;

(4)  To seek to transform unjust structures of society;

(5)  To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

What is the mission of the Episcopal Church?

“The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP 855)

How does the Church pursue its mission and who is called do that?

The church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.” (BCP, p. 855)

What are the four orders of ministry in the Episcopal Church?

Most Episcopalians would say there are three orders of ministry, namely: bishops, priests and deacons but those who put emphasis on baptism as the foundation of ministry affirm lay the fourth order—lay ministers. “Bishop” is from the Greek word episcopos, or “overseer”; “priest” is from the Greek word presbyteros, or “elder”; “deacon” is from the Greek word diakonos, or “servant.”; and “lay” comes from the Greek word laos, which means “the people” of God.

What is “the priesthood of all believers”?

The priesthood of all believers refers to the belief that all baptized Christians have been given direct access to God, just as a priest would have, and that God is equally accessible to all the faithful, and every Christian has equal potential to minister for God. This is based in part on the First Letter of Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

What is the duty of all Christians?

The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God (BCP, p. 856).

What are the spiritual gifts given by God, through the Holy Spirit?

There are varieties of gifts and services that come from the Holy Spirit. In First Corinthians 12: 7-11, they include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. In Romans 12:6-8, they include prophecy, faith, service, teaching, encouragement, generosity and leadership.  Ephesians 4:11-12 reminds us also that “Christ chose some to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his Body would grow strong.”

What are the nine virtues that St. Paul called the “fruit of the Spirit?”

They are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

Why did St. Paul describe the Church as the “Body of Christ?”

St. Paul was referring to the way in which all members of the church are united with Christ and with one another despite its diversity. This “unity in diversity” is the ideal way in which members of the one Body should function in the life it lives and the relationship it creates. With Christ as Head, the Body parts function creatively and harmoniously. Thus, “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1st Corinthians 12:12-26).

What is the Great Commandment that undergirds the mission of the Church?

Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 and BCP. Page 351)

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WORSHIP

What is the Episcopal Church’s main guide to worship?

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the official book of worship of the Episcopal Church. The BCP provides liturgical forms, prayers, and instructions so that all members and orders of the Episcopal Church may appropriately share in common worship.

What are the major gestures or actions in the Episcopal worship?

Standing to praise God.

Sitting to listen to God’s Word.

Kneeling to pray for the church and the world.

Bowing in reverence for God.

Lifting hands in prayer, or “orans.”

Making the sign of cross, usually with the right thumb on the forehead or with the right hand on the forehead, chest, and shoulders.

Genuflecting, or bending the knee in reverence.

Giving and receiving a kiss of peace, or a hug, or a handshake as a sign of greeting and reconciliation.

Elevating the bread and wine during the Eucharist, offering them to God or showing them to the people.

Extending hands in greeting, (e.g., when the priest says, “The Lord be with you”).

Laying on of hands or extending them over people as a sign of blessing at Baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, ordination, marriage, healing, and other liturgical rites.

What is the chief worship service in the Episcopal Church?

The Holy Eucharist; also known as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Mass, Divine Liturgy, or the Great Offering. (BCP, p. 859)

What is meant by liturgy?

Liturgy is the canonized or customary order of public worship. It comes from the ancient Greek word leitourgia or “work of the people.” As a “liturgical church,” the Episcopal Church requires the congregation to participative in worship such as reading, singing, listening and responding to the invocations, exhortations and prayers.

What are the liturgical seasons in the Christian Calendar?

The Christian calendar divides the year into six liturgical seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Every season has a customary color, which is displayed on clergy vestments and altar veils during that season.

What do these liturgical colors signify?

White signifies purity and joy and is used during Christmas, Easter, All Saints’ Day and other joyous occasions such as weddings. White is also used during funerals because death is viewed in relation to Christ’s resurrection. Purple signifies penitence and patient waiting and used during Advent and Lent. Others use blue instead of purple to emphasize the color of royalty because at Advent, we await the return of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Red symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost Sunday and for the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons. Red also signifies the blood of Christ and therefore used during the festival of martyrs. Green suggests hope and growth and is used during the weeks after Epiphany and the Sundays following Trinity Sunday, described as “Sundays After Pentecost.”

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PRAYER

What is prayer?

Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words. Christian prayer is “response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (BCP, p. 856). In simpler term, prayer is communicating to God---listening and talking with God.

What is the Lord’s Prayer?

In Matthew 6:9b-13 and Luke 11:2-4 Jesus taught his disciples the following prayer, which is called the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen (BCP, p. 364)

What are the four kinds of prayer?

According to the Book of Common Prayer (BCP, p. 856), the four principal kinds of prayer are Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS). Adoration means praising God for what and who God is. Confession is expressing sorrow for sins and asking God’s forgiveness, mercy, and pardon. Thanksgiving is thanking God for all the blessings received and giving thanks to God in all circumstances. Supplication is asking God to provide for our needs and for the needs of the world.

How often and how long should I pray?

How often do you wish to listen and speak to God? Aside from Sunday public worship, some people set a time every day to be their “quiet time” with God. Others do it like “flextime.” A scripture from First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you, in Christ Jesus.”

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THE WORD OF GOD

What is a lectionary?

A lectionary is a table of readings or pericopes from Holy Scriptures appointed to be read at public worship, making provisions for liturgical year with its pattern of observances of festivals and seasons. The several lectionaries in the Book of Common Prayer are for different uses, like the Daily Office, Sundays of the three-year cycles (A, B, C), feast days and other commemorations.

What is the Revised Common Lectionary?

The Revised Common Lectionary is a product of collaboration between the North American Consultation on Common Texts and the International Language Liturgical Consultation and was first publicly released in 1994.  It is preceded by the Common Lectionary assembled in 1983, itself preceded by Consultation on Church Union (COCU) lectionary, derived from various lectionaries. The RCL is currently used by mainstream liturgical churches including Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches. The RCL was officially adopted by the Episcopal Church General Convention in 2006 and will appear in future printings of the Book of Common Prayer.

Why are the books of the Bible called the Old and New Testaments?

The Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to show God at work in nature and history (BCP, p. 853). The New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people (BCP, p. 853).

Why do we call the Bible as the Word of God?

We call the Bible the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

How many books are there in the Bible?

Protestant churches traditionally have recognized 66 books in total, including 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament. Roman Catholics accept as authorized texts an additional number of books in the Old Testament. The Episcopal Church commends these additional books, which are called the Apocrypha, for private study and also uses them in public liturgy.

What is the Pentateuch?

The Pentateuch is the name for the five books of the Bible attributed to Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

What are the four books of the gospel?

The books of the gospel are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What are the Ten Commandments given by God in the Old Testament?

The Ten Commandments are a list of laws that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai for the People of Israel (Exodus 20:1-17). The Book of Common Prayer calls them “The Decalogue” and lists them in both traditional (BCP, p. 317-318) and contemporary (BCP, p. 350) languages. The contemporary version reads:

  1. Hear the commandments of God to his people: I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall not have other gods but me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself any idol.
  3. You shall not invoke with malice the Name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not commit murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not be a false witness.
  10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What is the New Commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples?

Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” 

Does the bible contain all things necessary for salvation?

The Scripture says in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the people of God maybe thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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SACRAMENTS

What is a sacrament?

A sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace” (BCP, p. 857).

How many sacraments does the Episcopal Church observe?

Two (2) gospel sacraments are Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist (BCP, pp.858-859).Five (5) other sacramental rites are also practiced in the Episcopal Church: Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick (anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands). (BCP, pp. 860-861)

What is the sacrament of Holy Baptism?

Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. (BCP 858)

What is the sign of baptism?

Water is the outward and visible sign, and “union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family, the Church; forgiveness of sins and new life in the Holy Spirit” constitute the inward and spiritual grace. (BCP, p. 858)

What is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death and resurrection until his coming again. (BCP, p. 859)

What are the signs of the Eucharist?

Bread and wine are the outward and visible signs. “The Body and Blood of Christ given to his people and received by faith” constitute the inward and spiritual grace. (BCP, p. 859)

What is confirmation in the Episcopal Church?

It is a rite by which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and laying on of hands by a bishop. It is an opportunity for those who are baptized as infants, children, or adults to make a public confession of their faith and to renew their baptismal vows.

What is ordination?

Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying of hands by bishops. (BCP, p. 860)

Who can be ordained in the Episcopal Church?

Any baptized person, whose internal sense of vocation has been affirmed by the discernment of his or her local church and by the larger church, including his or her diocesan bishop is eligible to seek ordination in the Episcopal Church.

Does the Episcopal Church ordain women to the priesthood?

Yes. The first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the history of the worldwide Anglican Communion was Florence Li Tim Oi. She was ordained on January 25, 1944 by Bishop Ronald Hall of Victoria, Hong Kong in response to a crisis of ministry brought about by the Japanese invasion of China. It became a controversial issue to the point that Rev. Li had to resign her license, though not her priestly order. In July 29, 1974 in Philadelphia, Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. de Witt, Edward R. Welles, and Antonio Ramos ordained eleven (11) women as priests and on September 7, 1975 four (4) more women were ordained by retired Bishop George W. Barrett.  It was on September 16, 1976 in Minneapolis, Minnesota when the General Convention officially approved the ordination of women to the priesthood, and regularized the ordination of the 15 forerunners.

Does the Episcopal Church have female bishops?

Yes, the first female priest (who is also African American) to be ordained bishop in February 11, 1990 in Boston is the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris. She became bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts. The diocesan bishop to become the first woman Presiding Bishop and primate of the Anglican Communion is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. As diocesan bishop of Nevada, she was elected as Presiding Bishop by the General Convention in June 19, 2006 held in Columbus, Ohio. Her investiture and consecration as the 26th Presiding Bishop took place in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on November 4, 2006.

Who is the first openly-gay person to have been ordained bishop?

Bishop Gene Robinson was elected coadjutor bishop on June 7, 2003 in the Diocese of New Hampshire and became its diocesan bishop in 2004. For many years, he was Canon to the Ordinary of that Diocese until his election as bishop.

What is the rite of marriage?

The Book of Common Prayer describes marriage as when a “woman and man enter into a lifelong union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.” (BCP, p. 861)

What is the stand of the Episcopal Church on same-sex marriage?

In 2009, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted to approve a measure that allows bishops and priests to bless same-sex marriages at their pastoral discretion. In 2012, the General Convention approved a liturgy that may be used for the blessing of same-sex unions in counties or states where same-sex marriages are allowed. The General Convention also appointed a Committee to study the theology of marriage in light of contemporary situation.

What is the rite of reconciliation?

Sometimes called the sacrament of penance, this is a rite by which those who truly repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest and receive the assurance of pardon, and the grace of absolution. (BCP, p. 861)

What is the rite of unction?

The word “unction” comes from the Latin word unctum, which means “to anoint.” Unction is a rite of anointing the sick with oil and the laying on of hands and prayer that God will grant the person healing of spirit, mind, and body.

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GOVERNANCE

What are the three levels of governance in the Episcopal Church?

The three levels of governance are the parish, the diocese, and the General Convention.

Who is responsible for the work of the church at the parish level?

The parishioners are responsible for work at the parish, through the leadership of their rector and their elected vestry under the oversight of their diocesan bishop.

What is a vestry?

A vestry is a group of church leaders, composed of wardens, a clerk, and members elected by the parishioners at the annual parish meeting, as governed by the Episcopal Church and diocesan canons and the bylaws of the parish.

What is a diocese?

A diocese is a geographical grouping of parishes under the oversight of a diocesan bishop.

What is the ministry of a bishop?

The ministry of a Bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry (BCP 855).

What other rites do bishops perform?

Episcopal rites specifically performed by bishops include the ordination and consecration of bishops, ordination of priests, ordination of deacons, celebration of a new ministry, and the consecration of a church or chapel. Bishops also preside at services of confirmation and reception of lay members; and blessing of altars and fonts, chalices, patens, and church bells, among others.

What is a bishop coadjutor?

In the Episcopal Church, when a diocesan bishop announces his or her retirement, a special diocesan convention is held to elect a coadjutor. Usually the coadjutor serves with the incumbent for a short time before the latter's retirement, at which time the coadjutor becomes the diocesan bishop

What is a bishop suffragan?

A bishop suffragan is elected by the diocese and acts as an assistant to, and under the direction of, the bishop diocesan.

What is the General Convention?

The General Convention is the highest governing body of the Episcopal Church. It meets every three years and is composed of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The House of Bishops meets concurrently with the House of Deputies during General Convention, and also holds interim meetings between conventions. The Presiding Bishop presides at meetings of the House of Bishops and of the entire General Convention, which does not always meet as separate houses.

How does legislation get adopted in the General Convention?

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (consisting of clergy and lay representatives in equal numbers) meet and act separately, and both must concur in identical language to adopt legislation. The General Convention alone has authority to amend the Book of Common Prayer, to amend the church’s constitution and canons, and to determine the program and budget of the General Convention, including the missionary, educational, and social programs it authorizes.

Who is the president of the House of Deputies of the General Convention?

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings was elected president of the House of Deputies in the General Convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 10, 2012. She is the first female priest to hold the post of presidency, although two lay women had served in that position, Pamela Pauly Chinnis (1991-2000) and Bonnie Anderson (2006-2012). As leader of the House of Deputies, Jennings will preside over more than 900 members and alternates -- clergy and lay leaders -- elected from 110 dioceses in 16 countries.

What is the Executive Council?

The Executive Council meets several times each year to carry out the policies and programs adopted by General Convention between its triennial meetings. The General Convention elects twenty-two of the forty-two members of the Executive Council; the others being elected by their respective provinces.

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BECOMING AN EPISCOPALIAN

Who is welcome in the Episcopal Church?

All are welcome. Anyone can join an Episcopal parish or mission. Attend one of our services and inquire from a priest or lay member of the parish or mission.

What is required of us before we may be baptized?

Usually, parishes have Inquirers Classes by which you may learn about the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Baptism is usually administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast day by a bishop or priest. Water is used either for immersion or pouring along with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

What is Confirmation and who can be confirmed?

A diocesan bishop may confirm all those who have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands and praying: “Strengthen, O Lord, your servant, [name], with your Holy Spirit; empower him/her for your service; and sustain him/her all the days of his/her life” (BCP, p. 418). Usually parishes have Confirmation Classes by which you may learn the catechism or the doctrines of the Church prior to confirmation.

What is the Service of Reception by a bishop?

Baptized persons who have been confirmed members of another Church in historic succession (e.g., Roman Catholics, Orthodox or members of Iglesia Filipina Independiente and other churches we are in concordat with) and the worldwide Anglican Communion who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment in the presence of a bishop. The bishop then lays hands on each candidate for reception and says, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion” (BCP, p.418).

Can an Episcopalian who has not been to church for many years return to the Episcopal Church?

Yes, the person will be welcomed in any parish or mission and be active again in sharing the life and mission of the Episcopal Church. He or she may choose to renew or reaffirm his or her baptismal covenant and be laid hands on by the bishop who will say, “N., may the Holy Spirit, who has begun a good work in you, direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom” (BCP 419).

What is the Baptismal Covenant?

The Baptismal Covenant is a set of promises made by people being baptized, along with the members of the congregation. The promises include believing in God, the Father Almighty; Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and in God, the Holy Spirit. It includes promises to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers; persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord; proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ; seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself; strive for justice and peace among all people; and respect the dignity of every human being. (BCP, pp. 304-305)

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THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH CENTER

What is the Episcopal Church Center and where is it located?

'The Episcopal Church Center' maintains its headquarters at its New York office, located at 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. It is where the Presiding Bishop holds office along with mission, communication, finance, operation and the General Convention personnel. The Church Center has satellite offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, Washington, DC and Austin. The Episcopal Church is an international church and there are missioners and staff officers working at various locations church wide and beyond. For example, we have staff offices in Paris, France; Panama City, Panama; Yauco, Puerto Rico; Accra, Ghana; and Edinburgh, Scotland. The website address for the Episcopal Church is www.episcopalchurch.org

How does the Episcopal Church minister to ethnic groups?

The Episcopal Church ministers to all people in all their racial, ethnic, cultural, gender and generational diversity. The Episcopal Church Center has ethnic missioners for Asiamerica Ministries, Black Ministries, Latino/Hispanic Ministries and Native American/Indigenous Ministries. There are also partnership offices for Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific and networks in the worldwide Anglican Communion and beyond.

What is a province?

In the context of the Episcopal Church, dioceses are grouped geographically into nine provinces. These are not to be confused with the official member churches or provinces of the Anglican Communion.

In addition to the Anglican Communion, with what other churches is the Episcopal Church in full communion?

The Episcopal Church is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA); the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; Philippine Independent Church (the Iglesia Filipina Independiente); Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India; the Church of South India, the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan, the Church of Bangladesh; and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church.

What ecumenical councils is the Episcopal Church part of?

The Episcopal Church belongs to the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and Christian Churches Together in the USA. Many Episcopal dioceses and parishes church wide, are also members of state and local councils of churches.

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HISTORY

Where did the Episcopal Church originate?

Early English settlers established the Church of England in some of the original colonies of the United States, and in 1789, after the American Revolution, an assembly met in Philadelphia to unify all Anglicans in the United States into a single national church. A constitution was adopted along with a set of canonical laws, and the English Book of Common Prayer of 1662 was revised, principally by removing the prayer for the English monarch. Samuel Seabury was ordained in Scotland as the first American bishop. The Episcopal Church became “the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles.”

What is the legal and corporate name of The Episcopal Church?

The “Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the PECUSA” is the legally incorporated entity.  The DFMS acts as the public, corporate arm of the church, allowing the Church to hold property and carry out missionary work in other countries or in places where it must be a registered entity. The first constitution of “The DFMS of the PECUSA” was adopted in 1821 and its legal incorporation was completed in 1846.

Is the Episcopal Church known by any other name?

Since the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1787, Episcopalians in America have called ourselves in our Constitution as “the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America” (PECUSA).  In the 1960’s, there was a movement (which began as early as the 1920’s) to expunge the word “Protestant.” In response, the General Convention adopted a resolution adding a Preamble to the Constitution that declared the PECUSA “otherwise known as The Episcopal Church.” It is important to note that the word “The Episcopal Church” is not a shortened version but an “alternate expression” of its official name. We are an international Church present in 16 countries and so it is appropriate to refer to its alternative name of “The Episcopal Church,” sans the USA.

Why was the name “Episcopal Church” chosen?

The Greek word episcopos means “bishop” or “overseer,” which is used because the Episcopal Church is governed by bishops.

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