THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IS DIFFERENT
The Episcopal Church is part of the "Anglican Communion," the family of churches descended from the Church of England.
We are a traditional church, but not an old fashioned one. Elements of our worship services can be traced back to the earliest days of the Christian church and before. Yet, we are modern. We realize that the world is changing dramatically and that the Church must respond to change.
We are a liturgical church. Like Catholics and Lutherans, we have an established order of prayer. The Book of Common Prayer is our guide. Prayers and services for almost any occasion can be found in it.
We are inclusive. Rather than split a congregation or create a schism in the church, we look for ways to accommodate diverse views. This is truly a church in which all are welcome.
We are tolerant. We don't feel that Episcopalians are right and all others are wrong. Nor do we feel that being Episcopalians makes us "holier" than others.
We celebrate life as a blessing. We tend to think of the world as an essentially good place where we may enjoy God's many gifts.
We believe that the Bible was inspired by God, but not dictated word for word. We realize that the Bible contains history, legend, poetry and metaphor, as well as prophecy. We are not Biblical literalists.
We read and interpret Scriptures in the social, cultural and personal context in which they were written. Thus, we focus on the meanings of whole chapters and stories, rather than pulling out isolated quotations.
We are idealists. We take words like freedom, justice, and equality seriously.
We believe that Salvation is a lifelong process; not, in most cases, a bolt of lightning that happens all at once. We believe that life is a spiritual journey, and that the purpose of the Church is to help people find their way.
While some denominations emphasize the Old Testament, sin, guilt, and punishment, we emphasize the New Testament, salvation, grace, forgiveness and God's love for us.
We don't feel the need to push our beliefs on others. We realize that some other denomination may be the best guide for your spiritual journey.
We are a church whose faith and practice are based on Scripture, tradition, and reason.
We like a traditional, dignified service. You are unlikely to hear hollering in an Episcopal church.
We actively participate in our church services. Episcopalians stand to sing and praise, sit to be instructed and kneel to pray. It's hard to fall asleep in an Episcopal church.
Many see the Episcopal Church as a "bridge" between other sometimes conflicting religious traditions. We have much in common with the Roman Catholic Church, for example; but we are Protestants. Because of our tolerance and openness, couples in religiously mixed marriages often find common ground in the Episcopal Church.
We feel that women should hold leadership positions in our church; and they do.
We don't claim to have all the answers; and we are content to live with the questions. There is much that will never be understood in this life.
We know that thoughtful people have doubts. Faith is not always easy.
Ours is a seeker-friendly church. We believe that God will meet us wherever we are on our spiritual journey.
We celebrate our diversity. Tolerance is not a weakness, but our strength.
We are not rigid or dogmatic. Our faith is in God, not dogma.
For some, salvation is a matter of fear and guilt. For us it is a joyous experience; and we can begin to have that joy now, in this life.